Reintroducing FODMAPs: Lactose

This post has taken me ages to write. Basically that’s because I’ve now tried several times to reintroduce lactose with varying levels of success. Reintroducing fodmaps is a complicated business! It is all about finding your limits when eating fodmap containing foods.

Lactose is not a total no-go even when on the elimination stage of the low fodmap diet. The Monash App is a fantastic resource for looking at portion sizes. For example, a ‘fun-size’ milk chocolate bar is deemed safe. It’s important to note that, as with all fodmaps, it’s the sugar (lactose) that’s the problem and therefore you don’t need to rule out all dairy products. Most hard cheeses like cheddar are fine, as are semi-soft ones like brie and mozzarella. Butter is also fine as the amount of lactose it contains is minimal.

I tested lactose for the first time ages ago. In Lee Martin’s fantastic guide to reintroducing fodmaps (I can’t recommend it enough), he suggests ice cream as one of the test foods for lactose reintroduction, so naturally I was delighted by this. You do have to be careful to choose an ice cream which is otherwise low fodmap (so lactose is the only fodmap present). I can’t remember exactly what ice cream I used I’m afraid, but it was definitely from Lidl. Round one was one scoop of ice cream, which was absolutely fine. No symptoms at all!

Round two was two scoops of ice cream. At the time, I had a few symptoms but nothing unbearable. Following on with my three scoops of ice cream in round three it was clear that this was far too much lactose in one go for me. I had the textbook symptoms of lactose intolerance- bloating, gas and running straight to the toilet.

I was quite surprised about my tolerance to lactose. Honestly, I didn’t expect to identify it as a problem, albeit not a huge one. That is the whole point of eliminating and reintroducing though- to find out what your triggers are.

So since then I’ve gladly welcomed lactose back into my life in small amounts. I’ve found it makes eating out that tiny bit easier when there’s one less thing I’m trying to avoid. However, it’s been very tricky trying to strike a balance with how much I can tolerate.

How well I handle lactose seems to be dependant on how stressed or anxious I am (of course, as is everything gut related!). When Craig and I were in Croatia in the summer there was so much delicious looking ice cream everywhere we went. Eventually I got so jealous of Craig eating all the ice cream that I branched away from sorbet and had some too. When one scoop was fine I tried two and I still had no symptoms. I had a few more ice creams over the week and suffered no ill effects. It was totally the holiday magic of being away and not being stressed because I have just not managed this again, with the best will in the world, back at home.

It also depends on the time of day. I mentioned in a recent post about only eating lactose pre-dinner time. I was finding that I could have a chocolate bar during the day but if I had one in the evening I’d get stomach cramps and even diarrhoea. Since making this connection and being more mindful of lactose portion sizes later in the day I’ve been getting on much better.  If anyone can help me out with this one, please do let me know.

I’ve also been trialling lactase tablets. I found out about these from one of my favourite low fodmap blogs, Karlijn’s Kitchen, and they’re also recommended by Monash University. Basically, the problem with digesting lactose lies with the body not being able to produce the right amount of the enzyme lactase to break it down, which these tablets can supplement. They’re pretty expensive so I’ve been using them when I’m out and about and for special treats. So far, they’re working pretty well! I can’t recommend any specific brands as I’m still testing them out but I’ll come back and update this once I’ve got it sussed out a bit better. If you have tried a few brands and have any advice please do let me know, I’d love to hear it!

So it looks like lactose and I are not going to be the best of friends, but we might not be worst enemies either.

I’ll leave you with the links to a couple of useful blog posts about lactose and dairy products on the low fodmap diet from Monash University and A Little Bit Yummy.

How have you got on with lactose reintroductions? It’s certainly been a tricky one for me to navigate but at least I’m learning!

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September Favourites | 2017

This favourites post will be a very quick one as September has just flown by! Here are a few of my favourite things in the month of September:

Ceilidh dancing at the Ghillie Dhu. What a wonderful idea for a night out- I love a ceilidh!

Listening to ‘Dialect versus language — what’s the big deal?’ on The World in Words podcast. This episode actually came out in June but I just got round to listening to a couple of weeks ago. The World in Words podcast is full of brilliant facts and discussions about language, and this was a particularly interesting episode about languages and dialects.

