Irritable Bowel Syndrome, IBS, affects twice as more women in the UK than it does men. It’s very common digestive disorder that can go unnoticed if you’re unaware of the symptoms of IBS, but can eased easily by focusing on your diet and working on your stress levels. It’s not fully understood yet as to what causes IBS, but eating certain foods, wind, stress and anxiety can all trigger symptoms of it.
As of yet there is no cure, but maintaining a healthy diet and finding ways to reduce your stress/anxiety has been found to ease the pains that IBS brings.
It has been said that IBS is ‘all in the brain,’ but IBS is much more than that and very hard to live with. We spoke to Baylee Oligmiller, a speech therapy graduate, who gave us a preview of her daily diet and ways to keep fit while living with IBS.
Hi Baylee, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Sure! Well, let’s see. I am 22 years old, and just graduated from the University of Montana with a degree in speech therapy. I will be returning this fall to pursue my master’s degree. I was born and raised in Montana and have always been active, especially in the outdoors with hiking and skiing, but when I started college I really began going enjoy exercising more. Now,it is an essential part of my life and something I am very passionate about!
I love cardio and one of my favorite workouts is a nice run outside followed by some strength training and ab circuits. Dance is also something I grew up doing and I think it’s a super fun way to get your heart pumping while having fun. I was given the opportunity to teach a Zumba-type of dance class called CRX Dance Fusion, which combines high intensity cardio and plyometrics with dance, at a local gym in my hometown of Helena, MT this summer. I am loving it!
As far as diet goes, I try to eat very healthy, all natural, low residue foods. I suffer from several food sensitivities, (ex gluten& lactose) and was diagnosed with severe IBS a few years ago. I’m still learning how to effectively manage and prevent symptoms, but have learned that many digestive disorders are provoked by stress and foods high in preservatives, sugars, fats, and artificial ingredients.
Through daily exercise, which makes me feel amazing and provides me with necessary stress relief, and a clean, digestive friendly diet, I hope to improve my overall health and happiness. I created my fitness account on Instagram to connect with and encourage others who are doing the same, and hope I can provide help and support for other people striving to better their lives with diet and fitness. I think everyone deserves to have a positive self image and to be happy in their own skin. Each human being is so beautiful and unique! If in finding my own self-confidence I can help improve that of others, I will feel I have truly accomplished something.
How difficult has it been since you found out you have IBS?
Living with IBS is very hard! It is so unpredictable, flaring up when I least expect it and rendering me weak and often times unable to eat. It is worsened with stress, so completing my senior year of college, taking the GRE exam, and applying to graduate school at times seemed hopeless when accompanied by my relentless symptoms. Thankfully I have great doctors and a dietitian who have been able to help me manage my symptoms, and I recently began seeing a therapist for stress management. Despite the challenges, I have learned a lot about my body and the foods that will provide necessary nourishment while keeping my digestive tract happy.
What foods did you have to stop eating? What did you substitute them with?
When I first began to notice my symptoms, gluten was the first thing to go. Since that point (about 3 years ago), I also try to avoid lactose and high residue or really fibrous foods high in certain sugars (also called FODMAPS) that are harder for the body to digest. A lot of these are in fact really healthy, but when you have a digestive syndrome or an irritable bowel disease, foods like broccoli, popcorn, apples, raw nuts, celery (any foods that are really nutty, stringy or have a fibrous skin) are harder for the intestines to break down and can result in cramping and discomfort. I love carbs and bread and thought that being gluten free would be pure agony, but over the years I have discovered it’s really not all that bad! I eat a lot of gluten free oats, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and Franz 7 grain gluten free bread (the best store bought GF bread for me). With the awareness of celiacs disease on the rise, there are a plethora of options for gluten free eaters today, so making delicious homemade baked goods and pancakes is easy! The same goes for lactose, and I buy lactose free milk and yogurt each week to ensure that I still get the proper amount of calcium. Cutting out some of the other high residue or high FODMAP foods has been a little harder. I’ve always loved steamed broccoli, raw celery, and nuts. I refuse to completely give up apples, I just make sure when I do eat them that they are thoroughly peeled. If I am craving nuts, I can still enjoy nut butters and will eat a couple spoonfuls of peanut butter.
