My Personal IBS Journey… So Far

Like many people out there, I have struggled for years with the pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation and other issues that come with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). The hardest part for me is maintaining my happiness due to the pain and restrictions. This is a daily struggle and I mention in detail in my bio.

Heather's Personal IBS Journey

My IBS symptoms started slowly and at first, I would just chalk it up to being hungry. At that time, I was in diet mode trying to lose weight for my upcoming wedding, so my body was not used to the constant workouts or the light diet. However, after the wedding, I eased up on the dieting efforts and the pain, gas and bloating did not ease up with it. I tried some crazy dietary changes, none of which worked, and in the meantime I found that I was popping Imodium on a regular basis to manage the constant diarrhea.

Finally, I eliminated gluten from my diet on a whim and immediately felt better. I once said years ago that “I would die if I ever had to give up bread and pasta” which is now comical, because I feel like I would have died if I continued to eat it. It was a radical lifestyle change, and I had my share of meltdowns. Being in social situations and learning how to eat in restaurants was difficult. However, after about 8 months, which included every major holiday, I no longer craved bread or baked goods. I learned to cook things from scratch, handle social situations with ease and knew all the places in town where I could happily eat. I had a great regiment down and I felt very healthy and happy again.

A few months later, the pain started back up again. Knowing the issues people have with lactose, I immediately eliminated the large glass of milk I drank for breakfast and replaced it with a calcium pill. This solution was ideal and made me feel great again.

About one year later, the gas, bloating, abdominal pain and unpredictable diarrhea reared it’s ugly head with a vengeance. I finally took the steps to see a specialist about my issues. After the cat scan, endoscopy and colonoscopy, I was hopeful that I would finally get the answers I was looking for. Once the pain medication wore off, I heard my doctor declare that there was nothing wrong with me. While its great that I didn’t have a life threatening illness, this did not bring me any comfort. During a follow up appointment, he said I most likely have irritable bowel syndrome, which is unable to be detected through tests.

Since that “diagnosis,” I have tried a variety of medicines and treatments with little to no relief. I finally went to a Dietician, and she had me try the low FODMAP diet. It was overwhelming at first and I had a rough few days trying to change everything I knew about food. My love affair with garlic hit a rough patch. I feared that I would not be able to travel or eat out with the new restrictions. I scoured the internet for help and solutions. I spent 3 hours in my local grocery store reading every label possible (and found that garlic or onion is in everything). I tried (and failed) at modifying many recipes. Going gluten-free felt like a breeze compared to this!

After a few months, I am finally feeling like my happy self again. I have discovered what causes my IBS symptoms and learned to cook meals that are safe for me and delicious, as well. Garlic and I are taking our relationship to the next level. While I’m still early in my journey, I feel my experience is important to share because I want to help others that are experiencing the challenges that I faced. We’re in this together and we’ll get through it together!

Heather-Living-Happy-with-IBS

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25 thoughts on “My Personal IBS Journey… So Far

  1. Heather, I am so glad I found your blog! Thank you for being so courageous; just telling it like it is! It feels amazing to know that I am not alone AND not the only one struggling to maintain my smile! IBS has changed everything for me and FODMAPs are a constant struggle. I finally got a handle on the gluten-free part, now I really have to commit to a low FODMAP life. I will definitely be following you for more recipes and advice!

  2. I just found your blog from a link on Pinterest and it’s so encouraging for me! After a few years of dealing with stomach issues off and on, I was diagnosed with IBS in March. I’ve felt so much better since being on the Low FODMAPs diet. The only time I really have a hard time is also when eating out with other people or trying to explain it. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one!

    • Glad to help in any way possible, Ruth. It’s tough to explain to others, and I can completely relate, but everything gets much easier over time… trust me! Feel free to reach out with any questions and good luck!

  3. Excellent post. I was checking continuously this blog and I’m impressed!
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  4. Love your blog but do you have any over the counter recommendations to stop this awful gas? I know it’s diet and stress but I feel like I can’t go in public anymore. going to try your low FODMAP but until the symptoms ease up…GasX? Thanks SO much!

    • Staying away from gas producing foods worked the best for me. I have tried different gas-reducing products, but I found that they don’t eliminate the gas, they just move it through your system quicker, which usually doesn’t help in avoiding awkward situations. Good luck!

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  8. Thank you! This has been so helpful and encouraging. I have struggled with IBS for 10 years. I recently back to my GI doctor because the stomach aches seemed to be getting worse and I was having trouble sleeping because of my digestive issues. He put me on the FODMAP diet, which is so different than the guidelines he gave me early on in my IBS journey. So far, the new diet seems to have helped a lot, and my system has calmed quite a lot. I am still trying to figure this out, and at times it is overwhelming. I have figured out that I can’t eat a large quantity of anything.

