I wrote about having IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) quite a while ago on my blog just to put it out there into the world. It was more something I needed to do for me, and I felt a million times better afterwards as it was out there and I could move on. Fast forward to the past month, I’ve ended up talking a lot about IBS due to the nutrition plan I am currently on. For better or for worse, changing my diet again has forced me to go back into research mode about IBS and my thoughts on it. Through this process, I’ve actually found quite a few new discoveries that are changing the way I think not only about my IBS but my nutrition too. And while IBS itself can be very individualized, here are a few of the new tidbits that I found that are helping me manage my day-to-day life.
-If you think a food is a trigger food for you, look it up!
While bananas are on many low FODMAP lists for IBS, they can still be a trigger food due to the amount of starch in them. An unripe banana can have potentially 12x the amount of starch then a ripe one, making them more difficult to digest. For me, this means that eating a banana by itself can sometimes give me terrible stomach aches and other times be perfectly okay and I am fine. The same article does point out that for those with IBS avoiding banana may be the best options, but making sure the banana is ripe and heating it up or cooking it (such as with banana bread or in pancakes) can help to make the banana more tolerable for those that still want to enjoy them. This seems to be the case for me, so lots of pancakes for me! (It also help mentally to know that I am not alone in my food triggers.)
-Other things can cause IBS like symptoms.
Caffeine, gluten, and lactose are the three big ones here. I have been tested for both celiac disease and lactose intolerance (both negative) but until I was that was what the doctor asked about most. A simple blood test can clear it all up and get you some answers. In regards to caffeine, this one is a bit trickier. (I haven’t had any tests in regard to caffeine, so these are mainly my own observations.) Caffeine is metabolized in the liver and affects people differently based on their rate of metabolism. If you metabolise caffeine slower, it can have a greater affect on you. (Thus you feel it more.) While some sites do recommend staying away from caffeine products in you have IBS, others say it is okay as long as you aren’t putting milk, sugar, and cream in it aka other common trigger food. For me, I know coffee, energy drinks, and BCAA’s (branched chain amino acids, a common pre-workout stimulant) have a pretty strong caffeine effect on me. I can get jittery, have an elevated heart rate, and potentially diarrhoea, but I feel this is a completely separate issue then my IBS, as I don’t get stomach pain from caffeinated products. So before jumping to conclusions, record all your food in a food diary and specifically how that food made you feel, then go an discuss it with your doctor. They can help you determine if you have IBS or something else going on.
-Don’t obsess over food.
This is a hard one right now for me. But the more I think about food on my diet change, the harder it is to see a long term picture. All I see is being in pain in that moment or questioning if what I am eating will cause a flare up. (Which when stress is a trigger, isn’t a good thing!) And then add in watching Master Chef a couple times a week… you get the picture. Take a breather, do some excuse and then go with the flow on planning meals. Want to do 4 days at once? Great! Cook dinner fresh each night? Perfect! Double your pancakes to ensure you have heavenly glory at your finger tips? Hells ya! Find what works with your life and stomach and always for maximum gut happiness! And then relax! You got this.
Hopefully some of this helps you with your gut health (or your understanding of someone with IBS). And remember, everyone is different, so find what works for you!
Happy gut health!