Woman holding sore stomach

Irritable bowel syndrome is no fun whether you just received the diagnosis, or you’ve been working through the symptoms for years. The symptoms often disrupt daily life and can make things like travel, work, and relationships more difficult to deal with. While it is true IBS symptoms can impact your day-to-day decisions, some preparation can help you manage symptoms, so you don’t feel like you are missing out. Try these planning tips to help eliminate nervousness and fear that can often prevent you from enjoying your favorite activities.

Tip 1: Take Comfort with You

You know the things you need in order to feel comfortable. If you are planning a vacation or trip, having the necessary items on hand will help. Keep a backpack or small bag always packed and ready in your vehicle. You may want to keep a small bag under your desk or sitting by your door for those spontaneous moments. Keep it ready so you can grab it and go! Items you might want to include:

  • A change of clothes
  • Wet wipes
  • Medications or remedies you use often
  • Some healthy snacks
  • Water

Tip 2: Keep a Positive Attitude

Being able to live proactively with IBS is important and empowering. You need to be able to plan activities you enjoy.  Taking positive action every day helps improve your overall wellbeing and regular daily exercise helps you regulate your bowels. Making intentional eating choices can help. 

  • Eat small meals a few times a day to help reduce bloating
  • Try foods that help promote healthy digestion like kefir, aloe vera juice, or probiotic supplements
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Incorporate fiber from whole grains into your diet
  • Try following a FODMAP diet to help identify foods that cause flareups

Tip 3: Make a Plan for Pitfalls

When planning an outing or a trip, plan ahead for restroom breaks. If you are visiting venues or shows, try to choose aisle seats or seating near bathroom facilities. Will your travels take you somewhere where another language is spoken, learn how to ask all the right questions in their language? Avoid the most common dietary triggers when you are away from home such as:

  • Most dairy products
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Gas-causing vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and beans
  • Fried, fatty, and sugary foods
  • Alcoholic and caffeinated beverages

Tip 4: Prioritize Goals

Once you start learning about yourself and trying to manage your IBS symptoms, you can prioritize your schedule. Try scheduling the most important commitments during the time of day you are most likely to be feeling your best. Avoid meetings and outings centered around just eating, if possible. Important meetings may need to be scheduled before lunch. Keep safe snacks and your comfort kit with you when you go out. Ensuring you have a break between appointments can give you time to rest and change if needed. Knowing you are going to have a break can help reduce anxiety and help you stay relaxed. Save time and energy for the most important moments in your day and don’t stress about the other things.

Tip 5: Build a Strong Support Team

It can be a huge help to have supportive friends, family members, or co-workers who understand your situation and strategies for managing irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. Having someone who can grab your comfort bag or backpack or help you avoid dietary traps can make a huge difference when you go to an important meeting or major event. Your medical team is also a strong ally for helping you live a full, healthy, and normal lifestyle. Talk to your GI specialist to better understand your treatment options, symptoms, and personal goals. Surround yourself with supportive people who can offer help and compassion.

Are you suffering from common IBS symptoms? Talk to a GI specialist near you who can help diagnose and treat irritable bowel syndrome. There are effective treatment options and strategies to help you manage your symptoms. Talk to a medical professional today!