IBS and Weight Loss: Maintaining a Healthy Weight
How does irritable bowel syndrome affect your weight? IBS affects everyone differently, so the answer is not simple. Some people gain, and some people lose. This is my experience with weight loss related to IBS.
Struggling to keep from being underweight
I have episodes of IBS-C and IBS-D. I also have a very high metabolism. While weight gain is rarely something I worry about, weight loss is an issue. I often find myself teetering on the edge of being underweight. Since I have spent much of my life underweight, I try to stay a healthy weight. IBS makes that difficult at times.
An IBS-D flare can make me drop 5 pounds in no time. If a flare lasts for a while, I will keep dropping weight. A few years ago, I had a flare that went on for months. During that flare, I ended up losing around 20 pounds. Thankfully, I had recently taken a medication that made me gain 15 pounds in a short period of time. I had enough weight to lose that I didn’t end up dangerously underweight. Unfortunately, it still put me in the underweight category by a few pounds.
Trying to gain weight can cause a flare
The solution to unwanted weight loss is, of course, to gain weight. In order to do that, you must increase your caloric intake. If you have IBS-D, then you understand why this is an issue. The more you eat, the worse a flare can be. Attempting to eat more would often lead to even more weight loss. The usual solution to the problem created a bigger problem.
I had no idea how to gain weight. I could not stop losing weight. Since I had no idea what to do, I was at the mercy of irritable bowel syndrome. My weight would keep dropping as long as the flare continued, and it seemed there was no end in sight. As I watched the numbers on the scale get smaller and smaller, I felt helpless.
Weight fluctuations caused by IBS
Eventually, I was able to stop losing weight, but it was not because of something I had done or changed. The flare came to an abrupt end. At that point, I was able to put back on a few pounds to bring me out of the underweight category. Over time, I was able to put on, even more, to reach the average weight for my height. I would be content to stay at that weight, but it is out of my control.
I am now in perimenopause and getting close to menopause. At this stage of life, it is expected that I will naturally gain weight. That has not been the case. I fluctuate so much that my wardrobe contains clothing in four different sizes. I gain enough weight to reach an average weight, and then I will lose it all again. When I have an IBS-C flare, I am able to put on a little weight. As hard as it is to suffer through those flares, it helps balance out my weight for the next IBS-D flare.
The struggle with weight continues
Of course, I always mention my concerns about weight loss when I visit my doctor. She is not concerned unless I dip way into the underweight range. She says it is okay because I am losing at a steady pace instead of a drastic drop in a very short period of time.
I am still concerned because I struggle to keep up my weight. It does not seem right to lose 20 pounds while stuffing my face with cookies, cake, and cereals with marshmallows. Are you struggling with your weight and IBS? I would love to know how you manage to maintain a healthy weight.
Do you think there is enough awareness of IBS?