Usually when we think of models, we think about beautiful faces and perfect bodies. We rarely think of the issues that they have to deal with in their lives; we often forget that they are people too. But for Alyce Crawford, an Australian model living with IBS, life hasn’t always been picture perfect.
BELOW👇 A very honest & very personal post that I am sharing in the hope that it can help someone else. *NOTE* This story has a positive ending so if you read it, read it all! For the last 3 years, I have suffered with IBS. The symptom I suffer with specifically is severe bloating. It began literally overnight while I was living in America. I woke up one morning, my stomach was extremely bloated & I was experiencing sharp stabbing pains. From that day on, my life was never the same. This illness is often very misunderstood & overlooked a lot by medical professionals & the general public alike. No, it is not life threating, but it is a condition that has caused & had a severe negative impact on my mental & physical health. To me, that alone is enough to be considered an illness. There was never 1 day in 3 years, that I ever felt completely well or healthy. The repercussions of feeling this way not only effected my mental & physical health, but effected relationships & my work as a model. For those of you reading who suffer from IBS or a similar condition (or know someone suffering) will understand & know exactly what I am talking about, & others may scroll past this post. But this is real, it hurts & I am sharing my experience & how I came to get better so it can possibly help someone else. The above photo on the right where I am bloated was the stomach I put up with 90% of the time for 3 years. The photo on the left is my stomach NOW 90% of the time (+ 4kgs of body fat down compared to the photo on the right). No woman or man is ever going feel good about themselves, while physically looking like the photo on the right. Looking this way was just one of the battles, the other was how I felt. Sick, nauseous, sore, unmotivated & very lethargic. Feeling like this often made the smallest thing in my day a struggle (getting dressed for example). All I wanted to wear, was my pyjamas & not move from a laying down position, as sitting upright hurt too much. *CONTINUED IN COMMENTS
Alyce took to social media with an Instagram post explaining to her followers her struggle with IBS.
“For the last 3 years, I have suffered with IBS,” she wrote in her Instagram post. “The symptom I suffer with specifically is severe bloating. It began literally overnight while I was living in America. I woke up one morning, my stomach was extremely bloated & I was experiencing sharp stabbing pains. From that day on, my life was never the same.”
In her post, she explains that the photo on the right was how her stomach looked 90% of the time. Luckily, with the help of dietician, they were able to come up with a meal plan for Alyce to better control her uncomfortable symptoms. Though she admits the meal plan is pretty strict, Alyce admits that it’s a small price to pay for the relief that she feels.
What Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is a fairly common disorder that affects the large intestine . Unfortunately, there is no cure for IBS as it is a chronic condition, but its symptoms can be managed through diet, lifestyle, and stress management. More severe cases of IBS symptoms can be treated with medication and counseling .
Symptoms of IBS vary, but the most common include:
- Abdominal pain, cramps or bloating that is usually relieved or somewhat relieved by passing a bowel movement
- Excess gas
- Diarrhea or constipation — sometimes alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation
- Mucus in the stool
While there is no precise cause of IBS, there are certain factors that play a key role:
- Muscle contractions in the intestine: Our intestines are lined with muscles that contract to help move food through our digestive tract. Contractions that are stronger and last longer than normal can cause gas, bloating and diarrhea. Weak contractions can slow food passage and lead to hard, dry stools.
- Nervous system abnormalities: abnormalities in the nerves in your digestive system can cause unusual discomfort when your stomach bloats from gas or stool.
- Inflammation in the intestines
- Severe infection
- Changes in bacteria in the gut: Your microflora are the “good” bacteria that reside in the intestines and play a key role in health. Research indicates that microflora in people with IBS might differ from microflora in healthy people.
Different people can be triggered by different things, but the 3 most common IBS triggers are food, stress, and hormones . While a true food allergy rarely causes IBS, people with sensitivities to foods like wheat, dairy products, citrus fruits, beans, cabbage, milk and carbonated drinks experience worse symptoms if they eat them. People with IBS may also have worse or more frequent symptoms during stress, but stress itself is not a cause of IBS symptoms. Women are twice as likely to suffer from IBS, indicating that hormonal changes may play a part. Women often find that their symptoms are worse during or around the time of their menstrual period.
Treating IBS Naturally
The best way to treat your IBS is by being careful with what you consume and by managing your stress. Here are some tips for keeping your IBS symptoms in check :
Exercise is a great way to relieve any stress that you may be experiencing. It can even help dealing with depression and anxiety as your body releases endorphins when you work out. Exercise can help IBS by promoting more regular muscle contractions in your intestines. If you’re not used to constant exercise, try a simple routine like this.
Learn To Relax
If you find your IBS symptoms are most triggered by stress, try to incorporate some relaxation techniques into your daily routine. The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders suggests 3 specific relaxation techniques: diaphragmatic/abdominal breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualization/positive imagery.
Eat More Fiber
Fiber is a double-edged sword for people with IBS. It can help with some symptoms like constipation, but can worsen others like cramping and gas. According to the American College of Gastroenterology, food that contains psyllium (a type of fiber) may help more with the symptoms of IBS than food that contains bran.
Watch Out For Dairy
Some people who are lactose-intolerant also suffer from IBS. These people should consume yogurt instead of milk to meet their dairy needs. Your doctor may also recommend that you avoid dairy altogether, meaning you’ll have to ensure you get your protein and calcium from other sources.
While IBS isn’t deadly, it’s a lifelong battle that shouldn’t be ignored. Those who have it often suffer for years before learning how to properly deal with their symptoms and to understand their bodies. Hopefully the future can offer a better remedy for those with IBS, but for now we should all make efforts to support those we know with IBS and spread the awareness that it deserves.
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