A little too much information.
Here is the short version of my IBS story, and how I helped myself get better. Be warned. there are some “gross” or indelicate details below. I’m telling it like it was, because my IBS story may help you with yours. If you’re squeamish, TURN BACK NOW! :)
When I first got IBS I had no idea what it was, or what might be causing it. I had more and more trouble with my bowels, such as major cramping, abdominal pain and diarrhea.
I’d had the stomach flu over the years but this was different. Diarrhea and cramping kept coming back every few days!
Any of this sounding familiar yet?
Then there was the really strong smell when I used the toilet. Why was that happening? And why was I tired all the time? Why was I sometimes brutally constipated only to have diarrhea a few days later?
All of this was terribly embarrassing for a newly married man in his late twenties!
Because my IBS symptoms came on slowly, (and because I’m a typical guy when it comes to doctors ;), it took me years of suffering before I started looking for help.
Looking for help, FINALLY!
I visited some doctors, and a gastroenterologist, and had all the tests. But the doctors couldn’t find anything.
The gastroenterologist diagnosed me with irritable bowel syndrome, but said that was just a catch all for problems that don’t seem to have a cause.
As my IBS kept getting worse, I got desperate. I decided that if there was nothing physically wrong with me (like the doctors said), it must be something I was eating.
Eliminating my IBS… With an elimination diet.
I decided to try an elimination diet to see if I could find out what was causing my IBS symptoms. I built a list from books and Internet resources and put together a food elimination diet.
I stopped eating all the foods that are most likely to cause either food allergies or food sensitivities.
Junk food’s revenge!
At first I felt terrible due to withdrawal from things like caffeine, sugar and junk food. I admit I was miserable, but I’m stubborn so I kept at it.
The withdrawal passed after about a week, and in two or three weeks my bowels got much better. The cramping and diarrhea subsided, and I had more energy than I’d had in a long time.
I still “fall off the wagon” and eat things I know I shouldn’t, but I get sick pretty quickly, and realize it’s not worth it.
Problems I didn’t know I had…
Something unexpected happened during my recovery. When I stopped eating foods that I was sensitive to, I noticed that other strange symptoms disappeared.
Over time I had developed really strong body odor, bad dandruff and a flaky crust between my eyes, and in my ears. I also had problems concentrating and felt like I was in a fog sometimes.
It turned out this was all connected to food sensitivities. The same food sensitivities that had been making my IBS MUCH WORSE!
After eliminating some foods from my diet and making some lifestyle changes all those strange symptoms disappeared!
Losing weight (and finding it again).
As a bonus, I lost 50 pounds! (Don’t worry though, I found 25 pounds again without even looking for it, once I figured out what I could eat ;). I’m back to about 15 pounds overweight.
I also lost a bunch of foods that were making me really sick. Gluten (a protein found in wheat and other grains) and dairy make me very ill. My bowels are also very sensitive to alcohol.
It was hard to get these out of my diet (I was a junk food junkie and also enjoyed a beer or glass of wine with dinner). I had to make some other lifestyle changes as well, and sometimes the world didn’t seem fair.
But getting rid of the misery I described above, made it VERY worth while.
Now it’s your turn.
Many people with IBS have food sensitivities and don’t know it. You could be one of them. If you are, then a food elimination diet might help you find the foods that are making you sick!