How to deal with IBS when dating and staying the night

Dating can be a nerve-wracking experience: cue butterflies, self-consciousness and overthinking – and that’s if you like the person.

Going on a date, and potentially even going home together afterwards, when dealing with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can make the experience even more panic-inducing.

IBS can be caused and triggered by a host things, one being anxiety, which the early stages of dating might potentially heighten.

You see the problem here: it’s a cycle. You get anxious about your IBS ruining your date, so your IBS gets worse, so you feel more anxious, and so on.

Camilla Gray, nutritional therapist at Optibac Probiotics tells Metro.co.uk the issue affects men and women, though women ‘seem to be more susceptible’.

‘It causes unpleasant and sometimes embarrassing symptoms like flatulence, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation,’ she explains.

‘The exact root cause varies from individual to individual, but common triggers include certain foods and drinks like dairy, spicy foods, caffeine and alcohol; emotional triggers like stress and anxiety play a part too.’

‘For those who suffer from stress-related IBS, the thought of having an “episode” on a first date is enough to stop them from putting themselves out there,’ she says, adding that ‘IBS’ is the most searched for term on Optibac Probiotics’ website.

While there’s no cure for IBS, Camilla says there are ways to prepare before a date or the first night in together to make the worry of having an ‘episode’ less severe.

Think about your order

On the day of the date and at the venue itself, avoid foods and drinks that trigger you.

When picking the venue, checking the menu in advance is a good idea so you can feel settled and avoid a last-minute rogue decision.

Camilla says: ‘Stick to ordering drinks you have no issues with and avoid trigger foods on the day of your date.

‘If you’re unsure of what is a “no-no” for you, then I’d suggest choosing an organic red wine, which has shown to be beneficial for overall health in small quantities.’

Outfit choices

While picking out what makes you feel most confident, also think about comfort.

‘This may be a no brainer as you’re planning on going on a date but think about your outfit,’ Camilla suggests.

‘Avoid tight-fitting clothing if you know that can be a trigger for bloating and pain.’

Meditation and yoga

Perhaps cliched, but these things can help, especially if your IBS is triggered by stress.

‘Try some simple meditation or yoga before you go,’ says Camilla. ‘In particular, the cat and cow yoga poses done alternately and as a sequence internally massages the whole digestive system.

‘These practices have been shown to help reduce the symptoms of IBS and will put you into a more relaxed state.’

Consider a probiotic

Probiotics are increasingly getting attention for how they can boost general health.

Camilla says it’s worth doing some research to find one that can help with IBS, allowing time for it to work.

She recommends either Optibac Probiotics’ S. boulardii for diarrhoea and Every Day Extra that contains Lactobacillus acidophilus, which is an ingredient trialled for pain and bloating.

Positive mindset

‘The gut and the brain are connected so if you are feeling happy then there is more of a chance your gut is going to be too,’ Camilla says.

‘Visualise the date going well, or try out some positive affirmations whilst getting ready.’

The more relaxed and upbeat you feel, the less focused you’ll likely be on your IBS.

Communicate

Understandably, talking about IBS can be tricky and you might worry about getting an unsympathetic reaction.

But there are no rules for when it’s the right time to mention the condition.

To be subtle, Camilla says: ‘If you plan to meet for a dinner date, you could casually mention that you have a sensitive digestion and that you must be careful with what you eat.

‘Ultimately, it’s what you feel more comfortable with, you may want to get it over with right away or wait until you get to know them a little better.’

If you do choose to share at some stage and are met with a childish response, consider it a ‘lucky escape’, Camilla says.

The right person will like you the way you are, IBS bloating and all.

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