Disclaimer: This post will be lengthy, possibly confusing and potentially TMI (Too Much Information). Should you decide not to keep reading I will not be offended.
I have IBS (Irritable Bowl Syndrome). I’ve had it since I was about 14 or 15.
Essentially, IBS is a gastrointestinal disorder (also known as Spastic Colon, Functional Bowel Disease and Mucous Colitis). Symptoms include: cramping, pain, bloating and altered bowel habits.
IBS affects mainly women and 5-million Canadian suffer from it and 120,000 Canadians develop IBS every year, giving Canada one of the highest rates of IBS in the world.
IBS is classified in 2 ways: IBS-C (Constipation) and IBS-D (Diarrhea). I, unfortuantely, was dealt IBS-D.
There is no known cure for IBS and the cause is unknown.
About 5 years ago I finally decided to go see my doctor to pretty much confirm what I already knew. He sent me for blood work, but was pretty convinced from my symptoms that I was suffering from IBS. He sent me to a gastroenterologist who then sent me to a nutritionist.
The gastroenterologist confirmed my diagnosis and the nutritionist put together a very eating plan that I was to follow for a month. Her plan included things like Activia, All Bran, whole grain breads and lots of fruits and veggies and while it worked for the most part, I was still experiencing symptoms and having flare-ups (granted, they were less frequent.)
Once that month was up I tried to keep up with the plan, but buying some of the products I was supposed to eat was getting a little expensive and I didn’t make very much.
I went off plan.
My symptoms came back and I was having flare-ups all the time, which have only become worse and more frequent since giving birth to Harley in December 2014.
I’ve tried taking Align, a probiotic supplement, but it only works so much and the eating plan I previously mentioned still had me experiencing symptoms.
I should also mention that my triggers don’t only include certain foods, but stress and nervousness also set off my IBS.
Anyway, I’ve decided to make a drastic change. Most foods upset my stomach and send me running to the bathroom so I’ve decided to go on the Low FODMAP elimination diet. Low FODMAP eliminates gluten, lactose, excess sugars, artificial sweeteners and commonly problematic fruits and vegetables from the diet.
So, as of tomorrow I will be gluten-free and lactose-free.
This is going to affect our budget…BIG TIME!
Yesterday I began pricing out gluten-free and lactose-free products at work (where I’ll be purchasing the majority of my specialty foods because of my discount) and those items alone are going to cost roughly $80.00
That doesn’t include stocking up on the “safe” fruits and veggies and lean proteins that I’ll be needing to sustain this diet.
Thankfully, the initial costs will be the most expensive and I’ll only need to be paying for replenishments after that. I never realized how much I was going to have to replace from my regular diet with gluten-free and lactose-free until I started looking.
Why FODMAP? Why make such a drastic change in my life? FODMAP stands for:
F – Fermentable (The process through which gut bacteria breaks down undigested carbohydrates to produce gas)
O – Oligo-saccharides (Wheat, rye, onion, garlic, legumes)
D – Disaccharides (lactose)
M – Mono-saccharides (Fructose)
A + P – (And) Polyols (Sorbitol, Mannitol, which are found in fruits and vegetables and used in artificial sweeteners)
My reasoning behind going on this diet (which will be more like a massive lifestyle change) is that I already know I don’t digest lactose and artificial sweeteners very well and gluten is in just about everything and I’m extremely sensitive to most foods and most people with IBS are gluten-intolerant.
To further illustrate just how drastic this change is going to be I’m including a list of the “safe” and “unsafe” foods.
“Safe” and “Unsafe” foods include:
I’m tired of feeling sick all the time. I’m tired of running to the bathroom instead of running after my little guy. I’m tired of feeling embarrassed. I’m tired of feeling scared to go out to eat with family and friends and eating at someone else’s house. I’m tired of having to know where and how far the nearest bathroom is at all times.
I’m doing this for my health.
Yes, it’s going to be expensive. But I also believe it’s going to be well worth it.
Until today the only people who knew about my IBS were my family and my 2 best friends. It’s not a nice topic to talk about and quite frankly, it’s pretty embarrassing, which is one of the reasons it took me so long to go see my doctor in the first place.
I will be needing the support of family and friends on this because I’m sure there are going to be times when I want to give up, when I’m going to think it’s too hard and go back to eating the things that make me sick.
I want to stress that no one should feel they have to accommodate my dietary restrictions because with a little practice and lot of patience I know I’ll be able to distinguish between what I can and can’t eat, in time.
For those of you who made it to the end: Thank you for taking the time to understand (or trying to) what I’ve been dealing with for so many years. Your love and support mean everything to me and I’m actually very excited to begin this journey to better health.