No Wellness Wankery

107: What is causing my bloating? Is it IBS? Featuring Chloe McLeod

March 24, 2024 Lyndi Cohen
No Wellness Wankery
107: What is causing my bloating? Is it IBS? Featuring Chloe McLeod
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever been stuck wondering where bloating ends, IBS begins, and your body's hunger signals fit in?

This week I'm bringing back the expertise and my go-to gal for all things gut health Chloe McLeod @chloe_mcleod_dietitian who is the founder of dietitian Telehealth services @verdenutritionco (oh-so convenient). 

As we unravel the complexities of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which affects around 20% of Australians, Chloe decodes the sneaky signs of nutritional inadequacy that could be mistaken for IBS. 

Together, we examine the importance of recognising menstrual irregularities, exercise performance, and resilience to sickness as potential indicators of dietary deficiencies.

The journey to gut health doesn't end with identifying the problems; it's about finding solutions that make you feel fabulous once again!

Chloe spills the beans on leveling up our gut tolerance and why it's key for a kickass gut microbiome. She's your go-to guru for tackling IBS, serving up savvy strategies and pro tips for finding gut nirvana without giving up the joy of eating the foods you love! 

Want healthy recipes that ACTUALLY taste good (and are nutritionist approved)? Well okay then! Try my Back to Basics app for FREE.

Worried your dodgy diet habits or binge eating might be contributing to your pesky gut issues? My FREE 5 Day Course (Webinar included!) will provide you with practical strategies I have used to feel more in control around food.

Get my Free 5 Day Course to help you stop binge and emotional eating. 

Looking for more support to feel in control around food? I'd love to support you in my Binge Free Academy

If you don't already - come follow me on the gram at @nude_nutritionist (no nude pics, sorry).

Want to share some feedback or have an idea for an episode, I'd LOVE to hear from you - hit me up at hello@lyndicohen.com

Speaker 1:

That's one of the most common IBS triggers for people. You know they don't seem like they're related, but they are 100% are.

Speaker 2:

Is it true that what we're doing is we're trying to help to get our body accustomed to these foods? Help, I binge eat on the very foods that give me issues with my gut. Hello, hello and welcome back to no Well, ms Wankery. Today is an awesome conversation with dietitian Chloe McCloud. She is an advanced sports dietitian who I've had on the podcast before. If you haven't listened to that episode, please go and check it out. We're talking about how to fuel for your exercise, how to make sure you're eating enough.

Speaker 2:

Today's chat is about IBS. Perhaps you're going oh, I think I might have IBS. I don't know what to do. Please help me. Let's sort this out. Chloe is the person to speak to about this. She's not only the sports dietitian, but she's also very much a specialist in gut health and food intolerances as well. She's kind of my go-to person for it. That's why I feel so lucky to have her on the show today. She's also the founder of the Nutrition Co, where she and her team of nutrition experts can provide you with consults via telehealth, which I think is a brilliantly convenient way to get her support. I will leave a link in the show notes so you can get in touch with her and her team and also follow her on Instagram. She's Chloe underscore McCloud underscore dietitian. Go and check her out. Let's welcome Chloe. Chloe McCloud.

Speaker 2:

Thank you for coming back on the podcast. My pleasure, lindy. Thanks for having me again. My pleasure. Well, as a gut health specialist, I really look to you and go. Chloe has the answers that we need. Now, if you are someone you're going okay, I think I might have IBS. I've got some really uncomfortable gut stuff happening. I need help. What are some of the things where you might be experiencing? If you're going, okay, I think I've got IBS. What might that feel like for someone?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so this is the number one reason that people come into my clinic to see me or some of the other dietitians in my team, and so IBS is characterized by uncomfortable gut symptoms. So pain, cramping, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, feeling like when you do go to the bathroom, like your motion is incomplete, so all things you know. Really great dinner table conversation for people, but it's a really common thing. So IBS specifically impacts around 20% or just under the Australian population, so it's a common thing that people are experiencing.

