From Jennifer, RD, LDN with Take Shape for Life
One of the most important ways to self-manage gastrointestinal disorders such as gas, constipation, heartburn or irritable bowel syndrome is to choose the right foods to eat. The following suggestions may help alleviate the symptoms of IBS:
- Eat at regular times and be sure you are getting all the nutrients your body needs. Don’t skip meals, and try to eat about the same time each day to help regulate bowel function. If you have diarrhea, you may find that eating small, frequent meals makes you feel better. If you’re constipated, eating high-fiber foods may help move food through your intestines.
- Take care with dairy products. If you’re lactose intolerant, try substituting yogurt for milk. Or use an enzyme product to help break down lactose. Consuming small amounts of milk products or combining them with other foods also may help. In some cases, though, you may need to eliminate dairy foods completely. If so, be sure to get enough protein, calcium and B vitamins from other sources.
- Drink plenty of liquids. Try to drink plenty of fluids every day. Water is best. Alcohol and beverages that contain caffeine stimulate your intestines and can make diarrhea worse, and carbonated drinks can produce gas.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise helps relieve depression and stress, stimulates normal contractions of your intestines and can help you feel better about yourself. If you’ve been inactive, start slowly and gradually increase the amount of time you exercise. If you have other medical problems, check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.
- Use anti-diarrheal medications and laxatives with caution. If you try over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medications, such as Imodium or Kaopectate, use the lowest dose that helps. Imodium may be helpful if taken 20 to 30 minutes before eating, especially if you know that the food planned for your meal is likely to cause diarrhea. In the long run, these medications can cause problems if you don’t use them appropriately. The same is true of laxatives. If you have any questions about them, check with your doctor or pharmacist.
- Avoid problem foods. If certain foods make your signs and symptoms worse, don’t eat them. Common culprits include alcohol, chocolate, caffeinated beverages such as coffee and sodas, medications that contain caffeine, dairy products, and sugar-free sweeteners such as sorbitol or mannitol. If gas is a problem for you, foods that might make symptoms worse include beans, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. Fatty foods may also be a problem for some people. Chewing gum or drinking through a straw can lead to swallowing air, causing more gas.
How Medifast Can Help With IBS Symptoms
- Medifast meals are consumed at regular intervals throughout the day. No meals are skipped and the program provides all of the daily requirements of nutrients.
- Many of the Medifast products are milk free, lactose free, or low lactose. Other sources of protein are used and calcium and B vitamins are supplemented so there is no danger of a deficiency.
- The Medifast plan includes drinking 64 ounces of water every day. This provides adequate hydration to ensure proper bowel function.
- Exercise is an important part of the Medifast Plan.
- Alcohol is not included on the Medifast Plan.
- Chocolate can be avoided by choosing from the many other flavors that are offered.
- Sorbitol and Manitol are not in Medifast products. Sucralose and acesulfame are the two main sweeteners that are used. The crunch bars do contain Maltitol, which is a sugar alcohol.
- Lean meat choices in the Lean and Green Meals limit fat to 10 to 30 grams per day. Fatty foods which may cause digestive discomfort are not included.
- Beans are a high carbohydrate food so they are not included in the Medifast plan.