Have you been told by your medical team that despite your uncomfortable symptoms, there is nothing wrong with you?
Whether you have been given a Low FODMAP diet handout or you have been told that your GI issues are “all in your head”, we have all had experiences that just don’t sit right when it comes to getting support for our gut health. But these dead ends don’t have to hold you back from actually finding relief from your GI symptoms. In today’s episode I am breaking down 3 things your doctor is not telling you about your GI symptoms and some actionable tips that you can apply today to actually find relief.
In this episode, I will cover:
- What your doctor isn’t telling you about elimination diets
- Ways to determine if you are actually able to get rid of GI issues for good
- The concept of GI issues being “all in your head”
- How to start finding relief from your symptoms
05:25 – Why IBS is a “trash can” diagnosis
10:35 – How to find relief from uncomfortable gut symptoms
15:44 – Why your gut symptoms are not all in your head
20:02 -The connection between stress, GI symptoms, and IBD
24:55 – The importance of addressing both physical and mental health
After listening, if you find this episode has been helpful, share this episode on Instagram and tag me, and tell me your biggest takeaway!
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- “Your gut health is dynamic. Gut health is not a static condition that is set in stone. Instead, it’s a super complex interplay of various factors, including diet, lifestyle, stress, and your gut microbiome.”
- “Relief from your gut symptoms is actually achievable.”
- “Your gut issues are not all in your head.”
Connect with Dr. Heather
- Purchase your copy of The Healthy, Happy Gut Cookbook: Simple, Non-Restrictive Recipes to Treat IBS, Bloating, Constipation and Other Digestive Issues the Natural Way by Dr. Heather Finley on Amazon and in Barnes and Noble
Dr. Heather Finley
Dr. Heather Finley 0:02
Labeling IBS as a hole in your head really just oversimplifies this issue and disregards the physical aspects of gut health. It’s a complex puzzle. So there’s a lot of symptoms that can be experienced when someone has IBS. Hey, welcome to the love your podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Heather Finley, I know what you’re thinking, how am I supposed to love my gut when all it does is hold me back. I thought the same thing before I found my own relief from my own gut health issues. I dedicated my life to getting to the bottom of my own gut issues, so I can help women just like you transformed theirs. Now I’m here to guide you through your own gut health journey. We do this through identifying your root causes and making sustainable and transformational changes. As a result, you can unleash your true potential. My goal is to empower you with the information and tools you need to love your gut. So it loves you back right here on this podcast.
Dr. Heather Finley 1:03
Welcome back to the next episode of the love your gut podcast. I am so excited that you’re tuning in today to listen to an episode all about what your doctor isn’t telling you about your gut. I’ve got some great things planned for this episode. But before we kick it off, I want to say thank you to Deena for rating, the podcast rating and reviewing the podcast is the easiest and best way to support the show. And make sure that other people that have got issues just like you can find out about the show. So Dina said, I love this podcast. There is so much information in this podcast. And I feel like Heather is speaking directly to me about my symptoms. Thank you so much, Gina, I’m so glad that this podcast has been helpful for you. And thank you to all of you who have taken the time to rate and review it takes five seconds to do and it really is a great way to support the show. All right, so now on to the episode. So we’re going to dig into three things that your doctor is not telling you about your gut. And I wrote this episode from personal experience, of course, but also from now experience working with over 1000 clients in the gut Together program. And there’s three common things that we hear. And so I boiled it down to those three things, because I think all of you listening, whether you are a practitioner, or whether you are here for all the gut health information, you’ve heard this before. But first I want to start off with a story. So Sarah is a past client of ours, and she had been experiencing persistent bloating, GI symptoms, cramping, unpredictable bowel movements. And unfortunately, this had become kind of a daily struggle for her it was starting to impact her quality of life. And she got to the point where she finally mustered up the courage to schedule an appointment with a GI doctor, really hoping to find relief. So she goes to call the GI doctor gets on the phone, and they tell her that the first appointment isn’t for six weeks. So she thinks okay, I can wait. I’ve waited long enough. But the appointment finally arrived. And she was so nervous, but also felt really helpful. Okay, I’m going I’m going in here with a list of my symptoms, exactly what I’ve been eating my daily activities, I’m ready to provide the doctor with super necessary information. So she’s sitting in the waiting room, her mind is racing of, okay, what could it be if it’s causing my symptoms, and she finally gets called back to see the doctor. So she pulls out her list, and she shares about her concerns, really hoping for a thorough