I Took My IBS on Holiday to Italy, Ate All the Gluten and Thrived

Last updated: January 2019

A few years ago I did what you shouldn’t do when you have IBS and cut gluten from my diet. It used to trigger certain symptoms, like cramps and bloating, and it got to a point where it wasn’t worth eating it. I had a blood test for celiacs and after a negative result I decided to take my own actions. Which now, I wouldn’t recommend because it’s extremely hard to re-introduce something once you've cut it out.

I’ve been wanting to for a while and did try while in the re-introduction phase of the low-FODMAP diet but didn’t manage to get past one slice of bread. So I gave up for a bit. More recently I’ve started gradually building up, eating sourdough like it’s going out of fashion.

But the things I really missed were pasta and pizza. My two main weaknesses in the food world.

Throwing caution to the wind

I’d booked a surprise holiday for my husband and I to Sardinia, Italy, for a week in September and saw this as the optimum chance to dig in. After all, I couldn’t go all the way to Italy and not sample the dishes they’re known for, that’d be plain rude.

So, throwing caution to the wind, I dug in, in a big way.

I ate daily slices of focaccia, pasta laced with tomato sauce and anchovies, silky spaghetti strands covered in pesto, a giant pizza topped with ham, mushrooms, artichokes and olives, and a sandwich which was basically half a loaf of bread filled with ham. And that’s just for starters.

When I say I hit gluten hard, I wasn’t joking.

The best bit was, I was so carefree on holiday, my IBS didn’t even factor. Not even a whiff of a cramp or any diarrhea.

I can just be

You see, for me, when I’m on holiday, I’m 100% carefree. The pressures of everyday life don’t apply. I have no stress, no anxiety and no worries. I can relax. I can do absolutely nothing but watch the waves caress the sand for hours and be content. I don’t feel like I have to be doing something productive with my time. I can just be.

And that shift in my mind-set is reflected in my gut. There’s a reason it’s called your second brain.

I don’t bother myself with assessing where all the loos are, should I need to use one urgently. I don’t care if my morning chocolate croissant has more dairy then my body is used to. I don’t even consider whether that second portion of pasta may tip me over the edge.

Bring on the gluten

It’s freeing. My shoulders feel lighter when on holiday. I give in to having a bit of what I fancy. I shrug off any potential consequences. My body responds by behaving itself, proving that my mood is a massive factor in how my body feels and reacts.

When I’m holiday, my IBS isn’t an issue. Now it’s about how I apply that attitude to myself when I’m at home, back in the real world.

I say, bring on the gluten.

How's your IBS when you holiday?

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