Three weeks ago I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), which is a chronic condition that affects the large intestine and causes symptoms such as stomach cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, and other fun things. To explain in simplest form, my body struggles with digesting and absorbing certain foods and is something that needs to be managed long-term.
I’ve been living and dealing with symptoms for the longest time but it reached the point where it was affecting my day-to-day, it was demoralising, uncomfortable and internally I was becoming severely unhappy. I hated having no knowledge about what was going on in my own body.
Seeking a medical professional about these issues, was the best thing I could have done. At first, it was extremely overwhelming, and I left most appointments crying. It was embarrassing and felt like a lot to deal with. Mostly because I was uneducated, there is no quick fix, no cure and I knew I was going to have to make a lot of changes to my lifestyle and put in the work to manage my symptoms.
But knowledge is power.
Three weeks later and my health has dramatically improved and my mindset is strong. It’s like I’ve unlocked the next level of truly understanding my body and opened up a whole new playing field to bettering my health.
I have taken control of my health and I have chosen to do right by it.
I still have a lot of learning to do, and I still make bad choices. The difference is that these bad choices are no longer impulsive nor misguided, they are informed, educated choices and I make them knowing full well I may experience some symptoms after.
What brought this post on, is that I recently found a statistic that IBS affects 1 in every 5 Australians, and is especially common in young females. It’s so common, yet rarely spoken about, often overlooked, and therefore not treated.
What I’ve learnt though, is that if you are experiencing anything you feel is abnormal or uncomfortable, don’t just live with it. Do something about it, go seek medical advice, and become educated on what is happening in your body so you can make the alterations to better your health.
I’ve implemented a lot of changes to my lifestyle to improve digestion, reduce and manage symptoms and overall improve my health. These are listed below and I believe have all played an integral role in making me feel better.
- Eat smaller meals, more frequently (approx 2-3 hours) to help with digestion
- Make an effort to eat sitting down and be more mindful about eating slower and really chewing foods. Sitting down positively influences your body’s ability to digest food and eating quickly and on the run can often lead to over-eating.
- Only eat when hungry – when my symptoms flare up from eating something I shouldn’t I will make sure to drink lots of water (infused with lemon), light exercise (such as a long walk), and I will fast until around midday, or until I feel hungry again.
- Eating a diet that consists 90% of low FODMAP foods. This is a diet specifically for those with IBS but essentially avoids foods that are high in fructans (garlic, onion, wheat, rye, barley, etc), lactose, excess fructose, legumes and polyols (artifical sweeteners).
- Increasing fibre intake by eating more high-fibre foods such as oats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, brown rice and other wholemeal products.
- Reduce coffee intake and strength of coffee
- Eating a vegetarian meal at night as I find this is easier for my body to digest
- Doterra essential oils – these have been a big game changer for me. The ones that have helped the most to aid digestion are;
- Lemon – 1 drop in my water bottle
- Peppermint – 1 drop in hot water in the morning and after meals
- Digestzen – in my water bottle, 1 drop in hot water with meals, and using topically on the stomach to help with cramping
- Using a natural vegan protein powder blend and BCAA’s. I just started using Tropeaka and love how easy it is to digest.
- Alkaline Greens Powder. Another Tropeaka product I’ve started using and the taste is growing on me… The benefits are worth it though as it helps to cleanse and purify the body, aids in digestion and supports a healthy immune system (Click here for full list of benefits and to purchase).
- Taking a fibre supplement daily to increase fibre intake
To make it clear, I worked my way up to implementing all of these changes into my daily routine and not all at once. But these all work for me in one way or another.
Every one is different and you just have to find what works for you, but if you are struggling with poor digestion, bloating, etc, then I recommend you seek medical advice or even start implementing some points from above to see if any helps you too. Do what you need to do to take control of your health. Don’t let your health define you.
If you want to ask me anything specific about what I’ve mentioned, then please leave a comment below or message me privately to chat via email or on instagram at @jessie_michelle
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Jessie Michelle x