evaluation. The doctor like barely even made eye contact with her. And after about 10 minutes said, you just have IBS. And she said, Okay, that’s fine. But then what does that mean? And he said, Well, based on your symptoms, it sounds like you have irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, and her heart just sank. She had heard of this before, but she was really hoping for a more definitive diagnosis that would actually help her find relief. So she asked him, okay, what can I do about it? And he literally handed her a low FODMAP diet handout and said, try this. If it doesn’t work, you can come back in six months, and we could always do a colonoscopy. And she said, There’s surely got to be something in the middle here, right? Like, are we going to jump straight to a colonoscopy? Or, you know, is there something besides the super restrictive diet so she leaves there feeling really disappointed, confused, you know, all the emotions. She just couldn’t shake the feeling that pretty much she had been brushed aside. She had waited so long for this appointment and to be handed a handout and to be given 15 minutes just felt really, really unfair. Especially just thinking about the meal. She had skipped the social event she had met Just in just the overall toll that her symptoms had on her life. So she’s sitting in her car, she’s super frustrated, she knew there had to be more out there. She wanted to really understand what was going on. She called a friend. And her friend had actually done our program. She’s so frustrated, she’s telling her friend what happened. And her friend, her friend said, that’s exactly what happened to me. And in that moment, she actually felt really supported that okay, it’s not just me. And after Sarah started working with us, she realized that this exact same thing had happened to so many other women. And so if you relate at all to this story, waiting months for an appointment, being handed a handout being offered, you know, just a colonoscopy, if nothing else worked, or being told, it’s all in your head, you are definitely not alone. Really, I think what this story illustrates is just the frustration of really receiving a just unsatisfactory diagnosis, after waiting a long time. It just, it kind of captures the like hopelessness that I know so many people feel on their IBS journey, because they don’t even know what that means. They just are told you have IBS, but then not really given any solutions. So let’s dig into the three points. So point number one that your doctor isn’t telling you about your gut is, I’m sorry, but IBS is a trash can diagnosis. And what I mean by that is, IBS is kind of a catch all term for GI symptoms, it means we don’t really know what’s wrong with you, you just have gut issues. So we’re going to just put you in this bucket of unknown. And so it’s really hard to receive this diagnosis, because it doesn’t give you any clear insight as far as what to actually do. And I can’t tell you how common it is to have the same exact spirit experience as Sarah, where you go to the doctor, you get the handout, they don’t tell you that the low FODMAP diet is actually supposed to be a four to six week elimination, not a lifelong thing. And unfortunately, many of the women that we work with have been on low FODMAP for years, because they just didn’t know. And the other piece of this is low FODMAP is just a food elimination. It’s not actually addressing the cause of IBS. So I’ll tell you about another client that we had named Emma. She had had, you know, same thing, persistent gut discomfort for years and years. Bloating, irregular bowel movements, cramping, and honestly, these just kind of became a regular part of our day. So same thing, booked an appointment with a GI waited months, the day finally arrived. Same same thing. The doctor says you have IBS gives her the handout, et cetera, et cetera. So Emma actually did try the low FODMAP diet. That’s where her and Sarah differ. And she followed it meticulously. And while some of her symptoms improved, others persisted, and others got worse. And so I want to talk about why that is. So because IBS is this huge umbrella term for all sorts of GI issues. low FODMAP is not going to help most people, especially if there’s other things going on. And it might provide short term relief, which in some cases can be necessary. I’m not here to say that you should never do low FODMAP or anything, but what I will say is, you should never do low FODMAP without professional guidance, because it is tricky, and it is confusing. And it is only supposed to be a four to six week thing with proper reintroduction. And so if you are stuck on the low FODMAP diet, and when you try to add FODMAPs back in, you’re still having symptoms. This is the perfect example of why it’s not necessarily the food, it is how your gut is actually reacting to the food that is causing the symptoms that you’re having. And so if you really want to find long term relief from your symptoms, you have to find the root cause. And then you can start thinking about preventing your symptoms from happening, versus just masking them by avoiding certain foods. Because let’s be real, you have a life you want to travel, you want to go to a restaurant, you want to enjoy your life and eat the foods that you enjoy. And so if you’re having to stick to this really rigid, strict list of foods that you can or can’t eat, that starts to take a toll not only on you physically but also mentally and emotionally. We