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happy tales: women with ibs-c page five

The tale of...Connie (5 April 2008)

I am 68 years old and I have suffered from IBS with constipation for most of my life, but I was only diagnosed a few years ago. Besides the bloating and constipation, I was often nauseated, and it got worse the older I became. I used (on the advice of my family doctor) Zelnorm and then Amitiza. They were minimally effective.

But when I finally went to a specialist, he told me to take Miralax. For a week nothing happened. I called my specialist and he said to give it at least two weeks. I'm glad I did, because a few days after speaking to him I began having regular bowel movements every day! I buy the Miralax at Costco and it is cheaper there. I don't care how much it costs, I have gotten my life back and I am not nauseated and constipated! I still get bloated (especially if I take calcium pills, or eat dairy products), but I am happy! I now take half the recommended dose once a day, in the morning, stirred in my coffee.

The tale of...Jessica (26 May 2008)

I was diagnosed with irritable bowel about a year ago but I suffered the symptoms for much longer. At first I didn't believe the diagnosis, as each time I went into a doctor's office describing my symptoms I received no tests yet they were quite happy to tell me I had IBS. The doctors gave me no hope, pointing out it was related to stress, with several adamantly telling me that my diet would not contribute to my symptoms.

I would go from suffering constipation and not passing anything for up to a week, sometimes longer, to finally when the gates opened suffering from diarrhea. Worst of all was the gas, flatulence and belching. The middle of the night and mornings were the worst, until I would regularly set my alarm for 5am so I could try to belch and fart out all of my gas, which would abate the cramps, before I went to work.

Later I decided to get fit and slim down as I had gained weight from working full time. I started going to the gym every day. I stopped eating fast food. I limited how much meat I ate. I cut out of my diet completely all oily and fried food and only cooked using extra virgin olive oil, if any oil was used. I cut out almost all dairy as it carries a lot of calories, and I started taking supplements. I also stopped drinking soft drinks and fruit juice as these contributed to a lot of my daily calorie intake.

Miraculously the symptoms of my IBS disappeared! Through trial and error with my diet I have been able to pinpoint my symptoms down to a few things...

Animal fats and large quantities of animal meat: animal fats will certainly make me feel a bit cramped and bloated but even large amounts of meat will set me off. I just don't eat steaks that much anymore, horrible when living in an Australian family where the traditional meal is a steak with mash potatoes. What I mean by not much is that I would be lucky to eat a steak once every two months. If I was to eat meat often it'd be in a stir fry with lots of veggies, lean and in small amounts.

Dairy is still a part of my diet in small, small amounts but again it contains animal fats, especially cheese, and makes me generally suffer gas and cramps. Unlike most sufferers bread doesn't set me off so I find that if I get that oily heavy feeling in my stomach eating some bread to soak it up seems to lessen my feelings of nausea.

Oils for some reason also affect my stomach. I can't really describe it except for the feeling of heaviness in the stomach. I just know that my bowels respond to anything oily, especially if the oils are separated from the food. If I was to eat something with oil dripping off of it I would have a stronger reaction than if the oils were mixed into the food such as in a cake.

Soft drinks can also set it off. I don't know if it is the sugar (though I still eat sweets with no problems), or if it is because it is carbonated. All I know is if I have two glasses my tummy will make me pay with a vengeance.

Recently I had to add another item to the list, which I had a horrible reaction to: cabbage. I had a salad which I made with mainly cabbage and in the morning had quite a violent reaction to it. The first I have had in quite a long time since I have been on my low-calorie diet.

To this date I have had no problem with wheat items, though I do like to eat 'brown' carbohydrates or low GI equivalents. So I eat basmati rice instead of jasmine rice, brown/whole grain bread instead of white, and pasta is relatively low GI. Though rice does have a lot of carbohydrates in it.

