IBS is a marriage of body and mind. I’ve written a lot about how to approach the body and it’s time to focus on the other half of the equation: the mind.
Through the process of working with and interacting with hundreds of people with IBS, I’ve seen some common mistakes emerge.
While the causes of IBS are not entirely “in your head”. What is in your head (your beliefs & perceptions) will determine how successfully you can regain digestive health and balance.
How you approach your IBS puzzle determines how quickly and successfully you recover.
I’ve seen some common pitfalls come up over and over again and hold people back from achieving their health goals. And it’s finally time to address the elephants in the room.
These mistakes are so easy to make that I myself have made some of them more than a decade ago. That’s why I know how much they can delay progress.
This is what I wish I knew back then…
IBS mistake #1: Guessing instead of testing
I’ve noticed many people prefer to spend their money on various supplements to address mysterious symptoms rather on testing. While testing is the best way to shed light on what’s going on inside the body, I think there’s psychological reasons why people tend to avoid them.
Perhaps it’s a negative association with tests that always seem to come out normal. I don’t think it’s the expense of the tests but the belief that they won’t be helpful, but rather a waste of money.
The truth is that people tend to spend more time and money on the trial and error process when they don’t test. And wind up with a kitchen drawer full of useless and expensive supplements.
Figuring out what’s going on based on symptoms alone is the most inefficient approach to solving the IBS puzzle.
Adding testing to my health coaching practice has made all the difference in ruling things out and narrowing down the cause of the problem. This is the best path toward the quickest fix because you have useful information.
The tests I use check the large intestine and small intestine for infections. These are not infections that most doctors tests for. The lactulose breath test checks for SIBO, which is the most common cause of IBS.
The comprehensive stool analysis examines the large intestine for parasites, fungal overgrowth, h pylori, giardia, and bacterial imbalances.
Often when diets are not enough to relieve symptoms it’s because of one of the issues found on the tests above. This is what prevents the gut from rebalancing on its own.
Testing allows practitioners like myself to choose foods and supplements to address the actual problem, instead of guessing at what it may be.
There are no magic pills to make IBS go away but there are tests that will give you valuable insight so you don’t waste your time and money.
Mistake #2: Self doctoring
The second biggest mistake I see comes from having access to too much Internet information about health. While this can also be a blessing in terms of offering education, hope and alternatives, it tempts people to treat themselves. Using Google as your primary health care source can be dangerous.
Even as a health coach, I look for outside help when I encounter my own health issues. I may have the knowledge to address it, but my judgement suffers when I’m too close to the case. Simply put it’s hard to have perspective on your own problems. Emotions and anxiety will cloud intuition. I let an expert guide me so I can relax.
Some people go it alone due to financial reasons. There’s fear of spending/wasting money. Unfortunately most people will spend more time and money tackling issues on their own.
You can remedy this mistake by getting expert guidance and help.
Mistake #3: Self defeating beliefs
Our belief about ourselves, our bodies and the world is a a huge influence on our health.
Having faith that you can resolve your issues is your biggest asset. It’s way to easy to get discouraged when multiple attempts fail but if doubt and fear are your dominant beliefs about your health then you are engaging the opposite of the placebo affect.
Every failed experience teaches you more and brings you closer to your goal.
It is the fear of not getting better that keeps us from truly investing in it, trying new things and believing in our own power.
I had many failed attempts at fixing my gut issues. It was tough, but I believed there was a way out so I didn’t let my fears stop me.
All my failures eventually led to success and got me here to where I am now: able to enjoy my life and help others.
I remember how dark and lonely it can be but giving up faith is the biggest mistake you can make.
Believe in yourself and the support out there. Ask yourself what’s hold you back from totally investing in your health and recovery?
Mistake #4: Mistaking a healing crisis for a fail
When you are on the right track with your protocol your body will often get worse before getting better. This phenomenon is called a healing crisis. The body repairs itself in roller coaster waves of feeling better and worse. Do not panic if you feel worse, this is likely a detox or die off reaction.
Often this dip is followed by feeling better.
When you expect that it won’t be a smooth ride you handle it much better and the discomfort passes faster.
This is when having good support is critical. Left alone, we panic. Working with someone familiar with this pattern will provide advice on how to ease the detox symptoms or make changes to the program to slow down the detox. Typically a healing crisis occurs when your body is healing way too fast and gets overwhelmed.
Experts can usually tell the difference between a healing crisis and a problem.
Mistake #5: You’re only cheating yourself
There are no cheat days while on a gut-fixing protocol. Cheating will reignite the inflammatory process. If you are following a protocol and cheating occasionally, this could be the reason it’s not working.
Rebalancing your gut takes compliance. Cheating with a food allergen or inflammatory food can bring you back to the beginning.
If you keep insulting a leaky gut or feeding candida or bacterial overgrowth it will never resolve. The delicate ecosystem of your gut needs a needs a true vacation from insulting foods to recover.
Cheating on your IBS diet is a much bigger deal than cheating on a weight loss diet. In the later case you can always make it up by eating well the next few meals. Not the case with gut inflammation. It’s the fast track back to step 1.
So hopefully if you are making any of these common mistakes you will find a way to correct them.
The healing journey is full of lessons and at the end you will be happier and healthier than you’ve ever been because you will have learned about your body and mind and how to care for it properly.
At least that was the case for me.
Angela Privin is proof that IBS is NOT an incurable disease or a disease at all. IBS is a body out of balance. It’s an invitation for change. After solving her own IBS mystery more than a decade ago Angela trained as a health coach to help others.
Angela uses both science and intuition to help people figure out what’s out of balance in their body. She works with lab tests, dietary changes, supplementation and nervous system rebalancing. Get help rebalancing your digestive system and solving your IBS mystery here.