IBS: The Effect of Drastic Diet Changes
Last updated: November 2021
I have IBS-M, and my flares flip-flop back and forth from one extreme to the other on a fairly regular basis. There is no normal for me. It is an endless series of changes with little rhyme or reason. Food is the enemy. It is always the enemy, and I was reminded of this during the last few weeks.
I recently had a very sudden and drastic change to my diet. I spent some time on a mostly liquid diet before transitioning to soft foods. More solid foods are just now being reintroduced 3 weeks later. This major change in my diet revealed some interesting things.
A liquid diet gives relief of IBS symptoms
I did not choose to go on a liquid diet. This temporary change was necessary for reasons unrelated to IBS. I did notice that all IBS symptoms disappeared within a couple of days. When I say disappeared, I mean there were absolutely no symptoms.
I was enjoying a short vacation from all symptoms, but it came at a steep price. In order to get rid of all symptoms, I had to starve myself basically. Food is absolutely my enemy. Since I need food to survive, I will be battling symptoms forever.
Reintroducing soft foods reintroduces symptoms
When I first began adding soft foods back into my diet, I saw little change. The first few days passed with no symptoms of IBS. However, around the 4th day, I began to notice symptoms creeping back into my daily life.
It started with mild cramping. The cramping stayed on the mild side, but it was present. Of course, my digestive system was pretty empty from being on liquids for a while. My diet was still pretty bland at that point and did not contain any of my identified trigger foods. Despite the blandness, symptoms were most definitely reappearing. One by one, they were all coming back as I moved beyond a liquid diet.
Testing the waters with more solid foods
After three very long weeks of having an extremely limited diet, I am starving. I am absolutely starving, and I am ready to eat real food. I want food. Give me all the food. I could not care less about the consequences at this point. Just bring on the food.
I have eaten more solid food in the past 2 days. The foods I have eaten are major trigger foods because I was starving, and that was what I was craving. I deserved it after a period of starvation. Consequences, schmonsequences. Of course, I was already having symptoms before I ate any trigger foods. This added to those symptoms but not in the way I expected. There was no drastic change.
Interesting things I discovered about drastic diet changes
I found that any type of food causes symptoms. It does not matter if it is soft, bland, or not a trigger food. Anything beyond a liquid causes symptoms. My symptoms appeared as soon as I was reintroduced to the food. It did not matter what kind of food it was. It was any food.
Some foods certainly make my symptoms worse, but any food will make symptoms appear. While the worst symptoms disappear for a spell here and there, other symptoms never go away. I have become so accustomed to them that I tend to ignore them. I did not pay attention, but now I know that symptoms will still be present even if I opt for a restrictive elimination diet. Food is the enemy, and any kind or amount will cause IBS symptoms. The severity may change, but the symptoms are still there.
Have you noticed changes with restrictive diets? I would love to hear about your experience with dietary changes.
Which of the following symptoms of IBS do you experience most frequently?