In my last post, I gave you a website to visit to get information on the elimination diet so that you can find out what foods bother you the most. In case you missed it, here is the address again:
There are other sites just as good as this one that you can get information from as well. I thought this one was pretty concise, plus it has a list of foods to avoid for IBS, so that is why I chose them over the others. Also, it has a food diary on the last page that you can print out to help you track the foods that you eat and any symptoms you experience.
The main thing that I want to get across is that you absolutely should do an elimination diet if you haven’t already. IBS is a little different for everyone. That is why it is so difficult to come up with just one set of recommendations that work for everyone on how to deal with it. As I mentioned in a previous post, there is lots of conflicting information out there on what not to eat, and this is the reason. Some people find that they have food allergies or food sensitivities that they didn’t know about. And maybe that is what was causing them to have the symptoms of IBS. So, they will tell everyone: “Oh, you just have to eliminate gluten (for example) and you will feel better”. Well, that may have worked for them, but it won’t necessarily work for you, because maybe you don’t have any sensitivity to gluten. So, you have to find out what foods are triggers for you. And doing an elimination diet is how you find this out.
The elimination diet idea was originally to help people with food allergies discover what it was they were allergic to. It really is a system of trial and error. What it does is to have you follow a diet that does not include any of the foods that are the most common allergy triggers. Common allergy producing foods like peanuts, dairy, eggs, shellfish, and gluten are eliminated from the diet for the first week or so (hence the name “elimination diet”). Also eliminated are fatty meats, processed meats (like lunch meat or sausage), alcohol, caffeine, simple sugars, and foods that promote yeast overgrowth in the gut. It sounds pretty restrictive, and yes, it is, but what is worse: giving up some of your favorite foods for a couple of weeks, or having the pain, gas, bloating, etc. of IBS?
Most people find that they feel much better within a week or so of following the diet. At this point, you start to add back foods, one at a time, and see if your symptoms return. They talk about doing this under the supervision of a doctor. When I did mine, I was seeing a naturopath. But, you can do it yourself without a doctor if you want. It isn’t dangerous. All you do is add back one food, wait a day or two to see if you get symptoms, then add another food, etc. If you get symptoms back, you have to let yourself get back to feeling good again before adding a different food back in. Really, it’s pretty foolproof. You just have to be patient, and keep good notes.
One more thing that I want to mention, especially if you do this without a doctor’s supervision: If you are allergic to a food, you will likely have a very quick and very obvious reaction, such as hives, stuffy nose, or even trouble breathing. If this happens to you, get to a doctor or hospital right away! I have heard of food allergies that cause minor symptom the first couple of exposures, then suddenly the next time person eats it, they have a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction. Allergic reactions are nothing to fool around with.
If, however, you are like me: with some food sensitivities that cause gut issues, but no allergies, then you are safe to proceed on your own. What I wanted to tell you is this: the amount of a food you eat may determine whether or not you get symptoms from it. Sometimes you can get away with eating a small amount of something, and think that food is not a problem for you. But then, next time you eat more of it, and suddenly you find yourself with a flare-up of your symptoms. This happened to me with nuts and with cheese. I can eat one handful of nuts, or one piece of pizza, and I am OK. But if I sit and munch on a bowl full of nuts, or eat several slices of pizza, then boy, do I suffer! So, be aware of this, and keep track of how much you eat as well as tracking the symptoms. The more you learn about yourself, the better you will be able to manage your condition in the future!
Your elimination diet challenge should take you about a month, all together. You may have to do it more than once too, especially if you have a bad flare-up and have to just eat whatever you can for a while to get back to feeling well. But please stick with it. It really will be worth it for you in the end. I have been through this, and I have counseled people who are having these types of health problems, so if you have problems or questions that you would like me to help you with, please feel free to contact me and I will try to help you. Good luck!Printer Friendly Version