Speaker 2:

One of the things we were talking about before is this idea of people coming to your clinic thinking they have IBS and wanting a restrictive plan because they've seen on Instagram, probably that this is what they need to do, and so they come into your clinic they say I think I've got IBS. What do you then do?

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So, as I sort of said, this is the number one thing that people come into to Macphoenix for, and often it's because they're not eating enough that they're getting these symptoms. Now, if you're somebody who is wondering if you have IBS, before going down the whole restrictive food route, it's worth checking in a couple of other things. So Some of those could include are you still getting your period regularly, or your menstrual cycle? Is that happening on a regular basis still, or have there been any, even any changes to it? Has it gotten significantly lighter than it would have been in the past?

Speaker 1:

With your exercise that you're doing, are you noticing that you're improving? And you know, are the weights that you're lifting getting heavier? If you're running, are you able to run faster or further? And are you seeing those improvements in your performance that you would be expecting to see On a sort of a really sort of more extreme level? Have you maybe experienced any stress fractures at all? Because that can be a really clear sign that maybe you've actually been underfueling for your physical activity, particularly if you're doing more of that weight-bearing exercise. And there's a number of other symptoms as well, but I'd say those are the ones that sort of pop up most commonly for people, and also if you're getting these symptoms in particularly around when you're exercising, more so than at other times, that can sometimes be a sign that maybe when you're exercising you are not eating enough as well, and that's particularly if you're doing sort of more endurance type physical activity.

Speaker 2:

And do you think also some other side effects could be getting sick pretty often or feeling quite tired?

Speaker 1:

all the time. Yeah, so we can go into some of the other ones. So, noticing that you get sick more regularly and it takes, or it takes you a longer time to recover. Maybe you're getting injured more regularly, so like sort of little niggling injuries that just don't send you go away, or maybe getting injured more frequently as well. Noticing that you're finding it difficult to focus, concentrate, getting a really full head and a lot of the time again, that can be a symptom of not having eaten enough as well, but the other one would be around, like your mood, so finding that you're quite moody and irritable and maybe you're not such a pleasure to be around as what you might have usually been.

Speaker 1:

So there's a lot of sort of red flags, but I want to be really clear that those things can also be signs of other things. So it is really important that you see GP, that you see the ITC get some help to figure out what's going on, because you don't want to miss something if there is something more sinister going on. But if it is that maybe you're inadvertently not eating enough or not eating enough of the right things at the right times, that is being number one problem.

Speaker 1:

That I would see across the board at my clinic at the moment.

Speaker 2:

And why does under eating cause gut issues in some people?

Speaker 1:

You can cause it for a number of different reasons, but a big part of it is there's because of that low energy availability and the stress that the physical activity is putting on the body. But a lot of people that can then cause those gut symptoms because there's not enough energy available and your body isn't functioning as it should, it puts extra stress on it and it starts to exhibit a lot of these symptoms. So the bloating, that pain, that'd be probably the two most sort of common ones. And then people will often go either more diarrhea or more constipation, or sometimes it's a bit of a myth. It tends to pet a little bit on the individual.

Speaker 2:

And I find it so interesting because so often I've seen with people who have disordered eating, a history of an eating disorder is this desire to try and under eat, to try and over exercise and perhaps you're somebody going oh, I feel like I just struggle to lose weight and I think what is the most underrated aspect of wellness is the impact that stress has on the body, how feeling stressed about your body can put this load and stress on you. How over exercising, is Chloe saying, can very much impact your metabolism, your gut, your symptoms and, in a way, it contributes to more stress.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I mean stress itself, that can contribute to these gut symptoms as well.

Speaker 1:

So there's a gut brain access, which is, you know, really, really discussed in the literature and the messaging that goes between your gut and your brain and your brain and your gut.

