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How to Control IBS Flare Ups

Feature, Gut Health & IBS, Sponsored Post | March 22, 2021

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What is an IBS Flare up?

If you’re living with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), chances are that you’ve experienced your IBS symptoms getting worse. An IBS flare up is where your IBS symptoms get significantly worse from the usual! This can be so frustrating because often times we feel like we have it all figured out. We’ve got all the nutrition basics for IBS covered like – eating the right food, managing our stress, and getting enough sleep. But, if you’ve been living with IBS symptoms long enough, you know – it’s a normal experience to have ups and downs in IBS symptom control! Here are my top 6 registered dietitian-approved home remedies for IBS flare ups so you can get that IBS attack relief that you need.

Table of Contents

  1. Ensure you’re getting enough fibre
  2. Ensure you’re getting enough fluid
  3. Avoid non-FODMAP food triggers
  4. Prioritize meal timing and spacing
  5. Manage stress
  6. Choose prepared low FODMAP meals
White bowl filled with porridge, strawberry slices, blueberries and blackberries on top of a white plate containing five slices of green kiwi and a wooden spoon. There is a banner at the bottom left side that says "What to do during an IBS flare - with ignite nutrition."

Being prepared for a bad IBS flare up can be helpful and make you feel less overwhelmed when worsening IBS flare symptoms strike.

Here are Ignite’s Top 6 Home Remedies for IBS Flare Ups

1. Ensure you’re getting enough fibre to help manage IBS flare symptoms

Did you know that most Canadians are only consuming about half their recommended fibre intake (25 g for females and 38 g for males)? It’s even harder to hit those targets when following the low FODMAP diet. But at the same time, fibre is key for IBS symptom management – especially during a bad IBS flare up.

What is Fibre?

  • It absorbs excess water, which can decrease diarrhea. It can also soften stool to decrease constipation.
  • It creates bulk, which can help with both diarrhea and constipation.
  • It maintains gut motility, which can help with constipation.
  • It reduce sensations of urgency, which can be super helpful if your main symptom is diarrhea.

Fibre is found in plant-based foods – think vegetables and fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and legumes like lentils and chickpeas.

Some great examples of low FODMAP fibre sources include:

  • bananas with no brown spots
  • kiwi fruit
  • blueberries
  • strawberries
  • chia seeds
  • oats
  • leafy green vegetables

Getting back to basics and choosing low FODMAP fibre can help to get your guts back on track.

2. Ensure you’re getting enough fluid to help manage IBS flare symptoms

If you’re having a bad IBS flare up where diarrhea is your main IBS symptom, getting enough fluid is important for preventing dehydration. If you’re having a bad IBS flare up where constipation is your main IBS symptom, getting enough fluid helps keep stool soft and pass through your digestive tract more easily. Have you been skimping on the fluid lately? This may contribute to some of those IBS flare symptoms, especially with constipation.

Aiming for 2-3L (8-12 cups) of fluid is a good target. Tips to increase fluid intake include carrying a water bottle with you, tracking fluid intake with an app, setting a reminder to drink on your phone, and pairing drinking water to another activity you do every day (for example, when you eat meals and snacks).

3. Avoid non-FODMAP food triggers to help manage IBS flare symptoms

Have you ever followed the low FODMAP diet, only to find your IBS symptoms getting worse? While the low FODMAP diet is helpful for managing IBS symptoms, there are other things that can also trigger a bad IBS flare up. These include irritation to the gut lining, speeding up how quickly things move through your gut, or causing gas to travel to the gut.

Some non-FODMAP food triggers for IBS symptoms include:

  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • High fat foods
  • Spicy foods
  • Carbonated beverages

Individual tolerance to non-FODMAP food triggers varies widely. If you feel like they may be a trigger for you, try using a food journal and monitoring how your IBS flare symptoms vary when you consume these foods. Often reducing from your regular intake can help reduce IBS symptoms, especially during an IBS flare up.

