• Yasmin Norazharuddin

How to grocery shop with IBS

Buying packaged food can be daunting for individuals with IBS. With the exhausting list of food that you can’t eat, these can be easily overlooked and as a result, you find yourself in the loo afterwards. So what is the best way for IBS sufferers to shop for groceries? How to make a foolproof IBS grocery shopping experience that won’t cause IBS symptoms?

1. Do not shop on an empty stomach

This is a golden rule for anyone and everyone. You will have a higher chance of buying unnecessary goods that will or will not trigger your symptoms. This is because your ghrelin hormone (hunger response) is taking the wheel. So, there is a strong chance you will grab snacks high in sodium, fat and sugar to munch on while driving back or while waiting for your meal to cook. While it may not hit you in the moment, it can be a driving factor of pain and discomfort at the end of the day.

2. Make a personalised IBS grocery shopping list

The importance of having (and bringing) a grocery list is beyond important. This will help in making sure the items will not trigger your symptoms. Though there is no food list for IBS sufferers that fits all. Create one based on foods that triggered you previously and exploring food swaps. Having a shopping list will also help you from mindless shopping. Saving you nerves, time and money (cha-ching!)

3. Read the ingredients list

There is no zombie attack happening outside so you are in no rush to spend 1 minute to read through the list. Be careful of ingredients, like sugar alcohols (anything that sounds similar to malitol, sorbitol, xylitol), dairy (if you are lactose intolerant), additives like emulsifiers and chemically derived flavourings, nuts and legumes (if you are intolerant) and spices. Watch out for a high amount of garlic and onion too as these two can be found in ready-made pasta sauces, soups and stocks and may not be IBS-friendly food for some when taken excessively. To know if the product contains a lot of said ingredient is its position in the list. The earlier it is, the more it contains in the product.

4. Not all gluten-free or lactose-free products are IBS-safe

The free-from aisle is not a go-to IBS food shop. Yep, the products in free-from sections can still contain ingredients that might not be safe for IBS sufferers, including sugar alcohol and nuts. Do be mindful of the ingredients list. And if you are not allergic to these foods, why waste your money here?

5. Be open with your IBS menu

A lot of IBS sufferers who are going through changes in their dietary habit end up feeling stuck eating the same thing over and over again. Do not limit yourself. Be open with your IBS food shopping list every time you venture out. Try out new IBS-friendly foods and always start with a small portion to test the waters.

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