By eating well, being mindful and staying active, Anna from FODMAP Journey shares her tips for staying on top of IBS. Here it goes…
How did you know you had IBS?
I didn’t! I wondered ‘what’s wrong with me?!’ for quite a long time before the diagnosis – final year at uni was not fun. It got to a point where my mum said, ‘maybe it’s IBS’ – and she was right! But looking back as far as childhood, it all makes sense now. I can remember specific times when things weren’t quite right – it just took until a stressful period for it to unleash itself. The diagnosis was actually a big relief. Now I knew what it was, I could look at ways to manage it.
How do you cope with IBS on a daily basis?
By eating well, being mindful and staying active – that’s become my mantra! I still have ups and downs of course, but IBS is all about management. Diet-wise, I follow a low-FODMAP lifestyle as a rule, incorporating higher-FODMAP foods in moderation – so I suppose you could call it a modified low-FODMAP diet. I’ve been learning about mindfulness and following a programme which I can really see the benefits of. Being active, I have recently started yoga, and go for short runs. It’s all about keeping the balance.
Any life-changing tips of how to deal with symptoms?
1. See a dietitian – if you can. Having the right diet is an important part of IBS management.
2. Always remember to be kind to yourself and listen to your body. You know yourself best, so make things as easy for yourself as you can.
3. Take items with you ‘just in case’ and plan meals ahead so you know what ingredients are going into them.
4. Talk to others about how you’re feeling – there’s nothing worse than feeling completely isolated. Don’t forget that a high number of people are affected by IBS and there’s a big support community out there.
5. Most importantly, don’t be hard on yourself!
Any products you’d recommend?
Coconut oil has become big in the foodie world, and after trying it I can see why – I recommend giving it is try! Oh, and peanut butter too – Whole Earth is the brand I have the most (love crunchy). Peanut butter with anything please!
Foods you swear by and foods you swerve?
Swear by: Porridge oats, peanut butter, frozen blueberries and raspberries (great breakfast addition and cheaper than fresh), spinach, dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, aubergine – the list goes on!
Swerve: Garlic, onion are the big two that I look out for when out and about but on the whole I (try to) swerve foods whereby the majority of ingredients are high-FODMAP – moderation is key.
What’s the food you most devastatingly miss?
Sorry to sit on the fence here but there isn’t really one food I miss the most! I do miss being able to eat without thinking and being able to grab foods from anywhere when out and about, but I’ve found that often you can easily adapt your old favourite recipes to make them low-FODMAP and without noticing a difference!
What’s a typical weeknight dinner?
Protein such as fish or chicken, with a carbohydrate such as rice or a baked potato, with salad or veg.
Do you feel your lifestyle has changed?
Without a doubt. I’m much more aware of what goes into the foods we eat and I take a much ‘cleaner’ approach to eating. When food shopping, I’ll take the time to read the ingredients label if I haven’t bought a particular product or brand before. I’m now much more wary of any ingredients that I don’t recognise or that are ridiculously long and complicated – food ingredients should be simple and recognisable.
What do your friends and family do to accommodate?
They are very good! Family will leave out certain ingredients, or cook me an adapted version of what they’re having. For example, my mum makes a delicious starter of grilled peppers with tomato, basil and garlic and just leaves the garlic out of mine – nice and easy! Friends know I have a sensitive tum, and put up with me um-ing and arr-ing when choosing where to eat.
How would you explain IBS to others?
Digestive issues that affect your daily life. There’s nothing technically wrong with the gut – just the way it functions. I never forget my doctor saying that we all have IBS to some degree, for example, it’s not uncommon to have a bad stomach if we are nervous before a job interview. Nobody’s ‘systems’ run like clockwork all the time, but those with IBS have much more sensitive ‘systems’.
Head on over to Anna’s blog, FODMAP Journey for some of the most delicious recipes and tips for managing IBS. Mine’s a slice of her Jaffa Drizzle Cake.
Read More in the Living With IBS Series:
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