Jordan Faith is a 17 year old with IBS who has gained relief through the low FODMAP diet. We are bringing you her story, How The Low FODMAP Diet Changed My Life, so that you can see that you are not alone. Perhaps if you are a teenager, her story will speak very directly to you. Or maybe you are not a similar age, but can identify with some or many of her experiences. I know that I personally could relate to much of her story.
You can also read her first article, How to Make the Low FODMAP Diet Work for You – a Teen’s Perspective.
Jordan found a path that ultimately worked for her. At FODMAP Everyday® we recommend that you work with a registered dietitian or the equivalent in your country. Our very own Monash University trained RDN Vanessa Cobarubbia has written an article about credentials, which can help you find the right person. And of course, we have our international RDN list.
If you have a story to tell – with all it’s ups and downs, drop us a line.
Here, in Jordan’s own words, is a description of her story:
My Early Experiences
I felt like my body was spiraling out of control the summer before I started high school. I was stuck in this cycle where I woke up constipated and uncomfortable only to have it become worse every time I ate. I took Miralax daily but it never fully solved anything except maybe my constipation. The indescribable discomfort in my stomach came in various forms such as sharp pains, bloating and cramping. It was embarrassing.
I didn’t want to go out. What if I ended up wanting to come home? I felt like such a burden on my friends and family. I had multiple doctors telling me they didn’t know what was wrong. Instead of solutions, they would tell me to try a different diet. Try a gluten-free diet for two weeks, maybe go dairy-free, eat more meat, consume only raw food, eat fewer carbohydrates. The list goes on. I wasn’t a person; I became an experiment.
Freshman year came and my hope vanished. This only spiked my anxiety, which, unknowingly, went hand-in-hand with my still undiagnosed IBS. I was anxious for a math test and my feelings traveled from my head to my stomach. I was nervous about missing too much school because I had stomach pain, and my symptoms got worse. The cycle continued and so did the medical tests. I took Zoloft for my anxiety and I was still taking Miralax daily.
The only thing that gave me minor relief were my therapy sessions. They taught me to get out of my head and focus on things besides my medical tests. I endured a colonoscopy, endoscopy, a pelvic scan, bloodwork, and even tried colon hydrotherapy. This whirlwind caused me to miss 36 days of school my freshman year and a relatively equivalent amount in my sophomore year. I even considered homeschooling to lessen my stress. I had two years invested in my stomach and had no solution.
Check out our article on “Stress Eating”
How I Learned About the Low FODMAP Diet
People always say never Google your symptoms, it will only scare you more. It turns out Google had the answer for me. That’s how my mom found Suzanne Perazzini the summer before my junior year. Suzanne is a certified nutritional therapist who offers a six-week, low FODMAP diet plan for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Once we discovered her, my mom and I made the decision to fully invest in her program.
It wasn’t easy. It involved a lot of measuring and meal prep. I became tired of the bland food during the elimination phase. I was 16, it was summer and I wanted to enjoy ice cream with my friends. But I knew I had to put my health first. After everything I had been through, I wanted answers more than I wanted ice cream. My symptoms decreased after a few weeks and my hope, which I thought was lost in the whirlwind of tests, returned.
How I Was Finally Diagnosed with IBS
My success became obvious once I started the reintroduction phase. I was enjoying myself until I ate ½ cup of mango. I experienced the state of discomfort I had worked hard to get rid of. It was eye-opening. I didn’t fully realize and appreciate the impact of the food I consumed until then.
Next, I tested blackberries and had the same result. I had answers! Fructose, oligosaccharides, and polyols are poorly absorbed by my small intestine. Once we were able to identify these FODMAPs as my triggers, my symptoms significantly improved. Since we were seeing good outcomes with the low FODMAP diet, I was diagnosed by my gastroenterologist with Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Constipation (IBS-C).
Where I Am Now…and The Future Looks Bright
With an explanation and solution to my problems I gradually flourished into the vibrant person I was before IBS intruded my life. Now, the low FODMAP diet is second-hand to me. As I become confident with my diet, I become more self-assured. My smile is now genuine, not a mask to hide my insecurities and pain. I stay for lunch at school to hang out with my friends. I am excited for Friday night when after work I join my friends for a concert or shopping trip. I am no longer on any medication, including Zoloft and Miralax.
I used to think my stomach problems defined me. I was the weird, “lucky” girl who got to leave school early and stay home from school. Looking back, I realize it was directing me toward a future. Since learning (and continuing to learn) about nutrition, gut health, and mental health I have become ceaselessly intrigued by it; not just by information that affects me but the entire subject of diet and nutrition.
I’ve recently decided to major in dietetics and can’t wait to start my career. My excitement for college and my future has grown so much that I started my college courses early. I am doing dual enrollment through a local community college and it’s been a great experience. Because I no longer fret over eating or stomach pain, my brain has more space to take in new memories and appreciate my surroundings. This journey has been one of my proudest achievements.