Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Learning to live again: 6 months into the low-carb diet

It's hard for me to believe that I have been able to maintain such a restrictive diet for quite some time now. I had a lot of ups, and a few downs. But thanks to it, I am now faced with a new challenge: forget in the first place that I had IBS.


The six month mark: Am I cured of IBS?

I began the low-carb diet on the 10th of December, 2011. Following the advice from the books of Dr. Lutz, I restricted my carbohydrates intake to 72g per day. After a first week that was pretty hard to go through, I eventually got used to it, and now I can follow it with any effort. As I knew I had trouble with lactose, fructose and gluten, I avoided them.

The plus 

  • After two weeks, I felt way better. 
  • After two months, I felt symptom free.
  • I can now eat some foods that would previously trigger diarrhea: beans, lentils.
  • I can eat a portion of gluten (a nice slice of bread) without problem. Of course I don't do it very often, since bread is a big source of carbs.

The minus

  • I finally gave up on eating out. It is very difficult to find a dish that is low-carb. Even salads often come with a creamy sauce, full of lactose (that's the case here in Germany - In France we have a sauce called vinaigrette based on oil, vinegar and mustard, but it is not widely used here)
  • Fructose and lactose still give me problems. In fact I could eat small portions of them, but a fortnight ago I had a normal meal with my family, including lots of wine, and it was a terrible mistake: I am now as reactive to fructose and lactose as before. I guess this should go away in a few months time though.
  • I had hoped six months would be enough, but after this normal meal I can see I am not cured at all. So I need to keep on dieting.
The minus brings a lesson here: Once you start feeling better, it becomes harder to stick to the diet, because you feel too confident. I really thought one meal would not bring any problem. Of course I am not back to square one, but I can feel I became more sensitive to lactose and fructose.
Dr Lutz claims total remission can take up to five years (but that's for ulcerative colitis, which is a worse condition than IBS). Ellaine Gotshall, who made the specific carbohydrate diet popular, says one needs to stick to the diet one whole year after all symptoms have disappeared. I guess that would mean march 2013 for me.
But on the whole, it is an incredible result. In fact it brought another "issue" that I need to work on: forgetting in the first place that I have IBS.
Edit: now that I think about it, something occurs to me: I had problems with several foods, and I started eating very small portions of them, increasing the quantity slowly. This is how I got used to lentils, beans, and gluten. I am going to try this out with fructose and lactose over the next month, and see how it goes.

Learning to live without IBS

If like me, you have suffered from IBS for many years, you know how it goes: going out is hard. If you have a bout of diarrhea while being out it even becomes frightening to go outside. And it gets worse with time.
This is not a life. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. This has so many implications it is not possible to write them all: every source of stress can bring up diarrhea.
Applying for a job is a source of stress.
Going on a date is a source of stress.
Going out with friends is a source of stress.
For me, even going to the movies became one. The idea of being stuck in a room for 2 hours with no bathroom was terrible.
And then, with time, you start to avoid doing those things.
Like I said... It's not a life. And I am sure that you, reading this, can relate

As my symptoms disappeared, my everyday life actually did not change much. It took me a month, and a trip abroad, to start seeing what being symptom-free meant. I then started to go out more often. More and more. Doing, testing as much as I could. In fact, I am just beginning to live again. I had forgotten how it is, I need to learn. I am starting to feel a going-out bulimia! That is how incredible this diet was for me.

My subconscious actually needs more time to forget about IBS than my body!

4 commentaires:

Anonymous said...

So glad to see you are still doing well on low carb. I am also still doing well after four months. So much freedom to come and go with so few worries. I occasionally succumb to eating a regular-size portion of a high-carb treat, the next two days I pay the price of IBS-D and feeling ill. Those "treats" just aren't worth it! Staying under 70 carbs has changed my life!

Guillaume said...

Glad to hear this works for you too!

Anonymous said...

I have a question for you. Did you make and eat the SCD legal yogurt?? If so, did you feel it helped, the yogurt that is??? I have a 7 year old with IBS - C and a 13 year old with IBS-D. We are doing FODMAP's right now, and have most symptoms under control, except for constipation for my daughter that comes and goes, and then son has intermittent diarhea, but it's not debilitating, just limits any real going out to eat as a family and makes family vacations very difficult. We typically avoid those unless forced into it due to family reunions. Now, I'm trying to decide on whether it's worth doing SIBO testing with them, as I'm sure the $$$ is not cheap. And then even if they both have it, do we even attempt SCD.... Don't know how we would even be able to attempt this with my picky kids (rightly so b/c certain foods make their stomach's hurt). Thus, looking for a middle ground and my head is spinning. Then, there is contradicting info on what strain of probiotics is best. SCD has specific ones you can only use, and then studies have been done on bifobacterium infantis 35624 for IBS but this strain contradicts SCD strains> What to dooo???? Which to choose??? Any advice. Desperate mom who needs to make a decision and implement a plan while kids are home for summer.

Guillaume said...

Hello,
I did not have a go at the SCD yoghurt, because all my attempts until now with probiotics have made things worse. In my opinion, if the SIBO theory is correct, adding bacteria may not be the wisest thing to do.
I would however suggest that you try limiting carbs while under the low-fodmaps diet. Maybe not by much, but by lowering them gradually, you may find out that the remaining symptoms subside.
Best of luck!

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