First off if you’re squeamish about poop or other bowel movements this is not the post for you. This one is for my fellow I.B.Sers that may be dealing with this shitty (ha!) syndrome. I was first diagnosed with this while in high school I’m guessing around 15 years old. I was under a lot of personal stress at the time with school, boyfriends, friends, just normal teenage girl stuff, as well as not eating properly or barely at all. I was an active teenager though spending most of my spare time after school at the dance studio. For me it started with stomach pains, sometimes so bad I couldn’t move let alone try to get up and go to school. Trying to eat or even take a sip of water was out of the question because the pain would be so bad it would cause me to feel nauseous. Doctor appointment after doctor appointment leading to test after test after test I was diagnosed with I.B.S. It’s common with the women in my family. My mother has it, my sister, my auntie, but we all have different triggers and different ways of dealing with it. I will share any information I know and my experiences with how I deal with it.
What is I.B.S?
I surprisingly get asked this a lot!! I.B.S stands for irritable bowel syndrome. It’s a disorder that effects the large intestine. Everyone that has I.B.S experiences different symptoms making it difficult to diagnose. Symptoms include gas or bloating, abdominal pain, cramping, constipation, or diarrhea and sometimes all of these can happen though the duration of a flair up.
*Dark green vegetables: I do not cut them out of my diet I just know I can only eat them a few times a week. They usually contain high amounts of fiber, which we need fiber but high amounts of it causes gas which is not good for people with I.B.S because it’s usually painful gas/bloating. I find steaming my vegetables helps instead of eating them raw.
*Fast food: Do I really need to explain??? Greasy, yucky fast food is not good for anyone but is even worse for people with I.B.S. Personally, it sends me to the bathroom with diarrhea almost instantly sometimes before I’ve even left the restaurant. I still eat out but I’m extremely conscious of what I’m eating because it’s so embarrassing to have this happen.
*Spicy foods: This is a trigger for me and I eat very blandly. There are many yummy spices out there that I don’t need to cover everything with hot sauce, spicy seasonings, etc. For me this will cause huge stomach pains almost instantly, so I just stay away from it all together. You don’t need spicy stuff in your diet it’s just for taste but like I’ve mentioned before everyone’s different. My sister loves hot sauce and I know other people with I.B.S that eat crazy spice on everything and have zero issues with it.
*Red meat: Same as dark green vegetables I do not believe in removing anything healthy and good for you from your diet unless of course there’s an allergy, or some other medical reason that it needs to be removed. Now vegetarians and vegans I respect your reasoning for it it’s just not for me. Red meat for me is hit and miss, sometimes it affects me and causes me to again instantly be running to a washroom but sometimes I’m totally fine. If purchased from a good supplier it can contain a ton of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are excellent for our bodies. It’s better to stick to lean meats such as chicken, fish or turkey but sometimes a good burger or steak is hard to pass up.
*Beans: “Beans, beans the magical fruit, the more you eat them…” Ok, I’ll stop there, but if you can finish that song you know why I tend to stay away from beans. They are gas producing causing painful bloating in people with stomach sensitivities.
*Dairy: I LOVE cheese. I don’t care what kind I will eat them all. It can cause constipation for many people. Ice cream and milk have gas and bloating producing properties but everything in moderation as dairy is good for you to have daily.
*Beverages: Caffeine, carbonated drinks and alcohol. Caffeine can be problematic for some sufferers of I.B.S. Carbonation in anything can cause gas/bloating and a lot of alcoholic beverages also contain them so it’s something to look out for if you experience any sort of symptoms after drinking any of these beverages.
*Stress: Stress is extremely hard on your body. For myself when I’m going through a stressful time in my life my body will remind me I need to take a step back and calm down by giving my paralyzing stomach pains that get worse if I try to move. No, it’s not fun it totally sucks but it causes me to figure out what the stress is and remove it.
But Rachelle, how do I fix these problems once they occur or cure myself of this?? There is no cure for I.B.S but it can be managed in different ways which even these can differ from person to person. So, these are my tried and true remedies.
*Peppermint tea: It feels like a warm hug on my tummy when I’m having stomach pains. Peppermint has soothing qualities, mixed with the hot water it helps to relieve any pains or nausea
*Exercise: We know the benefits of exercise, for me it’s a stress and anxiety reliever. You don’t need to go to the gym 6 days a week, 2 hours a day, like myself but getting at least 30 minutes a day can be so beneficial to escape the hectic craziness of life to clear your mind and refocus.
*Trial and error: Finding your trigger foods and beverages is really a matter of trial and error unfortunately. You must be super conscious of what you eat and feel you feel afterwards. Some doctors recommend when you are first diagnosed keeping a food journal to track what you ate so if you have a flair up its easier to narrow down what might have caused it.
Sadly I have yet to figure out remedies for when you may get diarrhea after eating a trigger food or drink. If I’m with people who don’t know I have this, I’m at someone’s house, or attending an event I will stay away from the food I know will make me instantly be looking for a bathroom. Yes, it’s super embarrassing when it does happen but just remember everyone poops. It’s a fact of life. The best way to go about it is to just be honest, “sorry I can’t eat/drink that I have I.B.S and it will make me very sick if I do”. People tend to not ask questions afterwards especially if they’ve seen Along Came Polly with Jennifer Aniston and Ben Stiller!! Hopefully this will help anyone out who might have Irritable Bowel Syndrome or educate others who may know someone that does. Thanks for taking time to read my long post!