For as long as Liz Long, 57, can remember, she struggled with food and digestion. “It’s always been my Achilles heel in terms of health,” the Print & Packaging Artworker for a food retailer said.
She continued: “In my twenties and thirties, I had stressful jobs, deadlines and long hours, and if I was working too hard, I’d have days where it felt like I had a stomach bug.”
During a conference in Stockholm when she was 30 years old, Liz’s symptoms got “so bad” that she had to be seen by a doctor in the hotel, who told her that she needed a prebiotic to rebalance her gut.
Liz, who lives in Buckinghamshire, said: “I found it particularly frustrating and bewildering because I’ve always been an active, sporty person. I love horse-riding, scuba diving and going to the gym regularly and yet I was always feeling sluggish and bloated.”
Seven years ago, Liz ended up being diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition that affects the digestive system and causes symptoms like stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation.
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“IBS is taken more seriously now and recognised, but seven years ago it was dismissed,” she said.
The 57-year-old would try to make dietary tweaks but stress kept flaring up the stubborn condition.
Liz said: “As a result of my stomach issues, I would stick to certain foods that I knew were safe territory for me and as a result, I put on weight.”
Her stomach issues reached “a massive low” this Easter, when she spent the whole holiday weekend on the sofa alone because she didn’t dare to venture too far from the toilet.
She said: “After my experience at Easter, I knew I had to speak to a GP about my IBS.”
She was prescribed tablets called Colofac, which worked brilliantly, but she still wasn’t losing any weight.
Over the years, Liz tried many diets but none of them worked in the long-term until she trialled the Mediterranean diet and Dr Michael Mosley’s The Fast 800 programme.
These two dietary tweaks made a “significant improvement” to her IBS as well as her weight-loss journey.
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She said: “I felt brave enough to try coming off my tablets. I had no flare-up and no reaction and realised that the fresh, healthy food I was now eating was working for me – not just in terms of weight loss, but more importantly, for my IBS symptoms.
“I find that eating two meals a day suits my metabolism. I cut out sugar which I found surprisingly easy and I actually didn’t realise that it was so inflammatory and was having such a negative effect on my gut.”
Liz shared that all the recipes on The Fast 800 “calm” her stomach, and she doesn’t find the meal plans restrictive either.
She said: “I can still have the odd glass of red wine as a treat. As a treat now, I’ll have Greek yogurt with some nuts and cocoa and I might add a little maple syrup. I love prawns, fish, cottage cheese, peanut butter and because of this way of eating, I’ve shed 1.5 stone since the start of the year.
“I don’t suffer from IBS symptoms anymore and I’m much less bloated and more comfortable.
“I don’t experience any stomach gurgling, there’s no wind, no sickness in the morning, and I don’t have to worry about having to run to the toilet.”
She also feels like her newly found diet gives her far more energy, leaving her feeling great.
The 57-year-old is now planning to lose a bit more weight and be “a little stricter”. “Now, that I’ve got my IBS fully under control, I feel like I’m ready to take on the next challenge,” she added.
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