I can’t quite remember when I started having issues, or what caused it, but it was likely brought on by stress, since I can be very prone to worrying/stressing out! A few years went by before it really started causing me problems, and I eventually ended up going to see a GP.
I had tests for celiac disease and multiple other issues, which all came back clear. I was eventually told I likely had IBS, and essentially there was not much else I could do but try to manage it myself.
I was given a list called a ‘FODMAP’, which was basically a list of foods I could, and could not eat. Back then, this was literally a death sentence- not being over dramatic at all!
At that point in my life, fitness was out of the question, and I lived for anything unhealthy; pizza, crisps, chocolate etc. Since the top avoidable foods on the list were dairy and gluten, it was an outright no.
When I started university, it became so severe I was barley eating at all. I would feel sick to my stomach every night with a fever, bloating, you name it.
I decided I had to make a change, but I had no idea how to start. It was at this point I teamed up with my coach Jack where he made the necessary, but horrible choices I couldn’t make myself.
He forced me to go cold turkey; no dairy, no gluten and nothing at the top of the FODMAP list.
This went on for two weeks before I slowly, but surely, added items at the top of the FODMAP list back into my diet, just to test them. Usually you will find you won’t react to every single thing on the list, and you may be lucky.
Unfortunately, favourites for me like dairy, onion, garlic, apples etc. are an absolute no. I used a diary to document my reactions, and took into considerations other variables at play, like stress etc. to ensure it was a fair test.
Other things I believe have helped me along the way are:
- Upping my daily intake of water to aid digestion
- Getting a good amount of sleep
- Splitting my meals in the day, so I am not putting too much in my system at once
- Watching my fat intake, as this is harder to digest
- Watching my fibre intake, as this can also create an adverse reaction (I tend to stick to 25-30g a day).
- Supplementing with peppermint oil capsules to slow down and settle digestion (mine is prone to working too quickly, but this may be different from person to person).
Touching on that last point, I would also add there are many different types of IBS that may need different adjustments, like ibs-c and ibs-d. However, I won’t talk too much about those, in case anyone is reading this whilst eating!
I will leave you to your own research, based on your particular symptoms. Essentially, it is a game of trial and error, working out what your triggers are, and managing them. I still indulge in the odd pizza, and items which would usually cause flare ups, as every once in a while, my system can handle this.
Unfortunately, I will never be completely cured, and it will be an on-going problem, but now that I know what I can and can’t eat I can live my life a lot happier!
I hope this helped, or just put someone at ease. Although these subjects can be tricky to talk about, I like to ‘normalise’ them as much as possible, so no-one feels embarrassed. If you are struggling with a form of ibs please know there are so many of us out there dealing with the same issues!
Lots of love,