How to Food Prep with IBS

My food prep process started this week with a box of broken eggs. I dropped my bag on my way out of the butchers, breaking four of the dozen eggs inside. The butcher shot me a look of pity that I felt deep in my bones. Stress.

It’s not easy to change your relationship with food. For decades, I wavered between seeing food as an inconvenience, or a threat. Sounds dramatic but is often the norm for women with IBS. When you’ve no idea what your food triggers are, all food is literally a threat.

My fitness journey changed my relationship to food. Instead of being a risk that could cause me days of discomfort and pain, with time, it became fuel to rebuild my body after a killer workout.

The first online coach to inspire me was Jen Heward because her Youtube videos were fun to watch, her warm personality infectious, and her workout tips invaluable. She also taught me the importance of food prep.


If you’re a woman who workouts, you have to food prep if you want to manage body fat and maintain lean mass. Ask any nutritionist and they’ll tell you, body composition is 20% exercise and 80% nutrition.

If that sounds daunting to you, think of this way, how your body looks and performs is 80% within your control. But, not going to lie, it takes work. And if you’ve got IBS, it also demands lots of experimentation.

I started following Jen’s workouts and food tips around 2016 but quickly noticed that a lot of the food tips didn’t work for me. For example, Jen’s a big fan of oatmeal and rice, but both are high fodmap and I can’t eat them.

I tried diets prescribed by other food “experts,” all the usual suspects: Paleo, Keto, vegetarian, carnivore, and by the end of it all, I was so malnourished, I went into early menopause. That’s not all.

I endured almost two years of insomnia, and at my lowest, started having panic attacks. That’s when I decided to study nutrition and learn how to get back to basics. Which brought me back to Jen.


Women need food to fuel their busy lives. That statement sounds so OBVIOUS, it seems ridiculous it needs saying. And yet, it’s a taboo topic, so I’ll say it again: WOMEN NEED FOOD TO FUEL THEIR BUSY LIVES.

If you’re a woman who works out, it’s doubly true for you. As a woman who’s been involved in fitness for seven years, I can’t believe how many of us don’t understand that starving ourselves is not the way to maintain a strong body.

After experimenting with lots of different diets, in the end, I’ve come back to Jen because her message is simple: Eat a wide variety of whole food. That’s it, the key to a good diet: Variety. Whole food. The busier your life, the more of it you need.

Forget the idea that you have to be in a calorific deficit to lose weight. That only works if you want to have a nervous breakdown. By which I mean, if you deprive your body of food for long enough, eventually, it will start shutting down functions.

The first to go is the reproductive system. That’s when your period stops. If calorific deficit continues, the body starts shutting down other functions, leading to problems with sleep, concentration and body temperature.

Irritability, hair loss, dry skin, and bad vision are some symptoms to watch for. When this happens your body is in crisis mode: it wants food, a lot of it. In a deprived state, your nervous system starts to go haywire.

And don’t think that just ‘cause you’ve no symptoms now, you won’t see them in the future. Wait till you get to your forties and find you have osteoarthritis or heart disease or fibromyalgia. If you don’t eat well now, it’s all waiting for you.

However, because our current food system is set up to sell you as much crap as possible, eating good stuff involves food prep.


My first attempt to get on top of Jen’s meal plan tool (her app provides a menu of dishes to choose from) was not a raging success. I made myself a smoothie using one of her recipes – adjusted to my taste.

My ingredients included frozen algae leaves, frozen berries, fresh strawberries, vanilla protein powder, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, and a splash of almond milk. It tasted divine, thick and creamy and nutritious.

But straight away I could tell it contained something that didn’t agree with me. I felt more than satisfied, I felt stuffed – that old familiar IBS belly bloat. I planned to workout thirty minutes after drinking it but had to wait an hour and a half instead, to let the discomfort in my stomach pass.

But I worked-out anyway, knowing from experience that a workout is the best way to combat belly bloat and revive my energy. Plus, I’d prepared more food, chicken with garlic, paprika and maple syrup, another adjustment on one of Jen’s recipes. How would it go down?

It was so good I made it again the next day, along with sweet potato quiche and turkey burgers. All turned out yum, and in each case, I made extra, boxed it up, put it in the fridge or freezer, making it easy to choose a healthy meal next time.


This is how I find and adjust recipes to my taste:

  • Make a list of food I can eat.
  • Scroll through a bunch of recipes online using one ingredient as guide, for example, chicken, or sweet potato.
  • Scan a few recipes containing that ingredient.
  • Find one that matches my taste, check its ingredients, and replace the off-limits ones with things I can eat.
  • Make a list of ingredients to get from the shop.
  • Make time to prepare two or three dishes in one go, so that I save time in the kitchen in the future.

Sample Shopping list:

  • Chicken breasts
  • Sweet potato
  • Almond flour
  • Maple syrup
  • Spinach
  • Basil leaves
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Eggs


Maple and Cinnamon Chicken


Breast of chicken x 2

1 tbsp of olive oil

1 tbsp of maple syrup

1 clove of garlic

1 tsp of cinnamon

1 tsp of paprika

Salt and pepper


  1. Mix together the oil, syrup and spices. (Note: If you can’t eat maple syrup, try raw or coconut sugar. Avoid honey and artificial sweeteners.)

2. Put chicken in lunchbox, and pour liquid mix of it.

3. Leave it to marinate for 4 hours.

4. Spray a skillet with olive oil and cook the chicken for a few minutes on each side. Depending on how thick the breasts are it may be necessary to cover them with a lid for a few minutes to cook inside.

5. Serve with green of your choice. I served with asparagus.


I can eat small amounts of onion and garlic, and include small amounts in these recipes, for example, ¼ of an onion and one clove of garlic. I can also eat asparagus and maple syrup though I realise not all women with IBS can. Again, find what works for you, and change up the ingredients accordingly. See recipes as guides, and don’t be afraid to experiment.


What new recipe can you try this week? Go online, make a plan.


If you need help putting together an eating plan that works with your IBS, get in touch today by sending an email to wildwomanaw@gmail.com

Published by The Healthy Hashhead

Challenging attitudes to cannabis, nutrition and fitness with conscious questions.

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