I’ve never actually gotten round to writing a proper post about my journey with IBS, but it’s something I’ve struggled with for over 7 years now, and it’s been a pretty huge part of my life during this time even though I’ve tried my best not to let it. I’ve tried so many things to try and manage it, but nothing has ever worked and I had kind of resigned myself to the fact that it was just something I’d have to live with. However, before Christmas last year I heard through Twitter about Scarlett’s experience with the York Test, and I couldn’t believe I’d never heard about it before. I was having a pretty bad flare up around Christmas time, thanks to all the crap food I’d been eating, and was pretty desperate so me and George decided that it was time to make an investment in my health and get the test done.
Once I’d handed over my hard-earned cash, I couldn’t wait to get the results and start feeling well again. The worst symptoms I have suffered with are intense bloating, cramps and (sorry) gas, and you can imagine that when all of these things are battling for who can annoy me the most, it can make life pretty tough. The bloating means that it’s hard to be confident in my body, because I’ll think my tummy is pretty flat one day, but then it will swell up to 3 months pregnant in a matter of hours and I’ll be left feeling totally crap and down about myself sometimes for weeks at a time.
I couldn’t bring myself to get up and go to the gym most of the time, partly because the bloating made me feel so uncomfortable that I couldn’t face going to jig around on the treadmill, and partly because I didn’t see the point because I never saw any results thanks to my ever-present bloated belly. I would also feel lethargic most evenings and after eating a lot of the time, so this really didn’t help either. This was particularly bad when I went back to work after Christmas, and added to my desperation to get some answers.
So, that’s enough rambling for now- I’ll save the finer details for another post if anyone’s interested! Down to the actual results. I woke up on a Sunday morning, checked my emails and there they were, sitting in my inbox. I was scared but also really excited to see if any of my suspicions were true and start making changes to my diet so I could (hopefully) feel better! I found out that the foods I’m intolerant to are: cashews, egg white, yeast, cows milk, egg yolk, gluten, peanut and wheat.
I definitely wasn’t surprised that cows milk was in there, as I haven’t drunk this in a long time due to how bloated it made me feel, but for some reason I still thought I could get away with having cheese and yogurt that contained it. I also had a sneaky suspicion about gluten and wheat, because these are such common intolerances and I always felt better if I had a meal that didn’t contain them, compared to one that did.
Tell you what though, when I saw eggs on there, my heart sank. Why? Because I bloody love eggs. I love them poached, I love them scrambled, I love them in an omelette. I just love them. So that was a hard blow, but one that made perfect sense once I knew about it. I thought I couldn’t eat avocado, because when I used to have it, it was almost always accompanied by- yep, you guessed it- poached eggs (living the blogger stereotype there). It was the same with peanut butter- I thought I couldn’t eat apples recently because I started snacking on them dipped in peanut butter. It was like a lightbulb moment. I’d feel bloated and lethargic straight after breakfast because I started having cashew milk in my morning smoothie, and I’d feel gross after work because cashews were my afternoon snack of choice. DING- lightbulb!
I definitely miss peanuts and cashews, especially as peanut butter is so much cheaper than almond butter, and girl gotta have a constant supply of nut butter. I love the creamy texture of cashews, and cashew butter is pretty darn tasty too, but I haven’t missed them too much so far (apart from Nakd bars- boo!). I’m going to go into how my diet has changed in another post, but what I’ll say for now is that I’m 3 weeks in and already feeling so much better. It’s still early days so I’m trying to withhold judgement, but for the past week I’ve had next to no bloating, and honestly I can’t remember a time recently where this has happened.
I’m looking forward to writing more about my experience with changing my diet and how I’m managing to resist temptation (spoiler: I haven’t completely…), so that hopefully I can help even just one other person who’s suffered from intolerance-related symptoms (food intolerances can cause so many different symptoms, I hadn’t realised what a difference food can make, even for non-digestion related problems!) to get some help and change their life for the better.
All I can say at the moment is that I’d definitely recommend the York Test if you’re in any doubt about whether you have any food intolerances. You start with a simple £15 test- all you have to do is prick your finger and collect a few drops of blood, send it off to them, and they use the same sample for the full test so you don’t even have to send in another sample. They tell you if you have any food intolerances, then you can choose from a few different options to find out more detail about what your intolerances are, if you choose to. I very nearly didn’t go through with it, because there’s a time limit on how long they can keep your sample for and I wasn’t quite prepared to have to fork out nearly £250, but I’m so glad I made this investment in my own health and I can honestly say I’ve never spent a better £250 on myself.
Let me know if you’ve had any experience with the York Test or if you’ve tried an elimination diet, and how it’s worked for you. I really enjoy speaking to other people with IBS as it’s still such a taboo subject that really isn’t talked about enough, despite the huge number of people who suffer from it. Hats off to Scarlett for sharing her story, and encouraging me to get the answers I needed- she’s done amazingly at fighting the stigma on social media and I hope that I can do the same!
Thanks for reading lovelies!