To manage my IBS symptoms, I had about 6 or 7 months living (begrudgingly) happily without milk, but then the symptoms returned. Terrible headaches (deep in my eye-sockets) and unpredictable diarrhea. Bloating, cramping, exhaustion.
A trip to my Doctor was of not much help. After I described my symptoms and my test results were reviewed, (remember, the tests show that I am ‘healthy’), the Doctor looked at me sadly and said “unfortunately, we are seeing a lot of this sort of thing. It’s very common”.
And that was it!! Not much of a plan of action, is it?
I was pretty desperate for some help, and now not really enthused about the medical community (I know: one doctor a whole community does not make). Needless to say I was pretty frantic. I knew that I couldn’t keep on living with the cramping and the hours of sitting on the toilet, never mind the accidents which were embarrassing and kept me trapped more and more often at home.
A good friend of mine had had some success with similar issues after she had seen her naturopath. I was very reluctant to take this path, as I really didn’t know what naturopaths did.
I envisioned an ancient and wizened practitioner who tried to sell me a variety of ill-smelling and expensive powders and potions.
I was very wrong. My naturopath has had extensive medical training, is young and has really never tried to sell me any ‘potions’. We both believe that we should get our nutrition from food and not additives.
What she did do, though, is spend an entire hour going over my history, symptoms, a diary of food that I had been eating along with tracking symptoms, and my medical test results. It felt so good to be finally heard and taken seriously!
On her recommendation, I took a basic food panel blood test. It shows the antibodies (IgE and IgG4) that your body creates when it is struggling to accept various foods. The way I understand it, higher antibody levels indicate that your body is REALLY not happy with what it’s dealing with.
I was floored by the test results. Dairy, Beef, Green Beans, Kidney Beans and Eggs all scored in the ‘not safe’ zone.
This took me a while to process. Firstly, I had thought I had already eliminated dairy from my diet – in which case my body shouldn’t still be fighting it. My naturopath suggested that I need to be more vigilant in reading ingredient labels. She was right – I had been missing hidden dairy in a lot of products.
Beef, I had started to suspect that something was a problem here. After eating a lovely barbequed steak one evening, I spent the wee hours of the morning curled up in agony on the couch – I could almost feel my gut having difficulty processing the meat.
Green Beans? What is up with THAT? Green beans are supposed to be GOOD for you.
Kidney beans? Never was a fan. Easy to give these up.
Eggs? Well, now. I may have been willing to eliminate dairy from my diet, but eliminating eggs would be another thing altogether. I like to bake. I love fried egg sandwiches. My go-to fat free dessert is angel food cake. No, not eggs too.
As if to prove a point I made an angel food cake that evening. Enjoyed it tremendously. And spent the next day in bed. Yes, yes eggs too.
My Naturopath also suggested that I take a high quality pro-biotic as well as a fiber supplement, and to diligently track what I eat.
I was happy I had a plan of action. And I got results almost immediately – once I removed the offending foods from my diet I quickly felt better physically (no diarrhea, no headaches).
Mentally was a different story. The feeling of loss was pretty strong. I wanted to talk to someone about this, but I doubted there was a ‘mourning the loss of your favorite foods’ support group out there.
So I ploughed on, looking for help with books I picked up from the library and searching for information on the internet. I was pleased and amazed to know that I wasn’t alone. I still don’t understand how there can be such a large group of unwell people out there, and the medical community or marketplace seems to ignore us entirely.
Armed with my new sources of information, I was determined to get back to enjoying life again. I was done with being ill!