Living with Irritable Bowel Syndrome

health recipes Aug 24, 2020

This isn't something I often advertise to my clients, but I have a condition called IBS: Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I was diagnosed in my early 20s and I have lived with it's symptoms for over 25 years. I attribute it to beginning my mission to eat healthy. 

IBS is caused by abnormal muscle contractions in the intestine. What causes these atypical  contractions is unknown, however, specialists believe that abnormalities in the nerves in the digestive system can cause a faulty connection between your brain and your large intestine, causing it to either slow down contractions or speed it up. There are certain triggers: specific foods, stress, hormones, and the condition may be hereditary. 

Symptoms of IBS

  • the number one symptom is severe diarrhea
  • the other symptom is constipation, though I rarely experienced this, I know other IBS sufferers do
  • pain in the lower abdominal area
  • bloated abdominal area
  • fatigue (from lack of nutrients being absorbed)

When I was in my late teens I was diagnosed with being lactose intolerant. That didn't stop me from eating dairy though (my step-dad worked for a dairy supplier and I absolutely loved cheese and yogurt!)

Several years later I went through a battery of tests and I was diagnosed with a spastic colon, a condition linked with IBS. I noticed eating certain foods made my symptoms worst: definitely any dairy, certain sugars, coffee, and overly fatty/fried foods. I worked with a naturopath and eliminated many foods and most of the symptoms went away. 

But life got busy and I eventually began to add those foods back in and the symptoms returned. I remember having to take Imodium before every big triathlon and running race to help focus on the race and not on my need to go to the washroom. 

In my mid-30s when my IBS was pretty bad, I went to a naturopath again. I was tested for dairy and gluten allergies and it came back with a high positive. So I finally over hauled my diet once and for all.

I had to get rid of:

  • coffee (very sad but true)
  • gluten
  • dairy
  • fried and fatty foods
  • limit amount of high-fibre foods (too many prunes for example)
  • sugar substitutes, especially sorbitol and xylitol

Symptoms went away, yet sometimes coming back for no reason at all. Just a by-product of IBS. And because in my 20s I continued to eat foods that triggered my IBS, I developed something called leaky gut. 

Leaky gut is a symptom where so much irritation occurs in the intestines that the lining becomes permeable. With intestinal permeability the intestine lining becomes so damaged that it allows or "leaks" undigested food and toxic waste into the blood stream. When that happens it wreaks havoc to the immune system and causes inflammation in the body. That inflammation caused my thyroid to malfunction. 

Thankfully I have amazing care providers that discovered my hypothyroidism and treat me for that. And I just have to be super careful not to eat the foods that trigger my conditions. 

The main two culprits are dairy and gluten. I can almost immediately feel the effects if I accidentally ingest these foods. I get itchy around my mouth and develop sharp stomach pain. And most of the time it leads to diarrhea.  

But other foods trigger it too, like coffee, mangos, alcohol, and most artificial additives. And xylitol, oh boy, I can't go near that stuff!

So by the mid-30s, I started to eat super clean. Lots of variety of vegetables, lean meats, slow digesting carbohydrates (like sweet potatoes and squash), and lots of fruit. But to be very honest, as a super active person, where I need to eat upwards of 2500 calories a day, that is a lot of green leafy vegetables. And I have a super sweet tooth. So I need snacks. 

My favourite snack is microwaved frozen berry mix with 1/3 cup of Daiya Greek Vanilla Yogurt (made from coconut cream). Don't knock it until you have tried it!

Normally I have to keep my food choices fairly limited to only whole foods. The less ingredients the better. But when life gets busy I eat out more often. For example, several months ago I discovered a packaged vegan and gluten free coffee cream "cheese cake" made from tofu that is available at Superstore. And I have been eating 100g (I measure and weigh most of the food I eat) of it a day for the past 3 months...its sooo good I crave it! And slowly my IBS symptoms have come back to present day where I am experiencing a massive flare up of the condition. I felt it best to share with you, just in case you have IBS and are experiencing these symptoms too.

If you have IBS or food sensitivities/allergies or an autoimmune condition it is important to eat super clean to avoid inflammation in the body. Eat whole foods with limited ingredients. Your health, your energy, your body needs this. 

My plan? Go back to eating from my simple food list once again. No more packaged foods for me. For IBS sufferers we have to watch out for packaged foods as often additives can trigger an attack. 

So I am back to making my own snacks. I have listed a few of my favourite recipes below. 

Dr. Axe Granola Bites

0.75 Cup honey
0.75 Cup peanut butter
2.5 Cup rolled oats
0.25 Cup Enjoy Life dark chocolate chips (free of common allergens) 
0.25 Cup unsweetened shredded coconut (pick brands with no additives)
1 Scoop Naked peanut flour
0.5 Tsp Salt

Mix altogether. Put into 8x8 pan lined with parchment. Put in refrigerator. Wait a day.
Cut into 32 bite sized rectangles.

93 calories, 11.9g carb, 2.7g protein, 4.5g fat


Living Well Mom Chocolate Almond Butter Cups

1/2 cup almond butter
2 Tbsp coconut oil, divided
2 Tbsp coconut flour
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup Enjoy Life dark chocolate chips

Add the almond butter, 1 tbsp coconut oil, coconut flour, honey, and vanilla extract to a food processor or mixer. Mix well, scraping the sides as needed. Set aside.
Melt the chocolate chips with the remaining 1 tbsp coconut oil over a double boiler on low heat or microwave (my choice!)
Spoon about a teaspoonful of chocolate into the bottom of 12 paper-lined or silicon muffin cups or 24 mini muffin cups. Drop a tablespoon of the almond butter mixture in next. Cover evenly with the remaining melted chocolate. Chill, until firm about 1-2 hours. Keep in refrigerator. 

205 calories, 16.2g carb, 3.5g protein, 17.7g fat 


The Ultimate Bodybuilding Cookbook Peanut Butter Maple Protein Balls

1 cup oat flour
0.5 cup Naked peanut flour
0.5 cup Nature's Path crispy rice cereal
0.5 tsp salt
0.5 cup peanut butter
0.5 cup Maple Syrup
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Mix all together and roll approximately 20 balls and store in refrigerator.

72 calories, 9g carb, 2.5g protein, 2.9g fat


Paleo Leap Fruit Nut Bar

1 cup almonds
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup medjool dates

Preheat your oven to 300 F.
Place the almonds on a baking dish and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool before using.
In a food processor, pulse nuts to chop them down first, then combine all the ingredients and pulse until the ingredients start forming a ball, scraping the edges of the bowl to prevent the mixture from sticking. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Spread the mixture out into the pan, and shape into a large rectangle. Top with another piece of parchment paper, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Cut into 16 evenly shaped bars.

120 calories, 19.9g carb, 1.9g protein, 3.8g fat


Dreena Burton's Chocolate Chip Cookies

0.5 cup coconut butter/manna (not oil)
0.5 cup maple syrup
1.1 cup oat flour
2 tbsp coconut sugar
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
0.25 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
0.25 tsp baking soda
0.33 cup Enjoy Life dark chocolate chips

Mix wet and dry ingredients separately, then together. Spoon 20 1 tbsp drops onto lined parchment paper. Bake 10-12min in 350 degree oven. Let stand on drying rack for 30min and pack away in air tight container. 

102 calories, 13.5g carb, 1.4g protein, 5.1g fat




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