I guess I'll plan out what I eat for my meals now so perhaps if you are suffering the same symptoms you can try it out. These are very low-calorie options. I tend to keep an eye on my calorie count as although these healthy options stopped my IBS I don't want to starve either. I tend to jack up the calorie count to healthy levels by snacking on a lot of fruit during the day. Bananas are really good as they are about 100 calories each and tend to feel 'light' on the tummy.

I tend to categorize everything into 'light' and 'heavy'. 'Heavy' foods I try to eat in moderation and/or cut out of my diet as they tend to set off my IBS. Generally 'heavy' foods give you the feeling you have after eating McDonald's, where it was nice going in but afterwards you get the horrible feeling, then suddenly you are in the bathroom retching, and the cramps, bloating and IBS have struck again.

Breakfast: fruit. This will generally be several servings of fruit, a banana, an apple and a pear. Generally I like breakfast to be light and I will stagger it out over a period of a few hours as most of my symptoms are in the morning. Generally I just like to limit what is in the tummy as I find that if there is too much food in there it will kick up my IBS anyway. Also if it has flared up I don't want to put too much ammunition into my stomach in case I do feel the compulsion to vomit.

Lunch: homemade pumpkin soup or a large salad or both. I tend to make the pumpkin soup with very little vegetable stock and no milk. I want it to be thick rather than creamy and watery because it is more filling that way and I don't want to starve. I tend to boil the pumpkin in just enough water to cover it. Pour out just a touch of the water, mash it, blend it. Add a tiny touch of stock and there you go. To pack in some flavor I will cook chickpeas on the side and add them into the blend and then put in some Moroccan spices. This makes it taste like a wonderful curry and I'll have that with two slices of bread. I don't tend to pack too much soup as again if I eat until I am bursting rather than satisfied it sets off the IBS.

Snack: more fruit. Or if you go to an Asian grocer they sell a product called 'Pocky', read the back labels but their chocolate-covered sticks are generally around 100 calories. This is definitely good if you like chocolate but find the milk fats in the chocolate bars tend to set off your IBS. I find the worse thing for encouraging my symptoms is getting a chocolate craving. I think to myself 'Well I haven't had symptoms in a while, I want my comfort food, and I have been eating well and a little won't hurt'. Then I spend the night in the bathroom suffering cold chills, hugging the toilet.

Dinner: simple stir fry with a lot of vegetables. I find Asian greens are quite nice on my stomach as well as cucumber. If we're having steak then I have about enough meat to fit the palm of my hand, this is discounting fingers! I usually chop it up and get rid of all visible fat. I then eat it with a lot of helpings of veggies or salad. I find if I eat meat in one big lump it feels worse on the tummy instead of eating it in small slices broken up by mouthfuls of veggies.

I know it seems a bit much to outline what I eat but I find if I deviate from this too much my IBS flares up and truthfully I am tired of taking sick days from work because I can't seem to pry myself away from the toilet.

I can't stress enough that the best way to minimize my reactions to eating was to slow down the eating process. I make my meals last for as long as possible, that way some food has already passed through the stomach by the time I have finished eating. Generally I like to think if something is going to set off my tummy it is better that it is sliding through your stomach and bowels in small amounts rather than in one big lump where your body is just going to react and spasm.

Finally I found that if I really felt terrible, like I needed to puke, that eating something acidic would help. I have been told that when your stomach is irritated the gallbladder releases bile into the stomach. The bile is what makes you feel terrible. I would usually drink some lemon juice in water or even sip some vinegar. It doesn't sound that appetizing but something highly acidic can break down some of the bile that your body is releasing.

I hope this helps other people because I found the doctors were no help whatsoever. I have to admit that I haven't completely gotten rid of my symptoms as I still have constipation, but now I can resume a normal life, not have to plan where the bathroom is, or organize time before work where I could lock myself in a bathroom because I was going through periods of continually being sick. I don't have to carry a toothbrush with me anymore in case something sets off my stomach and I get physically ill.

Most of all I hated the uncertainty where I would feel terrible before work and call in sick only to recover during the day. Other times I would feel terrible before work and go in anyway, only to spend large amounts of time walking back and forth to the toilet feeling queasy, not sure if I was going to have diarrhea, puke or possibly both.

