Once I had decided to view Irritable Bowel Syndrome dietary restrictions as mere challenges to be met through creative thinking and cooking, I realized that I had a whole world of cuisines to explore, exotic foods to taste, and nothing at all to lose by trying different things. I vowed to never be intimidated by new cooking techniques, specialty ingredients, or recipes from different traditions and cultures. Food is fun, cooking is a pleasure, and eating a delicious meal is the wonderful end reward. After I had gained the knowledge that allowed me to eat without fear, I refused to be afraid in the kitchen. Recipes just couldn't be too varied, exciting, or interesting - safe never meant boring or bland. And like everything else that seems daunting at first, with practice came comfort, and with repetition came familiarity. New techniques were never as complicated as they had initially seemed once I actually tried them, and ethnic foods were no longer foreign once I had tasted them.

Recipe adaptations soon became a quick and easy matter, and it grew quite clear that there was simply no limit on great taste when it came to cooking for IBS. My personal IBS recipe collection accumulated gradually over the years, eventually filling an entire shelf of notebooks in my kitchen bookcase with a wide variety of exciting, delicious, and healthy dishes. As I was the only person I knew with IBS, however, these recipes, as well as the dietary guidelines that formed them, were simply for my own use. It never occurred to me - in fact, it didn't seem possible - that there were other people (millions of them!) suffering from the same problem I had, who could all be helped by my information. Then the internet came along and changed everything.

How, exactly? Well, Eating for IBS evolved over the course of a few years from an email file I created to send to other people on IBS boards.

I had surfed onto these web sites with a casual interest at first, as I don't give too much thought to my own IBS anymore. I've lived with it on a daily basis for so long that I automatically control my diet, and thus the symptoms, through habit. So I was completely astonished and appalled by how much the people on the IBS boards were suffering, and by the fact that no one had told them how to eat properly. Many of their stories were heartbreaking, and their desperation was palpable. They felt they were treated with a complete lack of respect by doctors and offered no help at all – many were told things like "stop complaining", and "the pain can't be as bad as you say or you'd kill yourself." These were people whose lives were so utterly compromised by IBS that they attempted suicide, purchased RVs with toilets in the back so they could drive without worrying about a sudden attack, and wore adult diapers every day in case they were stricken in public and couldn't make it to a restroom in time.

I was deeply affected by the stories on the IBS boards, so I started compiling all the advice I had to give, and eventually this information turned into a full-fledged eating plan. I added the recipes when I realized that most people would be dumbstruck when told they could no longer eat meat, dairy, fried foods, coffee, or soda pop. I didn't want people to feel that there was nothing left they could eat, and I knew that's how most of them would react to my information. There is in fact a wealth of wonderful things to eat that don't trigger IBS attacks, and as I had created hundreds of dishes over the years I decided to share my recipes along with the dietary advice.

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Continue reading Eating for Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

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