How has being healthy helped you?
Living a healthy lifestyle has helped me tremendously. Not only does eating clean and working out help to keep my IBS from flaring up, it also provides me with stress relief, energy, and confidence.
In particular what type of workouts do you do?
My go to workouts incorporate some form of high intensity cardio with strength training and core work. I love to go on runs outside (Montana weather permitting) followed by some body weight circuits (ex. jumping lunges, burpees, squats, push ups, jump squats), and then some ab exercises. My favorite ab circuit consists of a circuit of 10 crunches, 2O bicycles, and 10 reverse crunches, repeated six times. I also love to hike and dance, and have been teaching a fitness dance class calledCRX-Dance Fusion at my local gym this summer. I recently started doing the Kayla Itsines workouts with a friend 3 days a week. Wow. Kayla knows how to kick your butt in 30 minutes, but you feel amazing afterward!
What’s your average day food like? Is it a lot of effort? Is it sustainable?
Here is what my daily meal plan consists of:
Breakfast: Bowl of gluten free oatmeal with lactose free milk, cinnamon, and a drizzle of pure, organic maple syrup. Cup of fresh melon or berries. Sometimes a protein shake made with Tera’s whey and lactose free, fat free milk
Lunch: Scrambled egg whites or grilled chicken, oven roasted carrots or small salad with romaine, fresh tomatoes, oil and vinegar Afternoon snack: fresh fruit (ex. peach, banana, berries) and sometimes a spoonful of peanut butter or a glass of milk.
Dinner: Serving of protein (my favorite is oven baked tilapia with dill and lemon pepper), veggies (sauteed zuchinni and yellow squash), and most of the time a serving of complex carbs (ex. brown rice, quinoa, or gluten free whole grain pasta). We have been eating a lot of corn on the cob this summer . So delicious, but I can’t eat too much because the kernels can be hard to digest!
Evening snack: I have a notorious sweet tooth, so this is usually satisfied at night though I try not to eat past 9 pm. Some of my favorite desserts include, peeled apples with a drizzle of warm peanut butter and organic dark chocolate chips, a glass of lactose free chocolate milk, kettle corn (my true Achilles’ heel in life, MUST practice moderation), and these delicious flourless peanut butter banana muffins that I make just about every week haha (recipe on my Instagram account).
How do you keep yourself motivated?
Staying motivated can be a challenge for everyone! Sometimes I just want to sit on the couch and satisfy all of my cravings, which I let myself do occasionally! I feel like allowing ourselves a little comfort food and relaxation is crucial in staying healthy, and in staying motivated. I don’t deny myself a bowl of lactose free ice cream or a few gluten free cookies, if anything I feel more motivated to bust my butt during my next workout! Moderation is the key. To keep my motivation up I try to think positively and tell myself “You can do this. Think about how great you feel when you’re running and your heart is pumping!” I have sticky notes on my mirror with motivational sayings and positive encouragement.
My fitness page on Instagram is a great source of motivation on and I am constantly encouraged and inspired by other people and their fitness journeys and goals. I remember looking in the mirror after a bad bout of IBS that landed me in the hospital and resulted my weight dropping to around 95 pounds. Without nourishment and exercise, the spark was gone from my eyes and I looked gaunt and thin. I didn’t recognize myself! I find a lot of my motivation from that girl in the mirror that day, and when I don’t feel like eating properly or exercising, I remind myself that I want to be healthy and strong, not sickly and skinny. Proper nourishment and exercise are the keys to my success and my primary defenses against episodes of IBS.
How do you feel about our App Aflete. A dedicated place for people to share their health and fitness journeys with others?
I think Aflete is a great App that allows for people working towards healthier, and happier lifestyle to come together and inspire each other! It is amazing the kindness and support people who have never met are able to offer one another through apps like Aflete. It not only provides a valuable resource for those looking to eat better and exercise more or change up their routine, but allows for a plethora of inspiration and encouragement that has the ability to reach and uplift people in ways that were not before possible.
To know more about Baylee or if you need some motivation, you can find her on Instagram here – @sweet_petite13