see a lot of our clients that have done whether it’s low FODMAP or something else I’m just picking on low FODMAP but this could apply to any elimination diet is they have tons of nutrient deficiencies because they’ve been restricted for so long. And they also have tons of food fear where, you know, they’ve been given this diagnosis of IBS. We don’t really know what’s wrong with you, but the but you can potentially, maybe improve your symptoms by cutting out FODMAPs. So here’s the handout. They’re paranoid to eat, because what happens when you go to a friend’s house, and they cook with garlic and onion, or what happens when you travel and you are eating out and you can’t control the food? So if you’re listening to this and thinking, Oh, wow, I’ve been given a diagnosis of IBS. But that makes sense. I don’t really know what’s actually causing the IBS. And the solution I was given was either a restrictive diet or even medication, that’s a common one as well. Okay, we’ll put you on antidepressants, because we know that IBS has a gut brain connection. And so that’s a way to settle your gut as well. There are other things that you can do to find relief. Okay, so point number two, is really helpful for you. And that is that relief from your gut symptoms is actually achievable. So I want you to challenge the misconception that gut issues are just going to be a lifelong issue. I certainly thought that at many points in my life, that is just inherently this lifelong burden that I was going to have to carry that feels so hopeless, because you feel like okay, well, I can’t live my life to the fullest, I can’t do all the things that I want to do just because of the nature of the symptoms that I have. But here’s the really cool thing. Your gut health is dynamic. gut health is not a static condition that is set in stone. Instead, it’s a super super complex interplay of various factors, including diet, lifestyle, stress, and your gut microbiome. So just as our bodies have the remarkable ability to heal and adapt, our gut health can also evolve with the right interventions. How amazing is that you can change your gut health literally with one meal. By adding more fiber to a meal, you’re shifting your gut health in one meal. That’s so amazing. So if you’re viewing your gut issues as permanent, it really is discrediting the fact that your body has a remarkable capacity for change, and improvement. And the way that you do this is through identifying your root causes. Many gut issues, stem from underlying issues, triggers, sensitivities, things that can actually be identified and addressed. So relying on symptom management, perpetuates this idea of a lifelong struggle. However, if you’re taking a more proactive approach, that seeks to really uncover and target the root causes, that can lead to huge substantial relief, functional nutrition and functional medicine is it changed my life, I was stuck in the cycle of 20 years of GI issues thinking that I would literally never find relief, because I thought that I had tried it all. And I know that you feel that way too. But with functional nutrition and functional medicine, which is the approach that we take, this offers you tools to investigate the root causes, looking at your GI system from start to finish. So from your mouth, where Food enters all the way through where everything exits, you’re looking at all the pieces of digestion, and you can tailor your healing journey, and potentially resolve these long standing gut issues, which further validates point number one, there are so many different things that can cause your GI symptoms. And so just giving everybody a low FODMAP diet handout literally makes no sense. Because your gut issues could actually be caused by a lot of things that are way farther upstream than your actual intestines, your gallbladder, your liver, your pancreas, your stomach, your esophagus. There’s so many organs that come before your intestines. And there can be gaps in those things that can be contributing to what’s going on with your gut. And so if we’re just focused on Okay, cut out these foods, and we’re not paying attention to every step of the process from when Food enters your mouth to when it exits, you’re missing the whole piece. And that’s the super cool part about what we do with our clients is everything is personalized. It doesn’t matter if you are in our membership or you are in our one on one VIP program. Everything is tailored to you because your gut and your body is unique. It’s influenced by your genetic makeup, environmental factors, lifestyle choices, and when you use a personalized approach, you can tailor the interventions to your specific needs. And so this acknowledges that there is no one size fits all solution. And, and emphasizes the potential that you can actually make progress. Even when you feel like you’ve been stalled for years. It is so incredible. Hey there,
Dr. Heather Finley 15:12
I know you are absolutely loving this episode, but I have to jump in really quick and remind you that I have a quick, free quiz that will help you finally figure out why you’re bloated. In order to live a life free of discomfort. You need to figure out what the root causes that’s making you experience these uncomfortable symptoms. The easiest and fastest way to do this is by visiting Dr. Heather finley.co backslash quiz. Take the quiz as soon as you can. So you can transform your gut issues and lead a happier, more vibrant life. Now, let’s get back to the episode.
