Browse Category by Health

Weight loss post 40 with the Fast 800 Diet

Post 40 weight loss - A Free From Life

Having never had to worry about my weight, I’ve found, post 40, that it’s begun to creep up and I’m struggling to keep it off.

I had time off exercise before Christmas due to an injury, and the weight I put on during that time has stuck with me. Since then, I’ve tried Dry January, No Sugar February and a low carb approach to eating.

Since I don’t drink masses of alcohol and have very little sugar, not surprisingly, those approaches didn’t work. The low carb option wasn’t having much of an effect either.

It was when it came to picking out an outfit for a recent party that it really hit home that I needed to do something about my weight. I couldn’t fit into any of my dresses! Okay, so it was an excuse to buy a new one, but I wasn’t at all comfortable with that.

After speaking to a few people, I got myself a copy of the Fast 800 book by Dr Michael Moseley.

Immediately, this approach made sense to me. You drop your calorie intake down to 800 per day for at least the first two weeks. Also, during this time, you eat between a window of 10 or 12 hours and fast for the rest. This puts your body into ketosis, where you burn stored fat and it has dramatic results.

This is certainly true for me, as I only started it at the beginning of this week. Here we are, on Thursday, and I’ve already lost 2lbs.

The idea is, you move on to a 5:2 approach, which means eating normally for five days and doing the fasting (800 calories) on the other two. I think this is manageable and from what I’ve read, seems a sensible, healthy approach to eating, in general.

My time-restricted eating (TRE) at the moment is between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. but in reality, I finish eating at around 6, so the fasting period is actually longer than this.

I don’t feel hungry though. The meals are more than filling me up and I haven’t felt the need to snack in between. Part of this comes down to motivation, as I’m already seeing the results.

How do I feel? Well, on Tuesday night I started with a sore throat and yesterday felt rough. Last night, I woke up with stomach pains, similar to how I’ve felt with food poisoning. And today, I feel like I might actually be physically sick. I’m guessing this is kind of a detox feeling my body is going through and I’ll hopefully come out of the other side feeling much healthier.

Let’s hope so. I will keep you informed.


How to cope with mealtimes when you have little ones or fussy eaters

When you’re a parent, you soon learn how stressful mealtimes can be.

Fussy eaters, kids refusing to sit at the table, it can be a stressful time of day and all you really want is to be able to feed your children a healthy meal.

What to do for the best – let them get on with it, only feed them what you know they will eat, force the issue, let them go hungry? It’s always a tough call and believe me I know. When my son was little, he was often sick at mealtimes and every time, it was after that ‘one more mouthful’ plea.

I don’t know why I didn’t learn, but I was concerned he wasn’t eating enough, so would encourage him to eat what I served. It was through a lot of trial and error and hair pulling that I eventually got to the bottom of what was really happening, but I remember the stress of mealtimes along the way.

Today, I have Alex Thurman from Feed the Brood, here to offer a few tried and tested tips for coping with mealtimes-stress.

Food Blogger, Alex, creates recipes and provides meal planning advice for parents to help them cope with fussy eaters. A parent herself, Alex is no stranger to mealtime struggles, but she’s very kindly provided me with some great tips to share with you that will help make mealtimes an enjoyable affair for all involved.

Tips for coping with mealtime stress and fussy eaters - A Free From Life

“I don’t like it!”

The predictable 5 p.m. chorus echoes around my dining table. My three young children usually rock up with the expectation that they’ll hate what’s on offer. It’s not surprising; I write my own family-friendly recipes and blog about fussy eating, so there’s rarely a day that they recognise what I’ve cooked. I try very hard not to let their cries of rejection dampen my own enthusiasm for my meal, take a deep breath and practise what I preach:

STAY ZEN – I don’t want my children to remember me as a crotchety old lady, I want to have a happy relationship with them, so I stay ridiculously chilled. The more chilled I am, the quicker they chill.

EAT TOGETHER – Studies show that children from families who eat together have greater emotional wellbeing. With this in mind, eating together is a top priority for us as a family, and we honestly do make our happiest memories at the table. We talk about our days and often have silly talk. Another bonus is that when my head is in my own food (because what I’ve cooked is so delicious…), I’m less focused on what or how much the kids are eating, so it’s less tempting to helicopter.

ONE FAMILY MEAL – I meal plan one meal that will suit us all. Meals usually consist of multiple bowls and I serve before I combine. Each person gets to select what they want on their plate, which makes for a more conducive atmosphere at the table and allows each person to feel a sense of control. This approach also helps integrate allergies and intolerances into your family vernacular – which can only be a good thing when you’re dealing with allergies with little ones.

