In a bid to help end the poo taboo, the gorgeous Sophie Cliff, a travel and lifestyle blogger from Leeds, has opened up and shared her story of living with IBS. Sophie commented on one of my IBS posts and said a tonne of lovely things which made me instantly want to email her, find out more and become BFFs. Find out how she copes with IBS on a daily basis…
How did you know you had IBS?
I first knew something wasn’t right the summer after I graduated from uni – I started getting some of the more common symptoms such as bloating and was regularly having a dodgy tummy. I was also getting really run down so booked an appointment with my GP. They were great and tested for lots of other things like Crohn’s disease, thyroid disorders and Coeliacs disease, but when none of the results came back as positive I was diagnosed with IBS. It’s something other members of my family have suffered with so it wasn’t a complete shock.
How do you cope with IBS on a daily basis?
I think it really helps to talk to the people in your life about IBS and your symptoms. So many people don’t talk about IBS because it’s still quite a taboo subject, but by bringing people up to speed it really helps if you need to rearrange plans at the last minute or if your symptoms mean that you’d be much more comfortable working from home. I’ve recently been getting a much better grip on my diet after seeing a nutritionist before Christmas, and cleaning everything up has helped IMMENSELY.
Any life-changing tips of how to deal with symptoms?
The biggest thing for me has been seeing a nutritionist – she sent me for some more comprehensive tests to check lots of different parts of my digestive system which has really helped me to understand what has been causing my symptoms. It also helped the nutritionist make a recommendation on supplements based on exactly what is going on in my tummy, rather than standard protocol.
I also think stress plays a HUGE factor in IBS and since actively working to reduce my stress levels I have definitely seen a reduction in symptoms.
Any products you’d recommend?
Peppermint tea has done more for me than any medication prescribed by the doctors has! It’s always the thing I turn to when I’m feeling a bit yucky. There is a lot to be said for the humble hot water bottle too during a particularly bad flare up.
Foods you swear by and foods you swerve?
I swear by green veggies, coconut oil, quinoa, brazil nuts, avocados, chicken and pork, the occasional bit of red meat. I try to swerve refined sugar, dairy, too much booze and anything too carby! Although life is short and I do still eat them, I just save them for treats rather than everyday.
What’s the food you most devastatingly miss?
Mexican food! I love all of the cheesy, deep-fried, spicy goodness, but unfortunately my digestive system does not!
What’s a typical weeknight dinner?
Homemade chicken or lamb kebabs with lots of salad, lemon juice and maybe some herby quinoa. I also really enjoy some sort of roast meat with plenty of green veggies (although I do miss the gravy!)
Do you feel your lifestyle has changed?
Absolutely and particularly in the last 2-3 months. It has definitely made me think more about my body and the impact food can have on my overall health – I definitely prioritise my health a lot more now. It has also made me focus much more on my mental health too and I now make a conscious effort to make sure I don’t put too much pressure on myself.
What do your friends and family do to accommodate?
They are all absolutely brilliant! My friends and family have also been really supportive if I have had to reshuffle or cancel plans due to feeling crap, and my other half in particular is amazing at looking after me when I have a flare up. He’s also great at supporting me in my healthier eating, and will always help prepare delicious dinners and green juices to take to work with me! I think it can be hard as IBS can be a bit of an invisible disease, but I’m lucky to have a good bunch around me that make it much easier.
How would you explain IBS to others?
I think the words I would use are unpredictable, uncomfortable and very irritating!
Now go give Sophie some love. GO!
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