Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The IBS Side of Life

While I am dealing with my asthma, Mike is dealing with his IBS. Well I am dealing with it too since IBS is definitely a family problem.

IBS stands for "irritable bowel syndrom." In my view it should stand for "irritable bastard syndroe." It is a truly difficult syndrome - not well known by most people yet very common. It seems to have 2 effects. First, the bacteria in EBS people's gut do not deal well with many common foods. Instead of helping digest these foods, the bacteria cause bloating, pain, loose stools, leakage, etc. Second, the gut's emotional centre reacts to these bacterial problems by convincing the brain to feel depressed, sad and even angry.

The good thing about IBS is that it does not cause physical damage to the body - as for example Crohns Disease or Celiac Disease do. The other good thing is that IBS can be managed with the right diet - but finding and following the right diet is a fairly daunting 

About 10 years ago researchers in Australia came up with the theory that IBS was caused by high FODMAP foods. Our GP told us about this diet and Mike and I have been working on following the right low FODMAP diet for him for about 9 months. We are usually successful at home - but going out for dinner or visiting people is very difficult because so much of the food that causes Mike and many other IBSers is common and even healthy for other people.

Saturday was one of those difficult days - but I think we are getting back to normal. BTW, I do not have IBS - I have a cast iron stomach with excellent bacteria doing their job properly - but nonetheless I pretty much follow the low FODMAP diet so that Mike does not mistakenly eat stuff that will cause him harm. Recently I bought my own salsa - with onion - not for him to touch.

The most problematic foods for a person with IBS tend to be garlic and onion. These foods are basic to so many cuisines that it is almost impossible to go out to a restaurant without encountering them. Thai restaurants are no exception. Can you provide a dish with no garlic or onion. Oh yes said the waitress.  But when the meal arrived - the waitress just mentioned there was garlic in the peanut sauce.  Mike should have sent it all back - but he didn't want to make a fuss so he just didn't eat it. The other problem was that, because I wasn't sitting beside him, he ordered a dish with broccoli - not good.for many IBSers - because it is in the cabbage family and cabbage is difficult to IBSers to digest. So not a good dinner for Mike.

Here is the basic list of what Mike can and cannot eat:

OK: meat, fish, sausages without onion and garlic, butter, potatoes, rice, bread, milk, yogurt, oatmeal, chard, kale, carrots, green beans, corn, hot chillis, honeydew, oranges, lemons, limes, kiwis, strawberries, raspberries, walnuts, almonds, cane sugar, peanut butter, pop corn, rice cakes, mint tea, white tea, cranberries, a small amount of coffee with lots of milk.

NO:  foods processed or preserved using corn sugar (that includes everything processed these days including bakery cookies and other bakery products that do not specify using cane sugar), all alcohol, carbonated beverages, juice, garlic, onion, stone fruit (e,g, plums apples, peaches), grapes, peas, cabbage-related vegetables,  honey, dried fruits, dried beans, fennel, tomato paste, chocolate, cantaloupe melon, blackberries, cashews, pistachios, English tea
Well, we are learning. I think it is too bad that more people do not understand this syndrome because it is very debilitating and very common - yet relatively easy to solve once you know, As for going out to a Thai restaurant - I think he will have to stick to plain rice and soy sauce in future. Period.

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