If you have incontinence, you have probably been told countless times that your diet can have a profound effect on your voiding patterns. While it is important to obey the basic rules, you shouldn’t have to stick to a boring regime.
Just as obesity can worsen your symptoms, eating the wrong foods can make incontinence much harder to manage. The following tips can make food rules seem less like a chore and more exciting:
Breakfast, in particular, is a meal that is often very regimented. As health expert Kari Hartel states, “many people eat the exact same foods every single day for breakfast. This may work for some, however it might drive others to feel frustrated and bored with the usual healthy morning staples”. It is well known that some foods, such as caffeine and chocolate can aggravate incontinence symptoms. Get creative with the ingredients and try different things with the things you can eat. If you often have toast in the morning, try adding some poached eggs for a boost of protein. You can also try adding nuts and fruit to your porridge or cereal to add flavour and nutrition. Oatmeal with fresh blueberries and all-natural maple syrup is a perfect dish for incontinence. As Anne-Marie Botek asserts, “blueberries have been linked to supporting urinary tract health. One cup of oatmeal has about four grams of fibre in it, while adding maple syrup will add sweetness to the dish.”
Don’t Stick to Plain Water
Drinking water is vital when living with incontinence, as it can prevent the bladder from becoming irritated and worsening symptoms. As Jennifer Anger, MD, assistant professor of urology at David Geffen School of Medicine states, “if you don’t drink enough water, you can get dehydrated and upset your bladder further”. However, although the best beverage for incontinence is water, you can always try different flavours and make it more interesting. Even a small slice of lemon may improve the taste of water enough that you will find it enjoyable. Incontinence friendly fruit juices such as grape juice, cranberry juice and cherry juice may help control urine odour.
Look for Alternatives to Tea and Coffee
Coffee is a huge culprit for incontinence symptoms, as high caffeine contents is a well-known bladder irritant. Many take-away coffee brands use an extortionate amount of caffeine in products. One eight-ounce cup of brewed coffee contains approximately 180mg of caffeine while a large, 20-ounce cup contains 415 mg. It is a diuretic, and women may be causing their kidneys to produce more urine. This, as a result, overwhelms the bladder and causes frequent trips to the restroom or urinary leakage. Just because you can’t consume caffeine in excess doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a warm drink. Instead of coffee, tea and milk chocolate, you can drink non-carbonated decaf drinks, low-acid coffee, non-citrus herbal teas and white chocolate. Interestingly, the darker the chocolate, the higher the caffeine content. Alternatively, you could always replace tea and coffee with herbal tea. If you have a sugar craving in the middle of the afternoon, opt for a small amount of white chocolate to avoid upsetting your bladder.
Explore New Places to Eat
Many restaurants offer a variety of options with incontinence friendly ingredients. Just because you are watching what you eat doesn’t mean you can’t eat at new, exciting places. If you are anxious about what food to order, have a look at the menu online before eating out. Restaurant staff are normally not clued up on incontinence culprits, so it is important to know what you can eat before going out.
Fibre Foods Don’t Have to be Boring
Putting more fibre in your diet helps keep you from feeling constipated. Undue and excess pressure is placed on the bladder when you are constipated, which can agitate incontinence. A recent study found that women who include plenty of fibre in their diet are a fifth less likely to develop bowel control problems as they age. However, consuming fibre does not mean you have to stick to bread and oats. Other rich fibre foods to explore include beans, lentils, raspberries, artichokes, barley and almonds.
Don’t Neglect the Use of Spices
Although some spices are a known culprit for incontinence symptoms, you can replace more offensive spices such as chilli with rosemary, dill, thyme and garlic. These are bladder neutral and will not cause you problems. Try to experiment with different seasonings to put a new twist on go-to dishes. Many spices are flavourful and strong in taste, and a little can go a long way. Nutrition Rachel Begun explains, “spices contribute rich flavour to food without adding any calories, fat, sugar or salt”.