For the past three years I have been in and out of many doctors offices. These visits are usually swiftly followed by large numbers of swear words and little to no answers or viable solutions to what is, fundamentally, a fucked up digestive system.
Stressful work situations were always topped off with horrendous stomach cramps. Bouts of seemingly un-sleep-off-able exhaustion. Big weight loss, smartly followed by big weight gain. Bloating that took more than an undone button or three to fix. And finally, bathroom goings on that even the most open among us (aka me) would wince at the thought of sharing.
To completely drown in a sea of similar health food bloggers, I am ill. Sometimes it is completely unnoticeable, and other times it renders me house bound. But finally, as of two weeks ago, it was given a name and a solution.
Annoyingly, after years of feeling crap I was sort of hoping for a big and lavish name. Nothing with the words “chronic” or “incurable”, obviously… but something with an air of seniority or drama about it. Alas, what I got was “Acute Irritable Bowl Syndrome”.
Having had the acronym IBS thrown around as a possible contender since the start of my dramas, it wasn’t a particularly unexpected label. But, what it in fact marked was an end. I’ve been tested for every allergy under the sun, been put on elimination diets, I’ve had truck loads of my blood taken, my bone density scanned, thyroid checked, I’ve been prodded, poked and swabbed to within an inch of my life. It was nice, a relief, for someone to say “all the questions have been answered, there are no more avenues to explore; the most obvious conclusion is the correct one.”
… Swiftly followed up with “and here is how we are going to deal with it”.
The way I would describe my journey to date would really be up and down. Because there are days when I feel bloody fantastic. Like post smiley selfies on Instagram sort of fantastic. My energy will be high, my skin will be clear and even sometimes a little glowey (or maybe I’m confused with greasy – either way I feel good). But there are also days where I felt so crap, both physically and emotionally, that I refused to leave the house. To be honest, I think it is because what I have is a fantastic lifestyle; Sure, I probably work a little too much and sleep too little – but all the other bits are fundamentally good and balanced. Once I get my IBS on track, I should be that annoying selfie girl we all love to hate – like all the time. Yay.
Although I wouldn’t wish disease upon anyone (especially not myself), there is a weird part of me that is let down by my prognoses. Not because I like being sick, but because I think IBS has been marginalised. No, I was never rushed back from a dessert island holiday on a stretcher, my pain isn’t that bad and my life isn’t that effected. But there is pain, and life us interrupted and it is worth noting that when I make a fuss about what to order in a restaurant it isn’t all about getting a bangin’ bod. Before you roll your eyes one more time over there, it’s because I don’t want to ruin this lovely evening by 86 trips to the bathroom and the public embarrassment of trying to discreetly leave a gathering without shouting across the room to the boy “oi love, I’ve got some chronic farts going on ‘cos I let loose on the cheese earlier”.
So, FODMAP is my new diet of choice. But I don’t really want it. It doesn’t let me eat avocado on toast, I can’t make my all time favourite beetroot brownies, and above all that, I can’t eat cashews. (I am pretty sure the moment I read that in my FODMAP book was the single saddest moment of my life.) It also isn’t a popular diet. It isn’t easy to explain (try even just saying “Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols.”) and there aren’t 1065 blogs dedicated to creating instagramable recipes using it. But, 14 days in and I am already feeling a difference. I feel lighter.
Maybe this blog can be a home for all those #FermentableOligoDiMono-saccharidesAndPolyols photos. Maybe you and I can learn about this way of eating with me?
I don’t know about you… But I like to take my learning in chunks, so before we hurtle down a path of breaking down the scientific reaction of “short chain carbohydrates” in our bodies, lets start with a simple list of things that you can start avoiding today (or any day you are feeling bloated, heavy, gassy etc):
Check back on Sunday for more on my FODMAP road.