All in the same boat
May 1, 2018
Cat Fest London 2018
July 25, 2018

Living with IBS

Hey everyone,

I know that this subject isn’t going to interest everybody but I feel that by writing this post, I can share some of my experiences and some possible useful information for other IBS sufferers. I went undiagnosed for years as it is not taken seriously, but the impact that it can have on your life IS.

I’ll start at the beginning… I always remember having tummy aches as a child. I had far too much junk food and fizzy drinks and not enough fresh cooked meals which could have started all of this off. Who knows why anybody actually gets IBS? I was always taking days off of school or simply just not going. When I reached the last couple of years in secondary school I started to experience minor bloating which I was very self conscious about but it didn’t happen too often so I took it no further.
Around the age of 18/19 The bloating got worse. I noticed that my energy levels also started to drop and that I was always tired. Other health problems started too that I also ignored. I mean I lived a normal enough life and went out with my friends drinking as you do at that age, but I was always the one who got sick or was too ill to go out. I never understood why and it must have really frustrated everyone around me, let alone myself, as I seemed to be ‘normal.’ When I hit 22 I started fainting. Now if you have ever fainted, you will know how scary this can be. I was fainting at home and even at work. I never related this to food and nor did any of the doctors or hospitals that I had been to.
At the age of 23 I was pretty unhappy. I had a lot going on and I decided that I needed to do something about my life and make a change. I had briefly started Innabox with a friend and looked into getting some private health care. I started with a test called the York test. You simply do a finger prick test in a kit and send it back off to the company. This came back that I had a high intolerance to Milk, Yeast, Maize starch and corn. So for a year or two I had eliminated this all from my diet to the best of my ability. However, I was still getting stomach cramps, bloating and fatigue. So what was my problem?
I also visited a urologist where I had many tests and a bladder stretch too to try and get down to the bottom of my ongoing infections and bladder pain. At 26 years old I finally found the answer. I booked an appointment with a an allergist at Harley Street (London) where I underwent a test called the skin prick test. This is where your forearm is gently pricked with a needle various times. All possible allergens are written on your arm under each small mark. A tiny droplet of each substance is then placed onto the arm to see what part of the skin reacts. The area that reacts will then show which substance you are allergic to. Out of all of the possible allergens, all that came up for me was Lactose.

So after a couple of years of thinking I was allergic to milk, it was infact just the lactose in the milk! The allergist then told me that I clearly have IBS to react the way that I do to food considering I had cut milk out for years. He gave me a sheet of paper introducing me to something called the Low Fodmap Diet. I couldn’t take it all in… I now had to change my diet again and this time there was a whole lot more that I couldn’t eat. It got me down for a couple of days but I soon bounced back and gave the diet a go!
After 5/6 weeks I felt 18 again. The diet had changed my life. As hard as it was to stick to, I did it! I lost weight, I wasn’t bloated, I was energetic, I felt completely different and amazing! I’m sad to say that I didn’t introduce food back into my diet properly.. I started getting away with way more that I used to. So I over did it and had lots of bread and sugar… the bloating and cramps came back. So now at 30 years old I am always in and out of this diet, trying to stay with it and not get bored and grab a sugary doughnut! It’s really tough but I have to remember how good it makes me feel and not constantly battle it like I have been doing for a few years.
You can research the low fodmap diet online if you suffer yourself from stomach issues or IBS. It really does work if you don’t fall off plan. Probiotics work well when on this diet too, Acidophilus in particular. I haven’t continued taking them but I am considering it again as I am back on track! It’s very easy to fall off plan, with temptation all around. Feeling like you’re the odd one out in many situations. There is often no food around that I can eat when I go out.. Yet everyone else is eating and you feel singled out or like you’re being fussy. It can be so easy to just give up. I have many times. I have only just recently linked my IBS to my bladder pain. They bounce off of one another so I have to be very careful as the pain can be unbearable sometimes!
However I am currently trying again… So that I can introduce food properly. I will be able to have little bits of everything again apart from foods that are really bad triggers for me such as onion and garlic. These ingredients can be in so many foods and hard to get around but I have found some really useful websites that can help! Check out Fodilicious for some instant tasty meals or FODY foods for lots of sauces, condiments and snacks. There are plenty of recipes online too! I have learned a lot from researching myself so I would recommend anyone who suffers to take a look and give it a go! Stay away from anything processed and cook from fresh. Use all fresh ingredients! This is where both Fodilicious and FODY foods can really come in handy! Check out FOD market too and there are lots of Facebook groups which I find really handy for support.
I have tried different tablets tablets too which unfortunately didn’t help. They are called KIJIMEA IBS tablets. Supposedly they are great for IBS but not in my case. But don’t rule them out! I find that exercising massively helps, Mentally and physically. I get way more flare ups when I’ve been sitting around that when I’ve been active! It can also help you manage stress which is also a huge trigger for IBS. I think this is what mine is mostly caused by! Life can be stressful but there are methods to help. I just like peace and quiet and taking some time out now and again.
One useful tip that I try and live by is – Plan in advance!
Have an event you are going to or know you are going to be out all day? Make sure you take some snacks with you so that you have something to eat whilst you’re out. This is especially important on holiday!! Holidays are really tough. Make sure you do everything you can to stay on track. there are very useful apps called the Monash University low fodmap diet and an app that can scan items to let you know if they are safe called FODMAP. They are my two personal favourites.
I hope that in some way this post has been useful or comforting, for you or someone that you may know. Without all of the information online I don’t know where I would be. So I am gladly passing on my experiences and findings. If I have missed anything please comment on this post and I will get back to you.

Thanks for reading and look after yourself. There is only one of you!

Nikky x

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