Managing GI Disorders: Lifestyle Changes That Matter

Gastrointestinal diseases such as IBS, Crohn’s disease, and celiac disease are life-altering conditions that affect the digestive system. Symptom type and severity may vary from person to person; however, pain, discomfort, and bowel irregularities are typically found among most patients.

Living with a GI disorder can be challenging, and medications are often not enough. Luckily, making lifestyle changes can make major improvements in the severity and frequency of symptom presence.

Keep reading to find out what lifestyle changes you can make to help manage your GI disorder. 

Avoid Trigger Foods

When you have GI disorders, it is important to know what foods trigger your symptoms and avoid those items as much as possible.

Spicy foods, fatty foods, dairy, and caffeine are examples of common trigger foods. Keep in mind not everyone’s triggers are the same. You may be triggered by completely different food items. Therefore, individuals with a GI disorder should take note of how they feel after eating each meal. 

Keep a Daily Activity Journal

A daily activity journal will help you identify your triggers in addition to what causes and relieves symptoms.

In your journal, you will write down everything you do, eat, and drink each day. Having a more detailed journal can prove beneficial. Write down activities such as the time you woke up, what exercise you completed, the foods in your breakfast, how much cream and sugar was in your coffee, and the positions you are in when you go to bed. 

These details may feel insignificant, but the smallest thing can make a large difference in how you feel. Writing in this journal will help you see patterns and the cause and effect of your daily activities. Many individuals learn many of their triggers through this process. 

Eat Less and More Often

Overeating can be painful and cause uncomfortable symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, and constipation. Conversely, under-eating can also cause pain and various GI symptoms. Therefore, it is important to be incredibly mindful of how much you are eating and how often. 

Individuals with a GI disorder are advised to eat smaller meals or snacks, more often. The typical-sized breakfast, lunch, or dinner, may be too much food. Instead, you can try eating your meal over the course of a few hours. Another option is primarily eating snacks throughout the day that meet your daily nutritional needs. 

Additionally, be sure to stay hydrated throughout the day! Dehydration can lead to nausea, pain, and constipation. 

Fiber Rich Foods

Eating fiber-rich foods can decrease your GI disorder symptoms by increasing the frequency of bowel movements. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are examples of these foods. 

You don’t have to eat more than the recommended daily serving size of these foods to maintain a regular bathroom schedule. However, there is a good chance you are eating far less of them than you should. Most Americans eat three servings of fruits and vegetables each day, but experts recommend at least seven servings to stay healthy. Experts also recommend eating six servings of grain (three servings of whole grain) each day. 

Keep Stress Under Control

Few individuals realize the impact stress can have on your health and the severity of your symptoms. For many, stress creates tense muscles, nausea, irregular bowel movements, pain, and emotional dysregulation.

Since many of these symptoms are already present in individuals with a GI disorder, it is essential to keep stress to a minimum. You can limit stress in many ways. Practicing self-care, decreasing your workload, exercising, avoiding anxiety-inducing social situations, and using aromatherapy are great examples.

When a person struggling with a GI disorder has heightened stress levels, their everyday symptoms are made much worse, and making small changes like mentioned above can bring major improvements.

Avoid Tobacco and Alcohol

Tobacco and alcohol can maximize GI disorder symptoms for many reasons. These substances aggravate the digestive system, hinder healing, and cause internal organ damage.

Unfortunately, many individuals suffering from gastrointestinal diseases use tobacco and alcohol to cope with physical and emotional pain without realizing the substances can dramatically worsen their condition and interfere with the effectiveness of their medications. 

Cannabis is another substance frequently used to bring relief to GI symptoms, and overall, it is a safer option. However, it is important to talk to your doctor about your usage and keep track of how your body reacts to the various consumption methods. 

Smoking cannabis is considered safe for GI disorder patients but may not pair well with medications like prednisone. On the other hand, using topicals and eating edibles does not interfere with medication effectiveness. You can learn more about using cannabis and prednisone simultaneously at

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