WHAT IS IBS + HOW TO DEAL WITH IT
In my line of work I see ALOT of women (and some men) who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (aka: IBS). It’s truly bizarre how I attract clients with the same sort of conditions that I suffered from. It’s something close to my heart (or should I say gut) and it’s also a burden I am SO damn glad I no longer carry.
Let me paint you a picture. I warn you… it’s a tad graphic.
Imagine every time you went to the bathroom you would end up clutching your stomach, rocking back and forth as you broke out into a sweat, panting, breathing, moaning. Your face would be screwed up pain. Your belly would spasm, cramp and protest. You might even start begging god (the universe, buddha, allah, jesus and so on!) to give you some respite. All that, just for a number 2.
Now that you have that mental imagine, you know how every single trip to bathroom played out for yours truly. Yep, I suffered from severe IBS. And, unfortunately, I am not the only one.
Let’s get real. My favourite thing to do. I was young and dumb. I was drinking, smoking and doing a whole lot of nastie things to my body. I was eating CRAP. I was doing what most late teen/early 20s kids do. I had fun. But my body wasn’t enjoying much, ok, at all. Add to that a stressful lifestyle (work, traveling, partying, trying to ‘be’ somebody’).
How I healed myself? A Clean Diet. A Regular Yoga Practice. A Daily Meditation Practice.
Today I’m going to focus on cleaning up your diet – oh and there are a heap of links in this post taking you to other helpful posts I’ve written that will add to your battle with IBS.
IBS is a blanket term that often gets thrown around a little too haphazardly. It is a syndrome affected by diet and lifestyle (aren’t most things, though!) So I want to help you get clear on it – what is it, what can help you heal and more.
What is IBS?
It is a syndrome that affects, primarily, the large intenstions.
Irregular bowel movements – constipation, diaarhea, gas pockets, bloating.
What to eliminate from your diet?
Focus on a slow and gradual elimination diet. Don’t cut things out willy-nilly. It’s too much of a shock to the system and work on weaning and replacing.
1) Coffee/Caffeine – strips the lining of the GIT (gastrointestinal). Read more about some of caffeine more negative traits here.If you have one cup a day, reduce to half a cup for 1 week, then perhaps decaf, then herbal tea and then off caffeine. Drink MORE water. It should be the first thing you have in the morning to hydrate the GIT.
2) White Flour and Gluten- also strips the lining. No medicinal, healing or nutritional purposes at all. Replace with a wholewheat to begin with or spelt flour. Preferablly avoid all together because Gluten is generally quite irritating to the gut and leads to other health concerns too.
Look at ALL forms – crackers, cookies, soups, sauces, pastries.
3) Sugar – leaves you feeling bloating and with loose bloating. Move off this slowly. Consider Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar Program
You can wean off by switching to natural sweeteners before you totally come off sugar.
4) Dairy – should always be organic, raw and whole. If you can’t have that, avoid all dairy except yoghurt with high acidophillous. If you like cheese, stick to sheep’s and goat’s cheese and keep it organic. For dairy alternatives (and an almond milk recipe) read up here.
5) Artificial Sweeteners – no nutritionally value in these as well. Aspartame.
6) Alcohol, soft drinks and other sweetened drinks – really quite irritating to the gut.
It’s really just a healthy diet, isn’t!
What about fibre?
Now, there is always alot of talk around fibre and increasing it in your diet, especially if you have IBS.
Fibre adds bulk and encourages a nice solid motion, that is neither too hard or too soft. Just right! (Don’t you love talking about poop?) It also leaves you feeling fuller for longer as it breaks down slower. You do need to pay attention to your body’s messages to understand if you are consuming the right amount.
How to increase fibre? Have more of these…
- Fruits and Veggies
- Dark Leafy Greens. Check out this blog and this one too for some suggestions.
- Ground up linseeds
As I mentioned, IBS is a blanket term and often people are diagnosed because their GP might not be able to find the actual problem. Try these suggestions, including the below BONUS tips, but if you are still struggling then it might be wise to get in touch with a coach, your GP, naturopath or other health professional so you can really manage the issue. It is 100% possible to put IBS in remission, but it does require health and lifestyle changes and lots of support.
- Slow down when you eat – chewing more encourages better digestion from the mouth through the saliva, which breaks down the food in preparation for the digestive tract. Try to put your spoon/fork down between each mouthful and perhaps count around 20-25 chews.
- Keep your meals balanced. You want 50% of your meal to be veggies (dark leafies in particular). You get complex carbohydrates from your veggies and fibre to bulk up your stool! 25% of your meal should be a complex carbohydrates for long-lasting energy (brown rice is a great example, quinoa (although is mostly a protein), barley). The last 25% should be protein and fat (beans, animal based protein, nuts, good oils/butter, avocados). Just note here though that alot of IBS clients suffer heavily when they eat beans and nuts. If you are ok with that, great! If not then stick with good quality animal based protein.
- Keep your food COOKED! Raw food is not a good idea for IBS sufferers. It needs to be nourishing, grounding, warming and soothing.
- A digestive soup or broth (bone broth is amazing!) before your meal can make a huge difference with your IBS symptoms.
- Take a good probiotic, but don’t rely on it – it’s all down to your diet!
- Look at the stress in your lifestyle, can you slow down, find some sweetness.
- Practice daily meditation, movement and deep breathing. Diaphragmatic breathing techniques is a great way to calm the nervous system down, relieve pain in the belly and help manage an IBS attack.
- When you are in an IBS attack focus on slow, deep breaths. Only eat plain foods. Put a heat-pack on the belly and lay down flat on the floor or over a bolster to stretch the belly.
Do know that you are not meant to experience discomfort when you eat or go to the bathroom. You should be able to comfortable eat a meal and pass it without exertion, pain or the horrible scene I painted earlier. I promise you, without IBS, life is alot sweeter, easier, calmer, happier, energised. Nothing is holding you back from living your life to its fullest potential.
Now tell me, do you or have you suffered from IBS? I know there are alot of you out there, please share with us your journey and your own tips/tricks. It’s a very ‘personal’ syndrome, so different things work for different people.
Saha to you,