Anna reached out to me via my website to say hello and share her story. She has quite a story to share and I, of course, loved hearing that the #IBelieveinyourStory campaign resonated with her! It’s nice to know that the #IBS community is coming together and supporting one another. I mean, supporting each other is what it’s all about, right?
“#IBelieveinyourStory is one of the best social campaigns that I have both come across and resonated with so far this year. My name is Anna B. and I am a recent graduate from California State University, Long Beach with my Bachelor’s degrees in both Dietetics and Food Science. Last summer after graduation, I left to New York City to become a research & development intern for Epicured, which is where I have recently found you [Kate] and have finally had some guts to share my story.”
“The reason I was inclined to contact you was because I wanted to share my personal journey with IBS. It all started with a stomach flu at the age of 16. I was fighting something that I had never faced before and I knew that the recovery was a little different than usual. A couple of weeks later, I was having trouble digesting many of my meals. I was playing competitive soccer at the time and I remember having stomachaches and pains before and after practice. I dealt with gas and bloating but I didn’t really understand the changes that were going on other than I just wanted to sit still and not consume a single thing. Doctor visit after doctor visit became a culmination of different diets that I was put on. I didn’t really know how to handle the pressures of my teen years while also battling an irritable digestive system.
After months went by on a plethora of diets, I eventually lost my relationship with food and a significant amount of weight as well. I am 5’0 and my average weight as a soccer player in high school was about 115 lbs, having a significant amount of leg muscle. Once my diets changed and I had a fear of eating, due to how it might cause my body to react, I became weak and ill. I missed school in the mornings just because I had to deal with my gut when I woke up every day. I was the spitting image of a scrawny teenager that always wanted to stay home in bed and curl up in a ball. I missed out on a lot of my junior and senior year of high school. I look back wondering what it would have been like to have a less embarrassing youth. It was tough explaining to my friends the type of things my body would do to me and how I didn’t have the energy to participate.
I got my first colonoscopy & endoscopy in high school once things got progressively worse. My grandma passed away from colon cancer and my mom had always been cautious, though she wasn’t able to ask her mom much about her digestive health. My mom also had IBS, but she didn’t show symptoms until her late 20s. After they were able to tell me that there were no signs of anything serious, they discussed my diet with me.
I was able to say at the age of 17 that no matter what I consumed, I was always going to show the same symptoms. It was almost like there was a disconnect. Eureka! It was, in fact, that I had a significant brain and gut disconnect.
When I am mindful of the nutrition and how it fuels me, that is the best I can do to relieve pain and symptoms. Limiting some problem-causing foods and sticking to my staple, low-FODMAP options, always keeps me stabilized. This in fact was the start of my college path. I knew I wanted to study nutrition because I had a passion for health. I wanted more nutrients than what doctors were telling me to eat. My body told me to feed it properly and it would try it’s best to react appropriately. I moved away for college and I resumed to my normal energetic self. I consumed a diet that was right for me and changed it over the course of college. I had the Low-FODMAP Monash University app handy on my phone to help guide many of my decisions. I studied dietetics because I had (and still have a passion) to pursue it.
Today, I am 23 years old and I still have IBS, but I am more experienced and educated. I finally grew into a body that was my own and I recreated a relationship with food. There are many days where I am still fighting to control and manage my symptoms, but I have become more patient and learned to cope with stress and outside pressures in different ways that do not directly affect my gut. Overall, working for Epicured [a low FODMAP meal company] last summer, helped my diet even more because I was able to order all the good, Low-FODMAP meals throughout the week in the office. It was a relief to see that there were so many others, like me, that were ordering these low FODMAP meals too.
The second reason I wanted to contact you was to say how much your story, blog, etc., has truly impacted my life in the past month. I feel a sense of courage that I hadn’t had before. I am looking to continue my education in the coming year or so and I have much to look forward to. I am incredibly happy to learn that IBS dietetics exists thanks to Epicured. I have been introduced and linked to so many different social media accounts with an abundance of news and information outlets. I look forward to IBS research in the field because I know I aspire to help others with their digestive health battles.”
Thanks Anna for sharing your story.