Crippling stomach cramps, diarrhoea or constipation and an intolerance to certain foods can turn any dining experience or social event involving food and drinks into a nightmare.
Luckily there are tips to improve your dining experience when suffering from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
IBS is the term used for a spastic colon. According to Health24, the common symptoms of IBS are:
- Excessive gas
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- A change in bowel movements (diarrhoea or constipation), which often brings a sense of relief to abdominal pain
There are several causes of IBS, which can be aggravated by foods containing FODMAPs, an acronym that stands for “fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols”. This basically means certain foods such as dairy products, legumes and fruit. Not everyone with IBS is FODMAP intolerant, but it is certainly common. To lessen symptoms of IBS, nutritionists advise patients to eliminate FODMAPs from their diet.
1. Plan ahead
If you are invited to a restaurant, research the menu online for meal options. Check out the gluten-free options on the menu. At a steakhouse, it’s easy to order a wheat-free, dairy-free (which is known to trigger symptoms) options such as a portion of grilled meat with a side of veggies or salad. If you do have special requests, call ahead and explain your dietary preferences. Most restaurants will be happy to adapt a meal for you.
2. Treat the symptoms
If you know what to expect, lessen your symptoms with over-the-counter remedies. If you know you are prone to diarrhoea, have medicine at hand to treat this. That way, you can be prepared if your symptoms appear when you are out.
3. Steer clear of the sauces
IBS-triggering FODMAPS are often hidden in sauces and condiments. If a portion of meat is marinated, ask the waiter if the chef can prepare your meat without the marinade. Stick to olive oil and lemon juice to add flavour to your salads.
4. Locate the restroom
Scout the venue beforehand to know where the restroom is located. That way, you can relax and know where to go once your stomach starts acting up.
5. Drink smart
Alcohol, caffeine and dairy products are the worst culprits for triggering IBS. Stick to drinks you are comfortable with. Drink plenty of water throughout the night to keep the bloat at bay. Although some alcoholic beverages are more likely to trigger IBS than others, people react differently to different beverages. Stick to what you know.
6. Have an exit strategy
If you know your symptoms will flare up, arrange your own transport or inform your partner so that you can leave the party or event whenever you start feeling uncomfortable.
7. Focus on the company
Breathe, relax and enjoy the presence of the people surrounding you. Don’t make the event all about the food, but rather focus on the conversation and the company.