Making Life More Comfortable,
Living with Digestive Issues
Living with digestive issues can certainly be an arduous task. With 25-45 million Americans living with some form of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (aboutIBS.org), it has become a common botheration for many people. It has the potential to affect nearly every aspect of your life. From where you go to what you eat, everything must be altered to accommodate your situation. However, living with digestive issues should not limit your ability to have social experiences and to enjoy life. If you have a plan and work with your body and its needs, you will be able to at least manage your condition without allowing it to control your life. Here are some tips to help you keep an active and social lifestyle while living with IBS.
- Know where the Bathrooms are
This seems obvious, but one of the easiest things you can do to relieve some anxiety about having to go to the bathroom is knowing where they are! When you arrive somewhere, be sure to scope out the closest rest room. If you are in a more common space, there are now apps for your smartphone such as Toilet Finder and Flush Toilet Finder that locate the nearest public restroom to you. Another helpful tip- If an establishment has “No Public Restrooms”, simply inform them that you have a chronic medical condition, and most often they will allow you to use their facilities.
- Have A Plan
It is always good to have a plan. If you are traveling for a long distance, be sure to check if there are rest stops on your route. Also, it is a good idea to give yourself plenty of extra time. Having to rush to be somewhere will only add to anxiety you may already be feeling. The best thing you can do is be prepared!
- Eat Before You Go Out
Not surprisingly, 2 out of 3 people with IBS say that food tends to make their symptoms worse. It is a good idea to eat at home, before you head out. This will allow you to control what you are eating and judge how you are feeling afterwards, in the comfort of your own home.
Eating out can be unpredictable, but sometimes it is your only choice. If you do go out for a meal, keep things simple. For dinner, try ordering something like chicken breast with steamed vegetables.
- Implement an Eating Schedule
Having an eating schedule can be a helpful way to curb your IBS symptoms. By eating small meals continuously throughout the day, it takes away some of the unpredictability that comes with eating. If you do not eat regularly, your body may have a poor reaction to eating a larger amount in one sitting.
- Carry Emergency Supplies
This goes hand in hand with our second tip, which is to always have a plan. It is a good idea to carry some supplies with you in case you are having bowel issues. Wipes, spray, even an extra pair of underwear are all good to have with you. Like we stated before, being prepared can help to lower your anxiety about the situation.
- Listen to Your Body
One of the most important things you can do is listen to what your body is telling you. It is a good idea to track the foods and other factors that trigger your IBS. Note when symptoms occur, what you’ve been doing, and what you’ve been eating. (Refer to an earlier Blog about Food Journaling) By doing this, you will understand the needs of your body a little better, possibly allowing you to avoid certain triggers. This also allows you to make an unpredictable condition a little more manageable. Remember, this is a day to day process, and you should not expect amazing results or change to occur without putting in a little time and effort.