Sunday was nearly over and me and my friends had just about had enough with Contextuals; our end of term college project. I was craving EVERYTHING *something deep fried and smothered in chocolate* Shrek reference, inside joke, sorry, carrying on. Eating is what I do when I’m stressed, for some reason it’s hard wired into me to run to the fridge whenever things get too much. Holler to all the other comfort/procrastination eaters out there, you’re not alone. Thankfully Sammy rushes in to save me. She’d been baking, because what other day is more perfect for it than a Sunday?! – she knows! When I saw them, my heart sank. “I can’t I’m sorry… I’m gluten intolerant” (if I was to have a catchphrase, I think this would be it). Story of my life.
But! to my surprise… “So am I!” she responded. You can imagine how my eyes lit up. Girl you are a genius. Gluten-free corn-flake cakes. HOW did I not think of this before?! I used to love these as a child, but ever since being diagnosed with chronic IBS I have stayed far, far away from anything breakfast cereal related.
BUT NOW….. I DO BELIEVE I HAVE BEEN CHANGED FOR GOOD
( With added gluten & dairy information to help relieve symptoms )
You’d think I’d be ready to pop any day with the size of my poor tummy. My ‘bump’ as i call it is in fact a side effect of my syndrome.
THE BANE OF MY LIFE,THAT’S WHAT IT IS. Now I never intended to share my ridiculously troublesome bowel movements with the entire world because to be quite frank, some may find it quite gross. Never-the-less, I am channeling my inner Wonder-Woman and DOING THIS FOR THE GREATER GOOD. This is for the others out there who are suffering in silence, as I did for many years. If you are living with the constant pain, and the added embarrassment of it’s symptoms, then let me assure you, you are not alone.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is an dysfunctional disorder of the gut, which can be quite variable and include minor to severe abdominal pain depending on the individual. There is no known cure.
“…I have considered maternity pants”
♦ Common Symptoms include:
• Pain in the tummy • Bloating • Diarrheoa and/ or • Constipation (which can last up to several days depending on severity…)
I have often pleaded with doctors to give me some magic pill in order to immediately rid me of my constant discomfort, and stop me looking like I’m ready to pop out a pair of 10lb twins… I have considered maternity pants. The cause of IBS is not known, thus there being no treatment, but most who are afflicted by it have sensitivity of the gut and inflammation of the lining within the digestive system, causing all sorts of mayhem.
So what can you do to improve the symptoms?
…”If there’s one thing I DESPISE about my condition, is that it makes me not want to dance. That’s how I know this is something that needs to be taken seriously”
Plenty of Fruit and vegetables – it’s really not that difficult to get your 5 a day in!
Limited amounts of foods high in fat and sugars. Replace saturated fats found in animal products such as butter, cheese, meats, cakes, biscuits etc. with unsaturated fats found in vegetable oils, avocados, nuts and seeds. Although eat in moderation!
Starchy Foods – Potatoes with the skins are a great source of fibre! Also, get into the habit of choosing wholegrain and wholemeal alternatives to your cereal, bread, rice and pasta.
Dairy – Try to go for skimmed/ lower fat versions. Alternatively, it is a good idea to implement soya varieties! or even rice, almond and coconut milks.
Protein! – Protein is essential for muscle growth and repair, whilst also being a fantastic source of vitamins and minerals. Meat is a source of protein, but try to eat lean cuts and skinless poultry whenever possible to cut down on fat. Fish is another great source and is particularly rich in omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for the body. Try to stock up on a variety of beans and pulses too, they are great sources of protein and taste delicious!
PLENTY OF FLUID – 2 litres daily, herbal teas included! Peppermint is great for reducing bloating and chamomile tea for stress.
IBS is more common in those who have a hectic lifestyle, and/or suffer from stress and anxiety. There are many connections between the brain and the gut (small intestine). Psychological factors, the nervous system and muscle contractions all interact with each other and is known as the ‘brain-gut axis’. Therefore it is important to implement stress management.
