Truthfully…none of the stories involving chronic disease do. It’s the cold hard truth. When you are diagnosed with something like “IBS” the real story is that you will be dealing with ebbs and flows of tummy troubles throughout the course of your life. It’s all about managing and working with them. Layer my liver disease onto of everything and ba-bam thank you mam, this is something that has just become my life. But I’m not mad about it. It’s taken me for a wild ride so far in this wellness world and I look forward to working with all the weirdness in my life moving forward. I also believe that it was my purpose to share this journey, which makes the silver lining so much easier to find.
Can we just say how blown away by the response I got on my bloat-centric instagram post last Sunday? I feel horrible that so many of you are dealing with these same issues on a day-to-day basis. The good news though? You really aren’t alone. THAT SAID, we all have different triggers, all of our bodies are different. The reason my body is bloated is not the reason you body is bloated (probably), and even if it is, the course of action that helps me won’t necessarily help you. I’m sharing MY journey and I hope you find it supportive, inspiring, and maybe even a little helpful.
One of the most asked questions from that post were the in vein of what are your food triggers // what did you eat that did that to your belly. Ready for a truth bomb? It’s not all about the food. Yes food is a factor and if I eat an apple after I’ve had a full meal I will probably bloat. I will also probably look pregnant after anything super heavy containing onions and garlic. That’s just a fact. My body through trial and error time and time again has issues with those foods (along with beets sometimes and watermelon — though I’ve found the juices of them all on an empty stomach are a-okay). Let’s throw it out there that I’m not even getting into my actual food allergies (dairy and corn) and intolerances (gluten) here, purely chatting high FODMAP triggers. It’s important to remember that the bloat is about so much more than just what you’re putting in your mouth. Stress, emotions, living situations, relationships, work, workouts // movement, daily thoughts, feelings, and routines etc. all play a role.
The other thing to note is that the food thing builds. So maybe I didn’t eat one trigger food last week, but I have been overdoing the grains and nuts and seeds because I haven’t been craving animal protein. Historically, my body runs better protein, veg, greens, and fruit. I do great on lots of carbs BUT not when they’re from emotional eating too many gluten-free grains in too many forms in a short period of time (happens to the best of us). As you can see, there is so much give and take and balance involved. No one is perfect all the time, not even me. It’s about being gentle with your body and not being too hard on yourself. Because you know if you stress too hard you’ll have issues for different reasons.
What else was going on this time around? I dropped my morning meditation practice. I started doing lacy’s TO BE MAGNETIC manifestation program. I love it so much, but the daily reprograming is long and kind of felt like meditation so I dropped actually meditating. Bad idea. Not the same thing at all. It’s a completely different kind of work. I also haven’t been sleeping. Something is off — hormone wise. My cortisol is spiking at the wrong time and I’ve had a serious late night sweet tooth which doesn’t help anything. On top of everything I had a literal small uhaul truck of boxes in my apartment for my upcoming office makeover that needed to be unpacked and put together —> major stressor for me. I like a clean, tidy, organized space and heavy lifting and building projects are NOT my strong suit (especially when I figured out I measured my space improperly LOL). The icing on the cake to all of that is dating. Anxiety inducing, time consuming, and just all around annoying. It takes a beating on your mind, body, and spirit, and when you take yourself out of the game, you feel like you should be going for it.
Does that give you a clue as to why it’s not just food? I sure hope so! I also hope it makes you feel a little less crazy and opens your eyes to alternatives besides restricting food groups and over analyzing menus when you’re out to eat. Now I encourage you to make a list of the emotional // external stressors that you’re feeding your body on a daily basis. It’s an eye opening exercise.
AND NOW…the moment you’ve been waiting for. TIPS!
Here are some non-food related tools that help (because everyones tummies are so different and I don’t know you personally to help from a NC level, but the following things can’t hurt to try!):
Journal - write down anything from what’s going on in your life, to what your symptoms are (great way to vent and just get it out). Sometimes getting it on paper and out of your head is enough to acknowledge and take steps to move past it.
Low impact movement in the sunshine // nature - a good walk never hurt anyone! Take your pup, a friend, or stick some AirPods in and listen to a funny podcast and get moving. The movement will help anything going on in your gut and mind. Literally walk. it. out.
Talk - talk to an S.O., a best friend, a mom, an insta-friend, a therapist, anyone who will listen! Sharing your story will take you miles. You may help someone, it may help you clear your mind, you may end up rambling long enough that you know what the root issue is (something going on at the office, friction in a relationship, etc).
Acupuncture - literally nothing beats a good acupuncturist. Not only do you get to chat through your laundry list of symptoms before you lay down on the table (talk about a form of therapy!!), but you get the chi flowing in all your sticky areas, and get to take a very relaxing 30 minute nap.
Fall into routine - bodies LOVE a routine. Tighten up your morning and evening routine. Incorporate a morning tonic, stretching, meditation, adequate wake up // wind down time, time alone (if introverted), time with others (if extroverted), self care time (self massage, face mask, bath, tea, etc). Going through the same motions morning and evening will set your body and mind up for a successful day or night.
Don’t forget to breath! I constantly have to check myself here. I will catch myself throughout the day barely breathing. Take a moment for a few big belly breathes. It will help draw energy there and get things moving. Not to mention the oxygen in your brain may just give you a literal high if you haven’t been getting enough.
Make sure you’re sleeping. Without sleep your body literally won’t function. I know personally, I need a solid 8 hours to feel like my best self. What’s your magic number?
Sex - with yourself, with someone you’re seeing (safely of course!!), with an S.O., etc. Talk about tension release. Call me crazy, but I have less tummy issues when I’m orgasming more. Hottest tip of the post — promise.
A note about supplements! I continue to take my basic level, everyday supps during a flare including my morning probiotic. My “everyday supps” include liver supporters which assist detox which help my body continue to push things through and out of my body. My probiotic of choice is Jarrow brand. My favorite formula of theirs is linked on my products page!
I sincerely hope this post is helpful and am always here to chat! YOU. ARE. NOT. ALONE. And when you’re bloated…rock that bloat. And by rock it I mean slow your roll, rest, but don’t let it consume your brain space. You are more than your chronic disease. I need to come up with a good hashtag, but so many of you sent me bloaty pics that it’s too good not to start something. We always have to make light of even the most un-fun, un-glam situations.
Sending tum tum love and healing vibes to all reading along. XO