Doctors are good and helpful don't get me wrong, but at the same time nutrition is not a course that is emphasized in the medical profession. I find that a lot of doctors are happy to give you pills but aren't happy to discuss the effects of diet on the symptoms of IBS. Perhaps even the process of making yourself feel like you are in control by limiting your diet helps alleviate the stress that causes IBS. Either way if you don't feel like you are getting the right answers from your doctors do some additional research or ask for a second opinion. Try to find a medical professional who has actually done some in-depth study into IBS.

E-mail Jessica: [email protected]Ehotmail.com

The tale of...Malena (2 June 2008)

I suffered from extreme constipation for the past five years, along with bloating and pain. I tried everything. Zelnorm. fiber. Stool softener. Nothing worked. I became dependent on glycerin enemas. A month ago, I saw a new gastroenterologist who prescribed Celexa, an anti-depressant. It's changed my entire life. I have normal bowel movements and feel amazing. Now I can eat without pain.

E-mail Malena: [email protected]

The tale of...Claudia (23 July 2008)

I found out about Digestive Advantage by chance about two months ago when I walked out of the emergency room, frustrated, after waiting for over an hour with a severe IBS attack, realizing they would simply send me home with the same diagnosis: IBS, a condition with no cure, no treatment and no specific causes.

I have been suffering from this since about age seven, and the frequency and the symptoms have increased with time. I have tried keeping a journal in order to identify the possible triggers, to no avail. The bloating and excruciating pain have forced me to stay home from work or leave work early. Lately, the bloating was so severe, my regular clothes would not fit and I went almost instantly from a fit size eight to looking five months pregnant! Even after the attack, the pain lingered for about three more days.

I have been taking Digestive Advantage since my last bout of IBS and I still cannot believe it! The symptoms are gone! Unfortunately I still get constipated, but exercise, water, and a healthy diet help. In addition to my daily Digestive Advantage capsule, I take L-Glutamine (500 mg) every morning along with one cup of water with the juice of half a lemon plus another glass of water. I take all of these first thing in the morning.

Before Digestive Advantage I would simply ride the IBS storm with sleep, a heating pad, and wonton soup. Go figure! I was terrified of eating after each attack. IBS was always the price to pay after over-indulging. And sometimes it would simply happen if I went for long periods of time (eg: six hours) without any food at all. I told a friend about Digestive Advantage and it also worked for her.

E-mail Claudia: [email protected]

The tale of...Ashley (2 August 2008)

Boy was I relieved to find this site and read all of your stories. I finally know that I am not crazy and I am not alone! IBS hit me hard about six months ago. I am a 25 year-old Navy wife and mother of two. My family and I are currently stationed in Sasebo, Japan. This is a small base and we do not have 'real' doctors out here. I swear they all got their degrees out of a cracker-jack box! I have seen every doctor we have here only to have each one tell me I had everything from a virus to an ulcer. Finally on my last visit I brought up IBS and the doc said that might be a possibility and put me on Miralax. It has helped with the constipation.

I suffer from once a week cramping, nauseating stomach ache during which I have terrible diarrhea. My stomach swells to the point where I look like I'm six months pregnant every time I eat anything at all. I have this burning/numbing type of pain/sensation in my abdomen at least a few times a week. I have found several of you going through the exact same things. It feels like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I have been so stressed out over the IBS and it has been causing bouts of depression. I feel like I can finally start to take control of my life again though.

I know the things I can't eat and what I can. I've had to stop drinking coffee. I can't eat pizza or anything with the slightest bit of tomato sauce on it. I can no longer enjoy our vast wine collection from Italy. Yes, it has taken away several things that I used to enjoy in life, but I am learning to cope with it day by day. I just hope some day there is a cure for IBS. To all of you out there suffering from this horrible disorder, I wish you the best!

E-mail Ashley: [email protected]

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