My health journey and tips

This is by no means an exclusive list; these are just some things that I have found that have helped me. If they don’t help you don’t lose faith, every person reacts differently.

Medication and Supplements

I now no longer take any medication as I manage my disorder with my diet. Here is a list of medication I used to take which may help you.

Pain relief: I haven’t had much luck with pain relief tablets. I have been prescribed so many different types but none seemed to work and a few made me nauseous.  These are the tablets: Mebevrine, Spasmomen and then Cerekinon which worked the best.

Bloating:  Activated charcoal can be taken to help bloating (ensure you take the tablets a few hours after food and other tablets as the charcoal can absorb nutrients from food etc). Peppermint tea also helps.

Vitamins: Multivitamin and calcium tablets helped ensure I was getting all the right nutrients.

Probiotics: Lactobactillus tablets which promote, the friendly bacteria in your gut (you can get this in most pharmacies or health food stores), these are the only tablet I am still taking.  I also took a prescribed probiotics: Reuteri.

Digestive enzymes: Help break down food, I used to take these with every meal.

Glutamine powder: Is used to help heal your intestines and helps your bowel reabsorb water from your stool. I used to take 1 tsp dissolved in water every evening.

Parasite-killing drugs: If you had a parasite cause your disorder then you need to monitor the parasite returning. My symptoms worsened and I had re-testing done by Doctors Lab (a comprehensive testing facility) and it picked up that my parasite had come back. So make sure you know you have killed the parasite as this could be the cause of some of your problems.

Relaxation

A trigger for IBS can be stress. I have found this a difficult one because the only thing I am stressed about is my IBS. There are recommendations you can find to relieve stress – breathing exercises, yoga, hypnotherapy and meditation. I have found yoga, which I practice at least twice a week very helpful, but the most positive has been changing my attitude to food. Baking and eating used to form a huge part of my day, thinking about where I was going to eat and what I would bake. All these questions and wonders that use to excite me, suddenly became difficult and frustrating. It has taken a while but I now focus on what I can eat and I’m not afraid to ask questions in restaurants about making something I can eat. Plus I always take my own home-cooked snacks with me just in case, so I don’t go hungry.

Food

Food is the key – solve this and you will be well on your way in managing your IBS. I now manage my health entirely with my diet and some lactobacillus tablets.

Keeping a food diary: When I read about keeping a food diary I thought ok that sounds simple, I will try that. It is not simple at all. It is such a long process, writing down everything and then working through the list to work out what are the triggers. If you’re like me with lots of intolerances and trigger foods then it is practically impossible to identify the problem foods.

After 6months of keeping a food diary, but still being very ill I went back to the drawing board, which for me is the internet. I read about this intolerance test that from a small sample of blood they tests your IgG antibody reactions to a huge range of food and drink. The reviews were mixed, some people said it revolutionised their life identifying intolerances they had, but there was also alot of skepticism of these tests. I thought I may aswell, nothing to lose at this point.

I had the York Test done, this test highlighted some things I never would have thought to cut out as they are not common IBS trigger foods. Although IBS is different to having intolerances I would still recommend the test as you might also have intolerances. York were also great in the follow up talking me through the results and what it means and how to manage your diet. Then next useful bit of research I came across was the FODMAP diet.

Using the york test results, the FODMAP diet, and lists of soluble fibre, I created a list of foods that I would endeavor not to eat. After following it for 2 weeks and keeping a diary monitoring how I was feeling and I found some foods were still setting me off, so I added these to my avoid list- for example I’ve added potatoes to my avoid list.

After this process hopefully you’ll have a comprehensive list of things you can’t eat. This is the hope anyway. I am still working through the process avoiding these foods, trying to reintroduce and then keeping a food diary. Avoiding all these foods is difficult especially when eating out but this is what has inspired me to write this blog.

With any avoidance diet you should look to get a dietician to ensure your still getting a balanced diet and the right nutrients.

Here is a summary of my tips from my experiences so far:  Using these key tips, my food philosophy and my recipes I hope you can find your way to manage your IBS

Drinks:

  • Limit/eliminate caffeine, alcohol, fizzy drinks.
  • Have at least 6-8 glasses of water a day.

Food:

  • Look at my food philosophy section.
  • Eat slowly and really chew your food.
  • Don’t skip meals and avoid large meals.
  • Avoid fatty foods.
  • Avoid red meat.
  • Watch out for sauces/ condiments- most contain garlic and things that are not good for you.
  • Eat no more that 3 portions of low FODMAP fruit a day (limit fruit juices).
  • Reduce the amount of resistant starch you consume, as these food groups are not easily digested and cause gas in your gut. (Pulses, grains, green bananas, undercooked or reheated potatoes and corn, processed food).
  • Fibre, is a debatable tip as some people are sensitive to high fiber foods, you need to see what you can tolerate. There are two types of fiber- soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is one to try as it soothes and regulates digestion helping with diarrhea and constipation.
    • Some sources of soluble fiber that are also low FODMAPs are: Oats, Flaxseed, Blueberries, Cucumber (peel/deseed), Banana, Passionfruit, cooked Carrots, Eggplant and Rice.
    • I have 2 tsp’s of ground flax (also know as linseed) on my cereal everyday as this is a good source of soluble fiber.
    •  IBS-D sufferers should avoid insoluble fibre as they can have a laxative effect, they are helpful for constipation. Most sources of insoluble fiber are already avoided by following the low. FODMAP diet.
    • Other sources you may what to think about limiting the amount of seeds and nuts you have and for vegetables it is best to remove the skin and cooking and mashing the vegetables helps to reduce the insoluble fibre.

Useful IBS Websites:
http://www.med.monash.edu/cecs/gastro/fodmap/iphone-app.html
http://livinghappywithibs.com/2013/04/21/foodmap-food-list/
http://cookingwithnothing.com/post/40491198342/my-favourite-low
http://blog.katescarlata.com/fodmaps-basics/
http://www.joybauer.com/photo-gallery/common-ibs-trigger-foods/Condiments.aspx
http://www.webmd.com/ibs/default.htm?names-dropdown
http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/irritable-bowel-syndrome.html#f
http://www.patient.co.uk/health/irritable-bowel-syndrome-leaflet
http://www.aboutibs.org/site/treatment/diet/cramping-diarrhea
http://www.katescarlata.com/the-complete-idiots-guide-to-eating-well-with-ibs.pdf