There Is No IBS-Specific Diet That Works For Everyone
There are so many diets out there that promote the promise of helping to minimize symptoms or completely cure you all together. We all know the latter is never true given as of now, there is no cure for IBS.
Some examples of these diets include:
- Low FODMAP
- Specific Carbohydrate Diet
- Elimination Diet
- High Fiber
- Low Fiber
- Sugar Free
- Low Fat
- Liquid diet
- Bland diet
- Eating many small meals throughout the day
Quite often when a person is hell bent on managing their IBS through dietary changes, we don’t make room for the fact that everyone is different. For example, if you begin a certain diet and are committed to sticking to it for at least a month to see if there are any improvements in your symptoms (ex, less pain, bloating or frequency at which you use the restroom) but aren’t feeling well on it, it is OKAY to adjust accordingly.
The diets listed above and any others I might have missed are all designed to help you so if you find it is actually hurting your body (and probably impacting your mental health as well), then there is no need to stick it out just to say you completed a diet for a full 30 days. Quite often I find that people are too rigid when it comes trying to find a way of eating that works for them and their unique body. I am very guilty of this as well.
Trial and error
In my experience and personal opinion, I believe wholeheartedly in trial and error. I also believe that we need to stop comparing the types of foods we eat that seem to help us with what other people in the IBS community are doing. Just because dairy, gluten and sugar seem to be the enemy now in society doesn’t mean those foods will impact you in a negative way. For example, while I cannot drink milk, dairy products like yogurt is a huge staple in my diet. And while I am trying to cut back on my sugar intake, candy has always been a “safe food” for me.
Living with any type of chronic illness can make you feel like you don’t have control over your body or life. Many, myself included, turn to food as a way to try and control our health. Sometimes it works and sometimes it makes no difference (enter: frustration!) It is no wonder why we put so much pressure on ourselves to try special “IBS specific” diets. While there are many, our bodies are all so different. Add to that, the type of IBS you have (IBS-D, IBS-C or IBS-M) can play a role in the foods your body can and cannot tolerate.
In addition, a lot of people who suffer from IBS tend to live with another chronic condition that impacts their body, mind and life greatly. Those things need to be taken into account as well.
I wanted to write this article since we are focusing on Diet and Nutrition with IBS this month and I don’t want anyone feeling like they are a failure for any reason if they are unable to commit to a certain diet for a specific length of time. You know your body best. Do and try whatever feels right to you and don’t feel badly if you need to start from scratch. For example, if you’ve been doing the Low FODMAP diet and it isn’t just not helping your symptoms but is making you feel worse, it does take courage to accept this isn’t the right fit for you. I am all about needing control and setting goals for myself so when my body is giving me different signals that cause for a change up in my diet, it frustrates me.
I want there to be a “one diet fits all.”
How awesome would that be? However, that is very far from the case so please be mindful of how YOUR body reacts to something. It doesn’t matter that someone you know who has IBS was able to get off all medication just by following a specific diet. It is completely understandable why you would compare (I am very guilty of this too), but comparing yourself and your disease to others can make you feel badly about yourself.
No one wants to feel badly about themselves. No one wants to feel like a failure.
We all just want to feel good and the first step towards that is setting yourself up for success. If you are going to try a specific diet, please ingrained in yourself beforehand that if things don’t go the way you had hoped, that you will switch things up. AND, you will not beat yourself up over it.
Can you relate at all? Have you managed to find one diet that helps manage your IBS symptoms? If so, did it take trial and error to find that one way of eating that has helped improve your quality of life? Do you get frustrated when it comes to eating and all of the information that is out there? Have you come to a level of acceptance about the uniqueness of your body or does it still cause you a lot of frustration? The more we share, the more we can help others know they are not alone. I would love to hear some of your thoughts and experience related to diet and IBS. Please comment below if you feel comfortable.