Regaining Your Appetite With IBS: Step-By-Step Action Plan.
Our content is not intended nor recommended as a substitute for medical advice by your doctor. Use for informational purposes only.
This is not just some random tips; it is a comprehensive guide.:
- I will take you in a simple step-by-step approach to identify the causes and treat lost appetite with IBS.
- Applying this guide will help you regain the desire for food again.
- All in one place, you won’t need any other information.
NOTE: this is not a substitute for professional help from your doctor or psychologist.
Step #1: Evaluate yourself for Anxiety, Mental wellbeing-.
Regarding loss of appetite with IBS, the Mind-Gut axis is the NO. 1 mechanism causing anorexia. The most frequent cause of loss of appetite with IBS is due to psychological factors such as:
- Continuous stress and anxiety, including health anxiety
- Poor coping mechanisms with stressful situations.
- A low threshold to pain (including IBS-related Abdominal Pain).
- Depression, Post-traumatic stress disorders.
How to evaluate your psychological wellbeing and the need for Help?
As an IBS sufferer, you have a 40-50% chance of having anxiety or any other mental health problem.
So, Losing appetite may be just one of the manifestations of the abnormal “Gut-Brain connection.”
Anxiety can be easily evaluated by a simple questionnaire called the GAD-7 score. But it is not only about anxiety. as many other psychological abnormalities can contribute.
So, to simplify it, this simple test provided by Online-Therapy.com screening for ANY Mental health issues is a better fit than taking an anxiety-only test.
Action step: take this 12-point test to evaluate the role of your stress, anxiety in IBS, and anorexia.
If your results lie in the red or the yellow zone, your anorexia is likely related to psychological factors.
How to Fix Your Mind-Gut Axis:
The next step after assessing yourself for anxiety is to fix it.
There are too many treatments and actions you can take. But mentioning every single option to cope with your anxiety is too overwhelming for me.
And the “Too-many” options can lead to you not acting.
So, I will narrow this to the two or three most effective approaches to deal with your mental health issues causing IBS and anorexia:
- The first approach (Easiest to implement): Gut-directed Hypnotherapy for anorexia.
- The second approach (the most effective): Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
- Third approach: Anti-anxiety Medications (prescribed by your doctor).
How these strategies will help you with your IBS and loss of appetite:
- Stress, anxiety, and the lack of mental wellbeing may be the most impactful factor on your gut health. (FODMAPs are only part of the story)!
- Controlling and reversing your anxiety, stress, or depression will help you Beat both IBS and Anxiety.
- It is especially important if your IBS and anorexia are notably related to stress rather than food.
- It can help you completely reverse to normal life and eat without pain.
- It will make you more psychologically strong, and able to cope with stress.
- It will bring your self-satisfaction back again.
- Becoming less vulnerable to the vague feeling of fear, worry, and sadness.
- And the net result is being able to eat food again and control your weight and physical health.
I know that you are overwhelmed by the conflicting Advice about IBS, ranging from food-based advice, psychological treatments, medications, Yoga, supplements… etc.
But you have to try and figure out what works for YOU!
As a gastroenterologist and an IBS sufferer, I found “Exploring and trying different treatment approaches is the best way to control your IBS” and related issues such as loss of appetite.
- First, try an evidence-based Hypnotherapy audio program, give it 4 to 6 weeks try, and if it doesn’t work for you, proceed to the next approach.
- Second, Try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for IBS (One of the most effective and underrated therapies for IBS). And the beauty of CBT is that it can be performed completely online without wasting time with local therapists.
- Third, if the above approaches fail, ask your doctor about anti-anxiety medications to help you with your IBS and lost appetite.
Our recommended tools to start with are:
1- Best Hypnotherapy for IBS and lost appetite: This affordable, industry-leading hypnosis company (hypnosis) has two great programs you can start with
And the good news is that they have a 60-day money-back guarantee if it doesn’t work for you.
Another popular program
2- Best CBT Online service:
My recommended online CBT service is online-therapy.com; I think it is the most reliable service with well-known faces behind this company.
Also, you will enjoy a full toolbox, including worksheets, yoga classes, and more.
Step #2: Evaluate yourself for coexisting conditions causing anorexia.
