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Your Story: Joana – Post-Infectious Irritable Bowel Syndrome | Low FODMAP Diet by FODMAP Life

jo pinterestFODMAP Life is about bringing people together and supporting one another.  We aim to educate our readers all about the FODMAP Diet, and what it’s like for anyone to have digestive and inflammatory health issues, food allergies or auto-immune diseases.  The section on our website called “Your Story” is where you’ll find real, helpful stories of people just like you.

If you would like to submit your story, please submit at least 200 words, plus a short bio and a photo of yourself to: itsafodmaplife {at} gmail {dot} com.

Your Story: Joana – Post-Infectious Irritable Bowel Syndrome

I have been recently diagnosed with Post-Infectious Irritable Bowel Syndrome (PI-IBS) as the result of a nasty gastroenteritis I got in the spring of 2013. Before this date I have never had any major health problems and my eating habits were quite balanced and healthy. I’ve been through a lot before doctors could find an answer to my poor health condition. By sharing my story on FODMAP Life in detail, I hope to help out others who have been through a similar situation and hopefully give some insights to a still unclear condition such as PI-IBS and how to manage it with the low FODMAP diet.

Joana’s Story in Detail

In the end of April 2013 I was working in a fair in Germany and had a business dinner where I ate a hamburger. After half an hour I started feeling very sick, throwing up, with constant bowel emergency and flu like symptoms that continued throughout the night and during the following days. Because I had a very important event the next day, I just went to the pharmacy and took some anti-vomiting meds. I was feeling weak and my belly was sore but kept working for two days before going back home. I finally went to the doctor in the public clinic where I live who told me to rest, drink fluids and eat diet food and that it would eventually pass. I was in bed for a week and things were just never the same again. My belly was all swallowed and cramping, I had constant diarrhea, I was losing weight and feeling very weak. I went back to work and continued my restricted diet of white meat, rice, carrots and boiled apples (a diet poor in essential nutrients that I now believe to have made things even worst).

I remember being on autopilot, going to work in pain, tired and arriving home completely exhausted and incapable of doing anything else than sleep. I went back to the clinic half a dozen times where doctors kept saying it was probably stress related and to continue the diet… Three months after the rotten hamburger I just couldn´t take it anymore and asked for an appointment with a specialist, who ran a bunch of exams: endoscopy, blood, urine and stool test, all negative except for gastritis. I also quit my job and found a quieter half time job that did not involve traveling or such a big workload. Unfortunately it was not the answer as I was hospitalized seven months after the gastroenteritis episode. I was extremely thin (lost 10kg, 1/5 of my weight) and weak (my blood pressure was very low: 8-4). In the hospital they performed a colonoscopy, a lactose breathing test and other exams; all negative except for a slightly hight CRP (blood inflammation levels common in PI-IBS) and a high calprotectine (a marker for intestinal bowel disease). According to the specialists, these results still didn’t explain my poor general state so they pointed anorexia as the probable cause (!). At this point my companion argued with the doctor and asked him to monitor what I was eating – I was always hungry and eating so much that I even had family and friends bring food over, as the hospital food was not enough! Was sent back home with no clear diagnosis. Then other results arrived and showed I had some minor lesions in the small intestine confirmed by a special MRI and the capsule endoscopy. I was called back to the hospital where they diagnosed me with Crohn´s disease. They prescribed Budesonide, a corticosteroid drug and I got back to work. I was feeling great the first two weeks but then suddenly I started to feel so tired I could not walk anymore… I was even worse than before! – I know now that this drug increases intestinal permeability in PI-IBS patients who already have a malabsorption condition. I was hospitalized again, did another colonoscopy and endoscopy and the only relevant results were vitamin B12 deficiency and some lesions in the colon consistent with celiac disease (diagnosis not confirmed by the biopsy nor blood tests). They wanted me to drink supplements with lactose, which I refused as I was not able to digest dairy products since the problem started.

Ultimately I was sent back home again with another unclear diagnosis. Desperate, I consulted with a functional medicine doctor who ran a food sensitivities test. The results said I was sensitive to gluten, dairy and a lot of high FODMAP foods (didn’t know that at the time)! After just 3 days of eating with these food restrictions I had energy again and was able to climb stairs without any effort! It was an amazing recovery and I was feeling great! The only downside was that I was still bloated. This encouraged me to research deeper and find the low FODMAP diet. I started the diet in April 2014 (a year after the gastroenteritis) and the bloating, cramps and diarrhea were finally under control. I went back to see the gastroenterologist who confirmed the diagnosis of Post-Infectious IBS and referred me to one of the two Belgian nutritionists specialized on the low FODMAP diet. Thanks to it I have gained weight and strength back and am able to manage my IBS.


A gastroenteritis and the consequent late diagnosis of IBS inhibited me from having a normal life for more that a year. I have been very ill mainly due to malabsorption and diarrhea that led to huge weight and energy loss. Doctors couldn´t find the cause or proper treatment. I finally started to get better with the help of the low FODMAP diet. It worked wonders on my sensitive gut and was literally a lifesaver for me! Since then I am focused on helping others suffering from the same condition by sharing my story and low FODMAP cooking tips. You can find me here: www.mygutfeeling.eu. Thank you for reading.


My name is Joana and I´m a Portuguese cultural manager and a passionate foodie living in Belgium. I have been recently diagnosed with Post-Infectious Irritable Bowel Syndrome and I now follow the low FODMAP diet. As a result of this experience I have created the blog My Gut Feeling (www.mygutfeeling.eu) where I share my story and low FODMAP friendly recipes.

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