IBS and the Coronavirus (COVID-19) – What You Need To Know
If you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and are concerned about the potentially unique impact on your already beleaguered digestive system of contracting the coronavirus or spreading it to others, we wanted to provide you with some guidance on how to help mitigate that.
This article was originally written and published March 2020. The majority of links are to primary authoritative resources that have been kept up to date as information, understanding and the virus, evolve. General guidance as it relates to managing IBS and COVID-19 remain the same.
In this article we seek to provide you with the basics and links to vetted sources of information. We then focus on IBS, staying on track with your low FODMAP diet and how to keep yourself and your family from overly stressing out due to the disruption.
We have published an article (Sept. 2022) about the currently understood connection between COVID-19 and the onset or worsening of IBS – both acute and long term impacts. As well as articles on the potential impact of “long COVID” and the COVID-19 vaccine on gut health. All of these articles can be found here.
You May Want To Read: COVID-19 & Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): What Is The Connection?
Be sure to read all of your articles about COVID-19:
- COVID-19 Vaccinations: Considerations for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- COVID-19 & Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): What Is The Connection?
- COVID-19 & Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): “Long COVID”, Mast Cell Activation & Histamine Intolerance
- IBS and the Coronavirus (COVID-19) – What You Need To Know
- Gastroenteritis and COVID-19
- The Basics
- CDC FAQ Page
- Info Especially for IBD Patients
- Need the support of a RDN?
- Where Else to Get Reliable Basic Health Information About The Coronavirus
- Public Health Office Websites for General Updates on the Coronavirus for your Country
- Articles We Found Helpful Covering Topics Others May Not Be Covering
- Low FODMAP Options for Hydration and Meals You Should Have in Place
- Order Your Low FODMAP Meals to Be Delivered
- Make Sure Your Pantry Is Well Stocked With Low FODMAP Essentials & Snacks
- Shop Low FODMAP Online and Have It Delivered!
- Stress Management / Reduction For The Whole Family
- If Quarantined How To Avoid Going Stir Crazy!
- For the Kids!
Gastroenteritis and COVID-19
According to the American Gastroenterological Association regarding coronavirus
• Gastroenteritis symptoms often precede upper respiratory infection symptoms
• Coronavirus can be detected in the stool
• Hand washing is crucial to prevent fecal/oral transmission – scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
Avoidance of Infection
We want to encourage you to take some time to prepare yourself, your family and your home as we collectively make significant changes to our daily lives in an effort to curb or curtail the impact of this virus on our community and loved ones.
The majority of people who get infected will have mild symptoms, and we are still learning about the longer term impacts of the virus on our bodies – but the goal is to help avoid spreading the virus to our friends, family and community members who are at greater risk.
For the latest up to date guidance on COVID-19 mitigation please visit: Health Departments: Information on COVID-19
We are not providing medical advice. This can and must only come from your physician, Registered Dietitian or other accredited medical professional. Each of you has a body and health profile that is unique – so this information is provided as a resource for you, your family and your medical support team to refer to.
Let’s dive in!
CDC FAQ Page
All of the answers to the below questions and more can be found on the Center For Disease Control (CDC) FAQ website. So instead of repeating what is best explained there we provide you this link. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html
- What is the Coronavirus?
- How Does It Spread
- Symptoms (General, and IBS related)
- Who Is Most At Risk
- When to Seek Help and Who To Go To
- How can I access COVID-19 testing?
- And more…
Info Especially for IBD Patients
The Crohns and Colitis Foundation has developed a highly detailed information resource here: https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/coronavirus-update/adults
Need the support of a RDN?
Find one here in our International Registered Dietitian Directory who can work with you remotely.
Where Else to Get Reliable Basic Health Information About The Coronavirus
Information about COVID-19 in the United States
Coronavirus Advisory Information
Coronavirus Condition Overview
Public Health Office Websites for General Updates on the Coronavirus for your Country
Generally if you just google search for “public health or department of health (add your country here)” you will get a contact.
