5 Easy Ways to Manage IBS-C
Poop! Yes, we are going there today. Let’s be honest – everybody poops. But not everybody poops easily. And for the millions of people who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Constipation (IBS-C), pooping can be a real pain in the ass. Literally! But after all these years, I think I finally have a handle on this. And now I’m going to share with you how I manage IBS-C.
This topic is not for the squeamish so if you can’t handle talking about poop, you might want to turn away now. For those of us who deal with this “sh*t” everyday (or more like once a week), I’m sure you can relate.
*I am not a doctor, just a regular chick who has struggled with this my entire life. Hopefully the ways I manage IBS-C or chronic constipation will be helpful to those of you in the same boat.
Is it constipation or IBS-C?
Being “regular” is different for everyone. Some people go #2 daily, while some only go a few times a week. Heck, my hubby goes a few times a day like clockwork and is in and out of the bathroom in 60 seconds. Oh how I envy him! Basically as long as you are comfortable then you have nothing to worry about.
But if you have trouble going to the bathroom every week and have recurrent symptoms which include straining, bloating, and incomplete or hard stools, you may have Chronic Constipation.
“Almost everyone experiences constipation at some point in their lives. But if your constipation is long-lasting or keeps coming back, it may be chronic. Chronic constipation without an identifiable cause is often referred to as Chronic Idiopathic Constipation (CIC). “Idiopathic” means the cause is unknown. CIC includes symptoms of difficult, infrequent or incomplete bowel movements.” – Source: https://www.linzess.com/ibsc-and-cic-information/cic-symptoms
If you suffer from all of these symptoms but have the added bonus of abdominal pain, you may have IBS-C. And you are not alone. Here is my story…
Growing up with IBS-C
When I was around 8 years old, I used to occasionally get terrible stomach cramps and my stomach would pop out like it was a balloon. This was not nausea or just gas. These were pains where I would double over and could barely even walk. But I was just a kid and the pain would go away after about an hour so I just dealt with it.
When they started happening more frequently, my grandmother finally took me to a doctor, but they couldn’t find anything wrong with me. My parents were going through a divorce at the time, so everyone just chalked it up to stress and nerves.
As I got older, I realized that the pain and bloating I was experiencing coincided with the fact that I did not go #2 regularly. We are talking like once every 4-5 days. And when you are that backed up, it makes it even harder to go! It’s like trying to pass a watermelon through a straw.
At that point, there were only 2 things that would help – Laxatives and enemas. Neither option is fun.
Laxatives worked, but they made me really sick. They would give me awful nausea and cramps + I would have to stay home and near a bathroom.
Enemas don’t feel good. And while it made me feel like I had to go to the bathroom, most of the time it was just the solution that was expelled. It did not clear out my system.
Oh, the cramps!
As soon as I felt that twang in my gut, I would have to pop 2 ibuprofen to stop it in its tracks. If I did not catch it in time, I would have to lie flat on my back for at least an hour or two until the pain subsided.
There would be no telling when or where these cramps would occur and it is incredibly embarrassing. I mean, you can’t tell your boss that you have to lie down for an hour because you haven’t pooped in 5 days. Right?
In fact, I still have to keep ibuprofen on hand because I never know when I’m going to get the cramps. This is an ongoing thing. There is no cure for IBS-C.
One size does not fit all
I’ve read all the websites and pinned all the pins trying to find ways to deal with constipation. Here are some of the things I have tried:
- Drinking coffee
- Eating prunes or drinking prune juice
- Spoonful of Karo syrup
- Drinking more water
- Taking fiber supplements like Metamucil – these work, but kind of freak me out. Plus they taste gross.
- Stool softeners
Now here’s the thing. These may work for people who get occasional constipation. But for someone like me who REALLY has a problem, they do not provide a long term solution. If you really want to help yourself, you have to make a few changes to your lifestyle.
How I successfully manage IBS-C
1. Increase your fiber
Now I know all of you have heard this before, but it’s really one of the few things that have helped me. But how do you know when you are getting enough fiber? I’m not going to lie, it takes lots of discipline. Here’s how I do it.
