Being a food blogger, Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is probably one of the worst medical conditions you could ever have. Unfortunately, I have been suffering from IBS since 2010. When I was first diagnosed, part of me was grateful that the constant stabbing stomach cramps I was experiencing along with the extremely bad bouts of diarrhoea finally had a ‘name’.
I was in constant pain and the pain got so bad that it started having a debilitating affect on me. Debilitating in the way that I could no longer go to and from work without being violently ill. My main trigger at the time? Stress. The root of the stress was an old job. An old job that has left me with this life-long illness.
After quitting my old job in the city and getting a much better job closer to home, I noticed a considerable difference in my health. 5 years later, I still have flare ups but thankfully instead of daily, they are a few times a month, sometimes more frequent depending on what I eat.
I’ve always wanted to talk to a nutritionist to help me find the triggers that make me ill, but my GP has never referred me even after multiple requests and to see a private nutritionist could be rather costly. From my own research, I knew what certain foods can trigger your symptoms. Over time, I came to realise that too much dairy, rich and fried foods make me rather ill. However, I’ve never really done anything about swapping my triggers for a more healthier alternative for the good of my stomach. Why? Because the food items that seem to make me ill, seem to be my favourites.
That’s when Waitrose came to my rescue with the challenge to incorporate healthy food swaps into my diet and offer me tailored advice from their nutritionist Nathalie Winn. I had to keep a food diary over one week prior to talking to Nathalie to note down what I was eating. Afterwards, she gave me a list of suggested swaps which could not only help my IBS but add to my 5 a day portions, reduce my calorie intake and add extra fibre, vitamins, omega 3 fats and protein into my diet.
My tailored swaps were:
Breakfast: Swap the Rice Krispies with skimmed milk for porridge oats made with skimmed milk – if you think dairy is a trigger for your IBS, try making your porridge with alternatives to dairy like unsweetened soya milk or Alpro’s longlife coconut milk with rice, which are both fortified with calcium, vitamin B12 and vitamin D.
Dinner: Avoid too much pasta, noodles, pastry and fries and choose lean meat and chicken (with the fat and skin removed), oily and white fish with brown rice and mixed vegetables.
Snacks: Avoid the crisps and Special K biscuits and try snacking on a couple of LOVE life oatcakes with a thin spread of no added sugar peanut butter (or any nut butter), yogurt containing live bacteria with a tablespoon of seeds like pumpkin seeds and linseeds.
Drinks: Fruit juice and smoothies can sometimes be a trigger for IBS symptoms due to the concentrated fruit sugars. Limit this to no more than 1 glass a day and avoid fizzy drinks as much as possible. Up your intake of unsweetened, non-caffeinated fluid to around 8 glasses a day, which can help with IBS – water is the best choice and you could try adding cucumber, lemons or oranges to a jug and leaving it overnight in the fridge to add some flavour.
To help me on my mission, Waitrose also kindly gave me a £60 food voucher so I could purchase recommended products in my weekly shop. Along with the advice Nathalie gave me, I also used the Waitrose Healthy Food Swap Widget for extra inspiration along with looking at Healthy Eating recipes.
With a list in mind, I headed over to my nearest Waitrose and bought up the entire shop (okay, maybe a slight exaggeration!). My trolley was full items such as lean meat, coconut milk, granola, sorbet instead of ice cream, plenty of vegetables and healthier snacks.
I created a week long meal plan incorporating my healthy food swaps and set upon my new adventure. It will be a hard task but one that I know I need to do for the good of my stomach (and health!). I’ll be updating you on my mission, showcasing my meal plans, how I’m doing and what healthier swaps I’ve decided to keep in my life.
Wish me luck!
Have you changed your diet lately? Do you have any tips to help motivate me? What are you favourite healthy snacks?