Are you falling for these 3 IBS myths?

Every month I like to post my favorite book on the current topic. But here’s the thing. I don’t have THE one and only best book for you for IBS. There are so many to choose from, it’s overwhelming. Instead, I would like to give you some myths to think about based on what I often see in the clinic.

Myth #1:  Food has nothing to do with IBS

If someone (a friend, a doctor, a fellow sufferer) tells you that food has nothing to do with it, please don’t believe them.  During our first visit, we spend time talking about your daily food, and I can’t tell you how many people mention to me “well, I was told my eating had nothing to do with it.”

While it may not be the source, the cause, the sole reason for your IBS, I can tell you that food choices have a definite effect on your system.

Now, you may not LIKE this (I say kindly and gently) because it usually means having to change your habits and some trial & error.  But it doesn’t mean it’s not true.

Myth #2:  There is one perfect IBS food plan.

Sorry, nope.  While our bodies have similar processes and functions, your body is different from my body is different from your neighbor’s body.  Here are some food examples from real life people:

  • A woman in her 30’s learned that she is fine with everything as long as long as it doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, or artificial flavors.
  • A woman in her 50’s already eating what most people would say is a very clean diet, discovered that rice is her main trigger.
  • A man in his 40’s trying to lose weight started eating two salads a day every day and was becoming reactive to the excess lettuce.
  • A woman in her 60’s gets triggered when eating onions or garlic.
  • A woman in her 30’s has done amazing on a gluten free diet.
  • Another woman in her 30’s tried gluten-free and didn’t see much change until she switched to a low FODMAP diet (I’m not going to detail it here because you can google it if you want to learn more).
  • A man in his 50s turned all his symptoms around with the Whole30 diet.
  • Another did better eating low carb high fat, and another doing better with no dairy.

These are all real people.  Do you see where I’m going with this? There isn’t one perfect answer – there is only YOUR answer.

Myth #3:  I’ve already tried all the food changes.

I always ask my IBS patients “what food changes have you tried?”  If they come back with “I’ve tried everything,” then my reply is “Everything?  Okay, great. Tell me what all you did and for how long each time….” and I usually discover one of three things:

They have tried lots of different things, but spent only a couple of days to a week each time. 

When you are doing ANY kind of food trial, plan to give it a minimum of three to four weeks to see if it’s working for you.  It can take the first three weeks for the body to simply readjust and get over any possible detox-like reactions.  Often the magic happens somewhere between the third and fourth week where you really feel a noticeable positive difference.

They tried too many plans at once.

When you pick a food plan to try, please stick to THAT plan for however long of time you picked for your trial.  The food lists for the different plans vary – what is good on one list may be bad for another list.  You will confuse yourself and confuse your body if you plan-hop or try too many things at the same time.

They really didn’t try much and gave up after the first few things didn’t change their symptoms.

Each of us has spent our lifetime developing (mostly unconsciously) and ingraining our food habits.  Add that to feeling poorly due to symptoms.  And add all that to feeling discouraged when the first or second or third idea didn’t work.  It’s only natural to feel like giving up on food changes.  Maybe you’re ready for another idea, or maybe you need to take a break from focusing on food for a little while, but please keep your mind open to looking for solutions.

We’ve only talked about food in this post because it is such a biggie in IBS.  But know that there are other factors involved that can also be worked with – how is your stress level? How is your job going? Are there other health conditions affecting this?

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