Food for Flares
If certain foods can trigger your interstitial cystitis symptoms, it only makes sense that you should choose bladder friendly foods if you are in an IC flare. The very safest foods on an IC Diet include plain chicken, pears, green beans, carrots, rice, distilled or filtered water, milk, eggs, and white bread products. You should see positive results within three days of following this very minimal “rescue” diet.
Please note that this diet may be nutritionally deficient, and should not be consumed for longer than a week. Therefore, I recommend that you contact your physician if you do not experience relief after a few days. If your physician says that you need to follow this minimal diet longer than a week, a registered dietitian can help you choose foods to maximize your nutritional intake.
Since interstitial cystitis flares are unpredictable and can consume a tremendous amount of mental and physical energy, it is wise to have a flare first aid plan handy. Make sure you always have a supply of bladder friendly food available.
It is much easier if all you need to shop for is fresh milk and eggs. You can keep chicken, green beans, and white bread in the freezer to pull out at the last minute. Stock up on canned pears and carrots. Rice can be instant or long grain. Rice makers can be a great appliance. In twenty minutes, you can have the base for almost any meal!
Other Self-Help Strategies
In addition to following an IC diet, there are other things you can do to minimize a painful bladder flare. If you are constipated or have diarrhea, other dietary adjustments may be more appropriate than the rescue IC Diet provided. Drinking more water and adding fiber are simple self-care ways to correct these problems. If intestinal problems persist, ask your physician for other treatment recommendations.
Other IC flare management techniques include:
- getting plenty of rest
- practicing stress reduction strategies
- taking warm baths with Epsom salts or baking soda
- wearing loose clothing like jumpers, medical scrubs, or pajamas
- writing in your journal, and
- talking to other IC patients.
Try using a heating pad, hot water bottle, or one of those body heat pads that stick on the outside of your underwear. Heat can fool the body into thinking that you are not feeling any pelvic pain. You might also talk to your doctor about medications you can use specifically for a painful bladder flare.
To simplify the coping process, you might want to create a list of things to do when you get a flare. Include your urologist’s phone number, sample menus, a list of medicines to take, and remind yourself to rest.
Finally, enlist the help of your loved ones. Even small children can understand that your “tummy” hurts, and most will be content to cuddle on the couch with you and do quiet things.
Give Your Body a Chance to Heal
Regardless which IC flare coping strategies you use to get your fussy bladder under control, it is important not to overdo it when you feel better. It may be tempting to work overtime to catch up on chores and work that piled up when you were not feeling well, but I can’t emphasize enough that it is important to rest and eat only the most bladder friendly foods for a week or so after you recover.
Finally, try to think about what may have caused the flare in the first place and add these thoughts to your journal. Did you wear restrictive clothing or try a new food? Were you under more stress than usual, or were you not getting enough sleep? By scrutinizing the things that may have caused your bladder to flare, you may be able to minimize your chances for another one!