This is a guest post from Lisa Thompson, founder of SelfLoveBeauty.com. Anyone who has suffered from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can attest that at times it can be disheartening and can leave you feeling defeated. With more than 25 million people affected by IBS in the US, it is important to share with each other what has helped and worked for each one of us to better control and mitigate it, as there is no clear cause. Symptoms can range from a mild inconvenience to absolute debilitation. Don’t go another day feeling helpless! If you are currently suffering from IBS, I hope this story gives you comfort that you are not alone and provides you with actionable steps to live and flourish with IBS.
I have been struggling with IBS-C (Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Constipation) since I was 18. I have been to multiple doctors, been prescribed multiple pills and probiotics, as well as endured a scope and colonoscopy. At that the time of diagnosis, IBS was new to doctors. The struggle to find a doctor that worked with my specific issues was strenuous. I continued to go back and forth with feeling better and relapsing, only having to start all over again. Every doctor told me something a little bit different and each of them would tell me something new to try. It was usually either changing my diet or trying some new pill. I, however, never wanted to live off of pills for the rest of life. I also didn’t think I needed to go on “diets” to fix my stomach. But I would give the diets a shot, only to then go back to eating what I wanted.
However, one day, after four years of discomfort, I decided I needed to make a big change. I had gained a bunch of weight from IBS, had no energy, couldn’t go to the bathroom, and my confidence was lower than ever. I needed to stop thinking I could be like everyone else, do what everyone else was doing.
I took all the information that was given to me over the years and decided to start with one very simple, yet complicated thing- I listened to my body. I fed my body and mind what I felt it needed. I decided to take care of myself.
What I learned is when you really listen to your body’s needs, it makes a world of difference in many aspects of your life. Once I started listening, I not only lost weight, but my IBS began to get under control.
So I bet you are wondering what I am doing differently now?
I have always enjoyed running, so to start I decided to run twice a week. I signed up for 5Ks, which soon became a half-marathon, then a marathon. Running was not only a great stress reliever, but it also helped my digestive system. Truthfully working out more in general has been huge!
KNOW YOUR TRIGGER FOODS
Over time I started to write down the foods that hurt my stomach and I learned to stay away from them. I noticed which foods gave me no energy, stomach pain, or just didn’t sit right and I made sure to stick to the foods that worked for me. I still have my days where a trigger food sounds good and I relapse, but then I’m reminded immediately why I have to stay away from them.
SAY NO TO BANANAS
I love bananas. In many ways, they are good for you, but they cause constipation. So if you are already having these issues, staying away from foods like this is important.
DAILY DANDELION AND APPLE CIDER PILLS
I take one of each and every morning. They help with digestive and health in general.
Water is so important. I make sure to stay hydrated throughout the day with lemon water and diet cranberry juice.
This affects our body in many ways that we don’t realize. I found that a lack of sleep made my stomach act up and my whole body would feel it the next day. The more sleep I got the more my body seemed to stay calm throughout the day.
LOWER STRESS LEVEL
Stress is a big trigger for many people with IBS. Making sure to surround yourself with work and people that make you happy, makes a big difference in your stomach health.
I stayed prepared. If I know I am going to be around a lot of food that are triggers for me, I make sure to pack snacks that I can eat (i.e., Cucumbers, carrots, apples, almonds, etc.) And if I know that I am going away for a long weekend, I make sure to have a strict diet all week to feel good when the weekend comes.
The most important thing that I have learned is to listen to your body and find what works for you. I can be very stubborn, therefore, it was tough for me to do what I needed to do versus what I wanted to do. Now, at the end of the day, I can say I have more confidence, I have lost the unhealthy weight I was carrying, and I have more energy than I have had in years. I still have my challenging days and even weeks, but the more I stay on track, the better I listen to my body, the better my mind and body feels.
This post is from a contributing post on Perhaps Kale by Lisa Thompson.