Diet and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Food has a big part to play in any illness or health condition but when it comes to IBS, of which I have personal experience, it can make a huge difference.

***

Do

Keep a food diary
Cook meals rather than buy ready meals
Get some exercise every day even if it’s just a short walk
Try relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation etc.

Don’t

Skip meals
Eat too much fruit
Drink too much alcohol, caffeine or fizzy drinks.

***

Symptoms of IBS can include wind and/or bloating, diarrhoea and/or constipation, low abdominal pain, lower back ache, the passing of mucus and the feeling of urgency to move bowels even after just doing that.

***

To help alleviate the symptoms of diarrhoea try to avoid insoluble fibre as it is not broken down as easily by the natural bacteria in your gut as soluble fibre. However, it holds onto water very effectively and so helps increase the weight of your stools.

Try to cut down on foods containing insoluble fibre which includes pulses, whole grains, sweetcorn, green bananas, muesli that contains bran, undercooked or reheated potato, oven chips, waffle and fried rice. It’s a good idea to avoid ready meals containing potato or pasta.

Drink lots of water (aim for 8 glasses a day) or herbal tea. Limit alcohol to two units a day but don’t drink every day. Restrict caffeinated drinks to three a day. Don’t eat vegetable skins. Make your five a day largely vegetables and restrict fruit juice to around 150 mils a day. Avoid sugar free sweets. Avoid fatty foods.

***

To help alleviate the symptoms of constipation increase your intake of insoluble fibre but only as far as it makes an adequate difference. Increase your five a day to six a day. Oats can help some people.

Soluble fibre is broken down by enzyme-producing bacteria which are naturally present in your colon. This increases your bowel movement and produces gas. It can cause your stools to become bulky because the amount of bacteria in your gut increases. Soluble fibre forms a substance which can bind to other substances and this has the benefit of lowering cholesterol levels and slowing down the entry of glucose into the blood so improving blood sugar levels.

***

Give yourself time to adjust to any changes in diet. Changes do not produce instant results. It’s important to remember that you may find that foods don’t trigger your IBS or that you have a different result to the one you expect. We are all individuals and our experiences aren’t always the same.

Please note that I am not medically qualified, all that I have written comes from personal experience and the experiences of people with IBS that I’ve consulted with. For expert knowledge do consult your doctor and this page from the NHS website will give you decent information.

Basic equipment

This list is not a complete list – it will be added to but will always lack items mainly because I’m human.

This is aimed at beginner cooks though more experienced cooks may want to read it too.

First of all you do not need to buy expensive equipment in order to cook. My favourite bread bowl in which I begin the dough making process cost me 50p. If a piece of equipment does the job and you’re happy with it then it doesn’t have to be expensive.

For making cakes you need a bowl (I use my bread bowl), a wooden spoon, a whisk and a metal spoon (such as a tablespoon) to mix with. To bake you need a couple of baking tins and some grease proof paper. That’s it. If you like making cakes and want to make a lot of them yo may want to invest in an electric mixer but remember – it’s your choice.

Knives – buy the best possible ones that you can. I have some Sabatier knives but I bought them in a local supermarket and got them at a discount. Where you buy is almost as important as what you buy. Buy a good sharpener. I use a steel and I’m not expert at it but I can use it enough to make sure that my knives are incredibly sharp. Accidents in the kitchen with knives happen when they’re not sharp enough. I sharpen before and after I use them.

Baking tins – as a beginner all you need is a sponge tin and a loaf tin. If you decide to keep on baking then you can expand your range. The sponge tin can be used for cakes or giant Yorkshire puddings and the loaf tin can be used for cakes or bread.

Scales – As long as scales are accurate they don’t have to be all dancing, all singing. I have scales that measure pounds and ounces as well as grams because I often use both in recipes. My scales have the ability to measure in fluid ounces and millilitres. I use these settings quite often as it can be more accurate than using a measuring jug.

Having said  that I do use jugs because they’re great to mix liquids in, e.g. warm and cold liquid in accurate combinations for bread to which oil or bicarbonate of soda needs to be added.