Speaker 1:

It's a vital, actual relationship. So when you're feeling more stressed, you're more likely to experience the gut symptoms that we've been speaking about, and also, when your gut's not happy, you're more likely to end up feeling stressed because of that relationship going back and forth. And so if we think about the like, yes, exercise is incredible for your body, it's incredible for helping with reducing stress because of the mental impact. But if you're doing really hard exercise or over exercising, that can then contribute to physical stress. Maybe the mental stress in your mind is maybe better because you know you like totally cooked yourself, but maybe being physical stress on your body is then what's contributing to some of these gut symptoms that you're experiencing and fortunately it's actually a relatively easy fix is, you know, as someone said to me earlier this week, so you're telling me I just get to eat more. I'm like, yeah, I'm telling you that I can't even understand.

Speaker 2:

That sounds like a really good fix, but it can also be really challenging. So I think two things that come to mind that make it tricky is one is a lack of appetite. That can happen when you're going through a stressful period, particularly, some people say they don't like to eat before they exercise, and then genuinely people who fear weight gain going. I don't want to increase what I'm eating because of the reason I'm exercising is to lose weight and I've got all these unpleasant gut symptoms. It's it's really tricky sometimes to just eat a little bit more.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I apologize, I didn't articulate that well. I meant simple, not easy.

Speaker 2:

So something that simple doesn't mean easy.

Speaker 1:

So, yes, very good. Now, I think a couple of things there is. Start small. So if you're not somebody who likes to eat before you exercise and you know you might have heard on that other episode me talking about having a banana before you ate or something like that that might sound a bit overwhelming. Well, let's not have a whole banana, let's have a half banana to start with. Let's just start with something. Start like something is better than nothing.

Speaker 1:

And you know, if that, if it's something that I haven't mentioned, but you're like, oh, I think I could maybe have something like that. Maybe it's, you know, a pear or an apple or something like that, do that. It doesn't have to be one of the things I suggested there. You know we've all got our grocery things that we like to eat or that we like to recommend. So having something, getting started with it and being really kind to us. It's not about, you know, it's sort of about being perfect at all, like I should think perfection is like the furthest goal that anyone should be trying to attain. It's all about that process and that journey and making small changes at a time and then, over time, you suddenly go oh my gosh, I can't believe how much better I feel when I'm feeling my exercise better, can't believe how much better results I'm getting when I'm feeling my exercise better and I can't believe how much my gut symptoms have disappeared now that I'm feeling my exercise and my whole day were effectively.

Speaker 1:

I always find it so fascinating how there's so many different parts of our body that seem to be completely unrelated that actually are, particularly when we're looking at this area, because, you know, often I'll speak to people and they'll be like I don't understand how I'm getting got issues because I haven't eaten enough and it's you know they don't seem like they're related but they are 100% are. And yes, some people do have true IBS. But there's no point trying to go down the path of FODMAP restriction or any sort of other investigation at all until we know that you're feeling enough on a day-to-day basis because of that impact. And I think a good example of that is it's so common to see people who have eating disorders or who have a history of eating disorders experiencing IBS type symptoms and it's because of how the microbiome changes. But it's not necessarily the point of going down FODMAPs, it's let's get some extra fuel in so the body can function better and be better optimised, and in most cases it ends up sorting itself out.

Speaker 2:

It's such an interesting one because what we know from the research is that getting diverse range of foods in our diet is really important for gut microbiome and then I look at a diet for someone with IBS or IBD and it can often be.

Speaker 2:

it can appear to be a really restrictive diet. In many ways it is, and so sometimes I hear people say but there are only certain foods that I can eat to manage my symptoms, which means I can't really get that diversity in to improve my gut microbiome. It's a bit of a challenge. Can you talk to us about this?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and so glad you brought that up and I think the way I love the FODMAP space, I find it so interesting. But it's so important to bring the FODMAPs back in and it's not about you going along with low FODMAP diet and you're on it forever. No one should be on it forever. No one should be avoiding all of their triggers forever. It's about working out what they are, what to find your diet for a portion of time so that you can figure out what your specific triggers are, but over time slowly adding them back in.

