This month marks one year since I was diagnosed with IBS. I think many people will relate to both the relief of finally being diagnosed with something and having a name for all these symptoms but also the annoyance of this condition having no cure or easy, one way to manage it. After diagnosing it, my doctor was pretty much as knowledgeable as me and with a 6 month waiting list for a nutritionist I decided to go it alone. I turned to the internet, books and YouTube for advice from other people going through the same thing.
My doctor had recommended I try the low FODMAP diet which really did help but was sooo hard to stick to! (I wont go into it too much but basically you cant eat gluten, dairy, legumes, loooads of fruit and veg including onion and garlic and lots of other things.) I managed to stick with it for the recommended 6 weeks before trying to reintroduce different foods just to find that I literally couldn’t tolerate ANYTHING! When I finally got to see a nutritionist in May, she told me it was probably because I was stressed and to try doing the elimination and reintroduction again once I was more settled etc. I am actually just starting the low FODMAP period again now as I’m feeling much less stressed this year- I will keep you updated!
In the meantime I tried a lot of other things to help with symptoms and especially to reduce bloating. My gut health is still bad, especially when I’m busy so having to grab food out or when I’m stressed or you know just days when I eat too much ice-cream but I am definitely learning how to deal with it.
These are my tips for bloating and IBS!
- Experiment with intermittent fasting. This has honestly been the most effective thing for me! It totally makes sense that giving your body 16 hour to digest food instead of 10 would help. I used to do the classic eating between midday and 7 or 8pm but now I start work at 7am and I really have to eat before that or I’m starving by lunchtime so I’m doing it the other way round and eating between 6am and 3pm.
- Drink a lot. Staying hydrated helps pretty much every aspect of your health and your digestion is no exception. Doubling my water intake made a huge difference for me. Also, I find herbal tea very soothing for my tummy. On the other hand, there is a lot of research suggesting not to drink with your meals so try and drink a lot in between.
- Keep a food diary. Whether this is along side the low FODMAP reintroduction process or just eating what you would anyway and seeing what brings up symptoms this is the key to finding your triggers! Be aware of things you wouldn’t expect like broccoli or onion and maybe test caffeine as well.
- Light, regular exercise. I love to start off my day with a run or weights session and if I’m bloated, one of the best ways to feel more comfortable is going for a short walk. It will also help you feel less stressed which is another IBS trigger!
- Experiment with the medication and supplements out there. There are so many brands offering IBS and bloating relief and different things will work well for different people. Try a few different probiotics to find what works for you. There are also brand like Buscopan and Defflatine which offer relief for once you’re bloated.
- Finally, if you haven’t already then go see a doctor and get diagnosed. There are lots of tests to get done to rule out other allergies and conditions before being diagnosed with IBS. They can also help refer you to a nutritionist to help work out what steps you can take.