Does this sound familiar? If it doesn’t ring a bell for you, there’s every chance you know someone who struggles with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and is very used to taking Fybogel as either a laxative or to control some of the other symptoms of IBS rather than learning about being healthy, whatever that might mean for them.
Now, there are loads of reasons people struggle with IBS, and there is no way I can go through enough information in one blog post to help everyone. Each and every case of IBS is different (which is partly why I get annoyed with the term ‘IBS’ because it is just a cover-all term which doesn’t even begin to try to sort out WHY all the problems are happening) and very individual.
As a nutritionist, plenty of clients come to me with digestive problems and I love the detective part of my job which is helping folk figure out what is causing the problem. To be fair, I haven’t had to do a huge amount of investigative work, because often it just takes just a little bit of thought, and a few changes to a diet, and amazing things can happen. And I’m not just talking for people who get a little bit of belly ache now and again.
One client, called Laura, came to me last year suffering with really bad IBS symptoms and had spent over ten years – yes, you read that right – struggling with gut problems that would make anyone want to just roll over and quit. She came to see me as a last resort (sure, it does hurt to be the last resort, but I don’t mind!) after being fobbed off over and over again.
Now, we didn’t do anything crazy. I didn’t ban her from eating her fave foods or instruct her to eat only foods grown in a three mile radius of her house. I didn’t take blood samples. She didn’t have to do any bowel cleanses, or strange yoga moves, and she didn’t even have to dance naked under a full moon.
We just sorted out her diet, simplified things and thought properly about her digestive system. And the results were just brilliant. This is what she said:
“A colleague recommended Claire to me after we discussed my longstanding problems with bloating and abdominal discomfort. She had had similar problems which Claire had resolved so I thought it was worth a try and I am so happy that I did! After an in-depth initial consultation, Claire drew up a manageable plan for me which led to a marked improvement after just a few weeks. A few months on and I feel remarkably better! Claire was able to totally cure my bloating in a couple of months whereas 15 years of GP visits hadn’t helped in the slightest. I also have stacks more energy which has been very helpful for my New Year’s gym regime!”
So, you might be wondering what on earth it was that we did which was so different from the approach taken by a Doctor. The very first thing to bear in mind is that I spent two whole hours with Laura when I first met her. Which is far longer than the 10 minutes or so that you get with a Doctor. It meant that I really got to understand what was going on with Laura, and it also meant that I got to really understand what she likes, doesn’t like, and just what her motivation and goals were.
We also got to have a proper chat about her digestive system, and sort out what is good for it and what isn’t. This part is soooo important, and yet doesn’t even get covered when you visit the Doctor.
Take Fybogel, for example. Yes, it absolutely does a great job of getting things moving, and also, amazingly, slowing things down when needed. Which is great. BUT, and this is so very important, it doesn’t help tackle WHY you are constipated, or WHY you might be rushing off to the loo 6 times in one day, just because you ate something which screws up your insides. Not only that, Fybogel contains not just psyllium husks, which is the ‘natural fibre’ ingredient, but it also contains a load of other ingredients which are not exactly helpful to someone who has a digestive system which is struggling with basic foods.
Likewise, taking pain killers is a great way to, erm, kill the pain, but it doesn’t sort out WHY you are in pain in the first place. Surely it’s better to not be in pain than have to rely on pain killers to get through the day.
Like I said, I wish I could just write a post which would have all the answers for each and every person who has to deal with IBS, but that just isn’t possible. What worked for Laura might not be what you need. And there are so many different things that might work for you, you’d end up banging your head on the table in frustration, trying to figure out what to do first, if you decided to follow all the IBS tips out there. The best I can say is that IBS isn’t something that you should have to deal with every day, and it isn’t just ‘one of those things’. If you are being fobbed off with a label and packets of painkillers and Fybogel, it might be worth taking Laura’s advice:
“I want to let other people know about your amazing work, as you did more for me in a couple of months than my GP did in over a decade! They just wanted to fob me off with “IBS” and give me painkillers and Fybogel! Rubbish! You really have made a difference and I’m so glad I saw you.”
Testimonials like this are amazing, and yes, they make me feel blooming great. But the reason I am sharing this with you isn’t to blow my own trumpet. I KNOW what a difference eating the right foods can make, but I can’t make you come and see me (or any other nutritionist if you don’t happen to love the thought of talking about your bowels with moi). It makes me really sad to hear how much pain and discomfort people have to put up with, when there is so much really simple stuff that can be done.
April is IBS Awareness Month, which is very cool indeed. If you think you might like some help with your IBS, take a look and see if working with me is something that feels right for you.