5 Roadblocks Keeping You From Achieving Good Gut Health
IBS Symptom Relief Tips
Relief Report 025: What Roadblocks are Keeping You from Good Digestive Health?
Posted by Stephanie Clairmont, RD on Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Are you feeling confused about why you’re still experiencing daily IBS symptoms after trying everything? Maybe you’ve adjusted your diet, but you’re still not feeling your best self? There are lots of reasons why you might not be feeling better yet. Digestive health is complicated – there are lots of factors that influence our gut health. It’s way more than just food! In my experience working with clients, I have seen a few common roadblocks that many people experience when it comes to successfully managing their digestive symptoms.
IBS is tough. There are lots of ups and downs that are going to get in the way of you living your best life. Our lifestyle and environment play a big role in our gut health. This is why it is important identify your triggers, which might not always be from the food you’re eating. Some of these factors cannot be changed, but it is possible to make some lifestyle changes that will help you reduce these unwanted symptoms.
IBS Roadblock #1: Stressful Life Or Job
This topic is huge and so relevant for many people. The fast paced environment we live in doesn’t always give us the freedom to take care of our health. Whether you are a student who is stressed out at school or you’re trying to meet deadlines at work, that stress takes a toll on our health. Constantly dealing with stress can negatively impact proper digestion and cause your IBS symptoms to worsen. It might be impossible to get rid of those constant stressors, but there are ways to cope. Making more time for yourself outside of work and school will help reduce the tension in your life and help you to feel happier.
IBS Symptom Relief Tip
Although life can be hectic at times, it is always important to remember to take care of your body. Part of this is really good time management skills. This will help you complete your tasks more efficiently and effectively, and will likely allow you to set aside some time to do your favourite hobby, such as booking off Thursday evenings to go to your favourite yoga class or bake a batch of your favourite muffins. Taking steps to more effectively manage your time will result in you being better able to take care of your health, and when you are healthy and feeling your best, you will be more productive. See what I’m getting at here 😉 I’m a huge advocate for making time for self-care. We are only as busy as we choose to be. You are in charge of your time, so if making more room in your life for self-care to better manage stress is a priority for you, I believe you can find a way to make it happen my friend!
IBS Roadblock #2: Lack Of Time
This goes hand in hand with the previous roadblock. It’s so clear that everyone is leading a busy life these days! But, it is essential to have down time to relax, spend time with friends and family, and eat healthy meals. When this isn’t always possible we might end up eating more processed foods, eating out, being stressed out by the feeling of having too much to do and not enough time, and feeling tired, all things that can make IBS symptoms worse.
IBS Symptom Relief Tip:
I recommend using an agenda or calendar to help plan your week. This helps you keep track of deadlines, appointments, meetings and any other weekly tasks. Knowing and preparing for these in advance ensures that there is some down time to relax and take care of yourself. Making self-care a priority in your life by scheduling in non-negotiable appointment with yourself to take care of you will help you feel happier and better manage your triggers. These can include family time, yoga, reading, exercising…whatever you do to take your mind off things and relax. Taking a few hours one or twice a week to meal prep is also a great strategy for ensuring you always have some healthy prepared meals in the fridge or freezer, ready for you when you are busy.
IBS Roadblock #3: Unsupportive Friends Or Family Members
Living in an unsupportive environment is going to make it very hard to identify your triggers and start taking care of your body. If your friends and family don’t understand the severity of your symptoms, they might encourage certain activities that might make your symptoms worse. For example, if you are in the elimination stages of the low FODMAP diet and they encourage you to eat out, it might be challenging to stick to your plan for identifying your triggers. They’re not trying to harm your health on purpose, they just don’t have the proper knowledge about IBS or your current state of health to help you. If you’re not clear with you friends and family, then tension could arise since they don’t understand the severity of your condition, causing you even more stress!
IBS Symptom Relief Tip:
Give your friends and family a mini IBS information session, or maybe just try to have a casual conversation with them about what you’re going through. You can be as detailed or as discrete as you like 😉 Let them know why certain foods cause you to have certain symptoms such as gas, bloating or constipation. Maybe they’re curious about the FODMAP diet and what it means or how it has helped you. Explain to them the severity of your symptoms because they might not truly understand what is going on. IBS can be an invisible condition, which will make it hard for others to help you through it. Looking fine on the outside but not feeling fine can cause you to feel isolated and impact your mental health. That it why it is important to talk to the people close to you and let them know what is happening in your life. If you don’t help them understand, then there’s no way they can offer support in the right way. Living in a supportive environment makes figuring out your triggers and dealing with your symptoms so much easier.
IBS Roadblock #4: Embarrassment
It is very common to be embarrassed about living with IBS, because let’s be real my friends, sometimes we have some unpleasant symptoms. This might lead to you not telling your doctor about your symptoms, which isn’t going to help you feel better. We need to remember that talking about our health and telling our doctor is the first step to feeling better. Constantly trying to hide your symptoms can be detrimental to your health and make social events hard to attend. If you’re constantly worried about your symptoms at social events, then you’re not fully enjoying your life. This unneeded stress and anxiety can also cause your symptoms to worsen. You need to first identify your triggers so that you can then manage them and live your life the way you want to.
IBS Symptom Relief Tip:
Talk to your doctor. Trust me when I say they have heard it all! So many people struggle with IBS, so this is probably not the first time your doctor has helped someone with your same symptoms. A good doctor shouldn’t make you feel uncomfortable or embarrassed about sharing your symptoms. Remember, they can’t help you if they don’t know what’s going on. In addition to being open with your doctor, you might need to also think about opening up to your friends and family if your symptoms are getting in the way of you attending social events. Taking care of your mental health is just as important as your gut health, and that means being able socialize in the ways you want. It’s is normal to feel embarrassed about IBS symptoms, but it is important to not let that embarrassment control your life. Take care of your body and get control of those triggers.
IBS Roadblock #5: Thinking This Is ‘Normal’
It is quite common for people to think their symptoms of gas and bloating are normal, especially if they’ve experienced it their whole life. While experiencing some mild gas or bloating every now and then may be normal, what isn’t normal is if these symptoms are bothering you on a regular basis, or if they are severe enough to impact your daily life and activities. Abdominal pain, frequent diarrhea, and chronic constipation are also not normal, no matter how long you have experienced these symptoms. If you’re feeling uncomfortable, then you shouldn’t keep it a secret or push it to the side. It is very common to get caught up in our busy lives and forget about taking care of our health, but ignoring it can lead to more serious symptoms.
IBS Symptom Relief Tip:
I encourage you to stop accepting these symptoms as your new normal. It can get better! It’s possible for you to find relief! Make an appointment with your doctor or speak to a registered dietitian like myself as soon as you start feeling like these symptoms are interfering with your life. Becoming more knowledgeable about IBS and your symptoms so that you can understand and be more aware about what is going on in your body might also help you talk to your doctor or dietitian. This will help you make a plan with your healthcare provider and figure out together what the next step towards feeling better might be for you. If you struggle with digestive symptoms, the CLAIRITY program can help you get clear on what is triggering your symptoms so you can finally feel like your best self.
All of these things can affect your gut health, and being aware of them is the starting point to getting control of your symptoms. I know that it isn’t possible to eliminate these roadblocks from our lives, but it is possible to make some lifestyle changes that are going to help reduce your symptoms and help you live a healthy and happy life. Making self-care a priority and enhancing your support system will really make a difference in your health. You need to identify your food, environment, and behaviour triggers so that you can gain control of your body and start living a happy, trigger-free life. If you need help identifying and getting control of these triggers, please join me in the CLAIRITY Program.
Wishing you much love and happiness,