BRING PLENTY OF ‘STUFF’ TO THE TABLE – I always bring condiments aplenty, I have all the options for everybody’s preferences or allergies. I pop them all on the table before the meal starts and we enjoy the ritual of spooning things out or squeezing farty bottles. And I allow everyone to try everything (allergies excluded). My middle son is dairy intolerant, so we bring dairy-free cheese and yoghurt to the table regularly, but most other offerings are dairy free versions for the whole family.

BRING ALL THE FUN – I don’t want to be a bore, so I bring fun to the table. The kids will want to join me at the table if they associate having a good time whenever they’re there. Imagine how hard they’ll laugh if they see me accidentally snort milk out of my nose?! Being a grown up doesn’t mean I have to be stiff – that’s how I play it, anyway.

PLAY THEIR FAVOURITE MUSIC – we’ve built a family playlist of our favourite songs – there’s Top Gun, Elton John and George Ezra on there – you know, all the kids’ usual faves 🙂 I allow them the choice of music, or we take it in turns choosing an album. This all adds to the ritual of fun and it feels like we’re building a bank of memories up associated with the songs, so we now have music that defines us as a family.

RESPECT THEIR DECISIONS – from birth, humans can regulate their own appetite. My job is to provide the food and a suitable environment to eat it in, I have to relinquish control at that point and allow the kids to listen to their own hunger and fullness cues. If they don’t want to eat, fair enough.

NO RESCUE MEALS – I don’t make alternatives. Cooking alternatives will never break the cycle of fussy eating, in fact, it will worsen it. Food is regularly rejected in our house, so I keep the rejected food in the fridge and offer it again later when hunger strikes before bed. I’m not mean about it, I gently explain how it’s going to work. To be honest, this has only happened a couple of times – I think the process of offering the food at bedtime is a good way of nipping hunger whingeing in the bud.

FRUIT AND YOGHURT ARE ON OFFER – my kids have planned healthy snacks at mid-morning and mid-afternoon, so I know they’ll never starve. And there is always fruit and natural yoghurt available before or after the main meal if they want it.

So, when it all kicks off at your dining table, take a few deep breaths, think about how to make the whole experience more enjoyable and find a way to make your kids want to come back to the table time after time! You can do it!

Follow Alex on Instagram @feedthebrood, or join her Facebook Group for mealtime ideas and support from other parents.


How Paleo can you go?

The Paleo diet takes its name from the term ‘Paleolithic’ and the principle of this diet, in its simplest of terms is ‘to eat like a caveman’.

How Paleo can you go? - A Free From Life
Paleo Shepherds Pie
Image courtesy of Jules/Flickr

The idea behind the diet is that our ancestors ate what they caught or foraged and our digestive systems developed to cope with this way of eating.

Since man began to farm and grow food, resulting in being able to process grains to make flour, turn milk into cheese, add sugar to products etc, our health has suffered because our digestive systems are not able to deal with it. That’s the theory anyway.

Many would argue we have evolved to deal with modern processed food, for example, our ability to produce lactase, the enzyme that digests lactose found in dairy products. In fact, we are nothing like our Paleolithic ancestors.

There have also been findings of popcorn and other processed grains, dating back to these times, including a type of bread made without yeast. This suggests perhaps our cavemen did in fact eat some processed grains.

Then there is the question of what you can and can’t eat if you follow the Paleo lifestyle. Without a definitive list, it can be confusing. I’ve heard people say they eat Paleo when they actually include rice in their diet. Surely that’s a processed grain?

Another thing that makes the term ‘Paleo’ feel wrong as a way to describe a lifestyle, is the amount of exotic produce we have access to nowadays that simply wouldn’t have existed back then. Most of these have been cultivated by man.

Aside from the tenuous link to our ancestors, what the Paleo diet does have in its favour is its natural, unprocessed approach to eating.

Processed grains, such as bread, rice or pasta, especially if eaten in their ‘white’ form, are quickly broken down by the digestive system and turned into glucose, which raises blood sugar levels and causes the body to release insulin. This brings the blood sugar levels back down again, but it is this constant yo-yoing of blood sugar that puts unnecessary stress on the body and leads to ill health. In addition, any unused glucose ends up stored as fat. In this sedentary lifestyle that many people lead, we simply don’t need that amount of energy.

