IBS. Yep; definitely irritating!

My Anecdotal Guide to Managing IBS.

Are you regularly constipated, nauseous, suffer from stomach cramps and have bouts of diarrhoea?

You may suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome. As do I. Read on to see what works for me.

From my 20s, I regularly had a bloated belly.

By my 30s, it became worse; particularly when I consumed milk products and was stressed.

I saw my GP who told me that no test would be done to see if I was allergic/intolerant of milk unless, I had diarrhoea, vomiting and lost about half of my body weight!

As my 30s progressed, it got worse. I could fasten my pants in the morning but by the afternoon, I had to unfasten them and hoped they wouldn’t fall down! At times, I looked like I swallowed a football and was asked on a couple of occasions if I was pregnant.

By my late 30s, I experienced occasional nausea and by the time I was 40, I had stomach cramps and even vomited, at times when I was stressed.

I lost my pleasure in eating out, due to rushing to the toilet about 4 times in 6 hours to poo. This was what it was like for me one Christmas.

I often felt sluggish and had little energy.

I also felt self-conscious when I wore anything clingy because of my ‘football’ belly. I always had to buy a size larger to compensate for it.

I had to do something so, I decided to try fasting. I fasted about once a week, for 18-24 hours, for a few months. Quite early on, I noticed the symptoms reduced dramatically.

Eventually, by trial and error, I found the food culprits which triggers MY symptoms. This took some time. I missed out the offending food in one meal. Noted how I felt. Then, I ate it the next meal and noticed the difference.

The following are foods that I have either eliminated or have occasionally:

  • Cows milk and related products.
  • Chocolate, (Yes. I’m heartbroken. However, for some reason, I’m ok with chocolate flavoured foods).
  • Onions.
  • Hot chillies.
  • Raw olive oil.
  • Potatoes.
  • Coffee.
  • Alcohol.
  • Baked beans.

I eat or drink as substitutes:-

  • Any dairy-free milk, yoghurts, butter.
  • I use leeks instead of onions.
  • No more than 2 cups of coffee a day.
  • I eat potatoes no more than twice a week.
  • I avoid using really hot chillies in my cooking. Paprika is a tasty substitute if you don’t like chilli.

Everyone will have tolerances or intolerances of different foods. You may be intolerant of wheat, for example. All I can say is, to consider keeping a food diary. It will take time to identify the culprits but it’s worth it to regain your enjoyment of eating.

Use over the counter remedies to relieve diarrhoea, constipation etc. and please see your doctor if you have blood in your stools, constant abdominal pain or any other symptom you’re worried about.

Finally, I find exercise like running definitely helps.

So, if you regularly suffer from stomach upsets and assuming you’ve been to see your doctor, (I strongly recommend you do), then, if it’s looking like IBS or you have been told it’s that:

  • Keep a food diary to identify the triggers.
  • Be aware of the common food and drink intolerances, as described above.
  • Exercise. Your guts love a good jiggle!
  • Do, regularly, whatever helps you to relieve your stress. Unless you don’t have any stress in your life…. Lucky you!

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