I have a big and not so pleasant anniversary quickly approaching. Monday, the 22nd, will mark the 1 year anniversary of my IBS diagnosis. It has kind of put me in a weird place this last week. You see, the doctor’s only prescribed treatment was to toss a small sheet of paper at me and say “This is a new diet that they are trying out to manage IBS you could try this. There is really little else that can be done” I took it to heart. I drastically altered my life and my diet. It is called “Low FODMAP” I stick to it religiously. I do not eat wheat, dairy, sugar, and an assortment of wonderful fruits and veggies it restricts. These include garlic, onions, nectarines, apples, and many more. The list is constantly changing. I have become exhausted with it. I still wasn’t feeling perfect. Do we ever?
I recently started turning to Eastern medicine for managing my chronic digestive illness. My Western doctor wasn’t overly helpful or caring. I was marked off a list because I tested negative for everything else, so it must be IBS, right? Here is this list they are working on in Australia and it could help. Sigh. I went to my 6th acupuncture appointment yesterday. I love my acupuncturist. She is phenomenal. At my 5th appointment we had a lengthy discussion about how at this one year mark maybe I need to take my digestion and health into my own hands. Since, I said that I still had a lot of digestive woes regardless of following this diet for a year! I thought about it and I decided she is right. I already started with essential oils and acupuncture.
Since starting acupuncture I have noticed a gradual improvement in my digestion. It wasn’t over night. It has however started to slowly improve. Without going into too much detail, I have had more better days than bad days. Especially in the past week. I see her once a week. I have started trying foods again, with caution. But I have allowed myself to cross that threshold. Something I would never do before. I have been researching the crap out of things. My BFF sent me some info about Aloe Vera for IBS. I looked into it, liked the findings, and I tried it. I have a fresh aloe plant that I cut and add the innards to my smoothies. I have noticed even more improvement! That was nowhere on any piece of info my Gastro gave me. When I explained this to my acupuncturist she was so happy that I have started to give myself to freedom to change or at least try.
Another big thing….running. I was a runner. A daily avid runner and racer. My last race was Mother’s Day 2012. I placed SIXTH in my age group! After this diet restriction I ended up giving it up. I turned strictly to Pilates. Running drained me. At first I had no idea how to fuel myself and maintain my running. I abruptly took all of my pasta and bread away. Yet I was still running 3-3.5 miles on an almost daily basis. After extreme exhaustion that happened after each run, I decided to quit. Last night, I went for a run. My studio has a running group that recently started. I showed up. I ran. I actually ran at the front of the group the whole time. Muscle memory. My master teacher also goes on the runs. She commented to me that I run beautifully. My torso is in a great position, my hips stay square, and my legs just kind of float underneath me. My coworker, who is running this program, is a very seasoned marathoner, a ton of them under her belt. She ran the Boston Marathon this year. It wasn’t her first time running that one. She commented after that I have a really great pace. She wanted me to come run with her again right then. It is a beginner program that the studio is offering. It is building up to a 5k we are sponsoring this fall. It will get harder each week. I was tempted to go. I could have easily ran more. I said no though because little man was sick and my husband had stayed home to take care of him while I worked, went my appointments, went to my running club, etc. Maybe next Wednesday though.
I am a runner at heart. Pilates has strengthened my entire body to keep me in running shape without running. I have not felt this amazing in a while. I am getting anxiously happy just writing about last night. I have missed running. More than I even realized. I am not saying I am not a Pilates fanatic. That is still my world. But like my heart for my family, there is room enough for more than one major fitness love of my life.
It is very hard to lead such a restrictive lifestyle. Especially when it is not by choice. I am feeling really positive that I have begun to allow myself some freedoms to take my own health into my hands. I have lived in this terrified state regarding foods and food prep for a year. That is hard. It is hard on me and my family. I am not jumping right in gobbling up everything I see. No, I am taking baby steps. But like my acupuncturist said, the point is that I am trying.
I have begun to lose faith in the Low FODMAP concept. It hasn’t exactly served me very well over the past year. I do know there are foods on the list that bother me but there are many that don’t. They say you should only eat 1 cup of berries at a time. I can eat berries, especially blueberries until my heart is content. The list is always changing. They used to say Tahini was okay, and then suddenly halfway through my year of this, they took that back. Well I had been eating Tahini often, as an alternative for other dips etc. So I haven’t had a bite of it since then. Sweet potatoes were A-ok when I first got the list. Then they changed it to only a small amount at a time. I stopped eating them as frequently after I read that. One more restrictive thing. It gets in my head that it will harm me and then I freak out, afraid to try it. Or suddenly I feel a little off because I did try something on the said no list. Last night I made baked sweet potato fries with dinner. I gobbled them up. Not counting or measuring. I feel perfectly fine today. I felt perfectly fine after. In fact, I ate frozen grapes after. Without counting. They limit those to about 8 grapes at a time, or so I read at one time. So I think, from this point on, I am not going to be checking for updates. I am going to take my time trying foods here and there. I am going to continue to do my research of alternative methods. I am going to continue to tailor my digestive needs specifically to me, and not to some list created by well meaning scientists in Australia. Healing is not a one size fits all program. That is why I am falling in love with Eastern methods. It centers around the person specifically. It has been making a positive change in my life. I am feeling happier than I have in a while. I am feeling in charge.