My IBS Journey: A Personal Experience
I hope by sharing my own personal experience at least one person can feel that they’re not alone – because you definitely are not! I know this is how I used to feel, which was actually the reason for me creating my Instagram page (@fitnessfodmap_), I felt very alone and ‘singled’ out because I didn’t know anyone around me at the time experiencing what I was going through.
My IBS caused a lot of anxiety for a number of years due to not knowing what was setting it off. I would eat something, be ok, eat it again another time and suffer with pain, cramping, bloating and diarrhoea. I took numerous trips to my GP and was told I had IBS and it was something I had to live with. I found this very difficult to digest as it effected my day-to-day life. I didn’t know how to control my IBS in regards to intolerances which as a result created anxiety, the anxiety would then set off my IBS and I found myself going round in circles. I’ve read a lot on the gut-brain axis and for me this was a massive trigger, as soon as my anxiety started so did my gut symptoms (and still does now).
To cut a long story short, after numerous visits to the GP and going private I was advised about the Low Fodmap diet. The best way for me to describe it is an elimination diet which cut outs foods that are not easily broken down by the gut for 2-6 weeks. The foods are then reintroduced to help determine which foods are triggering symptoms – Please note Fodmap diet should only be done alongside a dietician, so please visit your GP if this is something you’ve looked into or want to find more about.
The final stage of the Low Fodmap diet involves establishing a long-term personalised diet (avoiding foods that are triggers). Intolerances do change over time so it’s something that I’m always working on, I’m so passionate about anything gut health and try to incorporate as much variety into my diet as possible.
Amending my diet to suit me has made a positive impact to my life, and my day-to-day living. Things that would before cause me so much anxiety, I now don’t think twice about. For example, being in a longer car journey would set off my IBS due to my anxiety of the fear of the journey and my gut symptoms starting. Now I have control over my diet I am able to manage my symptoms which also relaxes my mind.
Eating out with intolerances can be a tricky one, and it’s taken me time to feel comfortable in doing so. One thing that has made a difference is that I no longer feel embarrassed calling up the restaurant beforehand to check if they can cater to my intolerances. Making them aware before I book makes them aware, and also gives me reassurance. I also always remind the staff when I arrive for extra reassurance!
IBS has been a part of my life for years, and although my diet is significantly more under control there are so many more factors that play a part I.e., stress and lack of sleep. These factors aren’t always easy to overcome but It's something I’m now more aware off.
One of my symptoms that still gets to me is bloating! I know it’s something we all suffer with at stages but I have to admit it’s a symptom that can really get to me and make me feel pretty crappy! For me personally I find I bloat if I eat a larger meal, eat a larger quantity of fodmap foods, am stressed, lack of sleep.. There's a bit of a list! Bloating is a symptom that would automatically get me very down, I would automatically not like the way I look, restrict foods and would feel frustrated with myself. I can’t deny sometimes it still makes me feel low (especially when the bloating is more prolonged) however, having a more positive outlook and chucking on a bloat friendly outfit that makes me feel good, doing my hair/makeup and knowing it will go down has made such a difference to my mood and I honestly feel makes my bloating go quicker where my mind isn’t thinking about it as soon as I wake up to check if it’s still there!
This is just a snippet of my journey with living with IBS, hopefully by me sharing my journey some of you can relate and know you’re definitely not alone.
Follow more of Katrina's journey at @fitnessfodmap_