Taking Control of IBS-D: Practical Tips for Better Health

Taking Control of IBS-D: Practical Tips for Better Health

Published on Wednesday, December 27, 2023 by Haley McGaha

Living with IBS-D? Discover Tips for Managing Diarrhea and Improving Quality of Life

Are you living with irritable bowel syndrome, particularly IBS with diarrhea? 

If so, you're not alone. Statistics suggest that IBS impacts 5-10% of the global population, with an estimated 25 to 45 million individuals in the U.S. affected. IBS is known for its unpredictability, and its symptoms can significantly disrupt the lives of those experiencing it.

Tips for Managing IBS-D Diarrhea:

If you have IBS-D, here are some tips to help with your diarrhea:

  • Explore adopting a Low FODMAP diet to investigate whether identifying your individual dietary triggers can bring relief. Additionally, maintain a food log to track symptoms associated with specific foods.
  • Gradually increase your fiber intake, specifically soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is known for its water-holding capacity and may help firm your stools. Learn more about fiber supplements for bowel health here.

Here are some Low FODMAP soluble fiber foods (check portions for Low FODMAP servings on the Monash app): 

*Rolled oats, chickpea pasta, rice (basmati, brown, black, red), peanuts, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, carrots, potatoes, turnips, spaghetti squash, papaya, prickly pear 

  • Pectin - Research on pectin for IBS-D suggests 24 grams of powdered pectin daily to help reduce diarrhea and inflammation.
  • Avoid spicy foods if they exacerbate symptoms, avoid caffeine, and eat every 3-4 hours. 
  • Make sure you are hydrating yourself! 

Weight Management and Caloric Intake

If you find that you are losing weight (this could be due to diarrhea, or it could be from avoiding certain foods as you think they may be exacerbating your symptoms), here are some high-calorie tips to help provide extra calories into your day.

  • Eat three meals + 3 snacks per day (bring snacks with you when you leave the house if you know that it is a safe food) 
  • Take advantage of when you are hungry (aka listen to your hunger cues) and plan for your biggest meal of the day during that time.
  • Take a walk before you eat.
  • Add calorie fillers to your food: peanut butter, butter and oils, cheese, dried fruits and nuts, avocado, granola, protein powder, or instant breakfast mixes.

Impact on Quality of Life

Not only can diarrhea disrupt the lives of those who have IBS-D, but body image issues and embarrassment with GI issues play a significant role in the life of someone with IBS. 

A 2018 study confirmed that patients with IBS have a lower quality of life compared to healthy controls. Not only did they find a lower quality of life, but they also found significantly lower scores for body image, especially in females with IBS.

Support for Body Image Issues

If you are someone who struggles with body image issues, firstly, please do not be ashamed or embarrassed. Secondly, I have put together a list of resources for support in hopes this can help: 

  • Eating Disorder Hope - support group for body image issues 
  • The Body Positive - their goal is to help people reclaim their health, beauty, and confidence 
  • Walker Wellness Clinic - body image and self-esteem treatment program; there is also a book you can purchase 
  • IBS patient support group via Facebook - if you like social media, this may be a good way for you to connect with others who suffer from the symptoms you may experience; it is an open platform for you to post questions, vent, or share how you may be coping

Also, don’t forget about other resources like registered dietitians! They help give customized recommendations that may work best for you. 

  1. Ibs facts and statistics. About IBS. (2023, November 2). https://aboutibs.org/what-is-ibs/facts-about-ibs/  
  2. Xu, L., Yu, W., Jiang, J., Feng, X., & Li, N. (2015). [Efficacy of pectin in the treatment of diarrhea predominant irritable bowel syndrome]. Zhonghua wei chang wai ke za zhi = Chinese Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery, 18(3), 267–271. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25809332/  
  3. Kopczyńska, M., Mokros, Ł., Pietras, T., & Małecka-Panas, E. (2018). Quality of life and depression in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Przeglad gastroenterologiczny, 13(2), 102–108. https://doi.org/10.5114/pg.2018.75819 

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