BITTER PILL TO SWALLOW
IN HIS FINAL HEALTH ARTICLE FOR 2021, COLIN REVEALS HIS 9 YEAR BATTLE WITH IBS
I’ve had many fierce rivals over the seasons, some in equally matched machinery and others not. Everything is on the line and you’re both pushing limits in every way possible. The passion and pressure are almost tangible. Don’t even get me started on the expectation. Sounds like the ultimate competition, right? You’d be forgiven for thinking these challenges season after season would be the greatest battle I’d face each year… but truth be told, my biggest challenge the past 9 years has not been a team mate or fellow BTCC driver; it’s been my own body – my IBS.
STRESS, STRAIN AND PAIN OF IBS
Type IBS into a search engine, and along with listing various symptoms you’ll see the cruel synopsis – NO CURE. I’ve tried every product on the market to help heal my gut, tried every diet and taken advice from all over the world. There is no magic pill to reduce the stress, strain, and pain of IBS but there is one sure fact – every body is different. I’ve spent the past 9 years experimenting ways to manage my symptoms and the most important step of all is watching when and what food I put in my mouth.
LEARNING TO LIVE WITH IT
The lead up to a race weekend is just as important for me as the actual event itself; if I eat the wrong thing a whole catalogue of problems can erupt. This isn’t always as easy as it seems especially when your pushing boundaries both physically and psychologically. Even simple liquids or supposed ‘medicines’ can set me off, so awareness and attention to detail on everything that passes my lips makes all the difference.
I’m beginning to hear more and more tales of people that are struggling with their gut and their exhausting quests to identify the trigger for their discomfort. Sometimes it’s tricky to even know where to start to help guide them in the right direction, but I’ll try to list here a few key factors and fixes that may just help.
LOW FODMAP FOODS
The most important factor in deciding what to eat for me is identifying where they fall on the FODMAP scale. LOW FODMAP foods are my friends and create less of a gut reaction in my digestive system. Foods that are high on the FODMAP scale are triggers for all sorts of symptoms. I’ve come to know what foods I can eat and through good practice you soon will too. Garlic, onions and dairy produce are intense triggers for symptoms so they would be the first thing I would recommend cutting out of your diet.
I use a potent probiotic that helps to populate my gut with good bacteria. It’s important you take the good bacteria on an empty stomach and don’t consume tea or coffee on top of it.
CLEAN SIMPLE FOOD
Strip your diet back and look for clean and simple foods to eat. Fresh, colourful, and healthy food choices have so many other benefits that this lifestyle change should reap you more rewards as well as provoke less pain.
REMOVE PROCESSED FOODS
One of the first steps you can take is to eat ingredients and forget about processed foods. The processing process and the products added to facilitate the shelf life, are all problematic for anyone with IBS.
CUT OUT DIARY AND WHEAT
Dairy produce and wheat are two of the biggest culprits for discomfort and issues after eating.
The range of dairy free and wheat free alternatives is superb these days, but look out for hidden sugars and preservatives.
If something isn’t reacting well in your tummy, a good quality peppermint tea can help to soothe the pain.
LESS ACIDIC FOODS – MORE ALKALINE FOODS
It’s common sense what foods may be acidic and what are more alkaline, but I’d suggest you print out this information and this will help you make the right choices during the day.
PRODUCTS TO TRY
Silocogel coats my stomach lining before I eat to reduce a reaction once the food goes in. The Nordiq Digestive Complex is a lifeline for me every day. This blend is a mix of enzymes to help my digestive system break down the food and other natural products to soothe the distress taking place in my digestive system.
FRUIT BEFORE MEALS
I avoid acidic fruits like apples or grapes and stick to kiwis, bananas and berries. It’s best to have fruit before a meal and not afterwards. They should be a starter, not a desert.
AVOID SUGAR AND SWEETENERS
Always be on the lookout for sneaky sweeteners that are hidden in lots of health foods. My kids call me ‘the ingredients police’ because I check the ingredients on everything we buy.
You’d be surprised how many additives are slipped into foods that are marketed to be healthy.
Don’t be ashamed of your dietary needs. The more you share your digestive issues, the more normalised it will become. If people around you know your condition they will be less likely to offer you foods you can’t eat.
CELEBRATE WHAT YOU CAN EAT
Don’t mourn the things you can’t. This is probably the most difficult aspect of IBS. I’ve struggled to stay positive with my condition but it’s like anything in life – you have good days and bad ones. Trying to limit the bad ones is what you’re aiming for.
With my nutritional needs as a racing driver who trains hard and demands a lot from his body, planning and discipline are paramount for my success.
I always carry food around with me and meticulously plan meals in advance, depending on where I’m going to be. It’s when you’re hungry and nothing ‘safe’ is available – that’s when you hit trouble.
BITTER PILL WITH SILVER LINING
IBS is no fun, but it has taught me so many things and completely changed my outlook on health, wellbeing and performance. There is always a silver lining in any situation, and I’m so thankful for the education that I have gained throughout this journey. Hopefully I’ll be preventing many other illnesses and diseases in the future by looking after my body now.
Prevention is much better than cure.
This may be the last in my health series this season, but I’m keen to keep on exploring these topics and share any help I can moving through into 2022. I’m keen to hear your HEALTH stories and if any of the information shared the past few months has helped you or someone you know.
Please get in touch on socials and keep the conversation flowing!
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