Dr. Heather Finley 15:47
I’ll tell you a bit about my journey to just kind of drive this point home. So I had done everything, just like you. I had done all the elimination diets. I had taken all the random bloat supplements I thought I had tried all the things, same story is there an AMA, you know, gone to the GI doctor a low FODMAP diet handout? Well, we could maybe do a colonoscopy and just felt like okay, this isn’t cutting it. You know, this is not there’s something else. And when I started my doctorate program, and I’ve really started to understand physiology and the body, I had so many lightbulb moments that went off and realized, okay, everything that I was doing previously was band aiding my issues because I was solely focused on food. And that just perpetuates that belief that food is the problem. When I actually was able to figure out what was causing my gut issues. It was such a relief to me to realize, oh my goodness, I have hypothyroidism No wonder I have slow gut motility. Oh my goodness, I’ve had food poisoning. No wonder I also have slow gut motility. Oh my goodness, I have been eating five foods for so long. No wonder I have dysbiosis or an imbalance of bacteria in my gut. I was an athlete my entire life through college and even after college, I was training for triathlons. I did a half Ironman shortly after college. I was so overtrained and undernourished. That was a huge stress on my body. And so as I started to give my body the nourishment and support that it needed, everything started to work again. And it gave me that relief, and that it decreased the fear of food and also fear of my body. For so long. I thought, my body is broken, there’s something wrong with me, no one can fix me. This, I don’t want to live like this, this is terrible. Until I realized, you know what, my body actually does have the ability to heal. I’m just not giving it what it’s asking for. It’s asking me for more sleep, more rest, a better routine, better stress management, more variety in my diet, for actually addressing these digestive dysfunctions that I have. And then everything started to work. And I know that that’s possible for you. I can tell you honestly, hundreds of stories like this that just illustrate the fallacy of assuming that gut issues are lifelong burdens. And that individuals who have embarked on actually addressing their root causes can have a complete resolution of symptoms. Now, that’s not to say that I don’t have the occasional day when I’m bloated. That is, that’s going to happen, but I know exactly what to do about it. And then it goes away. And so you have huge empowerment through education. When you know what causes your gut issues, maybe it’s gut motility, maybe it’s stress, maybe it’s low stomach acid, whatever it is, it empowers you have the knowledge to know how to address your gut issues, so that you never have to see another provider again. And that’s what you want, right? You don’t want to keep cycling in and out of these doctor’s offices, where they’re not actually helping you. So I hope that that point is really empowering for you to understand that, you know, it’s it is possible to find relief. Okay. Last point is, your gut issues are not all in your head. I know that I talk a lot on social media about stress management, and I’ve had tons of episodes on stress. And surprisingly, those are my most downloaded episodes. And I want to talk about why your GI issues are not all on your head and also why they somewhat are as well. But going back to point number one, if you’ve had an experience, you know, being told you have IBS, okay, here’s medication or here’s a low FODMAP diet. Another common comment that you may have received is you need to calm down There’s a huge stigma around gut health. And that gut health often stems from this complex interplay between the gut and the mind, which is true. But this stigma can lead to the dismissal of symptoms as psychological, rather than acknowledging the very real physiological factors that are also at play. So yes, your stress on 100% affects your gut. But that’s a really hopeless thing to tell someone, because what if you can’t get rid of some of the stress in your life? What if you can’t get rid of the fact like me, my gut issues were at their worst when my dad was dying of cancer, you can’t change that. And so yes, stress affects your gut health, but you also have real physiological things that are going on. So it’s important to recognize both perspectives and delve into the intricacies of gut health to provide just a more comprehensive understanding. So this is why IBS can be labeled as all quote unquote, in your head. But it’s not. So there is a mind gut connection. There’s scientific research that has revealed this, the gut brain access is a big thing. If you’ve been following me for years, you know, that my instagram handle used to be gut brain dot nutrition. And so if you’ve been here, like from the beginning, send me a DM and tell me I would love to know if you were here in the OG days. But stress, anxiety, emotional factors can definitely influence your gut function. When your body is stressed, it is really hard to heal. I was actually DMing someone on Instagram about this the other day, and I told her, your nervous system is so is on such high alert right now. We have to work not on getting rid of your stress, but on stress resiliency, how does your body bounce back from stress? And how does your body respond to stress? If everything in your life is a threat, it’s always your body’s always going to feel like it’s in fight mode until it shuts down. So yes, the connection is that your symptoms will worsen or potentially will worsen during times of stress. However, labeling IBS as a hole in your head really just oversimplifies this issue, and disregards the physical aspects of gut health. It’s a complex puzzle. So there’s a lot of symptoms that can be experienced when someone has IBS. And traditional medical tests fail to provide these clear answers. So they jump to conclusions. Oh, you’re stressed you need to calm down, bla bla bla bla bla. But here’s some of the physiological factors that make IBS symptoms, not imaginary. They stem from real