    I have read that you are only supposed to be on this diet for about 6 weeks, then try to reintroduce foods back into the diet. I don’t even know where to begin with this. Was it really helpful to you to see a dietician?

    Also, I see discrepancies in some of the low and high FODMAP lists. For example, some say avocados and almonds are high, others low. Where do I find a trustworthy list?

    Thanks for forging the path ahead for those of us in the same boat!

    • Hi Amy,

      The reason you’ll see a lot of discrepancies in lists is due to 2 things. First, testing items is ongoing, so they are discovering new high and low FODMAP items each time testing concludes. Second, many of the items that are on both lists are safe in small quantities. For example, 10 almonds are considered OK, but 20 is not. I found the best and most reliable information directly from Monash University via their iPhone App.

      The diet is designed for 6-8 weeks and the you can begin to reintroduce items back into your diet. I found the most help online and not with my dietician. I also wrote some information on how to reintroduce items back here: https://livinghappywithibs.com/category/low-fodmap-diet/reintroducing-fodmaps/

      Good luck and don’t hesitate to reach out with any additional questions!

  9. I just recieved this diet from a dietcian yesterday. So glad I found your blog. I have been so humiiated by my bowel symptoms. Am scared of this diet but ready to feel better.

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  12. So glad to find your blog. I’ve been researching since no dairy worked for awhile, then added no gluten and worked for awhile, so now fodmap which I hope can be the long term answer as I add foods back in. You’ve really done a nice job compiling all the info in one place. What did you do about garlic? I grow it and it was my favorite crop (talk about craving what you shouldn’t eat!) Some of the books recommend doing a canola oil infused with garlic, but garlic growers are worried about botulism so wondered if you’d tried it. Thanks for the great info.

  13. Just found your blog. I’m just beginning the journey. I’ve always had stomach issues, but the last 6 months have been hell! Does anyone have IBS with constipation? I’ve never had the opposite issue. The Doctor didn’t start me on the FODMAP diet, I found it On my own. All my test have come back negative. I assume I have IBS, it has been mentioned.

    • Susan,
      I just recently found this site and I’m going to try going on the FODMAP diet on Monday. I have had horrible stomach issues for the last 4 years and I have been in and out of the doctors office more than I’d like over the years. I just recently found out that I have IBS with constipation. I could easily go a little over a week without having a bowel movement, which is enough to make you feel absolutely miserable!! My doctor started me on Linzess about a month ago and it worked a little bit at first but now it seems like I’m still getting constipated on a regular basis. My doctor said to just up my dose on Miralax and try that, but this is very frustrating. I’m in the process of making an appointment with a dietitian, but in the meantime, I’m going to try this FODMAP diet and see if it might help relieve some of my issues. I tend to get myself very upset over these problems because I feel like it’s effecting my entire life and I am a very social person who also loves food! This site is very helpful and it feels good to know that I’m not the only one suffering from this!

  14. What a great site. I have struggled for years and always thought I was alone-doctors reluctantly doing tests and coming back with nothing wrong always! I took myself lactose free and that’s helped but just discovered Fodmap so will begin today! My Ibs has created some pyschological problems- I have anxiety attacks if I don’t have access to a bathroom. Has anybody had any therapy they can recommend to help deal with this kind of thing? I want to feel in control!!! Love your site!

  15. My doctor and dietician asked me to go on fodmap about 3 weeks ago. I am finding it extremely difficult. I have cheated many times. I am having trouble giving up flour (bread) and garlic. I have had IBS for years, also gallbladder removed, and a couple digestive surgeries. I want to be full of life adventurous , not afraid to eat.

  16. Grenlian
    I have just found these posts and found them very comforting – just knowing someone else is going thru the same things you are helps! I have had IBS for many years, and found it got alot worse once I had had my gall bladder removed. I had to leave work early because I just couldn’t make it in on public transport. I have been trying the Low FODMAP diet for several months, and started to reintroduce one helping of wheat a day. Sone days are good , some days bad,I seem to be in a situation where i have a couple of days with painful diarrhoea followed by four days on constipation! I have an appt with hospital soon and am hoping to be referred to a dietician with experience of lowfodmap diets.

    Many thx to other postings, I do not feel on my own anymore

  17. Would you recommend a brand of multivitamin OK for FODMAP diet? My head is spinning with all the information out there….some contradictory.

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