A Guest Post by: Laura Mulkerne of the Food Diary Co
Recovering from IBS and Coeliac disease
The pre-diagnosis days
Have you ever felt so sick that you constantly felt on the verge of throwing up? Or had the sort of trapped wind pain that sends you straight back to bed on a morning? Maybe your symptoms are bowel related and frankly, you just don’t like to talk about it but you and your toilet are best buds now.
I have been there.
My name is Laura, I’m the creator of The Food Diary Co, and I created a stylish food diary for people who need to track both their diet and their symptoms on a daily basis. I initially created it with IBS, coeliac and other autoimmune diseases in mind, but really it’s great for anyone who wants to get a solid overview of their health and diet.My name is Laura, I’m the creator of The Food Diary Co, and I created a stylish food diary for people who need to track both their diet and their symptoms on a daily basis. Created with IBS, Coeliac and other autoimmune diseases in mind,… Click To Tweet
My journey began roughly 6 or 7 years ago. It started with feeling ‘under the weather’; a bit tired, a bit rough and eventually progressed to full-on nausea every day.
I would get full after eating a couple of bites of food, but half an hour later I would be so ragingly hungry that I again felt like throwing up. All I wanted to do was curl up in a ball on my bed, and I went back and forth to the doctors more times than I could count. Each time I got very little in the way of help; it wasn’t until I saw a locum at the practice that I was even referred for an endoscopy.
To cut a long story short for you, a good two years passed before I was given a diagnosis.
The word ‘IBS’ was thrown around in that time, and once I was passed a handout of high FODMAP foods with a single diary print out sheet, but I was given zero help in understanding how to do that diet on my own.
Eventually, the pain got so bad that I broke down, called my parents, and they – luckily for me – took me to see a private specialist. He asked the sort of questions I’d never been asked before.
Did I have mouth ulcers? I did!
Did I find it hard to put on weight? Yes!
And so on…
The specialist was certain I had coeliac disease.
Unfortunately, the endoscopy was inconclusive, and looking back I know now that I hadn’t been eating gluten all the way up to the endoscopy, which likely marred the results. But the specialist’s certainty gave me something to start with. It gave me a little hope.
The Food Diary days
How I controlled my diet to get back to health
And so, being thoroughly sick of ‘being sick’, I decided to commit to this ‘food diary’ I had heard the doctors mention from time to time, and start by cutting out gluten.
I realized I would have to be;
a) Super specific about what I recorded in my diary
b) Super consistent about recording it
c) Keep everything else constant while I changed one thing at a time.
It felt daunting, to begin with, but I began to feel better so quickly after cutting out gluten, that it was encouragement enough to keep going.
Each day I would write down exactly what I ate and when, and the time of any subsequent symptoms. I also began to realise there were other non-related food things that would have an effect on my health: namely how much sleep and the quality of it, if I was taking any medicines, if I was stressed, and ladies, if it was that time of the month. And lo, that went into the diary too.
If anyone else is in this early stage of figuring out what their trigger foods are, I feel for you:
it’s tough at first. All you can think about is the thing (or things) you’re ‘not allowed’ to eat!
I realized I needed to change my mindset, think positively, and focus on the things I could eat instead.
I scoured the Internet for recipes (god bless Pinterest!) and made it my mission to find the tastiest, most fun recipes to try. I taste-tested every brand of supermarket gluten-free pasta to find the ones I loved best (personally I’m a big fan of Sainsburys’ stuff, in case anyone’s wondering).
In the beginning, when avoiding gluten was still new and cross-contamination an ‘unknown’ for me, I avoided new restaurants and tended to stick to the ones I knew would have something for me to safely eat.
Now, four years after my initial diagnosis I live a full, happy life.
I have the energy to workout regularly, I have a roster of great recipes I know I love eating, and I know all my triggers. It took roughly about a year from diagnosis to now to feel this way, and along the way, I discovered my worst enemies: gluten, caffeine, large apples, lack of sleep and too much processed sugar.
Thankfully my list isn’t much longer than that, so for anyone staring down the barrel of the FODMAP diet and despairing, don’t worry! You may be perfectly fine with many of those foods (especially in moderation). Keeping a food diary will help you suss out what is an issue for you personally and what isn’t.
Now, I barely think about the things I can’t have. Luckily there have been so many developments in the gluten free aisle in the past four years alone, that I don’t feel like I really miss out on anything at all. I’m happy and healthy and back to 100%.
Laura Mulkerne created The Food Diary Co after being unable to find a stylish, practical food diary for people looking to track diet and symptoms. They sell online at www.thefooddiary.co. While they continue to ship from the UK, Laura now lives in Kigali, Rwanda with her husband.
Find them on Instagram onwww.instagram.com/thefooddiaryco