Listening to the Generation Anxiety podcast. Another podcast I’ve enjoyed is this Australian one about ‘why millennials are so anxious, and how we can work together to solve it.’ As someone very anxious, it’s always reassuring to know that it’s not just me.

Catching up with friends. This almost always makes my list because spending time with people I love but don’t get to see too often is almost always a highlight.

Reading ‘The Novel of the Century’ by David Bellos. I saw David Bellos at the Edinburgh Book Festival in August and couldn’t wait to read it. It’s a fantastic book about the imagining, writing and publishing of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables and the historical and political significance it holds.

Victor Hugo was born #onthisday in 1802, so to mark the anniversary we’re immersed in David Bellos’ new book, The Novel of the Century. . This is the extraordinary story of how a simple tale of love and revolution, the poor and the downtrodden – Victor Hugo’s beloved classic Les Misérables – conquered the world. . There has never been a book like it. It’s the most widely read and frequently adapted story of all time, on stage and on film. But why is Les Misérables the novel of the century? This new book brings to life the story behind the book, the story of how Hugo managed to write his epic novel despite a revolution, a coup d’état and political exile; how he pulled off the deal of the century to get it published, and set it on course to become the novel that epitomizes the grand sweep of history in the nineteenth century. . What’s your favourite quote from Les Misérables? (You can see ours in the photo!)

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Cycling in Hyde Park. Every time Craig and I are in Hyde Park we say we should use the Santander bikes and go for a cycle and in September we did just that. I definitely recommend it!

Eating a doughnut from the Wheat Free Bakery. This was my first doughnut in over a year and my oh my I’ve missed them! I like the bread and rolls from the Wheat Free Bakery and they have plenty of tasty treats too. I’m working my way through them! It didn’t taste exactly like a doughnut, more like a bun? Either way it was very tasty.

Driving my grandparents out for lunch. When I was little I promised my grandparents that when I had a car I would drive them to various places. Well, the day finally came. For whatever reason I was driving the day Craig and I went to see them so the four of us piled into my little Ford KA. They were absolutely delighted. I promise it was quite the adventure!

Eating gluten-free fish and chips in Anstruther. The Anstruther Fish Bar really does do delicious fish and chips and it’s well worth the journey on their special gluten-free days!

Listening to new music from Miley Cyrus. I loved ‘Malibu’ and ‘Inspired’ when they were released earlier in the year, and I loved her recent Live Lounge covers. I thought she came across as very genuine and mature in her interview with Clara Amfo too. ‘Younger Now’ is so chilled and I’m enjoying listening to this current evolution of Miley.

Booking tickets for Harry Potter and The Cursed Child. This was my fourth time trying to get tickets and I finally managed to book some for August 2018! I am so so excited.

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Eating Low-Fodmap in Vilamoura, Portugal

Looking for a couple of fodmap friendly options in Vilamoura? I spent a very hot holiday there in July, with lots of sunbathing and reading time! Vilamoura has a lovely marina with loads of restaurants and, like when I was in Croatia, I was lucky to have plenty of fish options. If you eat meat there are loads of options too. For vegetarians following a low-fodmap diet, the few places that had gluten-free pasta and pizza had veggie options and there are lots of omelettes and salads on menus too. I wish I could handle lactose better than I can as there were some fabulous looking ice cream desserts seemingly everywhere we went!

NoSolo Italia

This place is very popular and had long queues from about half eight onwards. I had a GF pizza with pesto and bacon. I love pesto and I discovered last year that it’s also a fab addition on a pizza! We went back a second time and I think I went for a classic yet divisive ham and pineapple. There were also GF lasagne and pasta options available.

Capriccio Italia

It doesn’t seem to be on their website, but they have gluten-free pasta and pizza on the menu. I think this must be a very recent addition as they actually didn’t have any gluten-free pizza bases available yet (I assume because they’re premade and were on order?). I had a very generous portion of GF penne with olive oil and vegetables. There were definitely other fodmap friendly options on the menu, including omelettes and various meat dishes.

