It’s been 15 years since I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (“IBS”)- though I had been suffering for much longer than that. Prior to the diagnosis, I had been going through several diagnostic tests and lots of waiting for specialist appointments. So to finally get the diagnosis was underwhelming. It didn’t really tell me much because at the time, there wasn’t as much information on IBS as we have now. It was very much an “okay, but now what?” moment. I wasn’t given any treatment options other than medication. When I asked about making diet changes (because I could certainly tell that I felt worse when eating certain foods) I was told “No, there’s nothing you can do.” I left the appointment more confused than when I had arrived.
Fast forward 15 years later, with IBS in remission, I know exactly what I need to do to feel well and keep my gut happy. It wasn’t an easy journey though. I wasted a lot of time and money on things that didn’t work. Here are my top three biggest mistakes from my journey to IBS remission:
Mistake #1: I stayed on elimination diets for too long
When I first discovered the low FODMAP diet, it was a game changer. Finally some relief in my gas, bloating and irregularity! However, I had no idea at the time that the low FODMAP diet is meant to only be followed for eight weeks before reintroducing FODMAP groups. Reintroduction is a very important step because FODMAP foods contribute to a healthy gut microbiome. As a result, I ended up staying low FODMAP for several years which compromised the health of my gut microbiome even further.
Mistake #2: I only focused on what I wasn’t eating and didn’t consider what I was eating
Google “what to eat for IBS” and you’ll find endless lists of foods to avoid but not much guidance on what foods to include except really vague advice like “eat vegetables”. At the time, I thought I was eating really healthy because I didn’t eat gluten, dairy or junk food but I didn’t know that eating the same ten healthy foods each week does not equate to a healthy gut.
Mistake #3: I blamed every symptom or reaction on food
I hyper focused on food sensitivities and thought that every belch, fart, bloating episode or imperfect BM was a result of something I ate. This sent me down an endless spiral of elimination diets searching for different sensitivities. I realized my mistake when I went on my first vacation in five years and suddenly my gut felt amazing even though I was drinking alcohol and eating things I thought I was sensitive to. Destressing does wonders for the gut, ya know?
I made these mistakes because I didn’t understand how IBS develops. I thought food was the issue when in fact, food sensitivities are just a symptom of IBS and not the root cause. Two underlying factors for IBS developing are a change in the gut microbiome and a dysregulated nervous system. As soon as I switched my focus to nourishing both my gut microbiome and my nervous system, everything changed for the better.
If you developed chronic GI issues after a round of antibiotics, getting sick while traveling, getting food poisoning or after a period of intense stress, your gut microbiome needs some work and just going on a gluten or dairy free diet won’t address the underlying cause. My 1:1 coaching program will help you overcome gas, bloating, pain and irregularity by getting to the root cause and helping you integrate foods rather than just eliminate them. Learn more here.