My name is Maria Pataro, and I am a 24 year-old female diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). For those of you who know me personally, this is so awkward. For those of you experiencing these same symptoms, you’re not alone, and I want to help!
I’ve had GI issues for as long as I can remember, but I was always so embarrassed. I can remember my parents rubbing my belly every night when I was younger. My stomachaches were so frequent that belly rubs became apart of our regular goodnight routine. When my mom asked my pediatrician about it, his response was that little girls get bellyaches. Being the wonderful mother she is, this answer was not good enough. My mom decided that I was lactose intolerant based on my symptoms that would follow after consuming dairy. Eliminating dairy helped a lot, but I still had frequent GI issues.
Continuing through high school and college, my symptoms became worse and more frequent. While away at college, I would attribute mild episodes to stress and being away from home, and I would attribute severe episodes to a stomach bug or accidentally consuming dairy. Keep in mind that I never thought of my GI issues as long term problems until recently. I simply thought that I had a weak immune system and was prone to being sick since I was in college and stressed out.
After a few changes, I was living at home and commuting to a new college. Being home, being much less stressed, and not living with other college students, I was confused as to why I was still experiencing frequent GI problems. I was sitting in the kitchen with my parents complaining about always being sick, and that’s when it hit me. I have these symptoms all of the time. I can’t remember the last time my bowel movements were regular (again, so awkward). That’s when I decided it was time to write down every time I was ever constipated or had diarrhea in the past couple months and go see my physician. After listening to me describe all of my symptoms, seeing how often they occur, and performing some blood tests to confirm I didn’t have something more serious, my physician diagnosed me with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
When my physician asked me to commit to trying a low FODMAP diet to relieve my IBS symptoms, my first thought was about the holidays. In a moment of weakness and negativity, I cried when I got home from the doctor because I thought the holidays, and life in general, would never be the same. I was correct in thinking that life would change, but simply because it has since changed for the better. It only took a couple conversations with my family for me to realize that this could be the best thing that has ever happened to me. I finally had an answer for all of my GI problems, and the solution was a simple diet change! My IBS will not cause any long term affects on my digestive system, I don’t have to take any medications, and there’s a chance I’ll rarely have those symptoms again all by simply cutting out high FODMAP foods. It really couldn’t get much better than this.
So with my newfound optimism regarding this diet, I set out to make some of my favorite foods using low FODMAP ingredients. When I first started writing and attempting these recipes, it was simply so I could enjoy all of my favorite foods as before, but now I know that 10% of the population worldwide has IBS. What’s crazy is that only about 30% of these people will consult a doctor for their symptoms. I know poop is awkward. I know being constipated and having diarrhea is embarrassing. I also know that feeling better and silencing those devitalizing symptoms is life-changing. Thank you for taking the time to read about my IBS story. I hope that this site will help you to find comfort in the fact that you’re not alone and that these simple (yet tedious) diet changes can help you immensely.