Gomes na Praia 

This one isn’t on the marina, it’s on the beach. I thought it’s worth mentioning as it had tasty omelettes and there were also burgers which you could have without the bun if you’d rather have that. You don’t need to bring a packed lunch to the beach- hooray to no sandy sandwiches!

La Fragata

If you’ve read any of my previous travel posts, you might have noticed that sea bass seems to be a bit of a favourite for me. Well, I can recommend yet another in La Fragata Steak House. It’s served with a huge portion of green beans, which is good to know as they’re fodmap friendly too (up until about 17 beans the Monash app says at the time of writing).

Luna Rossa

I branched out from sea bass here and tried cod and gnocchi. I’d recommend it! There were plenty of fish dishes and they also had GF pasta on their menu. They came very highly recommended on Trip Advisor for their GF options. I have to say the pizza looked absolutely delicious but unfortunately isn’t fodmap friendly so it’ll have to be a vicarious eating experience!

Amorino

Amorino is an absolute delight for those of us looking for a fodmap friendly dessert option. They’re an ice cream shop with plenty of delicious sorbets to choose from. I look out for them wherever I go- the raspberry and passion fruit sorbets are my favourites!

I found it fairly easy to eat out in Vilamoura and there was always a salad option I could have. I did find that there was generally a lot more garlic used in the cooking than there had been in Split, Croatia, which I think is what made Split so easy. Having said that, everything I ate was very fresh and armed with peppermint oil capsules I ate very well!

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Frankie and Benny’s have a new gluten-free menu!

Where? Frankie and Benny’s, Unit c2, Dundee Street, Fountain Park, Edinburgh, EH11 1AF (several locations across the UK)

Did you know Frankie and Benny’s have an updated (and very tasty) gluten-free menu? I used to love Frankie and Benny’s pizza- as with all pizza, really, but I did particularly like theirs. Megan, Craig and I went to one of their newer locations at Fountain Park for dinner recently before going to the cinema. The last I’d looked at their GF menu, I thought my best option would be a burger without a bun. We’d actually chosen Frankie and Benny’s over Pizza Hut to avoid having pizza as I’d booked an Italian for dinner on graduation day a couple of days later. However, when I was presented with the new gluten-free menu I was delighted to see that good old Frankie and Benny’s pizza was once again an option for me! Here it the menu in its entirety.

I’m not coeliac, but because of my IBS I can only tolerate small amounts of wheat. Cross contamination fortunately isn’t a problem for me so I don’t usually ask about it. However, the staff were particularly efficient in my opinion and let me know that it would be prepared and cooked separately in the kitchen. 

So in my excitement all my non-pizza plans went out the window and I tucked into a GF margarita pizza. Apologies for my lack of food-photography skills, but I was just so excited to eat it that I didn’t waste much time before digging in!

It was almost as good as the Frankie and Benny’s pizzas I hold so dearly. It was a little bit more burnt than it should have been, but I was too hungry to bother to be honest. The base was tasty- crunchy but not too difficult to cut. I can’t tell you how much this improved my day! Unfortunately we were tight on time so I didn’t manage a dessert but I quite fancied the fruit and dipping chocolate. Maybe next time!

It’s worth pointing out that this menu doesn’t seem to be available everywhere yet, so it’s probably best to double check before you visit. Hopefully it’ll be rolled out everywhere soon!

Fodmap-friendliness: 5/5 – there are plenty of choices of starters, mains and desserts which can easily be adapted. They’ve actually got a good few veggie options too.

Food: 4/5

Price: 5/5 – there’s always a discount code for F&B’s.

Service: 5/5

Hooray for another easy eating out option for us gluten-free/low-fodmap eaters!

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June Favourites | 2017

Where did June go? It was a crazy busy month and just seems to have disappeared! Here are some of the things that made me happy in June.

Cheap train tickets to London
Virgin East Coast had seats on specific trains to and from London for £15 each way at the start of the month, so I ended up spontaneously visiting Craig the weekend after he’d been up to Edinburgh. I also managed to catch up with two London based friends which was a lovely bonus.

Finishing uni
I’ve passed everything and I’m graduating this week!

