When I was in high school, I started to experience major stomach pains, like cramps but WORSE. It took months of doctor’s visits to figure out that these pains were symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). IBS is a disorder that affects the large intestine. It is pretty common but not everybody experiences severe symptoms. When they diagnosed me with IBS, I had no idea what it was or what I had to change about my diet. My doctor’s advice was to take a pill every day and eat more fruits and vegetables. I don’t remember how long I ended up taking that pill, but i know I stopped once I realized that taking a pill didn’t make sense.
Instead of taking a pill, I researched what foods worked best for people who suffered from IBS and started eating a more balanced diet. I minimized what processed, sugary foods I ate and started to add more greens to my diet. I started to to learn more about probiotics and prebiotics so I could restore the bacteria that was in my gut.
Over time, my IBS symptoms became rare and my digestion seemed to be normal. After I attended holistic health school at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I started to experiment with my diet more. I eliminated foods that people are commonly allergic or sensitive to because I wanted to see how my body reacted once I added them back into my diet. Through this process, I learned more and more about what foods caused my IBS to flare up and what foods didn’t. Understanding my body and knowing how to reduce my IBS flare ups allowed my body to feel normal. I was no longer fearing those horrible stomach pains.
I had a good handle on my IBS issues until recently. For about two weeks, I noticed my IBS symptoms start to increase. I already knew what the culprit was but I didn’t want to believe it.
The culprit was coffee.
I’ve never been a HUGE coffee drinker until this year. I started to drink it regularly because I was working out 3 times a week in the morning and wanted to give my body an extra boost of energy. Sure, I would have coffee occasionally on the weekends (or if there was a coffee truck outside of work #yaasss), but I never drank it daily. The reason I decided to start with eliminating coffee is because I know that coffee can be an irritant of the intestines. Other common irritants of IBS are white flour, sugar, and dairy, which are not part of my regular diet. It was a sad day, but I decided to give up coffee about a week ago now and I am experiencing little to no IBS symptoms.
Instead of taking a pill for the rest of my life, I can heal my gut through food. I know that not all body dysfunctions can be healed this way, but I think it is the best first step for anyone who is experiencing something non-serious.
Your doctor doesn’t know how you feel when you eat “x’, your trainer doesn’t know how you feel when you eat “y”, so why follow something that they write on a piece of paper? In order to help your body thrive, you need to KNOW your body. This is why I love preaching intuitive eating and body awareness.
*Note: In this blog, the word “diet” is used as a noun for what I eat on a daily basis. I do not believe in any specific fad diet.