Living with IBS can be really tough. You are fine for a while and then all of a sudden out of nowhere you get The Pain and the feeling that you should really stay home near a toilet ‘just in case’. Whether it’s IBSC or IBSD or a mixture of both struggling with IBS can be embarrassing and debilitating.
I don’t know how many times I used excuses to cover up IBS when it was a problem for me. I tried every single one I could think of and when I had used them all, I would go back to the first one. I’d say things like:
“I can’t meet you for dinner as my cat is poorly and I need to stay home, think he / she must’ve eaten something dodgy”
“I’m sorry I can’t do drinks and nibbles after work as I have a gym class”
“I won’t be able to make your wedding dinner as I have a hospital appointment that day, but I’ll come to the evening”
“Can I work from home as I have a bit of a migraine, I’ll try and catch up with things when my head clears”
“No, you go ahead and eat, I’m just not hungry”
IBS can be tough on not just the sufferer but also their friends and families as there will come a point when your friends and families, particularly your partner will just get fed up of asking you to join them at social events. Or get fed up of missing out themselves due to your ill health. It can often be a very miserable situation for all concerned.
IBS, unlike almost any other condition still feels like a Taboo subject as it relates to our bowels and our bowel movements. Which no matter how broad minded you are can often be something you would rather keep private. People are much more comfortable talking about back ache, headaches, muscle pains or even cancer than they are talking about their digestive health. At my clinic I find that in general women are much more open than men regarding taking about their IBS symptoms to me, whereas men tend to be too embarrassed to talk about their digestive health, even to a digestive health specialist.
It’s this taboo that I’d like to break. At the end of the day, your bowel is just another part of your body, like your arm or your foot and people should be allowed to feel more comfortable talking about it. I often think I should start a ‘Talking **** With Helen’ club to get people to relax and feel more comfortable talking about it. Hiding the way you feel isn’t only not going to help you get any better but it could also be dangerous for your health.
IBS rarely gets better on its own. It may have crept up on you over the years, seemingly out of nowhere. Or you may have had a traumatic emotional or physical event that bought it on. Often I see women who were perfectly healthy until they gave birth and then their IBS symptoms started and gradually got worse. Or it may have been a car accident or an operation that started the symptoms. Sometimes even the loss of a dear friend or family member can trigger the stressful event that affects the bowels and starts IBS. Emotions and our Bowels are very closely linked which is why IBS often gets diagnosed and then the client gets treated for stress.
What frustrates me the most is how little nutrition is discussed in Doctors surgeries all over the country. I hear all sorts of stories about how doctors have suggested a whole plethora of drugs to mask the symptoms and reduce pain but no mention of diet at all. Now, this may be that the client has only picked up the information about the drugs from their consultations or it could just be that the medical profession are unaware that IBS is caused by food. Or as mentioned they are treating the symptoms of stress and not getting to the root cause of the IBS symptoms, which is 99% diet.
The IBS may have been triggered by an emotional crisis however now your body is telling you to change your diet by producing IBS symptoms. It may be that the emotional crisis has caused you to change your eating habits without you realising (we are an entire species of emotional eaters *read Sapiens, A Brief History Of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari) and this has worsened the IBS symptoms.
IBS symptoms range from:
- Excessive Wind
- Stomach Cramps
- Abdominal Pain
- Acid Reflux
- Lack of sleep
- Feeling lethargic
- No energy
One or two of these symptoms alone could relate to other health problems which is why I offer a Free Consultation to asses symptoms before working with clients.
Also its worth noting that Constipation is when you go for a bowel movement less than once a day which may be hard or painful to pass, the consistency could be like rabbit pellets and leaves you feeling like you haven’t evacuated your bowels thoroughly and that you may still need to go. Diarrhoea is when you have an urgent need to go to the toilet several times a day, the stools are soft, runny or liquid and can be painful to pass with the feeling that you haven’t finished and can’t be away from the toilet for very long. These are the main symptoms of IBS and the least talked about. Most of my clients come to see me worried about ‘looking 6 months pregnant’ with painful bloating.
A normal bowel movement and the ‘Holy Grail’ of poo’s is when you are able to wake in the morning and go for a non-induced bowel movement that is mid brown in colour, solid but not hard to pass, a ‘clean swooper’ and leaves you feeling like you have finished your business and can go about your day with no running to the loo, or not feeling like there is still some work to do before you can leave the bathroom. Even to a digestive health specialist this is not always the case but it is definitely something to aim for!
As an ex IBS sufferer myself my digestive health is always something I will need to work on. Knowing what foods negatively affect me is half the battle. I am usually able to avoid these things but every now and again, mainly when eating out, I will eat something that doesn’t agree with me. However, as for the most part (95% of the time) I am eating a balanced, healthy diet that is tailored to me and my personal food intolerances I am able to live a 95% IBS free existence. Which, when I was 19 years old and really battling with painful, embarrassing IBS symptoms was something I could only dream of.
If you are worried about your digestive health, or would like more information on how you could become IBS Free please get in touch. As mentioned I offer a Free Consultation with no obligation to provide you with some free advice on things you could do straightaway to reduce your symptoms and start feeling better.
If you would like to arrange a call to chat over your symptoms in more detail, please click this link to book your complimentary Be IBS Free phone consultation.