This makes the Paleo principle similar to that of a low GI diet, or one followed by a diabetic. It’s a common sense approach to eating that cuts down on carbs and sugar and considers food that is more natural or in its ‘whole’ form.

For our family, Paleo has its place because we have a gluten and dairy intolerant member of our tribe. This can make providing suitable food difficult, as gluten free diets don’t always accommodate dairy intolerance and vegan diets don’t consider issues with gluten. The fact we eat meat too means Paleo ticks all the boxes. The only thing I personally draw the line at is cauliflower rice and zucchini noodles. They leave me cold just thinking about them!

Our approach is one of common sense. I get what I need from a Paleo cookbook whilst adapting the recipes to suit our needs.

For example, I discovered a lovely ‘cream’ sauce substitute made from cashews and I’ve also experimented with grain free cookies and treats.

I may not wholly sign up to the Paleo approach, but I do feel it has its place in the arena of healthy eating, particularly given how ‘addicted’ we seem to be to a high carb, high sugar lifestyle.


Some headaches are a pain in the neck

Treating headaches caused by neck pain

Headaches caused by neck pain - what causes them and how to treat - A Free From Life

I’ve been suffering from headaches for a while now and it’s reached the point where I need to find out what’s causing them, rather than just trying to ignore the issue and hope it goes away.

I’ve had my eyes checked already. This was my first thought actually, as I’m in my forties and as much as I don’t like to admit it, things don’t work like they used to. Luckily, my eyes were fine, more than fine for my age, so I was told. I won’t go into how smug that made me, but let’s just say, I was happy to cross that one off the list.

A number of different things working together can cause headaches. This can make the root cause difficult to diagnose.

An obvious thought was could it be migraines? I’ve never suffered from them, so I can’t imagine just how debilitating migraines can be when they come on. My headaches can feel severe at times and the pain presses down on my forehead like a vice. Sometimes, it can make focusing difficult, but I wasn’t sure if what I was feeling was akin to a migraine. I suspected not because I was still able to function, I didn’t shy away from bright light or feel nauseous. There had to be another reason.

I get a lot of pain in the back of my neck and in my shoulders. Whatever I do, I can’t seem to stop this area of my body from tightening. It stems from an injury, 14 years ago, that was enough to damage my shoulder ligaments and put my left side at a disadvantage to my right even to this day.

It made sense to me that this old injury could the source of all my aches and pains, going one way, up into my neck and the other way, down into my middle back. I exercise with specialists who know about this injury and my limitations because of it and as much as this helps keep my body from seizing up completely, it doesn’t stop my headaches. In fact, sometimes, it can make them worse.

The type of headaches I suffer from are known as cervicogenic headaches, the source of which is a combination of the neck and shoulder blades becoming knotted or in spasm.

The upper three joints of the neck, C1, C2 and C3 share a pain nucleus with the trigeminal nerve. This trigeminal nerve is the main sensory nerve that carries messages from your face to your brain. When the neck and scalp muscles become tense, or equally, if they move around too much (hypermobile), pain radiates from the back of the head to the front causing a dull, vice-like pain. This can sometimes feel like pressure on the head. The top of the neck and base of the skull can feel tender and it can be painful around the temples, side of the face, or behind the eyes.

Many people suffer from tension headaches caused by physical or emotional stress, excess alcohol or caffeine, eyestrain or fatigue. Cervicogenic headaches, however, are much less common, with an estimated 0.4-2.5% of the population suffering from them. According to the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, the mean age of patients presenting with cervicogenic headaches is 42.9 years and they are four times more prevalent in women. Studies show cervicogenic headaches affect physical functioning of patients to a greater extent than other headache disorders.

I can certainly identify with this and when my headaches began to affect my everyday life, I knew it was time to do something about the problem.

I’m not the sort of person to rely on medication, BUT I will reach for the paracetamol if it gets bad enough. This only treats the symptoms though and I wanted to get to the root of my pain and sort out my headaches once and for all.

Massage can help, particularly when you massage the base of the scalp, but although this does alleviate the pain to an extent, I felt I needed more intervention. Time to call in the professionals!

Osteopathic treatment, combined with an exercise programme can be an effective treatment for headaches caused by neck pain. Studies also show the effectiveness of spinal manipulation and/or mobilisation to help.

Osteopath, Vladimir Levachyov has been interested in treating headaches ever since he saw his first headache patient in student clinic. When treating a patient, his first task (primarily based on the case history) is to ascertain whether the headache is primary or secondary, followed by diagnosing (or at least classifying) the headache type. To help with this, Vladimir regularly makes use of the ICHD-3 (The International Classification of Headache Disorders 3rd edition).

