Living with IBS #4 – What if you keep having symptoms?
I thought it was time for another “Living with IBS”. Blogs where I tell you more about my experiences and issues in living with IBS. Today, I want to talk with you about symptoms: what if you keep having too many IBS symptoms, even though you are sticking to the low FODMAP diet?
Let me say first, that there are few people that are completely symptom-free after they have followed the low FODMAP diet. The diet helps for many people to minimize their IBS-symptoms. But they hardly are completely symptom-free. You have a sensitive gut that reacts to many different things and situations and therefore it is hard to completely eliminate symptoms.
But it is also not good when you keep having too many symptoms and that is something that I have been going through in the last few months. In general, the low FODMAP diet has made a very big difference in my IBS complaints. However, I always felt like I still had quite some symptoms and that I have a very sensitive gut.
Two glasses of wine on one evening? Stomach pain. Eating out in a restaurant and picking a low FODMAP option? Still bloated and stomach pain. Fries for dinner? Stomach pain. Ate a little too much sugar? Stomach pain. Sitting still for too long? Stomach pain.
This is something that really frustrated me. Because it made me very strict towards myself. After a dinner in a restaurant I often felt angry with myself I made a certain dinner choice, fries with meat for example. I ended up thinking “Why did I not pick the salad, that would probably have been a less fatty and thus safer choice”. If I had a glass of wine with a friend, I felt guilty about that because not drinking wine would have been better for my stomach. I saw people around me enjoy very normal things, such as a drink with some potato chips in the weekend, and all those things gave me stomach pain. I felt that my IBS started to control my life again more and more.
A good dietician who knows the low FODMAP diet
Something that has been very valuable for me in the last month was finding a good dietician. In the past, I have visited several dieticians and they usually had some knowledge about the low FODMAP diet. But I often noticed that I, with the knowledge that I gained about the diet in the past years, knew more about the diet than they did and I didn’t feel like I gained anything from my visits.
Some time ago, I found Manon te Linde, a Dutch dietician who focuses on IBS, the low FODMAP diet and other nutrition-related gut issues. She caught my interest because she also has a blog, Positive Gut, where she shares very interesting articles about gut health and IBS. It looked like Manon really knew a lot about this topic and that’s why I took several consults with her.
These consults were very valuable to me. The dietician didn’t only look at what I was eating and if we had to make adaptations to the things I ate to diminish my symptoms, but she looked further than that.
She also helped me with eating enough fiber, something that is very important for your gut health and she asked me a lot of questions about my eating habits. Whether I sometimes ate without thinking, if I eat in front of the tv or if I check how often I chew on my food. These were things that I had never connected to IBS complaints.
But you know what? When I focused on eating more slowly and mindfully, it had a positive effect on my symptoms. When I ate quickly, I got stomach pains more often than when I ate slowly and chewed carefully.
Going to the doctor
I have worked with the dietician for a few months and even though I noticed improvements, for example because I ate more mindful, my symptoms didn’t calm down enough. The last few weeks were really bad. I had diarrhoea quite often and when we went skiing two weeks ago, I had to take diarrhoea pills daily to even be able to go skiing. After talking with my dietician, I decide to go to the doctor again. Because it looks like something more is going on.
The doctor did a blood- and stool test, but all the results came back good. Of course, I am happy that the results were good, but I also hoped that they would at least find an explanation for the problems I am having. Because the GP couldn’t help me further, he advised me to make an appointment with a gut doctor in the hospital and I have my appointment in a month. I hope that they can help me in the hospital to discover the cause of my issues.
I really want to advise you to not wait too long to go to a specialist again when you keep having heavy stomach issues. Don’t blame yourself when you still have too many symptoms, but go talk to a good dietician or your doctor. I have been guilty of this in the past too. I didn’t feel like the hassle of going to doctors again or to pay the healthcare costs, while these symptoms really have a big impact on my life. It is about your health and your happiness in life and that is really important!
How is that for you? Do you have your IBS complaints under control or do you think you still have to many IBS symptoms too?