IBS is a health condition that can feel very isolating. Many people who are affected note that their social life suffered dramatically since they started to experience symptoms. Turning down invitations to events and gatherings, feeling embarrassed talking about the diagnosis, while generally not feeling like your old self all play their part.
Despite it feeling isolating, the condition is more common than most think – one in five people in the UK suffer from it at some point in their life, with women twice as likely to be affected then men.
An unexpected help comes from the world of modern technology, with a network of like-minded (and like-diagnosed) people who created a fantastic support for sufferers around the globe on Instagram, calling themselves #IBSwarriors (yes, there is a hashtag for it!)
Today in the Healthy Gut blog we will look at some of the profiles of prominent IBS-warriors, their stories and advice:
Jasmine Jonte @IBSwarrior
Jasmine introduces herself as ‘a mindset coach, writer, souladventure goddess and speaker with relentless positivity.
I had what I consider my first “IBS ATTACK” during my first week of band camp. I ate a SALAD at the cafeteria on lunch. It was iceberg lettuce with some tomatoes and green peppers, like one of those house salads from a terrible Italian restaurant. That salad left me (as a salad) a couple hours later. I had to SPRINT to the nearest building and barely made it. By the grace of god, there was no one in the ladies room.
Open about all the ‘glamour’ of the condition, Jasmine shares her journey from that salad episode and back to health though a combination of diet and mindfulness, insisting that IBS should stop being viewed as a stomach condition but instead recognised as a brain-gut disorder: ‘IBS is so much more than a bowel thing. It’s not just physical constipation or diarrhoea but emotional CONSTIPATION + DIARRHEA. You have to trust that what your body is telling you is for a PURPOSE. It’s alerting you to it, so that you can HEAL your body AND your mind. Sometimes you gotta breakdown before you breakthrough’.
In 2013/14 I began to feel very ill on an almost daily basis – it started with bloating and nausea but soon developed into being physically sick at least once a day, which I soon linked to eating. My love for going out for dinner quickly stopped; worrying that people would hear and talk, or family and friends would notice and think the worst.
Having to start her food intake/tummy reaction diary for the medical purpose of discovering the list of intolerances, Lottie has grown into a prominent online ambassador for a low FODMAP eating and cooking, often sharing what’s on her plate and how to make it.
There are many suggestions on her profile and blog for social eating, whether it’s what to cook for a dinner party or choosing a restaurant with low FODMAP options, and also things that go beyond food, such as why it is important to keep the thought journal to help with anxiety: “For me, my diet is only half of the problem. The rest is in my head,” she says.
Project manager by day and virtual health coach by night, Lauren lives in Chicago and shares her health journey with her followers around the globe
‘Go to bed with a dream and wake up with a plan’.
Lauren makes sure she puts five 30 minutes home workouts in her weekly plan, as being active is her go-to approach for managing IBS symptoms, such as sudden and unexplained bloating:
‘Every day I am given a choice – lay in the fetal position on the floor and cry or live the best life possible.’
‘It is not easy waking up to work out before work. It’s not always easy meal prepping healthy meals. It’s not free, it comes at a price.
It’s not easy to lack health. It’s draining, exhausting and emotionally difficult. Health care is expensive and often doesn’t end in perfect health for people like me with GI issues. That comes at an even higher price.
Lifestyle changes aren’t always easy, but they are so worth it. I’d rather be struggling to get out of bed at 5am to work out than struggling to get out of bed period… Choose your future health today and treat your body right.
Lena is a student and lives in London. Diagnosed in 2011, she says that the most frustrating part of living with the condition for her is ‘having to skip social events because feeling unwell or not being able to eat everything’.
She started to blog and Instagram about the condition, driven by the desire ‘to create more of a community in the IBS world, to share tips, experiences, and more. As a young person, it can be seen as really embarrassing to talk about IBS, but I want to contribute to breaking that taboo!’
She views self-care as the main ‘treatment’ for IBS:
‘Remember to check in with yourself: are you taking care of yourself mentally? This is an area I’ve been battling with and working on recently. Admitting you’re struggling mentally is not easy at all. And you may not be! But for some of us it is deffo a step to further managing IBS…
I am not gonna tempt fate by saying my bloat and distensions have been better because it’s still VERY up and down. But making small lifestyle changes e.g. getting back into my active lifestyle, not being afraid to say no to people and diet changes…is helping and that’s something that I am proud off Baby steps!!!’
When we reached out to her with a question on what would be her advice to a recently diagnosed person, here is what she said:
“Don’t panic! There’s a lot of help out there. It won’t always be so painful and complicated. You will find ways to manage your IBS. A normal life is possible!”
A message we’d gladly put our name to…
Note to a reader:
To help people experiencing IBS, TalkHealth has launched myIBS (https://enteromed.co.uk/new-support-programme-for-anyone-with-ibs/), a free 12-week support programme written by medical experts. It is sponsored by Enterosgel UK, an innovative drug-free treatment of IBS symptoms, and consists of dedicated information covering symptoms and treatments, common triggers and irritants, tests, diet, the psychological impact of living with IBS, plus tips on questions for patients to ask their doctor.
http://jasminejonte.com, https://thetummydiaries.com, https://lenashappytummy.wordpress.com/, https://www.instagram.com/thetummydiaries, https://www.instagram.com/ibswarrior, https://www.instagram.com/lifewithlorus, https://www.instagram.com/lenashappytummy