1. Know your own body.
The first and most important point in managing IBS is basically knowing what irritates your own bowels. I’ve found that there is no ‘across the board’ solution. This initial process which I’m about to outline is just that – initial – so even though it sounds a bit combersome, it’s only endured at the very beginning and never again.
To prepare for what I was going to do, I kept a daily diary of every thing I’d eaten. I determined how I felt the next day, and kept a record of that as well. Some days were better than others so I was able to eventually work out what I was eating (the common thread) on the days which were bad. Now I was ready to take action.
I then started with an exclusion diet. (There is a very good book which helped me to plan my exclusion diet, it’s called ‘The Holistic Doctor’ by Dr Deborah McManners.)
This is not the same as going on a diet, it involves eating full meals as usual but cutting out from your food intake, all the items which you think may be triggering your pain,. After a grace period of a week, begin to re-introduce them one at a time (so that it’ll be easy to identify which ones don’t agree with you, and you’ll be able to properly gauge each food’s effect on your body.) If you have to cut out wheat, you may want to stock up on rice biscuits, cous-cous, potatoes etc until it’s been re-introduced.
Once you start bringing the foods back in, you need to give yourself a week to reaccustom your body to that particular food, watch how you feel, and if you have an adverse effect, say to cheese (one of my triggers) you evidently need to cut that out of your normal diet. Make sure that you’re substituting other sources of protein and calcuim for all round health. This would not mean that you could never eat cheese again, but rather that you know how it affects you, and that if you do indulge, you know to take it easy.
If you feel no different then that food, simply put, works with your body, if not, then it does not.
At this point I should say that even though wheat is one of my triggers, I haven’t cut it completely out of my diet forever. This for me wouldn’t be a wise and practical thing to do. I stay away from it and would opt for rice, cous cous potatoes etc instead of breads or pasta for example. But because my kind of work means that I regularly have to be on location for shoots/filming even before sunrise, I have to be prepared to eat whatever is on offer from the location catering crew. I would eat wheat in this instance, but then I would choose to eat very little of it and make certain that I didn’t have any of my other triggers like cheese (I hardly ever have cheese since it’s something you can stay away from without any embarrasment or social discomfort) or onions, orange juice etc for the two days that follow.
After this initial period which lasts about 3 months, you’re ready to manage that wretched IBS. So what happens after you know what triggers your pain?