Beautiful Lies (De vrais mensonges) film
I loved this Audrey Tautou romcom. A hairdresser receives a love letter, and sends it anonymously to her mother to try to cheer her up. Lots of crossed wires, hilarity ensues, it all ends happily ever after. A lovely light hearted film!

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
I watched the first episode of the television programme and then had to read the book! I found it very interesting and ever so slightly terrifying too. It’s pretty powerful and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Reunion in Barcelona
My friend Anna is based in Perpignan at the moment and I haven’t seen her since this time last year. Martha and I flew to Barcelona to meet up with her and we had a fab few days in the sunshine exploring the city and eating tapas and ice cream (and reenacting scenes from the Cheetah Girls 2).

Weekend in Grasmere
I spent a weekend in Grasmere in the Lake District with my family to celebrate my mum’s birthday. We were so lucky with the weather, which was possibly a wee bit too hot for the somewhat ambitious walks my dad had planned! If you’re interested in a couple of fodmap friendly places to eat in Grasmere, have a look at this post here.

Holiday to Croatia
Craig and I went to Split in Croatia for a week and had a fab time. It was also really nice to be able to spend a whole week with Craig now that he has moved to London for work. My holiday highlights were visiting Krka National Park and the speedboat day trip we took to see different islands.

Schär chocolate chip buns
These are far from the healthiest free-from product, but they came in so handy for breakfasts while I was in Barcelona and Croatia. They’re tasty, keep well and passed my ‘being stuffed in hand luggage’ test. 

Anne with an E on Netflix
I’m a big fan of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables and I was so excited for the series on Netflix. I absolutely loved it but I can understand why people who like an adaptation to be 100% faithful to the book might be disappointed. I thought it added some more depth and I liked how they explored Marilla’s background too. Also, AmyBeth McNulty who plays Anne is almost exactly as I pictured her when I first read it!

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Eating low-fodmap in Grasmere, The Lake District

In June I spent a lovely, sunny weekend in the Lake District with my family to celebrate my mum’s birthday.
It was great to have some time to relax. I finished my final placement, had one last week of uni, spent a brilliant and busy couple of days in Barcelona (possibly more on that later!) and then we set off to the Lake District the following day, so I was very appreciative of the change of pace.

Travelling and trying to stay low-fodmap is tricky even within the UK, as eating out is where it can all go horribly wrong! However, I am very pleased to report that I ate very well in Grasmere. There’s going to be a bit of a lack of food pictures in this post- I was just so hungry from all the walking that I obviously devoured whatever was in front of me before thinking I’d better take a photo to share with fellow fodmapers!

We stayed in The Grand at Grasmere Hotel and so we ate breakfast here both mornings. You can see the full menu here. I had avocado and eggs on toast both mornings and it was absolutely delicious. Avocado was fine for me in my reintroductions and I’ve had no problems with sourdough bread, but there was gluten free bread upon request too. There are a couple of options which are either low-fodmap already or easily adapted to be so, always great to see.

We ended up eating at the hotel the first night as well- it turns out that for a small place with hardly any people out and about, the restaurants were very busy! The menu, here, had a few options for me again. I went for sea bass with samphire and tomato and again it was fab. I even managed a chocolate mousse for dessert- less fodmap friendly, but I seem to be able to tolerate lactose in small amounts.

We had lunch at Baldry’s Tea Room both days we were there.


It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in the Lake District, perfect for a cake after a walk. There’s a fab fodmap-friendly selection, with baked potatoes, salads and sandwiches on gluten-free bread. What was even more impressive was the huge selection of gluten-free cakes, some of which were even dairy free too!


I tried a delicious brownie and a very yummy fruit scone on the second day.

Our second dinner was at Lewis’s where I had sea bass again. It was a starter portion but ample size for me, with crispy rice noodles. There were plenty of GF options marked on the menu and the staff made sure that it was all GF (changing the soy sauce to a GF alternative). I had another chocolate brownie, because why not when you’re on holiday!


Dad’s dessert, pictured below, was also available as GF. We can’t actually remember exactly what it was, but Dad says it was delicious! I think it was some kind of raspberry mousse with shortbread biscuit, which I assume could be substituted for a GF biscuit upon request.

