Tame the IBS Beast: Your Guide to a Happy Gut



Master’s Student in Clinical Nutrition
Faculty of Health Sciences
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
Senior Lecturer and Coordinator of the Master of Clinical Nutrition Dietetics Programme
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia

Have you ever woken up feeling like your stomach was about to explode? Or experienced that nagging discomfort after eating certain foods? If so, you’re not alone.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a common gastrointestinal disorder, affects 1 in 10 people worldwide.


My teenage years, already burdened by academic pressure, took a painful turn when I developed IBS.

The unpredictable digestive woes—rumbling stomachs, embarrassing episodes, and constant discomfort—cast a shadow over my social life and amplified my anxieties.

Shame and isolation became my unwelcome companions.

Seeking medical help finally brought the diagnosis: IBS.

While the condition persisted, understanding it became the first step towards managing it.

Now, on the flip side of this journey, I offer my story not for pity, but for hope. To anyone wrestling with IBS, know this: you’re not alone. Let’s navigate this together, sharing strategies, finding support, and reclaiming control. Together, we can turn the tables on IBS and discover a life brimming with delicious possibilities and digestive joys.

An overview of IBS. Click on the image for a larger, clearer version.


This can be a daunting task, as this common gastrointestinal disorder can significantly impact your quality of life.

While not life-threatening, IBS can manifest in a range of distressing symptoms. It is a common condition characterized by frequent tummy troubles, bloating, cramps, and bathroom emergencies.

It not only affects the gut but also causes social anxiety, worry about finding a bathroom, and a decline in productivity due to doctor visits, tests, and medications.


Living with IBS means your gut can flip its lid over certain foods. Here are some of my worst offenders.

  • Spicy foods: capsaicin in chili peppers lights up pain receptors in your sensitive gut, leading to gut pain, bloating, and diarrhoea.
  • Caffeine revs up your gut, potentially worsening diarrhoea and anxiety. Plus, it acts like a sneaky thief, steals fluids (causing dehydration) and makes constipation worse.
  • Alcohol, research suggests alcohol disrupts gut barrier integrity, which can worsen IBS symptoms. Also, alcohol disrupts digestion, which may slow down bowel movements and contribute to constipation. It irritates gut, triggering inflammation and worsening discomfort.

IBS can rumble your confidence and hijack your life. Fear not! Conquer IBS and reclaim your freedom with simple dietary tweaks and lifestyle hacks.

Regularity and consistency are key. To ease your IBS symptoms, eat slowly and regularly in a relaxing environment, and be mindful of how your food affects your gut.

Small and frequent wins. Smaller portions, more often, can be your gastrointestinal allies, embrace bite-sized snacks throughout the day to keep your digestion humming smoothly.

Small changes as a starter. To avoid losing motivation, make gradual changes and observe their effects. This will help you maintain consistency and find what works best for you.

Start recording. Keep a diary of your foods and symptoms as you are making changes, so that you can see what have helped (and haven’t).

Hydration is your hero. Water is your gut’s best friend! Aim for 8 glasses daily.

Caffeine and fizz, the troublemakers. Limit yourself to 3 cups of coffee and/or tea a day and keep the fizzy drinks at bay – your gut will thank you!

Alcohol? Not the best buddy. Moderation is key, so if you do imbibe, choose wisely and drink plenty of water alongside.

Fibre matters but choose wisely. If your IBS involves frequent trips to the loo, steer clear of whole grains, brown rice, bran, and fruit and veggie peels. However, don’t ditch fibre altogether!

To conquer constipation: embrace soluble fibres in moderation. Apples, pears, bananas, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and oats can be your constipation-busting friend.

Sorbitol, the sweet deceiver. If diarrhoea is your IBS partner, avoid the artificial sweetener sorbitol found in sugar‑free sweets, including chewing gum, and drinks, and in some diabetic and slimming products.

Trigger foods. Fatty foods and spices might be it’s not your best choice.

Stress, the IBS enemy. Exercise, meditation, and yoga are your stress-busting maestros, helping your gut find its happy rhythm again.

Sleep. Aim for eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. A well-rested you translates to a well-rested gut, ready to face the day with digestive harmony.

Probiotics: The gut’s new best buds. Consult your doctor about incorporating these into your routine. They’re friendly bacteria, keeping your gut’s ecosystem in balance and preventing IBS from crashing your day

Seek expert guidance. Consult your doctor or a registered dietitian for personalized advice and support.

Remember, IBS is yours to manage, and with these empowering strategies, you can reclaim control, say goodbye to gut chaos, and embrace a life brimming with delicious possibilities and happy digestion!


  1. UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). (2008, February 23). Irritable bowel syndrome in adults: diagnosis and management. https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg61
  2. Werlang, M. E., Palmer, W. C., & Lacy, B. E. (2019). Irritable bowel syndrome and dietary interventions. Gastroenterology & hepatology, 15(1), 16–26.
  3. Koochakpoor, G., Salari-Moghaddam, A., Keshteli, A. H., Esmaillzadeh, A., & Adibi, P. (2021). Association of coffee and caffeine intake with irritable bowel syndrome in adults. Frontiers in nutrition, 8, 632469. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2021.632469