In this article, Amy Hills talks about Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), what it is and how she's dealing with it on her fitness journey...
The main image above shows two pictures that were taken within 3 days of each other - after a takeaway meal...this shows just how much certain foods can affect me!
What Is IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome is a common condition of the digestive system. It can cause bouts of stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation.
The symptoms of IBS usually appear for the first time when a person is between 20 and 30 years of age. They tend to come and go in bouts, often during times of stress or after eating certain foods.
Signs and Symptoms
- Pain and discomfort may occur. Many people with IBS describe the pain as a spasm or colic, the severity of the pain can vary from mild to severe.
- Bloating and swelling of your abdomen.
- Changes in stools. Some people have bouts of diarrhoea or constipation.
Other symptoms include:
- Feeling sick (nausea).
- Poor appetite.
- Muscle pains.
- Feeling full very quickly after eating.
Living With IBS
I've suffered with IBS for many years now and I've tried many different approaches to help control it.
Sometimes my stomach swells so much I look heavily pregnant - with extremely painful spasms too.
One of the biggest triggers is stress and I'd say I'm generally a fairly stressed person.
I feel the past 5 months whilst training more and having a new & improved diet, I have noticed that I've had much less irritation, less pain and fewer swelling episodes.
I genuinely believe that exercise is the main factor for me - it's really helped reduce my stress.
Different doctors and specialists recommend different styles of treatments.
Personally I have found diet and lifestyle have made the biggest impact for me.
- Exercise, regular exercise is known to help to ease symptoms.
- Managing Stress Levels, stress and other emotional factors may trigger symptoms in some people.
Also, something that helps is to keep a diary and note down everything you eat & drink, times you were stressed and when you exercised. This may identify triggers, such as a food, alcohol, or emotional stresses and may show if exercise helps to ease or to prevent symptoms.
- A healthy diet is vital for all of us. However most people with IBS find certain foods can trigger symptoms.
- By keeping a food diary I have found that is has really helped me figure out what foods affect me and then as a process of elimination I cut them out and reduced my flare ups!
- Have regular meals and take time to eat, not just rushing meals.
- Avoid missing meals or leaving long gaps between eating.
- Drink at least eight cups of water a day.
- Restrict tea and coffee (caffeine) to three cups per day.
- Restrict carbonated, fizzy drinks.
- Don't drink too much alcohol. (Some people report an improvement in symptoms when they cut down from drinking a lot of alcohol.)
- A doctor once told me, if you have a lot of bloating to try increasing your intake of oats. I never really tried oats before but since my new diet I have a lot of oats and can certainly feel the benefit.
Overall I fell much healthier in general when sticking to a healthy diet and training more, but definitely feel my IBS is the most controlled it's ever been.