As I discussed in part one of this series, loss of appetite with IBS may not result from IBS.
Lost appetite may result from co-existing diseases or conditions that commonly cause anorexia.
The associated condition may be:
A. Acute (for few days or few weeks): usually caused by infections
- Recent Gut infection, such as Viral gastroenteritis, symptoms usually include recent diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and maybe low-grade fever. Infection can be viral, bacterial, parasitic, or protozoal. Learn more HERE.
- Recent Infections elsewhere: any infection elsewhere outside your gut can also lead to anorexia, nausea, and maybe vomiting. Symptoms vary according to the type of infection you have. Common infections include flu, cold, urinary tract infection, sinusitis… etc.
- Any painful condition: pain can lead to lost appetite and nausea. Common acute painful conditions include headaches, migraine, ankle sprains, etc..…
B. Chronic (usually more than four weeks):
- To learn more about Co-existing Function gut disease (common association) and most commonly, Functional dyspepsia (FD), see part 1 of this series.
- Co-existing Gastritis, GERD, or Peptic ulcer disease: the major symptoms is epigastric pain or heartburn associated with meals.
- Co-existing chronic diseases: such as diabetes mellitus (commonly causing a condition called functional dyspepsia), Gallbladder diseases, chronic infections such as HIV, and chronic liver or kidney diseases. LEARN MORE HERE.
- Co-existing malignant diseases (cancers).
Step #3: Review your list of medications that may cause anorexia.
Many medications (including some IBS medications) can cause loss of appetite with your IBS!
If you’re taking regular medications for IBS or any other conditions, please review the list with your doctor to determine if one is the cause of anorexia.
Some IBS medications May cause loss of appetite, for example:
- Dicyclomine (Bentyl).
- Hyoscomine (Anaspaz, Hyosyne)
- Lubiprostone (Amitiza).
- And others.
Some other medications can cause anorexia (loss of appetite)
- Some antibiotics (such as Metronidazole).
- Certain sedatives and antidepressants, such as Fluoxetine.
- Some asthma medications, such as Salbutamol and Theophylline.
- Some Heart medications, such as Amiodarone, Acetazolamide.
- Some anti-epileptic medications, such as Topiramate.
What to do if you’re taking one of the above-listed drugs?
Don’t stop any medication your doctor prescribes, whether it is for IBS or other diseases. This is because:
- Taking one of the medications mentioned above doesn’t necessarily mean it is the cause of your anorexia.
- Stopping IBS medications can worsen your IBS. Also, stopping prescribed medications for any condition or disease can cause harm.
- Always work with your care provider to identify and eliminate the offending medication if present.
Step #4: Check for any warning signs.
Before you continue to apply the below home remedies and strategies, you should make sure there is no problematic feature with your anxiety:
If you experience any of the below symptoms or signs, consult your doctor immediately:
- Signs of an “Eating Disorder”: such as Anorexia Nervosa and “Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder” or (ARFID). Very restrictive food intake can cause profound weight loss and physical and mental health impairment. Learn more HERE.
- Progress weight loss.
- Unexplained Fever.
- Unexplained anemia or manifestation of anemia such as pulse, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
- Abnormal stool changes such as bloody stool or blackish stool.
Step #5: Control your IBS pain, colics, and diarrhea.
Our brain has a distinct system for Reward-seeking and avoidance behavior. Your IBS pain can contribute to the loss of your appetite.
, your brain associates food intake with IBS pain, which will result in anorexia. In severe forms, this behavior can progress into a real eating disorder (ARFID).
The first step to regain your appetite is to control your IBS pain. Limiting your Painful IBS experience can help your brain to accept food again.
And the three main lines to work on are:
- Food: avoiding food triggers and starting a low FODMAP diet plan. Download our comprehensive FODMAP guide here.
- Mind: Anxiety and other psychological factors contribute to IBS (discussed above).
- Medications & supplements: such as antispasmodics, anti-diarrheals, Probiotics, etc…
Learn More on how to control IBS Pain HERE and HERE.
Step #6: Apply these food strategies to regain appetite.
Here are the most effective food strategies that help with appetite:
- Don’t snack between meals: this will help you to become hungry during the next meal.
- Add Flavors: adding spices, herbs, or other flavorings can encourage you to eat.
