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The Importance of Lifestyle for IC/BPS

The Importance of Lifestyle for IC/BPS

By Joana Bartlett

Holistic Nutritionist, IC Warrior

When I was diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis (IC), I was left feeling SO daunted by the prospect of having something ‘chronic’ and ‘incurable’. Yes, I was relieved to finally get an answer to what had been causing me all this pain for so long. However, what was actually left was a feeling of being overwhelmed from the sheer quantity of information out there, but at the same time feeling like it just wasn’t enough. I’m sure if you’re reading this you know exactly what I mean. 
 
I was sent to a pelvic floor physiotherapist, who told me about the IC elimination diet. A few years into having symptoms I had realized a few things which seemed to impact my symptoms (sex, tight underwear, not drinking enough water, stress), and I had more or less narrowed it down to a few foods which I knew definitely aggravated my symptoms, so I never found the IC diet particularly helpful. Other than that, the only treatment I’d read about which was successful was pelvic floor physiotherapy. When I was told I actually didn’t have any pelvic floor dysfunction, I was left stumped. I was given no other guidance on what else could actually help with my symptoms. 
 
I was 25, in chronic pain, and constantly looking for that one thing which would magically cure me.  But I came to the realization that there is no magic one size fits all cure–it took a lot of work and time to accept this. 
 
It took me a LONG time, and a really unhealthy obsession with the internet researching IC, to figure out how impactful lifestyle is for IC. It was actually through listening to my own body (and reading less online) that I started to piece together the puzzle. Lifestyle plays a larger role than I could have ever imagined in getting into remission. Simply doing the elimination diet; cutting out all acidic foods and drinks, cutting out chocolate, cutting out anything spicy, will never be enough to give you long term relief. It will also never allow you to live freely or quite the same again. Not to mention all the disordered eating and vitamin ⁄ mineral deficiencies it can lead to. As a Holistic Nutritionist, it was a bitter pill to swallow that food wouldn’t fix this because we can create WAVES of change by making dietary changes. Although I suppose it is important to note that food still plays a role in IC, just without such a large emphasis on the elimination diet. 
 
So let’s explore this lifestyle and full body approach a little deeper.
Those food intolerances you’re developing more of or those chronic yeast infections you’re experiencing? Gut imbalance
The cyclical pain you’re feeling at a certain point in your cycle? Hormone imbalance
That difficulty passing urine? Pelvic floor dysfunction
That recurring pain at 7pm every evening, or 8am every morning? Pain brain connection
Those stress or anxiety induced flares you’re going through? Unregulated nervous system
These are all interlinked. I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Of course, all these symptoms are just indications which need testing in order to confirm what’s going on exactly and the extent in which they could be affecting your symptoms. 
 
When it comes to IC treatment, every person must be treated as an individual. We have to look at the whole person, from the brain to the gut. Every symptom you experience is another clue to piece together your personal IC story.
 
Over the next two days, I’m offering a free 2 part series:
April 27th, 1pm EST: 5 biggest mistakes I see people make (which I also made myself) and HOW to remedy them
April 28th, 1pm EST: Why the elimination diet alone is NOT enough
 
This is all information I wish I’d had when my symptoms were truly awful. I’ve been symptom-free for a year and a half now. My life has returned to normal, albeit a new normal; one which follows chronic indescribable pain. It’s this level of remission I aspire for you!
 
The first step is to attend my live workshops (recordings will be sent to those who register available for a limited amount of time). 
 
Joana Bartlett
 
Looking forward to connecting with you,
Joana