5 Winning Ways to Live a Normal Life with IBS

Whether you've recently received a diagnosis or have been struggling with the symptoms of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) for some time, these proven lifestyle tips from Weill Cornell Medicine will help you continue to pursue all of your travel, relationship, and career goals. 

It's true that IBS symptoms can have an impact on your day-to-day decisions; however, preparation is the key to successful management. Solid planning will eliminate the nervousness and fear that might be preventing you from participating in your favorite activities.

Man and woman hiking in mountains.

1. Take Your Comfort with You

You know best what makes you comfortable. Packing up those necessary items and having them on hand will encourage you to step out boldly. Keeping a backpack full and ready in your vehicle, under your desk, or waiting by the door will allow spontaneous participation in life's surprises. Grab it and you are ready to go.

It might include:

  • A change of clothes
  • Baby wipes
  • Needed medications or remedies
  • Healthy snacks
  • Drinking water

2. Expect the Best 

Planning activities that you enjoy or that are important to your goals is an empowering step toward proactively living with IBS diarrhea or constipation. Taking positive daily action improves your wellbeing, and incorporating regular exercise into your day helps regulate your bowels. 

Make intentional eating choices such as:

  • Eating small meals several times per day to reduce bloating
  • Trying probiotics, kefir, or aloe vera juice to promote healthy digestion
  • Drinking plenty of water to counteract IBS constipation or diarrhea
  • Incorporating whole grains, including brown rice, whole wheat pasta, or grainy breads
  • Following a low FODMAP diet, which will help you identify foods likely to cause symptoms to flare up

Women interacting with waitress at restaurant.

3. Plan Around the Pitfalls 

Plan ahead and know where restrooms will be available along your route and at your destination. If you are traveling, book or choose an aisle seat near the facilities, and learn how to ask the right questions in the local language. 

Avoid your known dietary triggers when away from home, including:

  • Dairy products
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Vegetables known to cause gas, such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and beans
  • Sugary, fried, or fatty foods
  • Alcohol, caffeine, or soda

4. Prioritize Your Goals 

Use what you've learned about yourself to prioritize your scheduling. Schedule your most important commitments for those times of day you are most likely to feel your best. Have important meetings before lunch, avoid meetings centered around eating if possible, and have your safe snacks and comfort kit along for the ride. 

A break between appointments allows you to rest, refresh, or even change if necessary. Knowing that break is there will reduce your anxiety and help you keep a relaxed flexibility in your schedule. Remember to save time and energy for those most important moments and don't stress about the rest.

5. Have Strong Allies Beside You

Having a supportive friend, family member, or co-worker who understands your condition and your symptom management strategies is a huge help. Someone who can fetch your backpack, help you avoid dietary temptations, or will fill the gap for you during a short break can make all the difference when attending a major event or important meeting. 

Your medical support team should also be a strong ally in living a full and normal life. At Weill Cornell Medicine we offer innovative treatments delivered by the best gastroenterologists doctors in NYC. Our expert understanding of your symptoms, treatment options, and goals will provide the support and compassion you need to live your best possible life. 

Weill Cornell Medicine is a leader in patient care, scientific discovery, and physician education. Our physicians are experts in primary care as well as specialties ranging from allergy and immunology, to oncology, to obstetrics and gynecology, to rehabilitation medicine.

To schedule an appointment (new patients) with one of our providers, please call 1-855-926-9268, or use our physician search tool. Existing patients can make an appointment and access their medical records through our patient portal. Please visit our contact us page for additional options.

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