2. Log your meals
A simple way to manage IBS-C is by logging your meals. I use a free app called MyFitnessPal and it keeps track of not only calories, but also protein, vitamins, and of course fiber.
According to the Institute of Medicine, women need 25 grams of fiber per day, and men need 38 grams per day.
For someone like me, I notice that I am only regular if I consume at least 30 grams of fiber a day. That is a lot. And with our high-fat, unhealthy American diets, it is very hard to achieve.
So to ensure I get enough fiber in my diet I have made these 3 significant changes…
3. Stop eating white bread!
I no longer eat white bread, buns, rolls, or enriched pasta. Instead I swap out bread and pasta with the following substitutions:
- Ole Xtreme Wellness High Fiber Tortillas – One tortilla contains 11g of fiber and only 50 calories! That’s almost half of your daily fiber intake right there.
- Thomas’s Light Multi-Grain English Muffins – I like to make my sandwiches with a lightly toasted multi-grain English muffin. One muffin contains 8 grams of fiber and has only 100 calories. This is my favorite starch substitution for sandwiches instead of bread.
- Barilla Protein Plus Pasta – If you’re going to have pasta, take it up a notch. This pasta is full of healthy goodness with 4 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein per serving.
4. Eat at least one high fiber vegetable or fruit every day.
These are my favorites:
- Avocados – Avocados taste delicious sliced on sandwiches, or use it instead of mayonnaise when making tuna salad. It’s so good and one whole avocado has almost 7 grams of fiber!
- Broccoli – Whether you eat it raw or cooked, it is one of the healthiest veggies out there. I like mine well done with a little garlic salt and butter.
- Raspberries – So refreshing and so healthy. One cup has 9 grams of fiber. I like to enjoy them with a bowl of light cool whip. It’s like a party in your mouth.
5. You can still have sweets, just make them count.
I still have a major sweet tooth. While I enjoy sweets
everyday, I don’t like to eat empty calories. To help manage IBS-C, you need to be picky. These are my daily go-to snacks:
- Yogurt – while not chock full of fiber (although there are varieties with fiber in them), yogurt is a probiotic. This is good for digestion.
- Fiber One Bars – My pantry is stocked with these. Right now I’m really digging these Fiber One Chewy bars. Feels like you’re eating a candy bar, but it has 7 grams of fiber.
- Motts Medley Fruit Snacks are gummies that are quite delicious and have 3 grams of fiber per serving.
So you can see how making a few substitutions can help increase your fiber intake easily! But sometimes just increasing your fiber is still not enough.
When all else fails, talk to your doctor.
While I still watch my fiber intake meticulously, there are some days when it’s just not possible. Kid’s birthday parties and holidays are especially tough. Not much fiber in pizza and cake, am I right? So I finally went to my doctor for help and he gave me a prescription for Linzess.
Linzess is a once daily pill used to manage IBS-C and CIC. This little pill has changed my life. It helps to calm pain-sensing nerves and accelerates bowel movements.
I take one pill first thing in the morning and it takes about an hour or two to kick in. It works similarly to a laxative, but without the cramping and nausea. Basically it kind of just melts everything away. No pain and no straining. The effects usually last for a few hours and you feel completely cleaned out. This must be what being “normal” feels like.
The downside is that it is medicine and it can be expensive. Also with medicine, come side effects – therefore it is not for everyone. Make sure you do your research to see if this is right for you.
Do I still get bloated and cramps? Yes. But thankfully, now they are less frequent. And for someone like me, who has suffered from chronic constipation my whole life, I am so grateful that I have finally found a way to manage IBS-C.
With some changes to my diet and a little help from the doctor, I can finally enjoy a “regular” life. And with these simple tips for managing IBS-C, hopefully you can too.
Do you suffer from constipation? What are some methods you use to manage IBS-C or stay regular? Leave me a comment and let me know! I can always use the help 🙂
Disclosure: I was not compensated for writing this post, but it does contains affiliate links which means I may be compensated a small amount if you click through and purchase. Full disclosure policy here.