Hey Everyone! Normally I don’t do this, but I had a reader approach me from NewLifeOutlook.com and asked if I could feature a writer on my blog. I was happy to let them share their own experiences with IBS because it’s different for everyone. Meet Codie from the UK who shares her personal experience with IBS.
For as long as I can remember, I have had somewhat of an interesting relationship with my bowels.
After every meal as a teenager, I would have to go to the toilet straight away for a bowel movement. I would poop several times a day, and presumed that was the average.
That was until I went to a festival and couldn’t quite believe that no one else in my group had pooped for the whole four days! By choice! How is that even possible?
So I began to research and came across IBS — irritable bowel syndrome. Some people suffer with struggling to poop, while others (myself included) poop often and loose — it’s certainly not ideal!
One of the biggest problems with IBS is that it’s hard to diagnose. It is not something that can be tested for, and usually it is diagnosed by ruling out everything else. You may be sent for blood tests and examinations, and if everything else comes back negative, you will likely be diagnosed with IBS.
Although it is likely to be a long-term issue, there are often periods of time that are better than others and things such as stress can aggravate the condition.
How Food Plays a Role in IBS
One of the biggest triggers for an IBS flare up is different types of food. Everyone tends to have different, specific triggers, but there is a group of foods known as FODMAPs — which stands for fermentable, oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols — that your body struggles to absorb and digest, and causes your gut to act out.
Examples of foods to avoid, or limit, include onion, garlic, wheat, cherries, peaches, blackberries and more than one glass of wine (booo!).
Know Your Triggers
It’s not all bad, of course; there are some foods that are great for your tummy, such as tomatoes, olives, lettuce, lemons, limes, beef, chicken, kangaroo(!), Quorn, peanuts, and chocolate. You can even have limited alcohol.
In some cases, you need to experiment with your own triggers. For example, potatoes at a restaurant that have been re-heated or left under a heat lamp will give me a massive bloat and awful stomach cramps. I also know that I can’t drink too much fruit cider or sugary coolers as the next day I feel horrific, and my stomach suffers.
Lots of people struggle with IBS and alcohol, coffee, and dairy, but that doesn’t mean everyone does, so be sure to know your triggers and keep track of them!
Managing Your Symptoms With Good Choices
One of the things that makes IBS so awful is the fact that there is no cure for the condition. You can, however, manage the symptoms and try to reduce the impact it has on your life.
Of course, the obvious one is your diet. Keeping a food diary and noting down how you feel after each meal will help you identify your triggers, and therefore allow you to avoid (or at least reduce) foods that aggravate your condition.
Exercising regularly is another good way to help alleviate some of your symptoms, even if it is something light, such as yoga or walking.
Finally, reduce your stress levels! As hard as it may be, (especially when IBS causes you stress in itself!), try to relax as much as you can as stress is a big trigger for the condition.
Support Is Out There!
IBS can be awkward and embarrassing, as most things that involve your toilet habits tend to be, however, it’s not dangerous, nor does it increase your risk of cancer, so all you can really do is own it. It’s more common than you think and there are so many forums and chats to join in with — you might even be surprised by people in your everyday life who suffer quietly with the same problem.
The biggest thing I’ve found that has helped me is just being open about it. That way, I don’t have to sneak off to the loo.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m not too graphic, but people know that I poop a lot and that when I say I need to go, I really need to go! It makes people a lot more open with me too, which I love!
So, if you think you might have IBS, start a food diary and head to the doctors. If you know you suffer with it, change your diet and reduce your stress — and don’t forget to keep a sense of humor!
Codie is a twenty-something freelance writer who lives in a little seaside town “Up North” in the UK with her fiancé, kitten, and bearded dragon. You can find more of Codie’s writing on NewLifeOutlook.