Living with IBS #3 – It’s okay
Sometimes people think that I have it all figured out. I have IBS, but I also have a FODMAP blog and I have been following the adapted FODMAP diet for several years now. So I must know how to control my complaints. Sometimes, I also feel like that’s how it should be. But I want to tell you today that that is not the case ánd that that is okay.
I don’t have my IBS symptoms under control completely and I also still have moments where I don’t know what to do anymore. Yesterday I had such a moment. I recently started to test FODMAP groups again (your tolerances can change over time and it is good to check now and then if you are still reacting the same to different food groups). I always knew that I didn’t react well to fructose, but when I did my latest test, my reaction was worse than I expected.
I got the worst reaction that I have ever had. This made me realise that I might have not been careful enough with fructose in my diet. I know that I get symptoms when I eat more than a very small serving of fruit (i.e. two mandarines instead of one) and I also know that I react to too much sugar. But still, I don’t always manage to stop eating after a little bit of fruit or small piece of chocolate. And I didn’t realise that the trigger for my complaints might have been fructose in these situations.
This triggered a moment of frustration for me. Because I have been writing about the low FODMAP diet for over five years, I try to help other people with their diet and apparently I don’t even manage to get clear for myself what I can and cannot tolerate. Why would people want to listen to what I have to say, if I cannot even stop myself from eating things that give me issues?
This spiral of negative thoughts led to a little meltdown last night. I was so done with this. I said to my boyfriend: why is it so unfair! Why do I see people eating away an entire chocolate bar without any problems. And do I still get stomach issues from the tiniest mistake or when I overeat a little? How unfair is that?
Why do I hear that people are starting the low FODMAP diet every week because of their stomach problems? Why is the group of people with chronic bowel diseases growing and did we still not find thé real cause and solution for IBS yet?
When I had calmed down after that meltdown, I realised that my first reaction always is to get mad at myself. I blame myself for not being strict enough about what I eat. I blame myself for not being symptom-free. I often wonder if I would never have gotten these gut issues, if I had done something different in the past.
But you know what we should remind ourselves of in such moments of frustration? It is okay. And you don’t have to blame yourself.
IBS is a chronic disease where no real cure has been found for yet. I have read many books about IBS in the last years and the conclusion is always that you can do things to control and diminish your symptoms (such as the low FODMAP diet), but an actual cure for IBS that makes your symptoms go away completely has not been found yet.
And that can be really frustrating. Changing your lifestyle and following a diet, such as the FODMAP diet is something that can definitely help you a lot and you can get help from doctors and dieticians in following this diet. But even then, finding out your triggers and calming down your stomach, is still a puzzle that you need to solve by yourself for the largest part.
You are the one who has to stick to a restrictive diet. You are the one who sometimes cannot eat anything, while everyone around you is enjoying themselves. And you are the one who has to find out what you can and cannot tolerate and how you should eat to minimise your symptoms.
It is okay that you find that difficult. It is difficult and can be super frustrating. And that is something that we are allowed to acknowledge. The reason that I write down this story, is because I don’t want you to think that you are the only one who is struggling. I want to show you that I still struggle with this too, even though I have learned a lot in the last 5 years and am really familiar with the low FODMAP diet. And while I also have a lot of good moments and I believe in always focusing on positivity, you will experience moments where you simply cannot be positive and don’t feel good. And that is okay!
It is okay
It is okay that you sometimes feel jealous of your partner, friends or family members because they can eat everything.
It is okay that you sometimes feel ashamed for your bloated stomach and your noisy gut.
It is okay that you sometimes feel angry at your body because you seem to react to the weirdest things.
It is okay that you sometimes feel frustrated because you still seem to have too many symptoms.
It is okay that you sometimes eat too much and get punished by several days of tummy trouble.
It is okay that you sometimes want to hide away, crying, because you don’t know what to do anymore.
It is okay that you sometimes feel alone because nobody around you really understands what you are going through.
You are only human. And of course, it doesn’t feel okay if you are going through the things above and you don’t want to go through them. But what I want to tell you with this, is that it is okay to not always feel like you can deal with everything. This is a human reaction and you don’t have to blame yourself for that.
Now, in the holiday season, I notice that that is sometimes extra difficult. Because there are so many activities where food plays a big role. This can cause you to feel lonely and misunderstood, while this is a time that you want to enjoy. Try to accept that these moments are here and that it is okay that they are here. Sometimes you just need to let the frustration out, to be able to be positive again afterwards. Letting it go will bring relieve.
And remember that you are not alone. That there is a very big community of fodmappers and people with IBS who really understand what you are going through and want to support you in that.
Here on the blog, in my Facebook community and on social media we try to help each other and I am so grateful for how this community has grown in the past years. It is so so valuable to be able to talk to people who understand what you are going through. And it makes it a lot easier to deal with the difficult moments.
I want to wish you a very happy december and remember: it is okay to feel frustrated sometimes, also in this festive month. Just let it happen, let it out and then pick things up again. You can do this <3
Together we go for a calm belly!
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