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When your IBS is out of control, all you want to do it curl up on the sofa and cry.
And you know what? It’s perfectly OK to do that!
But before you get too comfortable, I recommend putting together a few essentials to help you get through your flare in comfort.
I like to have an IBS Flare Survival Kit close to hand, and in it contains:
- A hot water bottle, WheatyBag (microwaveable soft toy), or similar, to sooth my tummy.
- PJs or stretchy yoga pants so I can stay comfortable during all that bloating.
- A blanket so I feel secure and cozy.
- Netflix and a duvet day to create a distraction from my misery.
- A meditation app so I can zone out and relieve some stress.
- Baby wipes because, well, my poor bottom needs ’em!
- Epsom salts so I can run a bath and have some ‘me time’.
- A selection of herbal teas: ginger for pain, fennel for bloating and peppermint for cramping.
- Optional but highly recommended – easy to digest, low FODMAP snacks. Dark chocolate is my personal favourite!
What to eat (as a vegan/plant-based eater) when your IBS is out of control
When your belly is feeling delicate, you – understandably – might not feel like eating much, but keeping yourself nourished is still important.
Here’s a few tummy-friendly plant-based low FODMAP foods that are easily digested and should be well tolerated by everyone:
Grains and starches
- Corn tortillas
- Buckwheat noodles
- Firm tofu
- Edamame beans
- Peanut butter
- Seeds – as tolerated in small amounts
- Slightly green bananas
- Cantaloupe melon
- Green beans
- Bell peppers
Food and drinks to steer clear of until you feel better:
- Caffeinated drinks like black tea and coffee if you have IBS-D
- Soft drinks (particularly diet drinks with artificial sweeteners)
- Spicy foods
- Fried and high fat foods
- High FODMAP foods you know you can’t tolerate
- Raw vegetables
- Cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, sprouts etc.)
If you’ve already been through the low FODMAP elimination diet and know which foods you can tolerate without any issues, include them as well. For me, one of my go-to’s is avocado – even though it’s high in the FODMAP sorbitol, it’s not one of my trigger foods. As a good source of plant-based healthy fat, and a nice quick option to prepare (hello, avo toast!), I always have some avocados on stand-by.
Overall, just keep it simple and try to focus your energy on getting better, not stressing about what to eat. I know this might sound easier said than done, but having a short list of quick and easy meals you can throw together when you’re feeling rubbish and have little appetite from an IBS flare, can be really helpful. Think of things like:
- Oatmeal with strawberries and walnuts
- 100% sourdough spelt toast with a banana and peanut butter
- A baked potato with a small amount (about 20g) of vegan cheese, chives and steamed or boiled veggies
- Stir fried rice, edamame and veggies
- Tofu (or egg, if you’re ovo-vegetarian) scramble with spinach, bell peppers and baked hash browns
If you find one meal particularly comforting, feel free to eat it on repeat! Sure, you might not end up eating the most nutritious diet for a few days, but if food is one less thing for you to worry about, you’ll be on the mend in no time.