Quick Access for the countries most of our readers are from:
- U.S.A.: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
- Canada: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health.html
- UK: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-of-health-and-social-care
- Australia: https://www.health.gov.au/
- New Zealand: https://www.health.govt.nz/
Articles We Found Helpful Covering Topics Others May Not Be Covering
- Sex and Dating Questions Answered
- What About Make-up?
- How to Protect the Elderly and Vulnerable from Coronavirus – And If You Live Alone
- Keeping Your Kitchen Clean – lots of great guidance
- Cleaning Your Phone
- How To Clean Up Your Home After Illness
- What About Your Toothbrush?
- IBS in Children: What Do You Do?
Low FODMAP Options for Hydration and Meals You Should Have in Place
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
We all know none of us drinks enough water. And if you get sick you can easily dehydrate. But what if you need more than water to deal with more significant dehydration?
In this article we talk all about which hydration products are safe to consume if you are following the low FODMAP diet. You can always count on a low FODMAP certified option such as Ceralyte.
Order Your Low FODMAP Meals to Be Delivered
Both of these low FODMAP home delivered prepared meal services, ModifyHealth and Epicured are excellent options for staying on track when you might not be able to get to the market, or the market is limited in stock , if you are quarantined in your home due to illness or virus exposure or are just too darn busy taking care of everyone else!.
We have reached out to both companies to provide statements on how they are addressing food safety and hygiene and we are deeply appreciative of the seriousness with which they take this responsibility. You can see their statements in full at the bottom of this post.
To learn more about each company and their offerings please go to our articles describing their line of ready to eat home delivered low FODMAP, gluten free meals.
Make Sure Your Pantry Is Well Stocked With Low FODMAP Essentials & Snacks
- Top 6 Low FODMAP Pantry Items
- Top 6 Low FODMAP Fridge & Freezer Items
- All About Canned Tuna & the Low FODMAP Diet
- 6 Fabulous, Crunchy Low FODMAP Snacks
- Best Low FODMAP Snacks: For On The Run
- Low FODMAP Camping – Meals, Snacks & More to Keep You A Happy Camper!
Meal Plan and Shop for a 2 Week Period
Keep it as simple as possible. Even if you aren’t normally a meal planner or meal prepper consider doing so for the next little while.
Use a meal planner to help coordinate your meals and consolidate your shopping. We have launched a low FODMAP Meal Planner with Real Plans.
You can also download a free planner here and use our recipe filter to build your own by hand! Since almost all of our recipes are Elimination Phase Friendly search by recipes that FODMAP Everyday® has determined to most likely be suitable for the Elimination Phase by looking for our “e-for elimination” icon
And if you make sure you have 3-4 hours between meals – and are not stacking FODMAPs within meals, you should easily create a simple two-week plan.
Think about meals you can make and freeze – so that if you do start to feel sick you won’t have to worry about making a meal but will be able to ensure you are getting the nutritional inputs you need.
Think comfort food and soups. One pan meals too! Make enough for leftovers. Breakfasts can be easy if you make a batch or two of muffins and freeze some. Make sure you explore our over 1000 low FODMAP recipes and make a delicious, easy to shop and prepare for plan.
Create your shopping list using either the Spoonful App or any of our downloadable low FODMAP supermarket shopping lists!
Shop Low FODMAP Online and Have It Delivered!
Or check out our SHOP here on FODMAP Everyday where we have curated all of the low FODMAP products we use and love. Hundreds of them!
By making the decision to ensure your low FODMAP dietary needs are met you will have made a massive investment in your health and wellness during a time of increased stress.
Let’s talk about other ways to manage stress!
Stress Management / Reduction For The Whole Family
Why Stress Management?
Pretty simple answer…stress makes IBS symptoms worse. Period. And stressful people are not fun to be around. And if we are all going to be hunkering down with family or friends or alone – a good attitude and some stress busters are essential. So we offer the following.
