In the second of the series I asked Alison from the blog IBS Sisters, to share her coping mechanisms for dealing with IBS. Find out what she has to say.
How did you know you had IBS?
Whenever I would travel, or be in an “uncomfortable environment”, my stomach would bloat up like a balloon. I never knew what to think! When I got out of the stressful situation, it would usually go away. During finals, a very stressful time, my stomach would flare up, and then would go back down when they were over. It wasn’t until after college when I entered the “real world” (and I thought college was stressful!) that I had IBS come and unpack it’s bags. I was at my parents house enjoying a cup of hot cocoa made with milk, and I thought I was going to have to go to the hospital my stomach hurt so bad. It was all down hill from there. It stayed for years, and it wasn’t until I got myself into a less stressful environment that it completely went away. It’s back now that I am working once again in a stressful environment, but I have to work and make a living, so now it’s all about how to manage my stress to make my life not all about IBS.
How do you cope with IBS on a daily basis?
My husband helps me think positively a lot. I get in a slump and he lets me have my tantrum, the “WHY ME? POOR ME!”, and then I get over it, and he’s there to hug me after the fact. I also have just had it for so long (going on four years) that it’s just a part of me. Even though dressing in the morning is still the most frustrating thing ever after all of this time! I think positive self talk is definitely important, don’t let yourself get worked up over silly things.
Any life-changing tips of how to deal with symptoms?
I have found that cutting dairy out of my diet has helped tremendously with stomach pain and cramps, and gas pains. I try to follow the low-FODMAP diet to the best of my ability, and I truly can tell when I get a high FODMAP food, my stomach acts up. Yoga is definitely another big life changer. And hot tea!
Any products you’d recommend?
Heating pad to relax muscle tension in the stomach, peppermint tea to soothe the stomach (not too hot!), lavender oil and lotion for relaxation, elastic waist pants for every occasion, some kind of spray in your purse to mask those unpleasant smells (POO-POURRI is a cool product), Epsom salts for those relaxing baths, coconut oil for EVERYTHING, and healthy snacks in your purse so you never get too hungry. Nu-go has vegan bars, gluten and dairy free!
Foods you swear by and foods you swerve?
Swear by: Bananas, salmon and other fish, grilled chicken, chicken broth, low-FODMAP vegetables and fruit, flax seeds, chi seeds, coconut milk, coconut oil, almond milk, gluten free/dairy free waffles, turkey bacon and sausage, corn tortillas.
Swerve: cheese, milk, gluten (try to!), chocolate, caffeine, butter, mangoes, apples, pasta, soda, ice cream, biscuits, doughnuts.
What’s the food you most devastatingly miss?
Biscuits, cake, doughnuts, ice cream, and pizza!
What’s a typical weeknight dinner?
Salad with grilled chicken or fish on corn tortillas, sometimes I’ll make some kind of soup to change it up.
Do you feel your lifestyle has changed?
Yes I most definitely eat healthier and work out more than I ever have before. It’s frustrating, though, because I have changed my lifestyle, and should feel better, but IBS only makes me feel worse, no matter what I’m doing if I have a flare up.
What do your friends and family do to accommodate?
They listen to me talk it out and they’re supportive of me. My husband sees the most pain in my eyes, and he truly feels for me. That makes me feel better. Some people are better than others at understanding, but I’ve tried to talk about it less, too!
How would you explain IBS to others?
An annoying little mosquito in your ear that you keep swatting at and it won’t go away!
Read More About My Struggle with IBS: