Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Learning To Live Life With IBS

IBS is one of those conditions that you can have under control for months, even years. Then bam, it's back with a vengeance! Although, hands up, I have a fear of doctors, so I keep putting off going find out if there are any medical advancements in treatment. In the meantime, I'm learning to live life with IBS.
Lady holding her stomach in a post about learning to live life with IBS.
I originally wrote a post about my IBS story on my old blog, but I've had a few flare-ups recently, so I wanted to do a quick update. 

IBS can, when I have a particularly bad patch, feel like its ruling my life. I've had countless times that I've had to cancel plans because my stomach has let me down AGAIN. If I go somewhere new, then the first thing I always do is scope out the nearest bathroom 'just in case'. All in all that means that simple things like going for a meal can feel like a really stressful experience. 

Lady out in the fresh air in a post about learning to live life with IBS.

Living life with IBS

Life with IBS has meant I've had way more cringe-worthy "mad dashes" than I can, or care to remember. 

The number of times I have been so thankful just to spot a pub. Unfortunately, the said pub hasn't been selected because of its impressive offerings of wines and excellent ales, instead because a walk or wander has to be cut short because I can feel my stomach is about to go. (Although I can't lie, I do like to stumble across a pub, IBS or not!)

The first real wave of IBS hit when I was at University. Looking back, it was a combination of exam stress and deadlines and maybe not eating the best diet. The typical student diet is often high carbs, and lots of salty foods to overcome a hangover. Getting a diagnosis was a relief as I couldn't work out why I had this inconsistently bad stomach.

Life with IBS is embarrassing. I never used to admit to anyone other than my mum and brother that I had IBS, even to very close friends.

It wasn't until I'd had a flare-up on a day out to Putney and I wanted to go into every pub for another diet coke that I finally felt I needed to be honest and start telling people. Up until then, I had just made excuses for disappearing. Dating and IBS do not mix well!

Someone walking in the distance in a post about learning to live life with IBS.

A few things I do to manage it

Here are a few things I do to try to manage my IBS symptoms. If you have IBS too, I hope they help. Or if you have anything that you've you try, please drop me a comment and I will give it a go!

Diet

When my IBS first started, I noticed white bread was a big no-no. Since then, I have always tried to avoid it (which is hard when pizza is your favourite food!). 

I did the keto diet last year, and I found I had fewer flare-ups. Although I have gone back to eating some carbs, I do try to limit my intake.

When I eat, I also try to spread out my meals throughout the day and never miss breakfast.

Plan ahead

Eating after 7pm for some reason disagrees with my stomach, so I make sure plans mean I can eat before that time.

I also avoid overeating in one sitting, and I try to eat smaller portions more often.

Group of people in a restaurant in a post about learning to live life with IBS.

Food diary

When I was first diagnosed with IBS, the doctor told me to make a note of everything I that I ate. This is particularly important if its new food.

I always make a note if I have been stressed or anxious to help me see if that has contributed. As well as the weather.
Lady sat in bed with a hot drink and a book in a post about learning to live life with IBS.


Stress

As I mentioned, I always note down when I am stressed or anxious. Stress is probably the most significant contributor to my IBS going crazy. 

It's like a vicious circle though, the more stressed you get about having a flare-up. The more likely it will be that, yes you guessed it, you'll have a flare-up.

Keep cool

I first noticed this new trigger a few years ago in Sorento. Since then the summers in England have been getting hotter. With every spell of warm weather, I get another flare-up. 

Fans and cool cloths and keeping in the shade or breeze have become my best friend. The younger me loved the sun, but I have to avoid it now.

Peppermint

Peppermint is excellent for bloating, so I always like to keep some peppermint tea in the cupboard. Just in case.
A cup of peppermint tea in a post about learning to live life with IBS.

Remedies

I've tried a few over-the-counter remedies. The first of which is Colpermin. Unfortunately, this didn't do much for me. Also, the fact you have to take three tablets a day, meant I kept forgetting to take them all, which just isn't a fair test.

I've also took Alflorex for a few years, and they seemed to help, as long as I didn't eat foods I shouldn't. The only thing they couldn't seem to stop was the effects on the warmer weather, so I stopped taking them in the early summer and haven't got around to starting again.


I hope you liked this post. Opening up leaves you with that horribly vulnerable feeling, doesn't it? 

If you're a sufferer too, please let me know your story and what you do to live life with IBS.


Lots of love,
Helen x

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4 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing! Such an interesting post!

    Carina | https://carinazz.blogspot.com/

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  2. As someone who also suffers with IBS, I found your post so relatable and a little comforting knowing I'm not alone. I can't have dairy much, about once a week because it flares me up a lot and anything seriously spicy is a no no. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Jordanne / Thelifeofaglasgowgirl.co.uk

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    1. I didn't know you suffered too. Yes, as you say it's comforting knowing someone knows what you're going through. It can feel quite lonely at times can't it?! x

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