By Chef Lauren Cox, Closer to Your Food

What is IBS

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic condition in the colon (large intestine) that can cause constipation, bloating, diarrhea, gas and abdominal cramping. Diet, stress, hormones and some acute illnesses are the leading causes of IBS. A change in diet, medications and lifestyle are typically a common treatment for IBS.1

Naturopathic Treatment

IBS is very treatable and most people experience relief immediately with some small changes such as:

Test your ImmunoglobulinG (IgG), or delayed food allergies. Many of us are not aware of foods that we are reactive and inflammatory to. This is a simple blood test that takes about 2 weeks to get the results and can shed some light on the foods that are causing big problems.

Eat more fiber. We know you hear it everywhere nowadays, and it’s for a good reason. Your digestive tract needs plenty of fiber to stay regular and eliminate toxins. Try exchanging your daily snacks for high-fiber foods such as homemade oatmeal or high-fiber beans.

Try a 2 week elimination diet. Common culprits in the American diet are highly processed and factory-farmed animal products like meat, cheese and eggs, highly processed packaged foods, and bad fats and sugars. An elimination diet means no eggs, dairy, corn, soy, wheat or sugar. You’ll find it next to impossible to do unless you cook for yourself and pack meals ahead.

Ask your naturopath about what supplements would be best for you. We recommend asking about pharmaceutical-grade probiotics and digestive enzymes to help re-populate the good flora in your system and the enzymes to help your system digest foods when you eat.

Watch how you combine foods. Many doctors suggest that you do not combine white foods like potatoes, rice, bread, etc. with saturated fats like meat or dairy. That means the loaded baked potato with all the fixings and a big slice of steak should be off the table for a while. When combined, these foods can take over 3 hours to digest, giving their microorganisms just enough time to wreak havoc in your gut.

Keep liquids to a minimum during meal time. Many doctors recommend that you do not drink water and other fluids with meals because it dilutes stomach acid, thus making digestion less productive.

Chew your food. Give your digestive system the best shot to do its best, starting in your mouth. Digestion actually starts with an enzymatic breakdown of food with your saliva when you chew, so chew completely! Take your time to concentrate on your food and chewing. Go for at least 30 chews per bite of food.2

Manage stress. Stress is one of the root causes to digestive disturbances and the irony is that most stress, we create for ourselves. Try adopting a new practice such as yoga or meditation that will help you let go of the things that do not serve you, leaving you less stressed and in a better digestive state.

How to Eat:

Do Not!

  • Eat processed foods (meats, grains, sugar, dairy)
  • Drink alcohol
  • Drink excess caffeine (more than 1 cup of coffee a day)
  • Eat very spicy foods
  • Do not gorge/binge
  • Eat white starches and saturated fats together
  • Drink lots of fluids with meals
  • Eat sorbitol or mannitol
  • Eat many onions, legumes and stone fruit


  • Eat lots of fiber
  • Eat organic/non GMO
  • Eat plant-based meals
  • Eat more alkaline foods
  • Chew food completely
  • Eat only when you are hungry

Lifestyle Adjustments

At the Grocery Store – The old trick of shopping the perimeter is the way to go, so avoid the middle aisles with the processed cookies, chips and cereals. Also, try your local farmer’s market. If you don’t know how to cook chard, just ask them or look for some creative ideas online. Remember, you can pay your farmer now or pay your doctor later; good food is an investment in you.

At Home – Many of us carry around emotional baggage that is dragging us down, and many times we do not even know it is there. Try working on yourself and help yourself bring closure to the areas of your life that are incomplete. Write a letter or make a phone call – whatever it is that will help you move on.

Physical Activity – Exercise is good for us, but for many of us the idea of hitting the gym is daunting. Try adopting a new activity that is actually fun and stress-relieving. Attempt a new yoga class, pick up ballroom dancing, go to an agility class with your dog or try horseback riding. You never know until you try it, so go ahead and pick up an activity that gets you out and moving that you actually enjoy.

Suffering from IBS can have an uncomfortable effect on your life, but trying some of the above tips may give you much-appreciated relief.




Closer to Your Food is a wellness blog focused on eating and cooking for health and sustainability with recipes and lifestyle tips formulated around a plant-based diet and home-grown local foods. Chef Lauren Cox holds a B.A. from the le Cordon Bleu in Culinary Management with over 8 years of fine dining experience in private dining, catering and Michelan star restaurants. For more information, please visit and follow Closer to Your Food on Twitter and Facebook @Closer2YourFood. 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.