By Shirley Webber (Research dietitian)
Here are some tips to improve the health of everyone, including those diagnosed with IBS.
· If you find that you’re waking up at night and not falling into a deep sleep, try limiting caffeine after 3pm. If you need a warm drink, reach for a herbal tea. Peppermint can assist with digestion, while ginger can assist with an upset tummy and even nausea. Just be careful of herbal teas containing caffeine, such as green tea.
· Also, switching off electronic devices at 9pm will prepare you for sleep. Many studies have shown that looking at screens with a back light increases alertness, making it more difficult to fall asleep in the evenings.
Drink plenty of water. Carrying a water bottle, drinking warm water (if it’s more palatable than cold water) and drinking a glass of water before each meal are all strategies to increase your fluid intake.
· Plan your breakfast. By planning breakfast, you have something to look forward to in the mornings. A healthy breakfast can increase alertness in the morning and reduces snacking during the day. Including protein rich foods at breakfast (e.g. low lactose yoghurt, low lactose milk or an egg) can make you feel fuller for longer as protein has a satiating effect on the body.
· Prepare your lunches the night before or get up a little earlier in the morning to prepare your lunch for the day. Doing this reduces the need to grab a quick meal which may often be less healthy or high FODMAP. Having your pre-prepared lunch can also reduce the anxiety of wondering if your purchased lunch will cause a flare up.
· Stretch throughout the work day. If you’re sitting long hours try to do some stretches at your desk or in the evening in front of the TV.
· We recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. Build exercise into your day-to-day life by taking the stairs when possible; going for a brisk walk at lunchtime or using active transport to get from A to B (e.g. walk or bike instead of driving or taking public transport). You can also try parking a distance from your destination and walking the remainder of the journey.
· If your portions are ever growing, buy some smaller plates, bowls and glasses. This can help you to reduce portions sizes and reduce kilojoules/calorie intake.
· Buy a water bottle, and not just any water bottle. Buy something that inspires you to use it. Choosing a bottle with a positive saying may also help you to stay positive throughout the day.
· Prepare little snacks and freeze them in portion sized zip lock bags. This will ensure that when a snack attack hits, you have healthy snacks on hand to save the day!
· Plan ahead! Pack your gym bag the night before and leave it at the door. This will help to reduce the morning rush and that one extra “I forgot my bag” or “didn’t have time” excuse.
Studies have shown that hypnotherapy may reduce IBS symptoms. This may be tried as a complementary therapy to treat your symptoms.
What is your healthy tip for the day?