Tuesday, January 17, 2017


I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) about 25 years ago.  It used to be really bad where I had an IBS flare-up at least once a week.  Now it is at least once a month.  But it took many years of trial and error, and research on my own and not listening to doctors and dietitians about how I can control it.

The most popular thing people tell you is to use fiber.  That is great if you are constipated.  But not all IBS sufferers have constipation.  Some of us have diarrhea, or both.  I just have the diarrhea, never constipation.  During a flare up I had terrible stomach cramps and spent half my life on the toilet.  My butt was so sore I had to sit in the tub and soak my poor tush.  

Therefore, when I have a lot of fiber or roughage, I poop even more than normal, and I have an IBS flare-up.  People don't believe me sometimes, as if I am making it up so I don't have to eat healthy.  I love to eat healthy, but my body doesn't love it so much.  I tell them maybe they would like to sit with me while I am on the toilet half the day.  I call myself the poop queen of Anoka, or Miss Poops-a-Lot.  

My theory is that because I am so small, there is just not enough room in my torso for all my organs.  It seems when I have my period, my IBS also flares-up, thus the once a month excursion to the toilet.  When I was growing up, I could not chew meat or hard things like vegetables, so I often ate soft things.  Which didn't help me nutritionally either as I was and am still a very fussy eater.  Therefore, I think my body was not used to such roughage.

So now I try to watch what I eat, with little meat and vegetables.  I eat more breads, dairy, and fruit.  I try to eat low-fat as that also aggravates my IBS.

I have also learned that artificial sweeteners also trigger an IBS attack, like Nutrasweet (aspartame), and Splenda (sorbitol).  Sorbitol is a laxative, which is the last thing I need.  But they never tell you that.  So they put these artificial sweeteners in so many things, even things I had no idea.  We all know it is in gum, sugar-free soda and sugar-free candy.  But it is also in cough drops, cough syrup, and toothpaste.  I have to look at the label all the time to make sure it does not have this.  Sometimes it is like a treasure hunt, for they don't always make it easy to reveal what all the ingredients are.

So if you have IBS, congratulations!  And do your research, educate yourself, and don't listen to anyone who doesn't have this.  They don't know what it's like, and that it is different for everybody.  And they don't know how it can affect your life.  It's not a joke, and there is no cure.  But there is hope.  You just have to advocate for yourself, and do what you think is best for you.

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