Irritable Bowel Syndrome-Except Not

I thought I had IBS for a really long time. I just blindly accepted this self-diagnosis without actually speaking with a medical professional about this issues I was facing. I had bloating, loose stools, and the worst part was, whenever I was suffering from these side effects, I was still starving. I felt like eating helped easy my pain.
I suffered for years.

In high school, I thought I was Lactose Intolerant. I had some friends who suffered from this ailment, and assumed this must be a common thing that people have, and that I must, too, be lactose intolerant. Never mind the fact, high school self, that milk and dairy products in particular were not really an issue I could pin down.

In College, I thought I had IBS caused by too much sugar or too much fiber... I went vegetarian and hoped that a lot of the symptoms would go away. Or maybe I was allergic to soy....
You know, I should really stop being a vegetarian, it must just be too many carbs, and I have been having bad reactions from beans. I think. Forget about the other calories I was eating with the beans, it is definitely the beans. Actually, now that I am eating meat again, maybe it is steak and fatty foods that is causing discomfort. That must be it.
As you can see, there really was not a pattern to be found. I was stuck in a cycle of feeling guilty for eating things that I assumed made my stomach hurt, but not being able to stop eating them because I was just so starving and stressed out and everything was a disaster! A smart person would have started a food diary and noticed there was no pattern. A smarter person would have tried an elimination diet to try to pinpoint issues. An even smarter person would have just, ya know, gone to the doctor.

I haven't really had any digestive problems since... you guessed it, I started taking thyroid medication.

Have I mentioned I think everyone should be tested for thyroid issues yet? They totally should.

According to WebMD, there are a myriad of causes to loose stools.

Some highlights:

  • Too much alcohol
  • Too much caffeine
  • Medications
  • Issues with digestion (such as the Lactose Intolerance I thought I had)
  • Hormonal issues (aha!)
  • IBS
Basically, there are a ton of things that cause loose stools, and it was silly of me to assume I had the catchall diagnosis of IBS without actually talking to a doctor.

The thing is, blog readers, it was really tough for me to go to a doctor. I felt so exhausted and anxious all of the time, calling a doctor and setting up an appointment, taking time off work, seemed like such a daunting task. It was much easier to just blame myself for what I was going through.

As much as I love me some food blogs, holistic health podcasts, and health food movements, without hoping to put any blame towards anyone, I think a lot of danger comes from the leaders in this community that we do not really talk about. Of course, most people realize that food is not the be-all end-all of medical diagnoses, but I wish more emphasis was put on working with medical practitioners to help us achieve peak health. In cases such as my own, where many folks do not know what feeling healthy even feels like, while healthy eating is an important component to wellness, I think more emphasis should be placed on encouraging people to attend their annual check-ups. 

I also realize that I am speaking from a place of privilege, at least in the US, since I have access to inexpensive medical care, thanks to being insured. I recognize that not everyone has this option, and sometimes people need a lot of research to determine if the money they spend on going to the doctor is worth it (ie, how much of a risk are they dealing with here?) or if they can help themselves on their own.

What do you all think? How much responsibility do bloggers, podcasts hosts, and others in the alternative medicine and healing with food community have to encourage people to visit their doctors?



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