There is no one diet that is just what you do for IBS. It is a whole process of investigation to find the diet that is just the right one for you. Diet Detective Work is not just a gimmick. It is a scientific and practical way to find what symptoms change and how much, so the effort is worthwhile. It would be great if it was a clear diet and you could get diet sheets and solve it quickly. Here I will summarise the steps. The easy to read detail is in Are You Food Sensitive?
- Write down what foods you suspect even if they do not cause clear reactions every time. It will be good to learn which you really need to attend to.
- Find more useful information. You may be surprised to know there may be lots in your own family. Fill out the Family Sensitivity History, with a dietitian and/or reading Chapter 4 in Are You Food Sensitive?
- Think about how good your nose is. Do you notice stale food smells in your refrigerator better than others, or smells in general? This can be useful as your nose knows! Read the other articles What’s smell got to do with it?
- Write out all your symptoms. All IBS sufferers do not have the same symptoms. Do they include bloating, and is there distension pain with this, or do you have cramping pain. Do you have wind, and is it strong smelling? Do you have gut urgency, strong or mild, even painful, then relieved with toileting. Do you take time to recover? Some report just noticing a feeling of being “knocked flat” for up to an hour. Others report having to lie down till they recover. Are you more constipated, or more loose, or does it vary?
- Also notice if you have or have had other symptoms that may be diet related during your life. They include such symptoms as headaches, migraine, rashes, mouth ulcers, allergy symptoms, or changes in mood, sleep and fuzzy thinking. See Are You Food Sensitive? for the interesting list.
- The best diet place to start diet is to lower all the suspect food chemicals reported a problem in food sensitive people. Then add the ones mentioned in the generations in your family.
One good feature of diet detective work is that you can decide if you want to start at a very strict level, a “good results” level or an easy elimination diet level. You can do this as the investigation process takes 3 months so you have time to adjust the level of strictness depending on what changes, and what happens with challenges. Use a dietitian and the detail in Are You Food Sensitive? You can also consider matching your fluids with solid foods, whether you increase or decrease wholegrain foods, test other fibres, or Probiotics, and continue to exclude foods you know cause you wind. It usually takes 4 weeks to clear and many report feeling worse in the first one or even two weeks. Any improvement may happen after two, three or even into the fourth week. At that point diet is frustrating! You may feel better and be pleased about that but you but you still can only guess at what food changes may have made the difference.
Rather than muddling along for years it is important to do challenges to see just which group of chemicals, or foods such as wheat or dairy, are the important ones to attend to. You can also challenge with foods that clarify if Probiotics, different types of fibre or fructose, and other FODMAPS foods, contribute to your diet needs. Once you have found the main food culprits you can test what is important in your particular lifestyle. You may test your favourite foods one at a time, and importantly, adapting to the foods of the people you live and eat with, and carefully test eating out foods, as well as what you need for your preferred lifestyle.
A generation ago many people just put up with gut discomfort after medical checks reassured them there was nothing medically wrong. Having the help of a dietitian and reading all the detail in Are You Food Sensitive? means this is no longer necessary! Diet therapy can be fiddley but it is so good to have symptoms greatly reduced, and to feel you largely know what causes them, and be able to manage it in your own way.