Hopefully these recommendations will come in handy if you’re in the Lake District, whether you’re looking for a fodmap-friendly meal or not. I was really pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to eat out. I had options! Let me know if you know of anywhere else, I always like a recommendation for somewhere new!

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Review: Deliciously Guilt Free brownies and blondies

I was delighted to receive a sample box of brownies and blondies from Deliciously Guilt Free. They’re gluten and wheat free, and they’re also low carb and low sugar. So they’re pretty perfect if you’re looking for a sweet treat which is still somewhat healthy!

In terms of their fodmap friendliness, there’s nothing in there which upset my tummy but of course we’re all very different and what works for me may not work for you too. All the ingredients are on the website here to check in more detail.

They were packaged very neatly and there was no danger of them getting broken in the post. There are four flavours: a browned butter peanut blondie, a chocolate and walnut brownie, a chocolate and chia brownie and a salted caramel nut brownie. They’re a perfect size- just enough! Continue reading “Review: Deliciously Guilt Free brownies and blondies”

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6 Ways I Take Care of My Tummy

It’s still April, which means it’s still IBS Awareness Month which means I’ve still got more tummy talk! Today I’ve got a little list of ways I take care of my tummy. Given that Easter is an opportunity to eat all of the chocolate, which might upset even the toughest of guts, I thought this post could come in handy whether you’re an IBS sufferer or not. 

Before starting the low fodmap diet plan, I was bloated every day. I’d wake up looking quite slim but by the afternoon I’d have to unbutton my jeans to feel comfortable. I have to laugh at just how swollen my tummy can get by the end of the day- I feel like if I was in water the buoyancy of my bloated tum could keep me afloat! Thankfully I’ve now got my symptoms much more under control, but any little changes or too much stress can knock things off.

 

Managing IBS symptoms involves a bit of a lifestyle change, so I’ve included some things I do preventatively as well as my go-tos when my tummy gets uncomfortable. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, just a few simple but effective ideas.

1. Drink some peppermint tea

I have a cup or two of peppermint tea most days and it does wonders for soothing my tummy. It’s fab for a bloated belly. One of my friends says she finds it quite zingy because of the mint, so you might also find it wakes you up in the morning like her!

2. Exercise

I am so much more motivated to exercise than I ever have been becauseit really helps my gut! Running is great for getting things moving along. I also like to do a bit of yoga. I go to a Les Mills Body Balance class which is a yoga and pilates combination. Sometimes I follow yoga videos on youtube. If I’m feeling bloated and crampy, a particular favourite is Yoga for Digestion Flow from Yoga with Adrienne. Whatever you fancy, a bit of exercise can help. 

3. Use a hot water bottle

The comfort of a hot water bottle is not to be underestimated. Sometimes I use a stick-on heat pad if I need to be out and about or somewhere like the library where I don’t really want to sit with a hot water bottle under my jumper. There are ones which stick directly onto your skin and others which you stick onto your clothes. I jokingly said to Craig that I was going to use these when we were in Berlin in December to keep me warm during the day and I wish I genuinely had!

4. Get enough sleep

I aim for 7-8 hours a night. I feel like a little old lady going to bed at 10pm but it’s 100% worth it to feel fresher and have less funky tummy stuff to deal with. 

5. Drink plenty of water

It keeps things moving along nicely. I try to drink a glass before I go to bed and again first thing in the morning as well as throughout the day. I’ve seen these HYDRATEM8 bottles with a tracker down the side so you can keep track of how much you drink throughout the day and I think they’re a fab idea (and now I’m really tempted to get one!).

6. Try to relax

This is definitely one of these things that is easier said than done! I like to watch something funny like Modern Family, read, paint my nails, or recently I’ve been using the Calm app for meditation. I think it’s useful to set yourself time (I literally put a timer on my phone for 15 minutes or however long) and just commit to whatever it is you’re doing. But even if I’m out and I’ve had something that’s not agreeing with me, I find it helpful to try to be as calm as I can be. I’ve learned that panicking about my symptoms only makes them worse!

Is there anything else you would add to this list? I’d love to hear any more suggestions!

 

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Reintroducing FODMAPs: I can eat avocado and maybe beans too!