“There are various factors that affect headaches, especially cervicogenic headaches. The common/close neurological link is one contributing mechanism, another is when the range of motion in the upper thoracic spine (the top of the ribcage) is decreased. The neck compensates by developing increased range of motion and when this happens, the ligaments around the joints can become slightly strained.

As a result, the muscles around the joints tighten up to protect the neck from further (perceived or otherwise) damage. The suboccipitals muscles (where the neck meets the skull), when overly tight, will press on whole nerves or branches of nerves that travel underneath these muscles; such as the greater auricular nerve (innervating the skin above the ear and the forehead) and the greater occipital nerve (innervating the skin at the back of the skull).”

The rationale for osteopathic treatment in the case of cervicogenic headaches is:
• To decrease the muscle tone (tightness) in the suboccipital and other neck muscles and hence relieve pressure on the nerves. This can be done in a number of ways, from soft tissue massage techniques, to using dry needling techniques with acupuncture needles, and of course home advice to stretch the suboccipital (and other appropriately chosen) muscles.
• To increase the range of motion of the thoracic spine; as this is increased the range of motion of the neck will normalise, meaning that the muscle tone should normalise, too.

Once you’ve embarked on an initial course of treatment for your cervicogenic headaches, there are a number of things you can do to help prevent them from re-occurring.

Your osteopath will give you lifestyle advice to help avoid the muscles getting tight.

• Check your everyday posture – excessive forward neck motion (such as bringing your head close to your phone or other screen) for extended periods will undoubtedly contribute to hypertonicity (tightness) of the suboccipital muscles.
• Invest in a good pillow and mattress.
• Invest time in daily neck and shoulder stretches
• Don’t sleep on your front

Treating and managing cervicogenic headaches is an on-going process and one I will have to pay close attention to in order to make sure I’m consistent with my exercises and that I re-visit an osteopath for regular check-ups. It’s not something I expect to cure overnight, but I’m relieved to have a professional diagnosis and a plan of action for tackling them.


The allergy scene in the new Peter Rabbit movie is causing a stir

Sony Pictures has apologised following outrage over a scene in the new Peter Rabbit movie that depicts bullying towards someone with a food allergy.

Showing the rabbit characters repeatedly pelting a man with blackberries, knowing he is allergic to them, until he is forced to use an Epipen has been branded as unacceptable by the food allergy community, leading to a #BoycottPeterRabbit hashtag on Twitter.

My eleven year old daughter is allergic to blackberries and found this scene both offensive and cruel when I spoke to her about it. Not that it is about being allergic to blackberries in particular, but using an allergy against a person in such a way is clearly unacceptable.

Having an allergy is no joke. In my daughter’s case it’s not debilitating to her life. Blackberries are easy enough to avoid and as long as you stay clear of things that have forest fruits in them, for example, you’re generally ok.

On the two occasions she’s had reactions though, we’ve seen head to toe urticaria plus swollen joints in her fingers and hands. As with all allergies, it is not something to be taken lightly.

All we parents of children with food allergies and intolerances seem to do is campaign tirelessly to raise awareness of the issues. The only good thing to come out of this Peter Rabbit movie faux pas is that it’s put food allergies at the forefront, despite that not being the intention of Sony Pictures when they made the film.


What is leaky gut syndrome?

“Leaky gut syndrome” is a term used to describe symptoms and conditions caused by the immune system reacting to particles, toxins or other substances that have been absorbed into the bloodstream via a porous (“leaky”) bowel (source: NHS).

What is leaky gut syndrome? - A Free From Life
Image courtesy of Vimeo

The digestive system not only breaks down food and absorbs nutrients, it plays an important role in protecting the body from harmful substances. The walls of the intestine act as a barrier to control what enters the bloodstream for transportation to the organs.

Small gaps in the intestinal wall, known as tight junctions, allow water and nutrients to pass through, while blocking the passage of harmful substances. When these tight junctions become loose, the gut becomes more permeable, which may allow bacteria and toxins to pass from the gut into the bloodstream.

In a healthy gut, the layers of cells that line the intestinal wall act as a protective barrier that absorbs particles from food, toxins, and other microorganisms. Any damage to these cells can cause them to become porous or leaky. This is what we commonly term as a ‘leaky gut’.

When the intestine becomes permeable, particles from food, toxins, and other microorganisms are able to make their way into the bloodstream, undigested. This triggers an immune response, whereby the particles are treated as foreign bodies.

