In some individuals, the intestinal tract can be sensitive to various factors such as stress or even a large meal. This might indicate that the individual has irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is characterized by frequent episodes of adverse abdominal issues such as constipation, cramping, stomach upset and gas. One way to manage the symptoms is to adopt eating habits that are gentler on the stomach.
It is important to note that fiber can help minimize episodes of constipation but can also cause formation of gas and cramping. The individual is recommended to limit the intake of foods such as beans, whole grains, fruits and vegetables and steadily increase the amount of fiber ingested over a span of a few weeks. This will allow the individual to assess how much he/she can eat in order to minimize constipation without adding to the gas and cramps.
In some cases, the individual might need to strictly limit the intake of dietary fiber and take a fiber supplement instead. A doctor should be consulted so that the right supplement can be recommended.
What are the potential trigger foods?
The individual should create a food journal to note down the foods eaten and the time when symptoms such as abdominal distress was experienced. Take note that one type of food is more likely to trigger more issues. In case dairy products triggers stomach upset, the individual might have lactose intolerance. A doctor should be consulted on how to reduce the intake of the milk sugar. Other potential triggers include dairy products, chocolate, sugar-free sweeteners, tomato-based products and fatty foods.
The individual is encouraged to drink water regularly throughout the day, at least until he/she is not thirsty and the urine is clear or light yellow in color. Avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages that have the tendency to stimulate the intestines and aggravate the diarrhea. Carbonated beverages can trigger more gas issues as well as drinking beverages using a straw.
Right portions and frequency
Consuming large meals can trigger increased episodes of diarrhea and cramping. With this in mind, it is recommended to stick with 6 small meals throughout the day instead of the regular 3 meals.
Try to eat meals at about the same time on a daily basis in order to properly regulate the bowel movements.
Why use a bland diet?
Some individuals with a sensitive intestinal tract might be advised by the doctor at some point to start a bland diet that provides the digestive system enough time to rest and heal. If the individual experiences continuous indigestion, heartburn or had a previous stomach surgery, a bland diet is advised.
A bland diet involves exclusion of spices, high fiber foods, fried foods, caffeine and alcohol. The individual is recommended to eat soft foods such as cooked vegetables, custard, oatmeal, apple sauce, breads made of refined flour as well as soups. Nuts, raw foods, seeds, high fat foods and high sugar foods must be avoided as well. Once an individual is instructed to go on a bland diet, a doctor should be consulted regarding foods to eat that might be specific to the condition.
Considerations to bear in mind
Using anti-diarrheal medications and laxatives in substantial amounts or too frequently can lead to dependence. It simply means that the individual might have difficulty with normal bowel movements without using the medications. If the individual is required to use these medications, stick with the lowest dosage that helps. Remember that these medications can lead to dependence with long-term use. If the individual needs to use an anti-diarrheal medication, it should be taken 20-30 minutes before a meal.