Experiment: My IBS Management Plan

This title sounds like the title to some kind of report I might write for work. Or school. I hope it goes as well as some of my papers did for school 😉 I used to do fairly decently in my classes.

The problem: I’ve been eating well recently (meaning not much late-night eating, minimal overeating, not too many salads, etc…), but my stomach is really bothering me. It’s been worse than usual ever since I moved to New York back in November. I was diagnosed with IBS ages ago, but never took it seriously – so I’m doing some research.

The solution: use diet to treat and manage my IBS. I’m reading Heather Van Vorous’s book, The First Year: Irritable Bowel Syndrome . While it’s not my first year, it’s the first time I’m actually going to try to treat it. The book has rave reviews on Amazon and I picked it up at Borders this weekend with my 33% off coupon.


People with IBS have very sensitive digestive systems. The slightest things can set us off. Here are the basic things that I *must* follow if I want relief.

  • Don’t let myself get too hungry
  • Never eat anything but soluble fiber on an empty stomach (more on this below)
  • Follow a low-fat diet, high in soluble fiber, being careful with insoluble fiber, and avoiding my IBS triggers (like whipped cream and frozen yogurt)
  • Keep stress levels low (includes doing yoga and getting enough sleep)
  • Drink herbal tea (peppermint, ginger, chamomile)
  • Soluble fiber supplements

Let’s talk about soluble fiber. Soluble fiber foods are things like white bread (not wonder bread!), sourdough, white rice, pasta, oatmeal, potatoes (white and sweet), squash (yay! kabocha squash), turnips, carrots, beets, applesauce (or peeled apples), papayas, and avocados. These are supposed to be the basis of an IBS-er’s diet. Eat these before anything else and your stomach will thank you. They should make up more than half of each meal.

As for insoluble fiber, you should only eat this after eating the soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber would be things like whole wheat breads, bran, popcorn, berries, oranges, greens, peppers, celery, broccoli, cauliflower… you get the idea – non-starchy veggies, basically. And these should preferably be cooked before eating for easier digestion.

Fats – be careful. Avoid them in large quantities. Stay away from fried things, dairy, red meat. I already stay away from most of these things; the fats I eat a lot of are butter and nut butters (and whipped cream, which really really makes my stomach hurt).

Let’s look at today’s lunch as a good example of an IBS-friendly meal. I went to Burger Heaven with Bobby and I got a baked potato with sauteed veggies (broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, and cauliflower). I started off with the potato. It looked pretty much like this, but more humongous:

I had some plain, then added a little butter, ketchup, and pepper. After I let that settle into my stomach, I ate the veggies, which were delicious. I didn’t stuff myself (I took part of the potato home, but ate it almost as soon as we got back). I had the soluble fiber first, then the insoluble broccoli et al. I am pretty sure broccoli is another trigger for my stomach acting up.

I will *definitely* keep y’all updated on this.

I’m feeling hopeful. I want my stomach to feel great while we’re in Miami visiting the family 🙂 I am so tired of missing things because of my tum!!

What are your plans for Memorial Day weekend? (We have a wedding to go to – my coworker’s.)

19 Replies to “Experiment: My IBS Management Plan”

  1. Interesting! Maybe I will try that theory out as well. I was feeling SO much better, almost 100%, from Jan to April, and now I am bad again 🙁 Hope you feel better soon!

  2. hi maggie,

    im really looking forward to you feeling better and to your blogging about the IBS diet and how it works for ya.

    do you feel like any of your IBS comes from emotional stuff? i started taking a few digestive support supplements a while ago and ive noticed quite a POSITIVE difference. they are flower essence and herbal based. email me if you want more info!

    lots of love,


  3. Interesting. I didn’t know anything about soluble vs insoluble fiber. Maybe I should experiment with this. My stomach is very sensitive. Not sure if I have IBS or not…but it couldn’t hurt to experiment.

  4. Interesting about soluble/insoluble and white/wheat bread products. I always go with the whole grains but perhaps should let more white stuff in? Hard to decide if doing that is worth losing all the health benefits of whole grain. I suppose no tummy pain would be worth it, though. Gah.. deciding what to do about stomach problems that aren’t defined is so tough cause it’s like… where do you begin?

  5. Have you tried an elimination diet? I think a properly conducted elimination diet is the best way to figure out what is bothering your tummy. I’ve done 2 rounds, so I’d be happy to point you in the right direction if you are interested.

  6. Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that causes gas. I think some other veggies in the same family are cabbages, and cauliflower? So maybe that’s what’s so irritating about it for you.

    I hope you feel better soon! 🙁


  7. There’s no Memorial Day here…and I’m already on vacation so I’m just gonna pig out and relax and sweat like a boar!

    I’m sorry about your IBS issues…that would really suck to have to watch what you eat like that…is this a genetic thing?

  8. this is really interesting. i was diagnosed with ibs a couples years ago and have been working on keeping it under control. it is such a hard thing to do lots of trail and painful error.

    i am heading home to ct for a quick trip to see fam and friends. very exciting! hope you have fun at your coworkers wedding!

  9. Maggie! I am so glad you got the book and you are following the plan. I am crossing my fingers for you that it helps….I have found great relief from it. In fact, my parents were visiting this week and I actually felt like I had a flat stomach most of the time (I have lived the past 5 yrs. with a bloated stomach due to IBS so this was a major feat!). YEAH 🙂 Keep us updated!!
    – Kim

  10. I have not heard of this book! Wow, I hope it helps. One thing I do is take my Vidazorb chewable probiotics and they have really helped my stomach issues so much. Have you tried a probiotic? Does the book talk about them at all? Lots of luck!

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