The Diet That Genuinely Changed My Life

Want to lose six inches off your waist without giving up your favourite foods or moving your butt? Want a quick fix that will have you looking bikini-ready in two weeks flat without counting calories or forgoing your fat and sugar laden choca-mocha-caramel-latte-with-extra-cream-and-marshmallows? YES?!

Then this post is not for you.

If, however, like me, you’ve suffered for the better part of your life with sometimes agonizing, often uncomfortable, and always inconvenient issue of IBS – I might be about to pull a miracle-healing stunt and change your life. That may sound suspiciously like hyperbole, but if you endure the awful symptoms I used to then this treatment can be literally life-changing.

 

What Causes IBS?

Many people appear to be under the impression that the phenomenon of IBS has its roots in the typical (horrendous) diet of modern man; a reasonable enough assumption since it seems to be becoming more prevalent. The truth is that IBS is simply the term ascribed to any stomach complaints that cannot otherwise be diagnosed, ie. a bit of a GP cop-out.

Mine started when I was in my mid-teens. And once it did, oh-ma-Gahd… Awful. If you’re still reading, then you don’t need me to give you the gory details, as I presume you’re experiencing them most days yourself. In which case, keep reading because this has literally changed my life.

When I was in my late teens/early twenties, I became addicted to laxatives.

I’m pretty embarrassed about it, but there it is. I went cold turkey when I was unable to get to a shop to collect more in time for my next ‘dose’. In fairness, they weren’t exactly improving my situation anyway, it was more of a psychological crutch – because I was truly in a bad way a lot of the time. As in, I sometimes looked six months pregnant. And felt even bigger.

The Diet That Genuinely Changed My Life

Having been with child twice, I can confirm – from a position of authority – that when my waist expanded beyond its natural circumference, I legitimately looked like I was heading into the last trimester of pregnancy. Clothes were a nightmare, and safety pins became my handbag essential. I wish I was kidding.

 

Myths about IBS

In my early twenties, I was of the mistaken belief that eliminating a particular food group could alleviate my symptoms (trusty Google was not so trusty about this particular subject back then – there’s a lot of new information now). I went strictly wheat free. It didn’t help me; so I went gluten free. This was not easy – at that time almost all processed foods seemed to contain gluten, and certainly anything tasty!

To make matters more awkward, nobody even knew what gluten was, and the options available today – pah! If only.

When I went to the supermarket and asked where their rye bread was located, they’d look at me like I was asking for elven bread… Unless I got lucky and happened to ask the one assistant who worked in the relevant aisle – alas my chances of that were about the same as marrying Brad Pitt (things didn’t work out between us, I’m sad to tell you).

…I went dairy and meat free. Nada.

 

“Diagnosis”

I went to see my GP (obviously). About four separate times. Alas, they too were clueless to my plight.

I was advised to ‘keep a food diary’ on each occasion (a legitimate excuse to buy some pretty stationery, but otherwise didn’t prove very helpful).

The Diet That Genuinely Changed My Life
Definitely should have rested the diary on my swollen belly…

Once I was even prescribed some (pointless) drugs. I also self-medicated (laxatives, ahem) with charcoal tablets and acidophilus and every other product promoted for my woes.

NOTHING worked.

I gave up trying and simply managed my issues the best I could. For example, I was always painfully (agonisingly) aware that apples and raw onion were not friends of my gut. Rarely, I was totally fine; sometimes stress could be a trigger; occasionally, if I got super hungry – that would be enough to set me off. This went on for a decade.

And then I discovered something that has made my tummy happy again… Like 95% of the time happy – which I reckon is not a bad ratio of happiness.

So, if, you have gut issues like me I used to, this is diet you need to know about, that has completely transformed my life:

Behold – The Low FODMAP Diet!

 

What are FODMAPs?

FODMAP is an acronym for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols (try saying that after a glass of wine). These food components are poorly digested in some people and are what lead to irritability of the gut. When these molecules are poorly absorbed in the small intestine, they continue through the digestive tract where they act as a food source to bacteria living in the large intestine.

This process essentially leads to fermentation, causing bloating (or, in my case, apparent immaculate conception), and uncomfortable bowel habits.

By eliminating FODMAPs from the diet, the symptoms can be very effectively managed. Promise.

 

Prognosis

It’s thought that following the Low FODMAP Diet will eradicate symptoms in approximately 75% of IBS sufferers. They’re not bad odds, are they? Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the diet though, is that after several strict weeks it’s recommended you begin reintroducing foods. But I’m serious, you must be strict in the beginning – no midnight binges on the foods you crave! If your discomfort is on the same scale mine was, the pay-off will be totally worth the effort. Plus, you may discover new foods you’ve not experimented worth before – this diet is how I found some of my favourite vegetables!

