Welcome to the first post of the gut health series! In this awesome series, we’re talking all about how the heck I healed my gut — and specifically the steps I took to heal my chronic constipation and IBS. This post is all about what I first did when I learned I had IBS, and how to avoid the frustration when the “mainstream” advice doesn’t actually work.
If you already checked out this post, you can catch up with the rest here:
Now let’s get into today’s post…
Just a fair warning, I’m talking about poop – this whole post deserves a “TMI” label, but I’m just going for it 😉
If you want to do yourself a favor, you can download this free guide that sums up all the best info from all 4 parts of this IBS series. You’ll definitely want this guide later, trust me…
HEALING MY CHRONIC CONSTIPATION (IBS-C)
I struggled with IBS for as long as I can remember, with some of my earliest struggles starting around 5th grade. I’ve never been “diagnosed”, but when trips to the bathroom take you an hour and you get no results… you kind of know there’s something going on.
You might think I’m crazy for talking about poop… and you might even be thinking in your head, “you have to be sh**ing me” 😉 But no, actually I wasn’t for about 90% of my life if you know what I mean. I couldn’t go to the bathroom. I struggled to go even twice a week. It felt like I had to force even just a little bit out to find some relief, and it was a miracle if I had a “complete” bowel movement where my insides actually felt good. Most of the time I was dealing with what felt like a brick in my stomach, which made me bloated, uncomfortable, and self-conscious. Honestly, I felt like what was stuck inside me, “crap”.
Seriously laughing at myself for how many poop jokes I just tried to make! – I’m just trying to lighten the load! – okay, I’m done 😉
Quick Facts About IBS
- IBS stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
- IBS affects more than 25 million people in the United States. (1)
- 2/3 of those affected with IBS are women. (1)
- IBS affects people of all ages, even children. (1)
- IBS is typically divided into 2 categories: IBS-C (constipation) and IBS-D (diarrhea), though you can also have both.
- There’s no known specific cause of IBS.
- There’s no singular treatment that works for all people.
Why I’m Talking About Poop
First off, why don’t more people talk about it?! We all go (at least we should be going on a regular basis) and it’s part of being healthy. If you can’t release the toxins and waste from your body, that stuff stays trapped in there… definitely not ideal.
I never talked much about my IBS or chronic constipation, if I even said anything at all. I thought it would be “gross” and people would just think I was weird and no one would even bother listening to what I had to say. But then I realized I was being selfish by not talking about it… If I can have IBS, anyone could be struggling with IBS too, especially the young women reading my blog and following me on Instagram.
So I thought really hard about sharing my story about healing, and I decided to put it all out there. The following information is how I healed my body with a healthy diet, and the protocols I used to change my lifestyle. I hope that through sharing the things that worked for me, I’ll be able to provide you with information that’ll fast forward your own healing journey.
WHAT THE HECK IS “NORMAL”?
The most talked about normal bowel movement frequency is once a day. Going “number two” should also be easy to pass (it should be a relatively quick bathroom trip), complete (you shouldn’t feel like there’s more inside that needs to go), and painless. Your poop should also be a dark brown color and not be shriveled up into little pellets, extra hard and weird like a super dried sausage, or be too loosey-goosey.
My Own IBS-C
Until I heard this, I didn’t even know the IBS symptoms and chronic constipation that I was experiencing wasn’t normal.
TMI: My range was not normal. I could barely squeeze out more than a few little pellets a couple times a week. If I had a “complete” bowel movement, it was a miracle. Most of the time I would barely even consider it a movement at all. I was going so irregularly that I couldn’t rely on a regular movement to happen, and frustratingly it seemed the longer I waited in between trips to the bathroom during the week, the more difficult and straining it was to pass them.
