Controlling your irritable bowel symptoms is like putting together a puzzle. The diet is the main foundation piece but you need the other pieces in place to create a lifestyle that supports your IBS. In my video, I talk about the four main puzzle pieces: diet, stress control, adequate sleep and exercise.
Are there other factors that I should look at besides diet to help my IBS?
Welcome to this video. Today I’m going to talk about four ways to get your IBS symptoms under control. I think of them as puzzle pieces that you have to put together to create a life that supports your IBS.
The Low Fodmap Diet
Now the biggest puzzle piece – and the foundation piece really – is the food, the diet. I mean, obviously what goes in your mouth can create problems right throughout your digestive system. And, as you know from my other videos, we are talking about the low FODMAP diet. Once you get that correct – and it’s not a simple diet, and nobody is ever going to say it is a simple diet to get right – but once you have that right and your symptoms go away – because the food going in is not creating problems with the food coming out – then you have that foundation piece in place.
But there are a few other things that if you don’t look after, they’re also going to cause symptoms, even if your food is perfect. Of course, the biggest one is stress. Now, we can’t eliminate stress from our lives completely, though we can eliminate a certain amount of it by not being in a stressful job for example. If you’ve got the option to not be in a stressful job, and you can choose the people that you keep around you though you can’t always choose family, but you can choose a lot of the people you keep around you. Keep around only people who make you feel better about yourself.
What can you do about stress? You can’t always get rid of it – but you can change how you deal with it. That really involves relaxation techniques, like progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, visualisation. Yoga will help you with that. Meditation, of course, is a perfect way to control stress. These are methods that, at first when you try them, they might be a little bit difficult, because they take a bit to get a handle on them, to control your thoughts, because your thoughts just tumble around in your head and drive you crazy. But if you keep trying, and without actually trying too hard, it will get easier and easier using these techniques. But they need to be done over and over again for the communication between your brain and your body to work really well. There’s a learning curve for your body to get the right signals from your brain.
But eventually they do work, and they work really, really well, so that you can use them to kick in anytime. Like your boss has yelled at you at work, and instead of just letting that really destroy you, you can use one of these techniques, and it’ll calm you down enough to be able to see the problem in a different light. And to help you to be able to think about how to react to the stress, and what to do about it. While you are in a panic situation, you’re not going to be able to think straight, so you need to get your body to calm down, your heartbeat down, your breathing rate down, so that you’re able to cope with the problem in a calm way. The techniques I assure you, work brilliantly. Now, that’s the second puzzle piece, and that’s a pretty big puzzle piece too.
A third puzzle piece is your sleep. Getting eight hours of good quality sleep a night is really crucial. We know that some people can exist on a bit less and some people need a bit more. But the average is around about eight hours. If you’re only getting six hours or six-and-a-half hours sleep a night, then you’re under-sleeping. Over time your body is going to show that. You’re going to start having health problems. And you drag yourself through the day. It feels completely different. When I was working in an office full-time, I always seemed to be under-sleeping. Wow, the difference that I feel now that I’m able to sleep eight hours and get good quality sleep. There are ways to make sure that this happens, but that’s information for another video. This is just giving you an overview of the puzzle pieces – the four main puzzle pieces.
Now, the fourth one – we’ve done food, stress, and sleep – the fourth one is exercise. We all know how essential exercise is, but that doesn’t mean that we all do it. Sometimes the starting of an exercise program is the hardest thing to do. Once you get started, then there’s another period where it’s a little bit dangerous when you feel like you’re not making any progress – like the muscles aren’t getting bigger, or you’re not managing to run faster, or whatever it is. That’s a time when we often give up as well, because it takes time to really show any effects from exercise. You will immediately feel better psychologically, especially if your exercise is going out for a walk in the fresh air and in nature. So it does depend on what the exercise is, but eventually there will be a benefit, and it won’t be something you’ll see overnight. It’s gradual benefits that you’ll only notice by looking backwards at what you were and how you felt before.
Exercise, of course, is essential for everybody, but especially for us with IBS. We need to keep things moving in an appropriate way in our bodies, and not to let things stagnate – especially if we have constipation, but also if we have diarrhea. Now, there are various different types of exercise that you can do but again, this is for another video. This is just an overview.
So, that’s the overview of the four pieces that you need to put together to create a balanced life that supports your IBS. So, that’s the diet, stress control, sleep, and exercise. Thank you very much for listening to this video.
Mini Meat Loaves
The little green book triumphs yet again. I am steadily working through it and converting all my favourite recipes from my years living in Italy to low Fodmap recipes. These are mini meat loaves. Adriano quite rightly said that surely they are elongated meatballs. I guess they are. But then a cupcake is just a small cake and a loaf is a rectangular cake. It's all in our perception of the object and our expectations. I am sticking to my guns and calling them mini meat loaves.
You can easily vary the spices and herbs in these to create a completely different flavour experience, and you can vary the sauce but mine was super simple - a canned tomato soup which had the plainest of ingredients with no onions or garlic. Another simple dinner recipe to be enjoyed by everyone including low Fodmappers.
- 500gms/17.5oz mince meat
- 2 slices gluten-free bread
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley
- Salt & pepper
- 1 can of tomato soup (onion and garlic-free)
- Place all the ingredients but the meat and soup in a food processor and process until crumbs form.
- Add to the meat and mix well with your hands.
- Shape the meat mixture into small loaves and fry in a little oil to brown all edges.
- Add the soup, put a lid on and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Serve with the soup spooned over the top.