“Intestinal permeability, also termed leaky gut, can be responsible for a very long list of symptoms,” says Nutritionist, Caroline Gilmartin of Nutraclin.

“Digestive system issues are on the increase (GP’s and Natural Practitioners will both agree) and in my opinion, the integrity of our digestive system is becoming weaker and weaker. This is linked to many auto immune conditions, but also many sub-clinical conditions which have not yet received a medical diagnosis.”

Leaky gut is linked to inflammatory conditions like celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, or inflammatory bowel disease, where inflammation causes the gut to become porous.

Other factors thought to have an impact include:

• Excessive sugar intake: a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugar, particularly fructose, can harm the barrier function of the intestinal wall.
• Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): long-term use of NSAIDs like ibuprofen can increase intestinal permeability.
• Excessive alcohol intake
• Nutrient deficiencies: particularly in vitamin A, vitamin D and zinc have each been implicated in increased intestinal permeability.
• Stress: chronic stress is a contributing factor to multiple gastrointestinal disorders, including leaky gut.
• Dysbiosis: the imbalance of the good and bad bacteria, which is disrupted by all the above factors, as well as by antibiotics.

Some health practitioners claim this can lead to symptoms such as bloating, gas, and cramps, as well as psoriasis, eczema, and allergies, fatigue and an inability to absorb nutrients, including vitamins B and D, magnesium and certain amino acids.

“Logically, if your body’s ability to absorb nutrients is compromised, how can there not be a long list of symptoms which can be linked to leaky gut,” says Caroline.

“Everyone has their own genetic susceptibilities and therefore different people will be affected in different ways. For one person, it may manifest as allergies, for others it could be severe fatigue of arthritis.”

However, whilst gastroenterologists acknowledge gut permeability, many disagree these undigested particles cause such symptoms, claiming they aren’t irritating enough. Whilst leaky gut syndrome is a distinct medical condition claimed by nutritionists and alternative medicine physicians, the wider medical community rarely acknowledge its existence.

Very few scientific studies mention leaky gut syndrome and according to the NHS, there is currently little evidence to support the theory that a porous bowel is the direct cause of any significant, widespread problems.

There is also little evidence that the “treatments” some people claim help to reduce bowel “leakiness”, such as nutritional supplements and herbal remedies, have any beneficial effect for most of the conditions they supposedly help.

However, there are medical studies that cite intestinal permeability and leading expert on gluten sensitivity, Dr Fasano, conducted some interesting research on the effects of gluten and gut bacteria on the small intestine, along with the effects of gliadin amongst coeliacs.

“In my clinic, there are many ways to ascertain whether or not the likelihood of leaky gut is causing an issue. There are lab tests which can be done privately, but I also use iridology, muscle response testing and case history,” Caroline says.

“These tests are not available on the NHS and if they were, there is no pharmaceutical drug which can cure. The only way I know to help leaky gut, is an individualised nutritional programme. One of the biggest lessons I have learned as a new practitioner, is that clients who have leaky gut do NOT necessarily have severe digestive system issues of IBS. The range of symptoms I have seen with Leaky Gut Syndrome is very far reaching, from rheumatoid arthritis, to chronic fatigue”.

Caroline Gilmartin is a fully qualified Nutritional Therapist who practices in Kent, Manchester and London. She owns and runs Nutraclin and is a full member of the Naturopathic Nutrition Association (NNA) and an associate member of the General Naturopathic Council.


Allergen labelling rules mean people with food allergies and intolerances are more confident about eating out, says FSA

Since the introduction of allergen information rules in 2014, are people with food allergies and intolerances more confident about eating out?

Are people with food allergies and intolerances more confident about eating out - A Free From Life

Over 2 million people in the UK have a food allergy, with an estimated 600,000 having coeliac disease and in acknowledgement of this, in December 2014, the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation (EU FIC) changed the way food businesses had to provide allergen information to consumers.

To understand the effect of this change, the Food Standards Agency commissioned detailed research on a UK representative sample of people with food allergies and intolerances. Undertaken by the University of Bath, the study focused on consumer preferences when eating out, both before and after the implementation of the EU FIC.

The study also compared views from consumers on how food businesses responded to the allergen rules pre and post-implementation.

