Why You Need A Personalised Self-Care Plan
Finding out you have IBS, a chronic long-term condition can be a shocking and sobering discovery. However, the good news is a personalised self-care plan can make a massive difference to your quality of life by helping to reduce your symptoms, eat well and get back to doing the things you love.
WHAT IS A SELF CARE PLAN?
A self-care plan is a guide or protocol designed specifically for you, by you and your health coach/nutritionist to help you manage your symptoms and overall health and wellbeing. IBS is greatly affected by diet and lifestyle factors which can either trigger or reduce your symptoms and flares.
It's like having a personal handbook for living with IBS that allows you to take charge of your life, rather than letting your IBS take control of you. You can be confident about your treatments and diet knowing they've been designed to fit your personal needs, and whatever issues come up you can refer back to your plan to see what to do and how to effectively troubleshoot any symptoms.
FOUR THINGS TO INCLUDE IN YOUR SELF-CARE PLAN
With IBS being a digestive disorder the first thing on your plan should be any dietary guidelines you need to follow.
There are so many diets out there, from low FODMAP to low fermentation to low sulphur to elemental. But knowing the cause of your IBS will help you and your nutritionist design a diet plan that works for you so you don't have to try them all.
Having a collection of recipes that you like and are easy to make, as well as knowing how to eat out will save you time and worry and will give you the confidence to eat without fear of triggering your symptoms.
Also vital for an effective self-care plan is knowing which treatments you need. Depending on the cause of your IBS you may need antibiotics or natural antimicrobials to address SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth), a prokinetic to stimulate motility, nutrient supplements to resolve any deficiencies or digestive support such as enzymes.
Knowing in advance which treatments or therapies you're going to use, for how long, how they will work and what to expect takes guessing and fear out of the equation. You can go back to your self-care plan at any time to remind yourself how to proceed in any given situation.
As with any chronic illness managing your IBS will include among other things, stress management, getting exercise, pacing yourself and prioritizing sleep. All these factors play a role in your digestive health and having them written into your self-care plan, as well as scheduling time to have fun and do things you enjoy will ensure you don't forget to do them.
4. SYMPTOM TRACKER/JOURNAL
A self-care plan is all well and good but how do you know if it's working or not. Some improvements may come fast and be obvious but others may be more subtle. Some treatments may cause issues and you may have to reconsider whether to use them. Certain foods though included in your dietary guidelines may cause a reaction.
Keeping a symptom tracker or journal will not only ensure you identify the cause of any setbacks but that you're aware of what's helping you.
Everything in life is easier if you have a guide to refer to and living with IBS is the same. The most important thing to remember is that your guide, your self-care plan must be designed specifically for you. A generic protocol is unlikely to be successful but a uniquely tailored self-care plan can be the difference between pain and misery and a life filled with enjoyment and freedom.