Hey there friend,
It’s been a looooong time since I’ve written on my website to you. Thanks for being here, and thanks for reading.
The first post I wrote on stephanieclairmont.com was in 2012 on March 22… wow. It’s been such a pleasure serving and supporting those with digestive health issues all this time. Since my own diagnosis in 2007, and going through my own struggles and ups and downs with IBS and Hiatus Hernia, I’ve been so passionate about sharing with readers what worked for me and how I got past those days of running to the washroom and having embarrassing and uncomfortable symptoms in public and private.
For years I suffered and I tried everything, I mean everything. So once I spent the time, months, and years actually figuring out how to heal my gut, I’ve used this plan to help others do the same. If you’re struggling with digestive issues, you’re in the right place. I’m here to help. Just let me know how I can support you, browse the website for articles or contact me to talk about the program I run where I give you all the steps you need.
Today, I wanted to share with you my most recent struggle. When I got pregnant with my second son in early October, my digestive issues returned. It was strange because with my first son three years earlier, I didn’t have any issues. I could eat 4 doughnuts, 3 hamburgers and a pint of chocolate milk and have NO issues! It was glorious…
But this time around, was not the same. Even though I was eating pretty good for digestion, symptoms came back to me. I had gone through my own program and clearly identified what I could eat, what I couldn’t eat and also how much of some trigger foods were enough (there are some foods you can have small amounts of without symptoms!). So day to day I did not experience any issues with gas, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation. Unless I went off track and ate foods that I knew triggered me, things like caffeinated coffee, a couple glasses of wine, loads of onions, loaves of bread or a large pepperoni pizza (hehe, sometimes you need to indulge!).
When I got pregnant, my body went through a shift. This happens throughout our lives, with pregnancy, or with other changes like in our careers, or loss of a loved one, a move or an illness… all kinds of life’s changes and challenges can take a toll on our bodies and our gut.
So, when symptoms came back to me, beyond the nausea and exhaustion of growing a 10 and 1/2 lb baby (yes, my last little one was a giant boy when I birthed him!), I had to acknowledge that if I wanted to have less symptoms, I had to change what I was doing and how I was eating.
In this post, I’m going to share with you the top 5 changes I made in my life, to get my symptoms under control.
And if you’re struggling, I hope this can help you to make some changes as well so that you can feel better and get to a symptom-free place.
The things that you need to do to get rid of symptoms during pregnancy, or at any time in your life may be different from what worked for me. Let this be a good starting place for you to find relief my friend.
Top 5 Strategies for IBS in Pregnancy
Strategy 1 for IBS and Pregnancy: Stop Eating Pizza
I joke, but I really don’t joke. When I’m pregnant, I mean… probably when anyone is pregnant, I crave carbs, like cheesey, fatty, greasy, horrible for you, but oh so delicious in your mouth carbohydrates. I’m talking things like pizza, garlic bread, warm loaves of any bread actually, bacon cheese burgers, and deep fried anything, especially doughnuts!
This is common for anyone going through not just pregnancy, but a life change. Feeling terrible, unhappy, depressed, let down, or even really excited, emotions can lead to craving really tasty and not-so-good-for-your-gut foods like the above mentioned.
So for me, when I ate these foods, I got symptoms. And when I took control of what I was eating, I felt WAY better.
For me that looked like enjoying carbohydrate foods that weren’t as high in fat and in potential triggers. Here were some foods that worked for me:
- Grilled cheese with cheddar/gouda/Swiss on a simple gluten-free bread like Glutino or sour dough bread
- Plain corn only, nacho chips with homemade salsa or guacamole (no onions or garlic)
- Home made pizza with plain tomato sauce (no onions or garlic), mozzarella cheese and vegetables
- A small serving of salted chips or popcorn
- Toasted peanut butter and jam sandwiches (mmmm… so comfy)
- Gluten-free muffins, homemade or Udi’s brand
- Gluten-free doughnuts from a local bakery, or gluten-free cookies
Strategy 2 for IBS and Pregnancy: Drink Way More Water
Ok, so hydration is important, yada yada. You can hear me say that, know it in your head, feel it in your soul but if you do nothing about it your bowels will NEVER work properly. Sorry not sorry, but this is the damn truth. And sometimes we need to remind ourselves to take care of our bodies and drink more fluids.
Whatever it takes, just make it happen. There’s no easy way, especially if you’re someone like me, who doesn’t feel thirsty until I’m super dehydrated (takes a giant sip of water out of my 1.5 L bottle on my desk). So figure out what works for you. Is it carrying around a water bottle? Is it filling up a jug and putting it on your desk? Is it setting a timer every hour to drink a whole glass. Up to you. Make it happen.
For me, I like to have a couple large water bottles, and a goal of drinking one in the morning, another by noon and another by 4 pm. Then just a little water at night so I’m not up all night peeing and taking care of my newborn. We need our sleep, but that’s a whole other story for another day…
Strategy 3 for IBS and Pregnancy: Go Low FODMAP
You may have heard me talk about it before – the Low FODMA Diet is a short-term, elimination diet. Scientific research shows us that those who follow a Low FODMAP diet for 4 to 8 weeks experience a significant improvement in symptoms, often 50% to 75% symptom reduction. After you cut out high FODMAP foods and get relief, you add back the FODMAP foods to identify your own intolerance, what you can have and how much you can have without symptoms.