physiological imbalances, such as altered gut motility, inflammation, gut microbiome disruptions, these factors can lead to tangible symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating changes in your bowel habits. And there’s a growing body of research that supports the idea that IBS is rooted in physiological mechanisms, including gut dysbiosis, or an imbalance of bacteria in your gut. Increased gut permeability, or what you probably know is the popular term leaky gut, and then altered gut brain communication. This research highlights the need for interventions on both ends. That is why the gut Together program is not just focused on looking at the gut and nothing else. We are looking at your nervous system, we are looking at your thought patterns, we are looking at your lifestyle because you can’t just tell someone what to eat and take supplements for gut health. I wish it was that simple. That would be great, right? But we’re working on addressing it from all angles. I like to explain it to people like a stool. If you have a three legged stool, and you take one of the legs away, it’s going to tip over. So we have to look at your diet and we look at it more from a blood sugar balance standpoint, and a diversity standpoint. So how can we get you eating the widest variety of foods with the least amount of symptoms and enjoying food again, right? Like we want to actually love what we eat and go on date night and go on trips and try the new restaurant that’s in town. We want to look at targeted supplementation, what supplements might you need to support your physiological imbalances that are there like altered gut motility, inflammation, intestinal permeability, or leaky gut, etc. And then we also want to look at the lifestyle factors as well. So what are you doing to support your stress resiliency, your routines and making this manageable because then you develop these habits, you learn how to nourish yourself long term, and you prevent your symptoms from coming back. So hopefully this is driving home the points that your concerns and your symptoms are real. And you don’t have to feel discredited. When you go to a medical provider, you want someone who’s going to look at the entire picture, because you have to, in order to address your symptoms. Again, I could go on story after story after story of individuals who have found relief from their symptoms. Through addressing the physiological aspects of health. We track this in our program, we have our clients fill out a symptom survey of body wide symptoms, and we find a 74% reduction in symptoms in six months, which is literally unheard of. But these stories like they are, this is 1000s of people. And it’s not just me as provider of provider, it’s other people that are practicing this method as well. So yes, your stress and your emotions may play a role. But the key to improvement lies in actually targeting both factors. So looking at your lifestyle, looking at your underlying physiological imbalances, and looking at optimizing your diet via diversity and blood sugar balance. So if you’re working with a functional provider that understands the interconnectedness of physical and mental health, this is what is going to give you the results that you actually want. So just to kind of sum this up, this stigma surrounding gut health and the kind of all in your head misconception really undermines the complexity of conditions like IBS. And while the mind gut connection is undeniable, it’s vital to recognize that gut health issues are not solely psychological, by acknowledging the physiological factors at play, and addressing it from both ends, you can access the comprehensive care that you need to feel better physically and emotionally, which is hopefully so empowering for you.
Dr. Heather Finley 26:52
So I hope that you loved this episode, I had so much fun writing this and just kind of thinking about what would empower you to feel like you have options you are you get to have the last say in your health. And so if you’re not getting the results that you want, then you can find someone else who can help you, which is so empowering. And so I would love it if you would hop on over to Instagram, and tell me what you learned or tell me what was a lightbulb moment for you or what felt empowering to you. Because I’d love to hear and I’d love to know if you like these type of episodes, and I will definitely keep doing them. If you’ve also been following along on Instagram, social media, email everything you know that we are enrolling for the get together membership right now, that gutTogether membership is our six month group program that will help you identify the true sources of your symptoms, and finally, for good, so that you never have to see another provider again. And so you are welcome to visit the link in the show notes. You can also DM me membership over on Instagram. This is a comprehensive program. It includes live calls, video modules, chat support in between the calls that you never have a question that goes on answer the calls, so you always know your next, your next steps, and then the module so you can actually learn what’s causing your symptoms. And we also have these really cool quizzes and assessments built in, where you literally can learn what your root causes are, and then what to do about them. So it will point you in the direction of where to start within the program. So everything is custom, personalized, individualized to you. We would love to support you. We’ve had so many women hopping in in the last week. And it’s honestly been so fun. So go ahead and visit the link in the show notes if you want to learn more or you can hop on over to Instagram and DM me the word membership and I’m happy to chat. But thanks so much for tuning into this episode. I am excited to hear your thoughts and I will see you next time on the love your podcast. As always, please note that this episode or anything discussed on this podcast is not a substitution for medical advice. And you should always consult your health practitioner before trying anything new.Thanks so much for tuning into this episode of the Love Your Gut podcast. I always appreciate spending some time in your air pods.