One of the most major irritants of IBS is the quality and compatibility of the food that is fed to the body. For example, those that eat a healthy diet of fresh fruit and vegetables and cut out takeaways, fast food and fizzy drinks, are less likely to suffer from IBS.
There is also an increased likelihood that an IBS sufferer will have some food intolerances or allergies. Diary, wheat and gluten are amongst the most common food intolerances. It is relatively easy to have an allergy test to discover if there are any such causes and it is also worthwhile experimenting with foods that are known irritants. If these are cut from the diet for 1 month then the client will be able to establish what influence these foods have upon their IBS symptoms.
So diet has an enormous impact on the effects of IBS, and so does stress. Many people who suffer with IBS are already aware of the link between their stress levels and their IBS symptoms. In fact the feelings of fear, panic and anxiety can have an almost immediate impact of the workings of the stomach. Many people have had the experience of becoming anxious and noticing a fluttering or shifting feeling in the stomach area. Some experience their IBS in this way, and are actually in touch with the emotional feelings that are affecting their health and wellbeing. It is thought that the saying “follow your gut feeling” relates to the experience of noticing the emotions within the stomach region and establishing whether those feelings are positive or negative feelings, in fact many cultures believe that the stomach is the second domain of the emotions. It could therefore be presupposed that those who experience IBS in this way have some other issue that would cause them to experience these negative emotions in the first place. It could be trouble in a relationship or at work, or it could be related to a specific fear, phobia or some other problem that causes the client to feel stress.
Others are less aware of the emotions in their stomach, and instead may be experiencing stressful or negative thoughts that later cause their IBS symptoms.
The best way to pin point what causes the symptoms of IBS will be through the use of a diary. The client will be asked to write down everything that they eat and drink and at what time over a two week period. This diary should also include the times when the IBS symptoms are experienced. This will help the therapist to highlight and discuss with the client any obvious links between the foods in the food diary and the occurrence of the IBS symptoms. If there are no obvious links, the therapist can then also begin to explore reoccurring emotions and the circumstances that create these. Techniques can then be used to deal with these negative emotions, plus techniques for relaxation to combat stress can be taught to the client. Hypnosis can also be used to offer the clients suggestions for healing and eating more healthily in the future.
By Gemma Bailey