Living with IBS

It has only been a few months since I was diagnosed, but the symptoms have been there for much longer…

I always thought of IBS as a fabricated condition that people use as an excuse when in reality they have just eaten too much bread and got a little bloated. It was no different when I first noticed the symptoms. I thought to myself “Oh, maybe I shouldn’t have eaten so much crap”. So I packed in the the green veg, but the symptoms became worse! So “It must to be the change in diet… keep going and it will get better”, so I thought. But it didn’t. I finally went to the doctors and after various blood and stool tests, the verdict was IBS.

For those who don’t know, IBS (Irritable Bawl Syndrome) is a condition of the digestive system that can cause bloating, diarrhea and or/ constipation. According to the NHS website, one in 5 people have it in one degree or another (some people have more severe symptoms than others) and its not something you are born with. It usually develops in between your 20s and 30s… mine came along bang on 30!

It wasn’t just the bloating and painful gut that bothered me,  I’d often feel nauseous, specially while working out. I became lethargic and very tired all the time.
The worse thing is that once you got it, its with you for life! There is no cure and the effects can be very debilitating. However, it does tend to come and go and there is lots you can do to make yourself feel better!

Everyone is different, so you got to find what works for you, but here is the 5 (maybe 6) things that trigger my IBS and its best to be avoided:
    <li>Stress - This is the biggest trigger and the hardest to avoid! Stress comes in many forms and sometimes you might not even feel stressed but your cortisol levels will be through the roof. Make sure you make some time for yourself. Whether its a spa day or relaxing bath, taking some time to yourself can put things in perspective and calm you down.

  • Fibrous Veg - That’s also a big offender for me, specially in raw form! When my IBS is flared up at it’s peak, my gut just cant deal with it and I can’t even look at broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale or in fact any fibrous veg, unless its cooked to death! Roasted soggy veg works better to me. In an attempt to not miss out on nutrients, have green juices making sure the fibre has been removed. However, when the IBS is under control, I can tolerate a moderate amount of well cooked veg.
  • Alcohol - I don’t drink that often, and if I keep it to a glass or two over dinner, it seams to be ok. But anymore than that and my stomach turns to pieces and next day, I am in IBS hell.
  • Very Fatty Foods - very fatty foods like chips, curry etc… always seem to feel quite heavy in my stomach anyway, but if I try to eat things fatty foods in the meddle of an IBS crisis, it’s a recipe for disaster! I tend to stay clear
  • Big Meals - My gut seems to have problems dealing with big meals and prefer anything from 4-6 smaller meals a day, rather then 2- 3 big meals.
  • Coffee - I’m still on the fence with this one. Mainly because I love it so much that I don’t want to believe it makes me ill. But also because it only gives me problems when I have too much of it or when my IBS is already flared up! My coffee consumption is directly related to its sleep deprivation and stress so it’s hard to say whether it is causation or correlation. So the judgment is still out on this one…. I am not ready to give up on my coffee affair ;)

If you suffer from IBS*, pay attention to what you eat and how your body feels. An elimination diet may help you identify what you can and cannot eat. But it will take more than a couple of days to see any improvement in your condition. Once your IBS is flared up, it can take a week or two to clear up. Remember that the body loves consistency, so once you feel better, try to re-introduce food items slowly. Any sudden change can upset things again. There is no substitute for a healthy balanced diet. However, always pay attention to your body and if it's telling you to stay clear of raw veg, than you may want to pay attention ;)

*If you think you suffer from IBS, consult your doctor.