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An Open Letter to my Younger Self with IBS

Discover practical insights for managing IBS as Kelsey shares life lessons in an open letter to her younger self struggling with gut health.


Dear Younger Self, 

You don’t know it now, but those gut symptoms you’ve been dealing with for most of your life aren’t normal! Eventually, you’ll discover what a healthy gut feels like and gain the power of actually knowing your IBS food triggers. I’m excited to tell you that there will come a time when you can enjoy meals with your friends and family without constant worry or need to rush to the toilet. You will find a new level of brain function and clarity of thoughts that you never knew could be possible. Life will get easier, and trust me, you will enjoy life again and feel a level of freedom you never knew existed!

Here are some IBS life lessons that I have learnt over the years:

  1. Back yourself. You know your body better than anyone else. You will come up against doctors and specialists who don’t listen to your concerns about your gut symptoms. If you’re not happy with how you’re being treated, don’t hesitate to seek a second opinion, push for referrals to a specialist, and advocate for further testing. Having a support person with you during appointments can also strengthen your advocacy.
  2. Track your symptoms. Keeping a record of your symptoms will not only better prepare you for your appointments but will also ensure you’re taken more seriously by healthcare professionals. Enduring six episodes of diarrhoea every morning before heading to university is NOT normal, and you shouldn’t have to put up with it like you have been.
  3. Find a way to switch off. This is something we’re still working on now, but when you really take the time to unwind, your gut will thank you for it. Do something for you, whether it’s scheduling time to read, call a friend, or watch a movie. Living life at full speed 24/7 will only lead to burnout and your IBS will only get worse. Prioritise time for yourself and your health – you won’t regret it.
  4. Be patient. Optimising your gut health is a gradual process that takes time. Also know, that what works for you now, doesn’t necessarily work for us in the future, our gut is ever evolving. Stay in tune with your body and mind, and no matter what, trust your gut. 
  5. Persevere through challenges. There will be times when eating feels daunting because absolutely everything seems to flare up your IBS. Push through; your passion for food, cooking, baking and joy with eating will eventually return. Believe it or not, the struggles you face now will one day enable you to empathise with your clients AND inspiring you to create a business aimed at helping people with IBS.

Eventually, you’ll reach a place in your life where you’ll know your IBS food and non-food triggers (p.s. stress is a huge trigger!), your gut will heal and you’ll manage to go weeks at a time with perfect bowel movements. It takes time, so advocate for yourself within the healthcare system, take time out of your day to rest, be patient and one day all of this will be worth it!


Much love,

Your Future Self xx

Published: 9th January 2024

Author: Kelsey Paterson, Monash FODMAP trained Dietitian

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