Our new book IBS dietary advice to calm your gut was published last week. We wrote the book to provide information about diet and living well with IBS. [Look at talkhealth‘s freebies page with a chance to win a copy of the book (closes 14.12.17) and also look in the review section to see latest reviews.]
One of the most important facts I tell people who are newly diagnosed with IBS might surprise you, as it is not diet related. The importance of learning as much as you can about IBS and the different treatments that can help, should never be underestimated. Knowledge is power, so people say.
Receiving a diagnosis of IBS is challenging, but it is worthwhile having this diagnosis, however as a diagnosis often described as ‘a diagnosis of exclusion’, you might not feel it is. A few tests to rule out some diseases with similar symptoms are all that are usually needed to diagnose IBS and then doctors can be very confident that a person has it.
IBS is a long-term condition, which has no specific cure. You might then be wondering, how is having this diagnosis possibly worthwhile? Well, knowing what you are dealing with allows the person to start their own recovery by addressing symptom improvement – this is the mainstay in treatment and many people who have had recovery of symptoms have done so by finding their own path to it. If, however you have been told ‘I don’t know what is wrong’ or ‘I cannot medically explain this’ by your healthcare provider, this can leave a person confused and ‘stuck’ in seeking answers for their symptoms and seeking a diagnosis, whilst symptoms sadly continue. My friend and IBS Network Trustee Vicky Grant has said that this diagnosis takes you on a journey of discovery, a journey of knowing about yourself and what is likely to help you with your symptoms. Vicky would describe herself as recovered and her help was crucial in writing our book.
So, IBS is very individual condition and the person that knows best what will work is you, but you need to have the knowledge of what works to be able and confident to apply it. My response to this need was to write the book with my co-author Alex Gazzola to help people learn about how the gut works, what happens when it doesn’t work as well when you have IBS, what dietary and other lifestyle interventions might work – and perhaps more crucially, those that are unlikely to work and the reasons why. It also discusses access and how to work alongside healthcare providers in your journey to learning more about your IBS. The books main focus is diet, but also living well with IBS too and therefore covers other aspects such as emotional well-being, physical well-being and very practical matters such as eating out, travel and something we are not often taught – how to use the toilet properly!
To gain more confidence, being around others who are in the same situation can give much needed reassurance and support. The IBS Network offers such as service and accessing support groups or joining as a member can provide the support people might need on their personal journey to explore recovery. https://www.theibsnetwork.org/ I encourage others to join and also support the charity that is providing real help for people living with IBS.