4. Prioritize meal timing and spacing to help manage IBS flare symptoms

When you’re living with IBS symptoms, you likely spend a lot of time thinking about what to eat. But did you know that when we eat can also affect IBS symptoms? Skipping meals during the day often leads to eating large portions at supper or grazing in the evening. Eating a larger portion of food at one time can lead to bloating and indigestion. If you find that your IBS symptoms are worse in the evening, try including three balanced meals and two to three snacks in between throughout the day. This can often help relieve IBS symptoms related to large portion sizes.

5. Manage stress to help cope with IBS flare symptoms

Stress management an important but often overlooked part of IBS flare symptom management. Just as the gut talks to the brain, the brain also talks to the gut. If the message being sent from the brain to the gut is negative (for example, if you’re stressed or anxious), it can worsen IBS flare symptoms.

Unfortunately, it’s common for people with IBS symptoms to experience anxiety around food, especially during a bad IBS flare up. This stress can lead to an increase in perceived pain in the gut and can even change how fast or slow the gut moves.

It’s important to find stress management and mindfulness techniques that work for you. These strategies can help make the interaction between the brain and the gut more positive. Improving IBS symptoms during a bad IBS flare up.

Some strategies to help manage stress include:

  • Slowing down before meals. This helps put your body into “rest and digest” mode so that you’re better able to digest the food you’re eating. Try taking 5 deep belly breaths before your meal!
  • Guided meditation
  • Journaling
  • Yoga

6. Choose prepared low FODMAP meals to help manage IBS flare symptoms

We get it. When your IBS symptoms are flaring up, you’re likely feeling run down and low on motivation to cook. But it’s still important to nourish your body! That’s why prepared, easy to digest, low FODMAP meals from companies like Epicured are a great option during a bad IBS flare up – it takes the stress off of meal planning, prep, and cooking! By focusing on foods that are low in FODMAPs, you can decrease gastrointestinal sensitivity and find relief from your IBS flare symptoms. You can save 20% off your Epicured order with our promo code: IGNITE.

Getting back to a low FODMAP diet for a couple of weeks can help get your IBS flare symptoms back under control. However, it’s important to eventually reintroduce some FODMAP-containing foods, as they often contain fibre and help feed our good gut bacteria. In addition, tolerance to FODMAPs can change over time, so it’s important to re-do FODMAP reintroductions occasionally to see if your tolerance has changed. For support while on the Low FODMAP diet work with one of our registered dietitians.

Take Home Message

Managing a bad IBS flare up can be stressful and frustrating, but there are many strategies you can use to get your IBS symptoms back on track. If you’ve tried the above strategies and are still struggling to find relief, working with an IBS dietitian is recommended. Together, you can work together to find management strategies that are individualized and works for you.

White bowl filled with porridge, strawberry slices, blueberries and blackberries on top of a white plate containing five slices of green kiwi and a wooden spoon. There is a banner at the top that says "What to do during an IBS flare - with ignite nutrition."

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post through the Epicured. I received financial compensation from the Epicured to talk about my top tips for managing a bad IBS flare up. There is not an affiliate link in this post rather a discount code passed on by Epicured. While the information conveyed may support clients’ objectives, the opinions expressed are my own and based on current scientific evidence. I do not engage in business with companies whose products or services do not match my personal and professional beliefs.

FAQs about IBS Flare Ups

How long does an IBS flare up last?

IBS flare ups can last for day, weeks, or sometimes months at a time. IBS flare symptoms can vary between individuals and it’s normal to experience ups and downs in IBS symptoms.

What to eat for an IBS flare up?

Low FODMAP foods are a great thing to eat for a bad IBS flare up. These include foods like: kiwi fruit, blueberries, raspberries, oats, brown rice, carrots, leafy green vegetables, lean protein like fish or chicken, and caffeine-free beverages like peppermint tea or ginger tea.

Andrea Clarke
About the Author

Andrea Clarke

Andrea Clarke is a registered dietitian, certified intuitive eating counsellor, and registered yoga teacher. Her mindfulness skills help her to support patients with ending their chronic dieting, finding the joy in eating again, and improving their relationships with their bodies. She is also very skilled in digestive disorders. Andrea also offers a specialized program called 'Nourished Freedom Food Relationship Intensive' for those looking to do deep work on their food relationship.

More from Andrea

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