You May Want To Read: IBS & Stress- Common Causes and Solutions
Never meditated? Now is a great time to explore meditation as a means of bringing your stress levels down. There are apps and YouTube videos you can explore. Go find a quiet spot and take 10 minutes out of your day – maybe twice a day. And use this time to get to know yourself and quiet down the chattering monkey in your head. Oprah Magazine provides a good set of reviews here in their article The Best Meditation Apps to Help With Anxiety
The good folks at Ten Percent Happier have developed a wonderful resource full of podcasts and meditations specifically focused on alleviating pandemic induced stress.
We have an entire series of 6 articles titles “It’s Your Body” which focuses on movements and practices for belly health, specifically for people with IBS or other gut-related health concerns – but the principles can be applied to us all!
You can find all of the articles in the series here.
Moving your body and dancing can release huge amounts of stress very quickly! Go ahead! Turn the music up! Dance in the kitchen, grab your cat, kids or partner and boogie until you can’t! We love Spotify or Pandora for great dance song lists. You can also of course use Youtube or Apple Music or play your CDs, or casette tapes and records! Whatever gets your body moving and your heart pumping and your attitude lifting!
Here is one of ours to get you started! My playlist called “dance it out!” on Spotify.
If you live somewhere that you can walk without interacting with others – for example a hike in the woods, or in your back fields, the empty track at the local HS or College that is likely now on shut down or will be, down your street early in the morning. Just to get outside and get some fresh air. Take your dog and head out. If you have been infected and on the mend or not feeling too badly just be sure you are not breaking any quarantine requirements set by your local health department.
If Quarantined How To Avoid Going Stir Crazy!
Internet access is fairly common in most parts of the world. So if you have it then you probably already have a long list of shows you wished you had time to binge watch. Well now may be your chance! Probably stay away from the movies about pandemics and body snatchers!
I have officially become a podcast junkie. I listen to series when I drive, when I garden, sometimes when I work, when I cook. I love the variety of podcasts out there now. If you have not yet experienced a podcast then RUN, don’t walk. You have tons of choices of podcast apps to choose from – almost all of them offer free access to hundreds and hundreds of podcasts. Check out the best podcast apps to download now to your phone.
You and your kids will love the stories you can find. Instead of staring at a computer or phone screen hang out and listen to a podcast. You can knit, cook, pet the dog all while getting carried away with some amazing story.
For the Kids!
I have a childhood friend Diane Gager Hesler, who runs the most amazing afterschool program The Happily Ever After School Program, LLC for elementary aged kids and if I could live my childhood over again I’d want to be at her house every afternoon! I asked her for her current favorite go to’s for keeping kids engaged for hours a day. This is what she had to share.
Here are Diane’s go-to sites:
For Learning About Space
For Learning About the Earth
Virtual Museum Tours
Podcasts for Kids
Diane says she and the kids like the podcast Eleanor Amplified, which is 3 (soon to be 4) seasons of the charming and compelling, ongoing adventures of Eleanor, intrepid girl reporter and Pants On Fire which is a game show pitting children against adults.
Games Kids Love
Blockus (a Swedish game) in which one must be the first to lay down all of their cubes, Exploding Kittens in which strategic card play prevents one from being blown sky-high, and Werewolf, another strategic card game that’s a lot like an Agatha Christie novel in which someone in the room is murdered and everyone else has to figure out whodunnit!!!
Start a new book! Nothing beats being drawn into a world drawn by a wonderful author. Read a book out loud to your family or pets. Pull out the board games. (But remember to disinfect them when done!) Limit screen time by offering hands on activities.
Today’s Parent has a great list of games to play with your kids if quarantined. Keeping kids busy will go a long way in also keeping them healthy. Set up hand washing routines and set a good example of how you handle tissues, and clean up after yourself during this time.
Join us on our Facebook Business page or our Facebook Low FODMAP For Foodies Group page to keep up with the latest and stay in touch with our low FODMAP recipes and posts! If you haven’t signed up for our newsletter you can do so here.
We hope that each of you takes good care of yourself, your loved ones and your neighbors. Join us on social media where we can share the joys and challenges of this journey together. You are not alone!
With wishes for good health and joy, Robin and Dédé