Why do I react to everything I eat?
This is a question I get a lot from IBS clients, especially those with IBS-D. Every time they eat they get symptoms like diarrhea, bloating and abdominal pain. Many stop eating or have only a few foods that they eat for fear of getting symptoms. One of the worst parts of having IBS is not knowing what’s causing it and getting overwhelmed.
Finding IBS food triggers
However, from my experience both personally and in naturopathic practice, most IBS sufferers with foods as a trigger, only have one or two major food intolerances. And as they have been eating these foods for most of their lives, their digestive systems are very inflamed and this often leads to leaky gut and the feeling that they are intolerant to everything they put in their mouths.
So why do they react to everything?
One way to think about it is every day you grazed the same spot on your arm, just slightly. But over time as it goes on and on, that graze becomes deeper and even air will make it hurt. It’s the same in your digestive system. If every day you are eating something that causes an immune and inflammatory response, the inflammation gets worse and worse until no matter what touches your digestive system, it will hurt.
My experience with food triggers
Let’s take my own case as an example. I always knew that there was something wrong since I was a young child but didn’t know what the problem was. This steadily got worse until it was unbearable in my 20s. My food intolerances turned out to be the most common – gluten and dairy. However, I grew up on wheat based breakfast cereal with milk for breakfast every day, a sandwich with cheese for lunch and something like a pasta with cheese-based sauce for dinner – a pretty standard diet. Gluten and dairy with every meal. So for about 22 years, I was eating foods that were triggers for me. That caused my digestive system to be constantly inflamed and manifesting symptoms like pain, bloating and diarrhea, no matter if I ate bread or a piece of fruit or pretty much anything else. But once I removed the triggers and went through a gut healing protocol to reduce the inflammation and heal the leaky gut, I could eat everything else without symptoms and still do!
Hard, but worth it
So it may sound really daunting and really restrictive at first to find out what your true food intolerance is, because you feel like you react to everything, but rest assured that it is worth it and more often than not, it is just one or two foods or food groups. And once you know what it is, you are empowered to make informed choices about what you eat as you know your triggers.
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, RLS, sleep apnea) in addition to IBS?