8 Tips for Avoiding IBS Flare-Ups

If you have irritable bowel syndrome, you already know how uncomfortable and inconvenient a flare-up can be! IBS symptoms can range from bloating to bathroom emergencies to abdominal pain. Today we are here to give you 8 great tips to avoid these IBS flare-ups.

1) Relax

Easier said than done, right? Not necessarily!

Like most things is life, there are tricks and tips to relaxation. One technique for soothing stress is called Progressive Relaxation, or Jacobson’s Relaxation Technique. This form of relaxation involves tensing and relaxing each muscle in your body. To use this technique, start by tensing and relaxing the muscles in your feet. Work your way up your body through the following parts:

  • Calves
  • Thighs
  • Abdomen
  • Arms
  • Face
  • Scalp

When you release the muscle, try to gently release your tension as well.

2) Manage Stress Proactively

Number 2 goes along nicely with tip number 1. Unfortunately people with IBS experience an increase in symptoms like abdominal pain and bloating when they are under extra stress. This is why managing the stress in your life is crucial to avoiding flare-ups.

Woman suffering from an IBS flare up

Stress management can involve a variety of things, including the following:

  • Yoga
  • Gratitude lists
  • Deep breathing
  • Meditation

The secret to deep breathing is to focus on your abdomen rather than your chest. This relaxes your abdominal muscles and can lead to more regular bowel activity.

3) Consider Biofeedback

Biofeedback is a type of therapy where a machine slows your heart rate and thereby reduces muscle tension. But biofeedback also teaches you how to do this yourself, without the help of the machine! Biofeedback is based on the philosophy of “mind over matter.” It can be a powerful tool for helping your IBS.

4) Consider Counseling

If you are shy about your IBS, you are not alone. But don’t be afraid to seek help!

Having IBS is nothing to be ashamed of; in fact, being embarrassed and stressed can make it worse. If you choose to see a counselor, he or she can help you respond to life events effectively. Your counselor can also help with additional stress management techniques.

5) Eat More Fiber

Not only is how you relax your body important, but what you put in it is important as well. What you eat can have a huge impact on whether or not your IBS symptoms flare up.

Healthy source of fiber for IBS sufferer

On of the best things to do is add some more fiber into your diet. Just be aware that even though fiber can decrease some of your gastrointestinal symptoms (such as constipation), it can increase others (like gas and cramping). The best course of action is to gradually increase your fiber over a few weeks’ time. That way your body can slowly get used to the added fiber and you can assess what amount is right for you.

6) Avoid The Bad Foods

In the same way that fiber can make your IBS symptoms flare up less frequently, there are some foods that can make your IBS symptoms worse. These foods can vary from person to person, so make sure to observe what upsets your stomach. It can help to keep a food journal and record your reactions to what you eat.

For starters though, here are some foods that are generally known to worsen people’s IBS symptoms:

  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Beans
  • Chocolate
  • Sugar-free sweeteners (these include sorbitol or mannitol)
  • Cauliflower

It is also worth noting that some people have issues with dairy. If you love dairy too much to give it up, combining it with other foods can help. You can also try breaking down the lactose with an enzyme product.

7) Drink The Right Liquids

It’s not just food that goes in your stomach! Since you also ingest liquids daily, remember that these can have an impact on your IBS flare-ups as well.

Drinking enough fluids can really help soothe your IBS symptoms, but only if they’re the right fluids. Water is hugely beneficial. However the following liquids can cause problems:

  • Carbonated drinks
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Caffeinated drinks

Your diarrhea may worsen after consuming alcohol or caffeine. Soda and other carbonated beverages can cause gas.

8) Always Be Prepared

Just because you have IBS doesn’t mean it needs to run your life! Being prepared for the day ahead can make a huge difference.

IBS sufferer experiencing an intense flare up

For example, you don’t have to totally give up going out to eat. If you have a look at the restaurant’s menu online you will be able to tell if it has some good options for you. As soon as you arrive, make sure you know where the bathroom is. That way if you do experience an issue you’ll be able to handle it accordingly.

You can also take some preventative medication beforehand. Also be sure to relax, since stress will only make it worse. Be kind to your body, enjoy yourself and don’t overeat.


Remember that treating your IBS is a marathon not a sprint. These tips may not bring instantaneous relief, but they will definitely help over time.

While we are at it, our research team would like you to know that we are conducting IBS clinical trials at our clinic in Birmingham. There are several reasons to consider participating in a clinical trial, so please be sure to check out our trial page to learn more.

Try to stay positive and take deep breaths. Your IBS does not define you! And you have a large amount of control over your condition. Be proactive, relax and eat well; you will notice an improvement in your life.



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