READ ME: So you think you might have I.B.S?
Did you know that April is I.B.S awareness month?
If you aren’t familiar with I.B.S (first of all lucky you!) and secondly let me fill you in on what exactly it is, what the symptoms are and how to get started with tackling those troublesome I.B.S symptoms.
I.B.S or irritable bowel syndrome is a collection of symptoms that affect the digestive system.
Signs and symptoms can vary but usually include cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation or in some cases both. Unfortunately I.B.S is a chronic condition that needs to be managed long term.
Sufferers usually find it difficult to pinpoint the exact foods that may be triggering their I.B.S and that is for good reason, which I’ll go into in a bit more detail below.
It is also worth noting that symptoms can vary from person to person and also from time to time and this is one of the reasons why it can be so difficult to diagnose.
It is estimated that up to 1 in 5 people in Ireland suffer with I.B.S so unfortunately you probably either know at least one person who has it or you are that unfortunate person.
Here are the Reset we are all about practical tips so we want to offer some advice and assistance to help you on your way.
Myself and Vicky have unfortunately both suffered from I.B.S ourselves so we have first hand knowledge of what it can be like and how it can negatively impact our lives.
So if you do think you might have I.B.S what should you do?
GET CHECKED OUT
First things first, If you haven’t had a definitive I.B.S diagnosis you need to go to your GP.
Anything more serious needs to be ruled out. Additionally if you have been diagnosed with I.B.S previously and you notice any change in symptoms you need to get this checked out as well. You know your body best so this should always be the first port of call.
PROVIDE AS MUCH INFORMATION AS POSSIBLE
Help your GP by giving them as much information as possible. I’ve had countless conversations with people who have been to the GP and have been frustrated that they haven’t been able to help them firstly get an actual diagnosis and secondly with their I.B.S symptoms.
I count myself in that number too. But now having studied nutrition, I realize two things: Firstly I didn’t provide my GP with enough information for them to be able to help me and secondly I didn’t trust my body or opinion enough. Come armed with information.
Commit to keeping a food and symptom diary for 4 weeks to bring with you. The more information you have the better. It can also be a really good idea to track the day of your cycle (those pesky hormones can really play havoc with your I.B.S) and also your stress levels on that day.
Use a simple rating system for this (1 being I’m lying on a beach in Bali, 10 reaching epic Brexit proportions). The more information you have the more able you will be able to have an open conversation with your GP and be taken seriously by them.
It can also be an amazing way to connect with your own body and recognize what role food, stress and female hormones may be playing.
MANAGE YOUR STRESS
Yes I know sounds easy.... but we really underestimate the impact stress has on our body’s ability to function.
When our bodies are in “fight or flight” or the stress response, all energy is diverted to that so it just doesn’t have the resources to digest that sandwich we’ve inhaled at our desks.
Ever wonder why you need to run to the loo before an exam or you get butterflies before a date? That’s because your digestive system and brain are not independent from each other.
They are connected by what is called the vagus nerve and our brain and gut are constantly in communication.
So if our brain gets stressed doesn’t it make sense that our gut gets stressed too?
The act of simply recognizing how stressed we are on a daily basis can be an invaluable tool when it comes to managing your I.B.S.
Engaging in a really simple quick meditation (we’ve got a one minute one here just for you) or simply taking 5 deep slow breathes before embarking on a food decision can be enough to calm the parasympathetic nervous system and help alleviate those I.B.S symptoms.
Sometimes it really is just the simple things.
Engage with an expert. This isnt a sales pitch I promise (that’s not my style) but consider working with a nutritionist who can guide you on your journey. If food intolerances are an issue which they may well be, they can offer you expert advice and support that will really help you identify what is the root cause of your I.B.S.
This may seem like an investment but isnt it worth it rather than having to skip all those family dinners or drinks with your friends. Knowledge is power and working with a professional can really help you dig deep on what may be the problem for you and give you the tools and resources necessary to really manage your symptoms.
I hope this blog was helpful and inspired you to take that trip to you GP/nutritionist or to think about how stress impacts on your bodie’s ability to digest your food.
We’ll be chatting about all things food at our very first day retreat. Have you seen the details? We would absolutely love to meet you there.
Lots of Reset love
Lauren & Vicky