After following this diet myself and helping thousands of people do the same, I find most people can actually reintroduce some FODMAP foods without symptoms. Often we can tolerate very small amounts. ‘
What are FODMAP foods? Well healthy, good for you foods like mushrooms, broccoli, onions, wheat bread, apples, pears, blackberries and cashews. There are many more foods that are high in FODMAPs, but the point is, they are healthy foods, that aren’t that great for the gut. So many people benefit from understanding how much of these foods they can tolerate.
Eliminating and then reintroducing FODMAPs is part of the Clairity Program, where I support my clients to heal the gut, find relief and then get back to living and enjoying their normal lives, without digestive symptoms.
So for me during pregnancy, I needed to cut back on some of the FODMAP foods I was enjoying on a daily or weekly basis. Foods that normally did not cause me any symptoms, my body got more sensitive to during pregnancy. So for a few months, I focused on the low FODMAP foods, that are easier to digest. Until I was feeling good and comfortable.
If the Low FODMAP diet is something you want to try, make sure you join me in the Clairity Program for specific instructions, or you work with an expert Digestive Dietitian who knows how to support you during the elimination, challenge and reintroduction phases to get you healthy, well and symptom-free!
If you are pregnant and dealing with so many uncomfortable symptoms, definitely don’t just cut out high FODMAP foods, connect with someone to give you specific guidance for eating well with IBS while pregnant, or write me an email and we can chat more about how I can help (firstname.lastname@example.org). You don’t need the extra symptoms of IBS on top of growing a human in you!!!
Strategy 4 for IBS and Pregnancy:
It’s common to forget all these little things that affect digestion. Especially once you’re feeling good, like I was, symptom-free. But when we go through major events that are life changing and gut changing, going back to eating really well to help you better digest can make you feel significantly better.
There are loads of different strategies and techniques to help you digest better and everyone is different. For example, caffeine is a gut stimulant, for many people it can trigger, pain, bloating and diarrhea. You however, may tolerate half-caffeinated just fine, or you may be able to have a small coffee on a full stomach (not an empty one) or decaf might work for you. We are all so different, so figuring out your triggers is key here.
Let me share with you what worked for me:
- I ate less salad and raw vegetables, since cooked vegetables are just easier for your body to break down, this helped my body to have to work less
- I stopped drinking caffeine, which made me so sad, but it was worth it. I had to even avoid decaf coffee or espresso for a short time!
- I avoided alcohol… not that hard, since I was pregnant and that’s good for the baby 😉
- I cut out all onions and garlic, since they are not just high in FODMAPs, but also sulphurous. Sulphurous vegetables are a trigger for me normally in large amounts, so even small amounts during pregnancy were a no-go.
- I rested. It’s hard for me to slow down, I love being active in my work, with my family and friends, and filling up my days. However, growing a person and having all kinds of things happening in my body, really made me run down. Taking it easy, being less busy, resting each day with a book or my feet up or watching tv, really helped my body and my IBS.
Strategy 5 for IBS and Pregnancy: Breath Deeply
Yes, I said it. Breath.
STOP RIGHT NOW.
Bring your attention to your breath. Are you breathing deeply into your belly? Or are you breathing shallowly into your chest? Are you holding your breath?
So often we just don’t breath well, and it affects us. Our mind, our body, our gut.
Take 3 deep long breaths right now. I’ll wait…..breath into your belly, deeply, fill it with air. And breath out of your belly, let it all out of your nose. Two more times please….
Remember how I said I like to have my plate full? With babies and friends and cooking and work and all the things? Well that can keep my mind busy and my heart busy and take away from relaxing. If we are always go-go-go, our bodies can get stuck in a fight or flight response, and that stress mode can cause all the symptoms to happen. There are loads of studies on IBS, digestion and stress – and they all say, reduce it, better manage it, take control!
Breathing, mediation and yoga can all be super beneficial to reducing your stress. If you want to read a little more about it and get a quick breathing exercise, read this article here.
So for me. I had to remind myself, several times each day, to take 5 or 10 minutes to sit, and breath. When I was working or walking or driving, I tried to often bring my attention to the breath and slow it down.
If symptoms happened or I felt them coming on – I would stop. And take 5 breaths.
If I was on a plane, or in traffic, or just had a stressful meeting – I would stop. And take 5 breaths.
It helped. Still does! It can stop my symptoms right there and make me feel 100% better. This is one you should try, because I know it can help!
Being pregnant with a 3 year old, working hard on your business, trying to eat good food and feeling awful… damn it can be hard. I know you may be going through something similarly, life is full, full of all kinds of things. And we often put ourselves last, which contributes to more symptoms, more pain and more stress. I get it. I’ve been there, and just recently went back to having to deal with awful symptoms.
The good news is you can feel more like yourself, you can feel better, and you can get symptoms under control. It may take cutting out doughnuts, pizza and drinking more water. It may take slowing down, breathing deeply and making time for your beautiful self. It’s completely up to you.
And if you need a little help, a plan to follow, someone to listen to you. I’m here if you need me.
Much love & good eating,
Stephanie Clairmont, MHSc, RD
Your Digestive Dietitian
Ps. Here is the beauty big boy I birthed at 10 lbs 7 oz. I mean… come on! Those rolls are totally worth all of the pregnancy symptoms, pizza cravings and work to get my triggers under control right?