We Need to Talk About IBS

This photo may seem pretty irrelevant to the topic at hand, and granted it definitely is, but I have included it because it was taken in one of my favourite places in Spain (La Caleta in Cádiz, if you were wondering), on a warm, sunny day. No IBS symptoms in sight.

As I am sure many of you will know by now, I have been dealing with/suffering from IBS for a good few years at least. I have written about it before, when I was unsure as to what was causing all of the pain, and since, when I was diagnosed as severely gluten intolerant. I honestly, and possibly naively, thought that cutting out gluten was going to completely get rid of any and all problems I was having. I was really expecting to be stomach-pain free if I kept to a gluten free diet. Unfortunately, though, this just hasn’t been the case.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have been so much better. Eating gluten was definitely not doing me any favours and I no longer suffer daily with back and stomach pains, cramps and bloating. Also, I have found that on the odd occasion where I have had gluten (be it accidentally or stupidly), my God have I known about it. I shall spare you the details and just leave it at that.

For whatever reason, though, I have also noticed that when I do suffer from IBS nowadays, for example if I’m stressed, overtired, or if my body just decides that it hates me that day, it’s worse than it ever has been before. I get the pain, which spreads through my stomach and around into my back, making standing up a real mission. Then there’s the bloating, the nausea and all the other crappy symptoms (no pun intended).

For example, I am currently sat in bed as I write this, struggling with a painful, bloated stomach because I was nervous for an interview that I had this morning and, although I’m pretty sure it went well, my tummy doesn’t want me to get over it just yet. Yay.

But I’m not putting this out there to try and gain sympathy, so I will stop whinging now and get on with sharing a few thoughts/things I wish everyone knew about IBS/coeliac disease, because it’s not really spoken about enough in my opinion.

  1. There doesn’t necessarily have to be a specific reason for an IBS flare up. Yes, nine times out ten, I can pinpoint the reason behind the discomfort, but sometimes that really isn’t the case. Whether that’s because there is genuinely no cause, or there is but I have just completely missed what it is, I have no idea. But I know that persisting to ask me what could be the root of the problem will raise my stress levels and make me feel soooo much worse.
  2. There’s not a whole lot I can do to change the discomfort. I am one of those people who will comfort eat to make myself feel better. The reason that I am feeling rubbish does not change that. When my IBS hits, there is pretty much nothing I can do to make it go away, I just have to wait until it eases off. I know this from a lot of experience! So maybe don’t tell me that eating something ‘plain’ will help.
  3. I don’t care if you eat gluten-full food around me. I am so aware of the consequences of me eating gluten. So, whilst of course the smell of freshly baked bread or cake is tempting, I don’t crave it anymore. Eat all the pasta you want around me and please don’t feel bad about it!
  4. Gluten free is not any healthier. It does my head in when people claim that they are going gluten free in order to lose weight, or to be healthier. Maybe this is because my gluten-free diet has kind of been forced upon me, so I don’t fully understand why someone would do that to themselves voluntarily. Also, switching ‘normal’ bread or pasta for the gluten free version, won’t make any difference to your weight if you still eat the same amount. This one is very possibly me being pedantic, but I find it infuriating.
  5. Restaurants NEED to offer more gluten free options. I’m saying this with regards to gluten free food, because it’s the lack of these types of dishes that affects me personally. I know that there are so many other types of diets (vegan, lactose free etc.) that should be taken into account when restaurants are planning their menus, as well. It’s so disheartening to go out with friends who are really excited to try a specific restaurant, and not be able to share that excitement because there’s only two things on the menu I can eat and one of them is salad.

There are so many more things that I could add to this, but I don’t want to ramble and I also don’t want to complain too much, because I know I don’t actually have it that bad. That being said, I will apologise now if this post seems a bit ranty, I hope you can take it in the lighthearted way that I intended!

Haze x

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