The research found that, following the introduction of the new food allergen labelling rules:

  • 70% of food allergic and intolerant consumers feel more confident in asking staff for allergen information
  • 56% of food allergic and intolerant consumers value staff more as a source of information
  • 44% of food allergic and intolerant consumers are more ‘adventurous’ about eating out
  • 67% feel allergen information on food business websites is dependable
  • 63% say talking to the chef about their allergen needs can be relied on
  • 35% report an improvement in allergen information in the menu.

Those with food allergies and intolerances feel more confident about eating out and are more likely to eat out than they used to, according to this research. Equally, they are more likely to return to and recommend venues where the staff are helpful and attentive about their allergen needs.

Providing detailed and accurate allergen information is good for business

Heather Hancock, Chairman of the Food Standards Agency, said: ‘Everyone should be able to trust their food. When people live with a food allergy or intolerance that can make them really ill or be life threatening, that trust becomes critical. This new research shows that many food businesses have a good understanding of the allergen information rules, with the result that consumers trust them and feel confident that they’ll be safe when eating out.

‘I’m delighted that we’ve been able to work with food businesses to make such a difference, improving public health and enhancing choice and confidence for millions. Some, often smaller, food businesses haven’t got on top of providing allergen information yet. I hope this research helps them see the importance of meeting their obligations and the benefits it delivers. At the FSA, we’ll be increasing our efforts to ensure businesses understand their responsibilities and their customer.’

Do you agree with these findings? How do you find your experiences of eating out? Personally, I think the labelling legislation for food establishments is a good thing. It has definitely made restaurant owners more aware of their obligations to cater for allergies. On the other hand, some restaurants feel it is enough to provide information about what is in their food, without actually fulfilling a need to cater for those with special dietary needs. On occasion, we have gone out to eat, been given a ‘catalogue’ of information containing everything that is in every dish on offer, only to find we can’t actually order anything for our son who is both dairy and gluten intolerant.

It is one thing to offer this information, but what point does it serve, if he can’t eat anything?

In most, good and knowledgeable restaurants, you only deal with the manager or head chef when it comes to dietary needs and in our experience, when we have a special request, like gluten and dairy free, they will offer to make something suitable.

I would love to be able to go into a coffee shop and freely choose something both dairy and gluten free though. That is yet to happen in most establishments near to me. Gluten free, yes, dairy free, perhaps but unlikely, both – well, you might find one thing if you’re lucky and whilst everyone else tucks into a sandwich, you are left feeling a little excluded as you nibble on your dark chocolate coated coffee beans, or something similar!


The realities of living with IBS

Today I’ve had a terrible day as far as my IBS is concerned. The irony is, I’d only just been thinking to myself yesterday how good it’s been.

FODMAPS and IBS - A Free From Life

In fact, I’ve been feeling pretty good all round, which I put down to taking a multivitamin designed specifically for women, along with a vitamin B complex. I’d been feeling ridiculously tired before I started on these supplements, in a way that didn’t feel down to the stresses and strains of normal life or even my age. I craved to have even just a smidgen of energy to get me through the day.

After some health concerns earlier this year, that has led to me having a few tests, including a colonoscopy (not nice) and a hydrogen breath test, the only thing the results showed up is that I have some fermentation going on in my lower intestine. This means food is taking longer than it should to pass through and a little colony of bacteria have set up home to take advantage of that. It’s the supposed reason for my stomach pains.

What anyone with IBS will tell you, though, is how the pains can come seemingly out of nowhere.

It’s often the case where you can’t for the life of you fathom what could have caused it. To go from feeling fine and relatively pain free for a reasonable length of time and then suddenly be struck down and spending all day feeling nauseous, is pretty depressing.

I just started taking probiotics again and am left wondering could that be the cause? Probiotics are meant to be the good guys, but that’s not to say there isn’t something in the pill that could cause problems, if you are particularly sensitive. The ones I take say they may contain milk as it is used in the media where the bacterial strains grow.

My life without dairy is proving successful in terms of clear skin and all-round general well being. It has definitely made a difference to me.

I’m thankful to have no major health concerns, but I guess I’ve become a little complacent during my ‘well period’ and forgotten what it’s like to suffer an IBS attack. My symptoms today I would describe as being like a hangover. With a dull headache and a feeling of being zapped of all energy, the sickness I’ve been feeling goes away temporarily every time I eat, but soon after leaves me feeling worse than before.

It’s annoying at best and debilitating at worst; these collective symptoms that have no apparent one-cause or cure. For anyone else who suffers like this, know that you are not alone, nor are you crazy or a hypochondriac. Keep pushing through the pain and hopefully one day, we will find a way to beat this.