We know it can be daunting when you’ve been diagnosed with IBS but hearing someone else’s story and learning how they manage their symptoms daily can be a real help, this is why we wanted to catch up with Alana Scott. Alana runs the low FODMAP recipe website alittlebityummy.com and since she was diagnosed with IBS she has completely transformed her diet and in turn her life. We asked her 6 questions which we hope will help all our customers that have had a recent diagnosis, those who have been living with IBS for years and are looking for some inspiration and those who want to know more about the condition.
When did you first get diagnosed with IBS and what were the symptoms that made you think there was something wrong?
I was at university when I started to realise that my gut was misbehaving. It began with me sneakily unzipping my jeans in lecture theatres to let my bloated belly escape… and progressed to me trying to have sneaky farts at networking events! Things then took a turn for the worse. I started losing a lot of weight, I felt nauseous all the time and was vomiting, had bad abdominal pain, and diarrhoea. It got to the point that I didn’t want to leave the house anymore. It was scary because I felt like I was losing myself and was being consumed by my gut issues.
So off I went to my local GP who referred me straight on to a gastroenterologist. Initially, I was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease and then later with Irritable Bowel Syndrome when I had a few residual symptoms that just wouldn’t settle.
After you were diagnosed, what was your next step?
After I was diagnosed, I had the support of a really knowledgeable dietitian. My journey was a bit more complicated due to my Coeliac Disease. Initially, we tried a strict gluten-free diet to settle my symptoms, and when that wasn’t enough to resolve my gut issues, my dietitian recommended that we integrate the low FODMAP diet as well. I can’t imagine doing this journey by myself. Having the support and knowledge of my dietitian helped ease my anxiety and enabled me to commit to the lifestyle changes I needed to make. If you’re reading this and struggling, then make sure you find someone to help! Just check your dietitian is knowledgeable in gut health issues before you book your appointment.
When did you learn about the low FODMAP diet and did you find it easy to adapt recipes and change your diet?
Oh my, I definitely went through a bit of food depression when my dietitian put me on the low FODMAP diet. She did a great job of explaining the FODMAP diet process, but it was still extremely overwhelming trying to figure out how to implement the diet in my everyday life as a university student.
My first supermarket shop was a mess. I left with a bag of carrots and a chicken breast and thought I’d never eat good food again. However, after a few weeks I started focusing on what I could eat and figured out how to replace onion and garlic. This meant I could start playing with recipes! I discovered that with some herbs and spices yummy food is totally possible. Now adapting recipes or creating new ones is basically second nature.
What is the biggest struggle whilst on the low FODMAP diet?
I think my biggest stumbling block with the low FODMAP diet was when I failed my FODMAP challenges during the reintroduction phase. This happened several times and was really unusual. At this stage, I felt like I was never going to get my food freedom back. We think this problem was caused by my Coeliac Disease and that my gut just wasn’t ready to handle the FODMAPs yet. However, four years on I am now on a fully modified FODMAP diet. I can happily eat small amounts of all FODMAP groups and can even eat some freely. This has made eating out so much easier and means I have heaps of variety throughout the week.
The big lesson I learned from my re-challenge experience is that my FODMAP tolerance levels are changing all the time. This means I go back and retest the FODMAP groups that I still struggle with every few months to see if I can start increasing my serving sizes or bring more foods back.
I started A Little Bit Yummy because I didn’t want anyone else to go through the same food depression I went through. It’s hard enough living with gut issues without feeling like there is also nothing fun left to eat! I also had the encouragement of my dietitian, as she wanted to share my recipes with her other clients to help them on their journeys.
So I became a content writer and started sharing my journey, figured out how to photograph food, and craft resources that everyday people can understand. Now I work with a fantastic team of international dietitians, and together we provide dietitian reviewed resources to over 1.3 million people each year, which is pretty amazing.
Our mission at A Little Bit Yummy is to simplify low FODMAP life by creating a massive FODMAP resource hub. If you are struggling, then make sure you check out our FODMAP Wellness Club – it’s got everything you need to find your happy gut place and your food freedom. We’ve developed e-courses, meal plans, and over 500+ low FODMAP recipes. This is basically the resource I wish I’d had when I started my FODMAP journey.
Do you have a favourite recipe?
Oh my gosh. This is a ridiculously hard question for me. My recipes are kind of like my babies and I have so many favourites. I think at the end of the day I’m a chicken wing woman. I’m addicted to tasty wings and absolutely love them. My favourite way to enjoy them is smothered in a sweet orange sauce, which makes them irresistibly sticky! I love this recipe so much it featured in my cookbook The Gut Friendly Cookbook which has 100 of my favourite low FODMAP, gluten free, and allergy friendly recipes. (Check out the low FODMAP Sweet Orange Chicken Wings here. )
Thank you so much Alana for answering our questions and giving us some much needed advice and positivity in what can be a really stressful time!
If you would like to purchase The Gut Friendly Cookbook, you can buy it here.