Chill.. It’s important to rest. Make time for some relaxation. My favorite method is meditation and a full body massage, and seeking support helps too. Talking about ones feelings is completely normal can relieve a tonne of pressure. This could be a counselor or even just close friends and family.
Have a regular meal pattern
Exercise – I find swimming and yoga helps!
Take your time and chew – I make it a priority to every morning too make sure I have at least 10 minutes set aside for breakfast. I sit down in a quiet space and eliminate all social media and technology, in order to relax and reflect. Taking time to be present and concentrate on one thing is extremely beneficial.
Portion Control – IBS sufferers are better eating smaller portions and more regularly. Large meals can trigger symptoms.
Avoid ice cold foods – these can upset the muscles in the stomach causing them to contract, with IBS you need to aim to keep your GI tract as calm as possible.
Try not to skip meals – this can be a hard one for some people if the intestines are swollen. It is hard as it tricks the body into feeling like it is full (one issue I struggle with) but even if this is the case, you MUST still eat!
Avoid Chewing Gum – It causes you to swallow excess air, which can trigger problems
Don’t eat late at night! – I’m one for a cheeky midnight snack…..
Get enough sleep! – Sleeping gives the body time to heal! Let it do it’s job and get at least 8 hours every night, it will speed up recovery.
Take a probiotic! – 20 minutes before every meal take one of these. Acidophilus capsules contain a number of bacterial cultures to provide the body with an additional source of the micro-organisms that are naturally found throughout the digestive system. I have THESE
I’d like to think I have a pretty healthy diet, and that I follow the majority of the pointers listed above, but sometimes it just isn’t enough. It may be that some, like myself need more specific diet changes to manage symptoms.
GLUTEN – Gluten is made of a family of proteins, the two main influences being Glutenin and Gliadin, the latter being responsible for most of the negative health effects. When flour and water is mixed, the gluten proteins form a sticky texture that has a glue-like consistency giving the product the ability to bind. Gluten is found in grains like wheat, rye, spelt and barley. Here’s a list of foods to AVOID and foods TO EAT!
DAIRY – Milk, butter, cheese, all cream, ice cream, whipped cream, cream- cheese, yogurt, etc are all a Irritable Bowel Syndrome Triggers, even if you’re not lactose intolerant. Dairy products contain proteins such as whey and Casein, Caseinbeing the one found in most dairy products. Baby cows come with a special enzyme in their stomachs called rennet, which is designed especially to break down casein. Humans do not have this enzyme therefore we find it very hard to digest. Most common in those who have IBS-C.
CAFFEINE – Caffeine is a diuretic and can also worsen the effect of diarrhoea symptoms. Limit tea and coffee to no more that three cups a day. You will also see improvement in other areas of your health too, including your sleep!
ALCOHOL & FIZZY DRINKS – Again, these can worsen the effects of diarrhoea, so limiting these is a good idea. Know your limits – no more than 2 units a day! (a unit of alcohol equates to: 1 25 ml shot of spirits – half a pint of 3-4% larger/beer – one small 125ml glass of 11% wine)
RESISTANT STARCHES – These are starches resistant to digestion in the small intestine (gut) This means that when they reach the colon and ferment due to the bacteria in our gut, thus producing gas and waste. This leads to bloating, wind and diarrhoea! Find your full list of these foods HERE!
Join me in my next blog post for how I have gotten on, for I shall be eliminating dairy from my diet this week. For a while now I have not been eating gluten, but for some reason I have suffered an IBS attack so great and so painful, there is something that now makes me believe it may be something else. I shall not be eating gluten either, for I feel much better without it regardless of it’s possible side effects. I hope to see some improvement with the swelling. I have written this as I lay in bed, unable to move without pain, never-mind go to dance class and reveal all in a skimpy leotard.
If there’s one thing I DESPISE about my condition, is that it makes me not want to dance. That’s how I know this is something that needs to be taken seriously.