Most of the time when I finally did poop, it was super dry because it had been in my body so long. When the poop sits inside your intestines too long, the water gets reabsorbed and it makes it dry. My point it, I didn’t have healthy poop. Occasionally my bathroom experiences would turn into diarrhea, where I, at last, had some relief because I felt like my insides were finally empty. But that was mostly not the case, I was chronically plagued by constipation. I would easily spend an hour in the bathroom, but leave having barely even gone at all.
Opening My Eyes to the Issue
I remember having a conversation with a friend one day, and it came up that she went to the bathroom every day, and sometimes even after every meal. I wasn’t sure if going after meals was considered “normal” either, but it also sparked my interest to look deeper into my own struggles. It really clicked during this conversation that what I was experiencing was NOT normal, and I came to the conclusion that going less than 3 times a week probably wasn’t healthy either.
LEARNING ABOUT IBS AND CONSTIPATION
The most confusing part of figuring out my IBS and chronic constipation was why I was getting it because I absolutely considered myself a healthy teen. Naturally, I started doing my research on the internet, which was when I first learned about IBS. This was when I was still a junior high school, over 6 years ago. The most confusing part was that I was already a “healthy” kid. I ate vegetables, I drank lots of water, I never ate fast food, and I lived an active lifestyle since I always played sports. You see a lot of cases of IBS in people who eat the standard American diet (SAD), which is characterized by lots of unhealthy foods. You also tend to see IBS cases in people who live very sedentary lifestyles. But I was already eating healthy and I played sports my whole life, so neither of these instances resonated with me.
I wasn’t fitting the typical “IBS” profile, but it didn’t matter. I was chronically constipated.
The SAD is full of highly processed foods and it’s lacking in plant fiber, nutrients, and real food. Like a lot of my readers, I wasn’t eating that way at all. My family didn’t choose fast foods and we ate “healthy” in our house – especially when you compared our eating habits to those of my friends and family. So knowing that the most general cause of IBS of not eating healthy or getting exercise wasn’t the problem, I did some more research. I generally improved my diet with some tips I found on the internet (like drinking more water, eating more fiber, and supplementing with prunes).
Fiber and Prunes Didn’t Help
It’s almost comical for me to see people suggest prunes and increasing your fiber intake. I tried increasing my vegetables, eating dried prunes, re-hydrated prunes, and a morning high-fiber cereal.A lot of sources also suggest staying super hydrated and trust me, I couldn’t be more hydrated!You know what didn’t help? All of those things. I don’t know if they work for anyone else, but I know they for sure didn’t work for me. My chronic constipation and IBS-C symptoms weren’t budging, to say the least. Unfortunately, all I got was more frustrated with the lack of results.
I Was Getting Stressed Out
Once I started looking into how often everyone poops, I got more concerned and frustrated with my chronic constipation. The biggest downfall from this experience was that by failing to be helped by the first things I tried, I only got more stressed. My experience of eating high-fiber cereal every morning with my re-hydrated prunes was only making me more frustrated with the lack of results in the bathroom. I felt like I “should” be going to the bathroom after breakfast, which made me “try” to go to the bathroom and force myself to think about it nonstop. I would end up just sitting there for an hour, desperate to relieve myself. I read that even if you weren’t going, it was important to sit there to help train your body to go, so every morning I sat on my toilet hoping that magically it would happen. But after a few weeks, this wasn’t working.
I was almost in tears sitting in my empty bathroom because I felt like all hope was lost.
TAKEAWAY: JUST BECAUSE THE FIRST SOLUTION YOU FOUND DIDN’T WORK, DOESN’T MEAN THERE IS NO SOLUTION
Once I stopped feeling sorry for myself, I found some confidence. At least I knew that the basic advice wasn’t going to work for me, and that pushed me to know I’d have to look deeper. Basically and ironically, figuring out my chronic constipation and IBS was going to be the process of elimination. (A little humor never hurt anyone 😉 ) I knew my next step had to be looking into different information, and that sparked my interest into hidden allergies and intolerances that were secretly sabotaging my digestive system.
Get a jump start on healing your own IBS issues with this free guide:
Check out the next post in this series: