Like many people, I have IBS. Fun stuff. I actually find the blanket term of “IBS” to be incredibly irritating, because it’s a term that’s slapped on to cover such a wide array of sensitivities that the name really stops meaning anything. Chronic constipation? You’ve got IBS. Frequent diarrhea? You’ve got IBS. Gas? Bloating? Abdominal pain? IBS. It feels like a cop out… and when you aren’t well and can’t find a solution, it can be infuriating.
For several years, I was actually quite obsessed with finding a proper diagnosis for my ‘IBS’ and I had a strong determination to find a cure. I wanted to be “normal”. I knew that there was something wrong with me, and I was really frightened that if I didn’t get to the bottom of it I might end up with colon cancer. I tried everything:
- Elimination diets
- The rules of food combining
- Abdominal massage
- Fermented foods
- Digestive enzymes
- A gluten-free diet
- A raw food diet
- I even tried therapeutic hypnosis
The constant worry didn’t help, and in this case the determination to heal the problem didn’t help either. All of the stress likely made things worse. I finally demanded that my doctor send me for a colonoscopy which the specialist hadn’t been willing to do. It wasn’t until I was released from the [somewhat traumatic] procedure and was told that there was ‘nothing wrong with me’ that I finally gave up trying to find a cure, or even a better diagnosis.
At first I felt deflated and miserable… but I came to accept that though my system wasn’t “normal”, it was normal for me. The issues were just something that I was going to have to manage myself through daily lifestyle choices.
Luckily, I had learned some helpful things along the way. Through elimination diets and allergy testing, I learned that I was intolerant to soy. It’s one of the biggest triggers for my IBS, though of course everyone is different. Along with soy, I also learned that many other beans and legumes are hard on my system and that I need to take digestive enzymes and eat those foods only sparingly. Dairy is also a problem for me.
I think that it’s important to get to know your system and to take care to avoid food triggers. Your triggers will be different from the next person’s. Don’t pay attention to anyone else. Figure out what bothers you. Making dietary changes can feel overwhelming at first, but avoiding certain foods is really worth it overall.
For myself, I also determined that simple meals are easier on my system and that I’m sensitive to certain food combinations. I also have problems eating certain foods on an empty stomach. Even just yesterday I ate a delicious salad made up of ingredients that usually sit well with me, but I ate the salad on too empty of a stomach when I was really famished and it gave me an awful stomach ache.
Juicing, and especially smoothies, have become the saving grace in my diet. I start every day with a green smoothie or green juice because it’s easy to digest. I have smoothies on regular days, and juice when I have a bit more time. Juicing takes the stress off of your digestive system and allows you to “break the fast” and start your day with a blast of important nutrients. Because it’s in liquid form, it’s also a really gentle way to prepare your body for the day’s food intake. Your metabolism is able to rev up and start working for you after resting for the night, but it doesn’t have to work that hard so your system is able to ease into the day.
There are many advantages to juicing and smoothies for IBS. Here are some interesting articles:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome? 5 Ways Juicing Helps
- Juicing for IBS & My Favorite Green Concoction
- Can Juicing Help Relieve Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Digestive Issues: Smoothies To The Rescue
- Low FODMAP Green Smoothies
My favourite green smoothie for when my tummy hasn’t been feeling great is my go-to Spinach & Raspberry Green Smoothie. I find it very easy to digest, though if you don’t have a Vitamix and can’t get the raspberry seeds fully broken down, swapping the raspberries for strawberries would be a good idea. When my system really needs a break, I take a day (or more) and just juice. I always feel better.
It’s been a tough road to getting my system figured out but I’m so glad that I did invest the time and energy into the process. Sometimes it will feel like a struggle, but I encourage you to take the steps and get your body figured out. You’ll live a happier, more comfortable life once you understand what works for you – and what doesn’t.
*I’ve recently found that consistent use of probiotics, in the morning on an empty stomach, 30 minutes before having a green smoothie, does wonders for IBS management.