I recently found Larah’s blog, Low FODMAP Diets, after delving into the wonderful world of FODMAP-friendly dishes. She gave me loads of advice on how to start said diet and then kindly shared her story, all in a bid to break the taboo. Here it goes…
How did you know you had IBS?
For approximately two years, before being diagnosed with IBS, I was feeling sick. I was very bloated most of the time and in particular after eating, I was running to the toilet at least ten times a day. I had a pain in my chest with symptoms similar to unstable angina. Eventually after consulting several GPs and Naturopaths, one doctor listened to me and my symptoms and tried to find out the cause of my symptoms. He sent me for internal scans to eliminate the possibility of serious illnesses, such as ovarian cancer. I had heart tests and scans to see if I had any heart problems. He sent me to do blood tests and breath tests. The results were good, I was seemingly healthy, except I was not feeling good. By eliminating all the other possible illnesses, my doctor diagnosed me with IBS and referred me to a registered dietitian, who suggested I followed a low-FODMAP Diet.
How do you cope with IBS on a daily basis?
Since following a low-FODMAP Diet – 6 weeks strict elimination of all high-FODMAP food and then reintroducing each group – I know what my limits are. Certainly from time to time – like Christmas and some other occasions – I indulge in a bit too much high-FODMAP food, often I pay the consequences for this and again I feel bloated and visit the toilet frequently.
Any life-changing tips of how to deal with symptoms?
For me, without any doubt is to follow the phases of the low-FODMAP diet (I wrote an article on my blog. This diet has been proven successful for 75% of IBS sufferers, including me.
Any products you’d recommend?
While on the low-FODMAP diet (elimination phase), it may be necessary to take specific supplements, such as probiotics, made for IBS sufferers with no high FODMAPs such as lactose, fructose etc.
Foods you swear by and foods you swerve?
Nowadays I can eat most food in moderation, although if I go over the limit I start to have IBS symptoms. Recently I had a big glass of coconut water and boy…did I pay for it…
What’s the food you most devastatingly miss?
Being able to go to any pizza restaurants (I’m Italian) without worrying if they are going to be able to prepare me a low-FODMAP pizza (usually gluten-free base with low FODMAP ingredients). Most restaurants are not familiar with the low-FODMAP diet yet and it is difficult to get them to understand that it is not a gluten-free diet.
What’s a typical weeknight dinner?
Mainly low FODMAP vegetables, raw or cooked, often accompanied by a piece of meat (mainly chicken) or fish or eggs, sometimes gluten-free pasta or rice.
Do you feel your lifestyle has changed?
Yes, certainly, my lifestyle has changed. Now I need to be more organised with my food, I need to plan and cook more. I can’t rely on places to buy my food, if I’m not sure that I can find something I can eat during the day, I have to prepare my food in advance and take it with me.
What do your friends and family do to accommodate?
Most of my friends and family have been very understanding and if I am invited to a friend’s house for dinner, she usually takes in consideration my dietary requirements and prepares something I can also enjoy. If I go somewhere where I don’t know the host very well, I may bring something I can eat, just in case…
How would you explain IBS to others?
I usually explain that my digestive system is not able to process certain foods and therefore the food ferments in my belly and gives me bloating and other discomforts, including the feeling of heart problems.
I believe that my IBS was due to a combination of too many antibiotics in a short amount of time and a lot of stress, I always seem very calm and composed, but I do get stressed like anyone else, except that my stress stays inside of me, obviously working on my organs.
To anyone with IBS, I say do not get discouraged, get help from a good doctor and a registered dietitian, try the low-FODMAP Diet, learn to deal with stressful time by relaxing, meditating and exercising. Since taking on yoga and meditation, I can see an improvement on my stress levels.
Go find out more about Larah at Low FODMAP Diets and check out her delicious looking recipes, all low-FODMAP friendly.
Read More in the Living With IBS Series:
Read More About My Struggle with IBS: