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More About What to Eat During IBS Flare Ups

Dr Stephen Wangen
June 18, 2024

When I did my last video about what to eat during IBS flare ups, a lot of people stated that it was more about what not to eat than what to eat, and that there was nothing left to eat. That wasn’t the impression that I wanted to give people, so I’d like to clarify some things that I hope with be helpful.

We specialize in helping people figure out exactly how to treat their IBS and how to get better. And each individual patient is treated very differently. We don’t give our patients the kind of generic information about what to eat that you can get on a video.

But of course, this is a video. So we can’t customize dietary recommendation because we don’t yet know anything about you or what is underlying your IBS. But I can give you some relatively common threads when it comes to dealing with your IBS flare up.

I’m going to recommend that you do two major things. One, avoid some of the most common trigger foods. And two, make the food that you do eat very simple to digest. And I’ll explain exactly how to do those two things.

Most online recommendations are extremely generic. They tell you to avoid things like coffee, alcohol, spicy foods, and fatty foods. That is usually a good idea, but I can tell you from experience that doing that is probably not going to get you very far. It’s like telling someone to stop rubbing salt in their wound. Don’t do that.  But what you really need to know is how do you help heal the wound?

To help recover faster from an IBS flare up, I recommend that you prioritize avoiding three things: all dairy, all gluten, and all sugar.

If you’ve never done that before, then it will feel like you have to avoid everything you eat. Because if you eat the typical American diet, almost everything is made with at least one of those three ingredients.

I know that it’s easier said than done. However, there are a ton of foods left to eat. I’m sure that you can make a long list of them if you just put a little thought into it. I know thousands of people who’ve done it, including myself. Just ask around and look online.

Ironically, the second thing that you should avoid is raw food and high protein foods. Many healthy foods like salads, nuts, carrots, apples, and meats, take a lot of energy to break down and digest. That’s hard on your digestive tract even on a good day.

When you are having an IBS flare up, your digestive tract is inflamed and irritated. It is probably not feeling up to breaking down raw veggies, nuts, the skin on an apple, or meats. Those will be really hard on your digestive tract and likely only make you feel worse.

Your digestive system needs a vacation so that it can heal. And you can give it a vacation by doing a couple of different things. One is to fast for a day or so, so that it doesn’t need to do anything. That may not be a bad idea.

The other is to make sure that all of your food is either blended, cut up into really small pieces, and/or chewed really well.  One way to do that is to turn everything into a smoothy. I don’t mean to only eat fruit smoothies with whey protein in them. That is probably too sweet anyway, even though it’s fruit. And whey is from dairy, which we said to avoid.

What I mean is that if you want to eat healthy food, that’s great, but it will be much easier to digest if you blend it up, because blending the food is basically predigesting it. This includes blending veggies, nuts (or just eating nut butters), meats, you name it.  Think outside the box for this one. Most people only think of blending fruits. But you can blend anything. And it will help a lot.

The other way to accomplish this is to cook things really well and eat them as soups. That will also help make it much easier to digest your food.

Do these things for a day or two and you will probably recover a lot faster from an IBS flare up.

This isn’t going to solve everyone’s problems, but I know for a fact that it will help a lot of people.

However, it’s also probably not the cure for your IBS. Because once you have the cure, you don’t need to make your food super simple and probably won’t need to avoid so many things. And you won’t get IBS flare ups anymore either.

That’s our expectation for every patient at the IBS Treatment Center. So if you want to really dial things in and figure out exactly how to solve your IBS, then give us a call because we’d love to work with you. We work with people all over the U.S. and the world via telemedicine, and we’d love to work with you too.

Related Content:

Testing for Food Allergies and Food Intolerances

Can I Eat the Gluten in Europe?

What Foods Trigger IBS Attacks

All About IBS Flare Ups


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