Read my Comprehensive List of Low FODMAP Recipes!

What follows is basically a process of elimination to establish which particular foods have been making you ill. And if you’re as lucky as I’ve been, you’ll eventually return to an (almost) completely normal diet, with the very foods you can’t currently tolerate.

I’ve become reacquainted with the simple pleasure of a crisp apple (admittedly I usually enjoy them dipped in a Cadbury’s Caramel Pot of Joy).

The Diet That Genuinely Changed My Life

And while I’ll never be able to partake in biting into a crunchy raw onion, neither am I sure that I’d want to… Which is handy.

If you have the willpower to be meticulous with your diet initially, you have a great chance at getting over the horrors of your sensitive gut. It could genuinely change your life.

Yes, that sounds melodramatic, but it’s more true than if I’d simply lost a couple of stones: I’m no longer visited by pain on a daily basis. It’s become more like a distant relative: avoided like the plague, successfully for the most part apart from the Christmas period, when it’s kind of inevitable.

I wish you lots of luck and will leave this useful link to a downloadable PDF of which foods to eat, and those to avoid.

I’d love to hear your stories about this issue – please let me know if you plan to try the diet, and how you get on with it. I hope you too have fab results! Let me know how you get on.

Tags

Diet, Health, Tips and Advice

An award-nominated blogger and author, Kate is an experienced breastfeeding advocate, and expert baby sleep chaser. Her writing has appeared on Mothercare, Huff Post, and BritMums.

17 Comments

  1. I can’t imagine how much you must’ve suffered in that 10 years… It just sounds horrendous. I think I would’ve been driven mad by it, and lack of potential alleviation of the symptoms. It really is one of those little understood disorders where nobody really knows what they can really do to help you-but this diet sounds incredible, and I hope it helps other sufferers like it has helped you!! I’ve always suffered from PCOS, just with mild symptoms, but I’ve become what they refer to as a more ‘typical’ case since having children worsened it. Again, it’s something that seems generally not really understood by Drs, and nobody can get on top of the insulin resistance problem I’ve developed, meaning attempts to regain any semblance of my pre baby weight results in failure and misery. I console myself that at least I’m not in constant pain, but do feel frustrated that nothing more can be done for me.
    This must feel like a miracle to you after all that suffering! I hope you can finally keep on top of it for life now!
    #bloggerclubuk

    • That’s exactly how it felt. I’m not usually a big ‘sharer’ on the blog about personal things, but it truly made such a monumental difference to my life, I hope it can help one or two others in the same way.

      Thank you, and I’m sorry you have your own issues x

  2. I’m sorry to hear you had such a rubbish experience trying to find a solution to your IBS but its great that you’ve found a way to control it through diet. My mum had diverticulitis and is so so limited in the foods she can eat without suffering (basically plain chicken, plain potatoes, Readybrek) so I have seen how depressing problems with the digestive system can be. Best of luck with it, I hope you continue to feel fab (with the exception of Xmas maybe, but some things are worth suffering for a bit right?) #BloggerClubUK

    • Thanks so much. It really is awful and I feel so thankful to have all but cured it – at one time I believed that was an impossibility.

      I hope your mum finds some relief.

      Of course, xmas wouldn’t be xmas without overindulgence – it’s practically the law!

  3. I think different diets work for different people, I am glad you have found something that works for you IBS is not very nice to deal with.

    • I’m sure you’re right, though this is supposed to help 75% of sufferers, which is not bad odds!

      Thank you, it’s really not.

  4. I like your sense of humour, you type how I talk. Sounds like a horrible thing to have but thankfully you’ve found the solution, a friend of mine has IBS and when we were out for a meal she burst into tears and had to leave early. She can also never drink wine which makes me feel awful for her. I will send this to her and fingers crossed her pain eases up!

  5. Haha, sounds like we’d get on well! (I too am fluent in sarcasm. ?)

    Your poor friend, I really hope it helps her – please let me know! X

  6. My husband has been a longterm sufferer of IBS as a result of years. His IBS tends to have flare-ups and when those times come he is terribly poorly. I will show him this article as I know he would love to find a way out if it all.

  7. That must have been awful, one of my friends suffers from IBS so I will mention this to her x

    • Kate Tunstall Reply

      It wasn’t very nice. Luckily it’s a distant memory now – other than the rare flare-up. I hope it helps your friend x

  8. Oh goodness, that all sounds a bit complicated to me but glad it is working for you. I would struggle with the non chocolate though

    • Kate Tunstall Reply

      Thanks, I’m very lucky no longer have to follow the diet!

  9. It’s amazing how many things in life can be fixed by changing your diet! It’s wonderful that this one has worked for you. It sounds like a real life changer! I love your first paragraph lol very witty. Thanks so much for linking up with #bloggerclubuk x

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