Management

Some of the principles to the management of constipation for people with IBS and IBD will be different to the approach for people without these conditions. Drink plenty of water (1.5-2.0 litres per day). Liquid helps keep the stool soft and easy to pass. Drinking water on an empty stomach before breakfast stimulates the ‘squeezing’ action of the gut (called peristalsis). Take a glass of water before each meal. Include soups in your everyday diet to increase fluid content. Eat smaller meals regularly (4-5 times a day). Eating regularly is a good natural stimulant for your bowels. 

A big gap between meals is therefore not advisable. Skipping meals, especially breakfast, can contribute to slower or irregular bowel habit. For breakfast eat a bowl of real oatmeal porridge with fruit (baked or microwaved fruit such as apples, bananas, pears) Eat more soluble fibre. Fibre helps your bowel to pass food by holding water in the stools, keeping them soft and bulky. However for people with IBS or IBD higher fibre foods often make symptoms worse. Increase the fibre in your diet slowly (we advise you to use predominantly soluble fibre sources and small amount of insoluble if your body is able to tolerate it). A sudden increase in fibre may cause cramps and bloating. You should aim for a 5 g increase over a 5 to 7 day period, gradually achieving recommended 18-30 g.  This table on the apple shows some foods containing predominantly soluble fibre and could be used as a guide when increasing your fibre intake. 

© Jonathan Wade 2014