I’m finally getting round to trying a more systematic introduction of fodmaps into my diet. The low fodmap diet is not a long term solution, but I’ve been stuck in the elimination stage for ages.

 I tried to reintroduce foods without much success a few months ago, and my GP just told me to stick with the restrictive stage indefinitely. It took me so long to manage to eat entirely low-fodmap in the first place, as I was so wary of eliminating foods and still managing to eat somewhat healthily. Then I wanted to give my tummy a chance to recover after Christmas and going to Paris in January. After that I was onto my second placement. The nerves and stress of placement had my tummy all over the place, so there was no point in trying to reintroduce anything as I wouldn’t be able to tell whether my body was reacting to what I’d eaten or just to my general stress.  So, here we are at last, in April!

The idea is that you reintroduce FODMAPs one at a time so you can try to work out what your triggers are. Hopefully you find that you can handle some of the foods you’ve eliminated, and then you can gradually reintroduce them and modify the low fodmap diet to suit you.

Continue reading “Reintroducing FODMAPs: I can eat avocado and maybe beans too!”

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The Worst 6 Things About Living with IBS

April happens to be a very exciting month…it’s IBS awareness month! I’ve found that people can have a few misconceptions about IBS and the impact it can have on someone’s life. And it’s no wonder, because it’s so taboo to discuss digestive health. I would like to think of myself as being quite an open person, so here I am ready to break that poo taboo and share with you the worst things about living with IBS.

    1. It’s not just having an upset stomach.
      There are all the digestive symptoms to deal with- constipation, diarrhea, cramps, bloating, flatulence, indigestion, a gurgling tummy- but then there’s also the nausea, back pain, headaches and fatigue. Pick a few in combination.
    2. It’s unpredictable.
      If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that I follow a low fodmap diet to relieve my symptoms. The majority of the time this really makes a huge difference. However, I’ve still occasionally been surprised by a flare up- so for me that’s cramps and spasms with extreme bloating and either constipation or diarrhea. And prior to eating low fodmap, every meal was a gamble to see what it would do to my tummy.
    3. Stress makes it worse.
      Healthy mind, healthy body. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. If I am stressed, there is no telling what my tummy will do. This year I have actually aimed to get all my uni work finished a few days before I normally would, so I can factor in time for my tummy to turn against me. I also struggle with anxiety and this only exacerbates any IBS symptoms.
    4. It impacts your social life.
      It’s all about the FOMO. I know you don’t need to drink alcohol to have fun, but it’s quite isolating to be 21 and it just not be an option for me. Going out for drinks is tricky to navigate when I can literally drink water or orange squash. I also have had to cancel plans if I have a flare up, which is frustrating and makes me feel very guilty.
    5. Eating out is a nightmare.
      I just hate sitting there saying ‘Can I have this, but without…’ and reeling off the list of ingredients I can’t eat. I’m quite a picky eater anyway but felt like I was finally getting better, and now I feel a bit sidelined by the restrictive low fodmap diet. I suppose I’m lucky in that I’ve never been a foodie, but I do love the social aspect of food. Now it just causes me stress. And that takes us back to point 2.
    6. It’s an invisible illness.
      If you have a sports injury, the assumption is that it hurts. But all the nights I’ve woken up in crippling pain, or the times I’ve sat through a lecture counting down from 10 over and over again to try to cope with the pain, nobody sees that. This of course is also a benefit, because at least I look healthy. Someone actually said to me ‘I don’t know how you can look so healthy when you eat such a restricted diet’ as if they were suspicious about the validity of my health or my restricted diet, I’m not sure which. Granted, sometimes I do look six months pregnant by the end of the day, but apart from this you wouldn’t know the impact it has on my life. And as with other invisible illnesses, it’s very tricky for people to understand or take seriously.

I don’t want this to be all gloom and doom. Living with IBS is limiting, potentially embarrassing and just downright unpleasant, but I am relieved that it’s IBS and not something life threatening. I think it’s great that I’m now much better informed about what exactly I eat and what goes into my food. I’m also much more in tune with my body and how I’m feeling. If I’m following the low fodmap diet my symptoms are under control and I can feel ‘normal’. I do try my best to stay positive, because like it or not this is now part of my life!

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