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5 Things My GI Specialist Told Me That Absolutely Did Not Help My IBS Symptoms

April 4, 2021

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I visited a GI specialist twice.

Each visit cost over $900. Sure, my parents helped me out and this money wasn’t coming out of my own pocket, but my goodness, was this an investment for me at the time.

It was 2013, and I was struggling, daily, with IBS symptoms. All the classics: diarrhea, bloating, gas, constipation, extreme abdominal cramping, and mild depression. I was at my whits end. I was missing out on events and parties, social gatherings and sports. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.

So naturally, I looked for help where it made the most sense: A GI specialist. A doctor who specializes in gut conditions such as IBS, and has over 12 years of post  secondary education. Twelve years. I thought this was going to be my answer. It was expensive, but who else better to see for help than a specialist?

Unfortunately, I was wrong.

I walked into the doctor’s office, and was immediately put off. He was an older gentleman, but he wasn’t friendly, inviting, or welcoming. I felt misunderstood, unheard, and like I was talking to someone on a completely different level of health and life than me. Sure, he seemed knowledgeable, but there was zero emotional connection between my 19 year-old self and this rather stuffy, cold man. Little did I know this was something that I should have been looking for in a physician.

There was a lot of listening that happened in that one hour session, on my end, anyway.

Here are 5 things this GI specialist told me that I will never forget, and realized, only once I had gone back to school for nutrition, were quite frankly, a waste of my time and effort.

  1. Take a fibre supplement: Instead of telling me to increase my dietary fibre intake, he put me on a fibre supplement—Metamucil—5 x a day.
  2. Take a probiotic: Instead of educating me on why I should be taking one, or what brands I could choose from, he told me to take one that he was clearly paid to sell to his patients. It had dairy in it, despite the understanding on both of our parts that diary was part of my problem. This probiotic turned my poop into a type 1 on the Bristol stool chart (see image to the left; type 3 and 4 are ideal). I thought this was healthy and he reassured me it was.
  3. Try the low FODMAP diet: He told me to look it up, look into it, but gave zero explanation for why it might be beneficial or how to do it.
  4. Reduce stress: Again, no explanation on why, or how to do so.
  5. Take Imodium when you have diarrhea: a bandaid solution that I now wince at so hard when I think back.

Here’s the thing. IBS is a syndrome, and one of exclusion. It requires nutrition intervention. It requires nutrition training on the practitioner’s part, and it takes whole body awareness. Most GI specialists have 10 hours of nutrition training and no understanding of the mind-body connection.

If you’re struggling with IBS or related gut health symptoms, now might be the time to get the help you need, from the right source. I encourage you to join The Healthy Gut Solution—a Facebook community aimed at helping women conquer their gut health symptoms when conventional health care has failed them.

With love and gut health,

Ros

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