IBS (or Irritable Bowel Syndrome) is a condition that affects the digestive system causing symptoms such as bloating, constipation, stomach cramps and more. It is a condition that is often misunderstood as researchers and professionals have stated there isn’t a definitive answer as to what causes it. About two in ten people in the UK have IBS and the way it affects people can vary dramatically. Flare ups can last days, weeks or even months and vary in severity from person to person. It is also noted that women are twice as likely to suffer than men.
If you are worried about how your IBS can affect your wedding day then I have some tips for you. I have suffered with IBS for 10 years and was so concerned about how it would affect my wedding day. As it can cause so many different symptoms and affect people differently it is worth looking at what works for you personally.
Monitor and take care of your stress levels
Stress can be a huge factor in a flare up of IBS and can be the sole factor alone in causing it. Therefore it is really important to keep a check on this especially in the lead up to your wedding day. Of course, you will be wanting everything to be perfect and run smoothly but you really need to take time to relax and enjoy the lead-up.
Meditation – It’s important to check in with yourself and your stress levels and meditating can be a useful way to do this. It can be as simple as just 15 minutes to yourself in a peaceful environment. You can even do a full guided meditation to help with breathing and grounding. The important part of this is to tune into how you and your body feel so you can acknowledge when you feel stress creeping in.
Exercise – Exercise is an amazing tool for IBS and can also help with your stress levels too. Exercise naturally causes endorphins which make us feel better and happier which is perfect but it can cause some worry with IBS sufferers.
The best type of exercise for IBS is a more gentle, strength type exercise. High intensity workouts can exacerbate your symptoms so avoiding this in the lead-up to your wedding day is best. Swimming, yoga, weights and walking are great. However, if you are nervous about outside exercises, at home yoga, pilates and weights will really help out.
(Always exercise to your own strengths and ability and get advice from a professional where needs be)
Journaling – Writing down how you feel is a great way to release your emotions meaning they won’t be built up. Keeping a diary of the lead up to your wedding day can also be really lovely.
The last tip in this is to remember to talk and delegate! Don’t hold in emotions and feelings that are going to cause a flare up for you. If something feels too much then delegate tasks where possible to people you trust. Don’t feel like you have to deal with everything, especially if you know stress is your main symptom trigger!
Avoid Trigger Foods before and during
It can be really difficult to explain to people what causes an IBS flare up. Especially when it comes to food. It isn’t as simple as avoiding greasy or fatty food or eating more fibre. The difficult thing with trigger foods is that it can vary from flare up to flare up however if you do know certain foods are a trigger for you then avoiding them in the lead up to your wedding day is really important. Don’t be tempted to sneak something in if you know that it gives you a flare up. Don’t risk it!
It can also be worth avoiding your trigger foods on the actual day of your wedding. Nobody wants to be running to the bathroom or feeling uncomfortable or in pain on their wedding day. Talk to your venue or caterers about your food options. Don’t feel embarrassed by this at all. Food sensitivities, allergies, etc are so common and there is much more of an understanding about this now. Always be open about this because it really isn’t worth it.
Another point for anyone with IBS is to avoid going on any kind of diet before your wedding. Diets can be awful for IBS sufferers as our bodies can take a while to process new things. You might actually make your symptoms a lot worse so I would avoid this at all costs before your wedding day. Stick to avoiding trigger foods you are aware of rather than starting a new or drastic diet.
If your diet concerns you then I would advise speaking to a professional dietician or GP who can specialise in IBS as doing any kind of diet can be dangerous and actually make your symptoms worse.
Being comfortable is an absolute priority for IBS sufferers. Especially in what you are wearing. From personal experience, I know that when I was getting my wedding dress I was so cautious and aware of my bloating. It isn’t the nicest topic to discuss but if it is putting you off and making you anxious about wedding dress shopping then talk to stores – there are incredibly lovely people out there and a lot of people who are sufferers too. I will note that finding the right underwear that is comfortable makes a huge difference here too especially for bloating.
Considering getting an outfit made can also be really useful. Discuss how you feel and comfort needs with a bridal designer and they can create something completely bespoke that works perfectly for you. Ultimately, choose an outfit for your day that makes you feel incredible but is also comfortable. Often considering an outfit change for after food can be a game changer too!
Having IBS can be really complex but there are so many things you can do to really help yourself and avoid a flare up in the lead up to your wedding day. Talking is such a big tool and never feel embarrassed to discuss your worries and symptoms with people close to you.
If you need any more help or want to talk to fellow IBS sufferers then check out some of the following;
- The IBS network – https://www.theibsnetwork.org/
- Guts Charity – https://gutscharity.org.uk/
- You’ve Gut This – https://youvegutthis.co.uk/
Plus read our blog on Crohn’s and Colitis on your wedding day.