- Socialize while you eat: relaxing and socializing with your beloved ones can greatly improve your appetite.
- Try eating smaller meals instead of large ones.
- Try taking calories in a “liquid meal” such as “Ensure” instant breakfasts or any other meal replacement. It will keep balanced nutrition. But remember to ensure it is low in FODMAP. Read this article to learn how.
- Watch your favorite Movie, TV show, or music while eating.
Step #7: Restore your gut microbiome balance!
The living microorganisms inside your intestine greatly affect your gut health, immunity, and appetite.
It is an entire world living inside your digestive system. Recent Research demonstrates its very important role in every aspect of your health. And its relation to your appetite is not an exception.
Wondering How a probiotic can improve your appetite?
This interesting review at oxford academic titled “Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis: Modulator of Host Metabolism and Appetite” explains everything.
According to this study, the Alternation of Mice gut microbiota resulted in abnormal appetite, food taste, and weight alternations.
Moreover, alternations in your gut microbiota are one of the strongest theories of IBS.
So, I recommend a one-month Probiotic trial to all My IBS patients.
Major Potential Benefits for your IBS and Appetite: (ref)
- It canease Major IBS symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and bloating.
- Improve your appetite, and food taste.
- Optimize your weight, and prevent obesity and underweight.
- Improves mood, and altered microbiota are strongly related to mental health problems such as anxiety, stress, and depression. (Microbiota-Gut-Brain axis).
How to select a Probiotic that works?
The Ideal Probiotic should:
- Contain “Living” and “Active” bacterial cultures so that you can obtain the benefits.
- Contain Multiple strains: Studies indicate that multiple-strain probiotics are more effective than single-strain probiotics.
- Contain important Gut-specific strains: Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
- Contain at least 1 billion CFU (Colony Forming Units).
- Allergen-free: the ideal probiotic should be free from lactose, Gluten, GMOs, and other perspectives that can trigger IBS symptoms.
- Take a prebiotic with your Probiotic: To Maximize the effect of Probiotics for loss of appetite and IBS, You should feed this good bacteria. The food for probiotic bacteria is called “prebiotics.”
Taking a Prebiotic with your Probiotic boosts its effects, and you will obtain better results.
What is the Best Probiotic for IBS and Lost Appetite?
No scientific Probiotic strain/brand works for all IBS sufferers; the best strategy is to choose a single probiotic, stick to it for one month, and if there is no improvement, shift to the second. I recommend you experiment with at least four types of probiotics before you give up probiotics. Try our specific step-by-step guide approach and recommendations to start with.
If you’re already taking your probiotic and are doing a good job controlling your IBS, don’t change it.
If you are starting from zero, I recommend seed (a prebiotic and probiotic in one capsule, multi-strain, The highest quality I’ve seen)
Step #8: Ensure Normal zinc and thiamine.
Many vitamins and micro-nutrients play an important role in appetite. TZinc and Thiamine are he two most influential minerals and vitamins (Vit. B1).
It is better to combine them in one capsule instead of taking endless amounts every day. Also, ensure that the capsule doesn’t include any allergen to trigger IBS.
A good option for lost appetite and IBS is this allergen-free multivitamin (AMAZON.COM) containing both Zinc and Thiamine.
Step #9: Exercise, Exercise, and Exercise.
Being sedentary is the biggest enemy of appetite. If you want a long-lasting good appetite, you must exercise regularly.
Best Actionable exercises you can do:
- Daily walking: 30-60 minutes.
- Daily Biking: for at least 30 minutes.
What exercises to avoid: (may trigger IBS symptoms
- HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training)
Step #10: If there is no improvement, Ask your doctor about anorexia medications.
Consult your doctor if:
- No improvement in your appetite despite applying the above steps.
- Extreme loss of appetite for longer periods (more than a week), suggesting an “eating disorder.”
- Progressive and significant weight loss. (suggesting an eating disorder or hidden organic disease such as cancer)
- The onset of anorexia is associated with introducing a new medication (or changing the dose of an old medication).
- Associated Unexplained fever.
- Any other associated symptoms that are not typical for your IBS include blood in the stool, vomiting, irregular or fast heartbeats, extreme dizziness, or vertigo.
You can also read our comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to cure IBS pain quickly.