Speaker 1:

I always like to use onion as an example here, because that's one of the most common IBS triggers for people and if it's a trigger for you, if you start to include really small amounts so I'm talking like a quarter of a teaspoon, like tiny little bits in your food regularly over time your gut microbiome it will change and you will find that you can tolerate onion. After you know it's not going to happen in a month or two months, but six months a year of that really regular, really small amounts of inclusion, you'll find that you actually start to tolerate it more efficiently and more effectively without developing those symptoms. So I just I find it so frustrating when I see people who are like I've been on this low FODMAP diet for 10 years I'm like oh my Terrifying.

Speaker 2:

Please, no, please don't.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, please don't. So the low FODMAP diet is a diagnostic tool. I cannot emphasise this enough. It's a diagnostic tool to help people to determine what their triggers are, but it's not a these are my triggers. I never eat them again. It's these are my triggers. How can I bring them back into my diet? Because, to keep with the onion example, it's such an important prebiotic. So the fibre in it, yes, it can contribute to some of your symptoms, but it also is so important for short chain fatty acid production, which I'm not someone who loves the term superfood, but I'm like the real super heroes when it comes to our gut health are short chain fatty acids. So we need to be eating this prebiotic fibre so that we can develop those in our gut and sustain it with our victory.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, sorry. Can you explain the short chain fatty acids to everyone who might not understand what that means?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, sure. So when we eat different types of fibre, particularly our prebiotic fibre, it actually ferments in your gut and that's sometimes why you might experience some of that protein. Obviously you don't want that to be the point that it's uncomfortable, but we need to be eating these because of this development of these compounds, so short chain fatty acids, so that some of the different types are butyrate, acetate and propionate, and they are really really anti-inflammatory compounds that are developed as a result of the gut bacteria for menching these prebiotic fibres. They're so powerful that they can actually reduce your risk of bowel cancer. So you might have the starts of little polyps in your bowel. They can actually go and scavenge is maybe the right word and they actually can stop that roast of that polyp and stop the bowel cancer from happening. When you have enough of those short chain fatty acids, and that's also been shown to help with reducing risk of diabetes, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, you know they are so incredibly important and so incredibly powerful.

Speaker 2:

So what you're talking about is, by increasing the amount of prebiotic fibre we can get in our diet, we can get all of these benefits as well, and so to get more prebiotic fibre in our diet.

Speaker 2:

Sometimes it can feel like that is also at odds with our IBS kind of symptoms. What you're saying is prebiotic being something like onion. We're building up that tolerance because if we're doing it without that support, we might be going OK, no, I have to pull back on all these foods, even though it sometimes feels like the solution is the problem. But we're building up that tolerance and, as you so rightly said, doing that with a specialised nutrition professional dietitian like Chloe, and I will leave a link so you can go and do an online consultation with Chloe and a team who specialised in this area, who can help you do this safely, who can help you make sure you're not slipping into old restrictive habits, because these do kind of sometimes feel at odds. You're rebuilding that tolerance, helping to repopulate your gut microbiome so that you can be more resilient, and I think that is a really exciting forecast.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I think, like just even hearing you speak to us, then I'm like how freeing is that being? Like, okay, I don't actually have to restrict these foods or be worried about eating these foods forever, because it can be scary when you go oh my gosh, I've worked out that onion getting a battering, say, I've worked out onions an issue and that can be really scary for a lot of reasons. It can cause a lot of anxiety around food because it's in so many things, particularly when you're eating out, eating in social occasions, so you know it can be make it really tricky and that's why it's so important to get that help, but so important to have that slow rate reduction so that over time you can we can bring it back into your diet.

Speaker 2:

I'm loving how this conversation is going. Something that I often see is where people go hey, so I tried these diets where I had to cut out all these foods. I couldn't eat gluten, I couldn't eat dairy, I couldn't, and that you know, right all off a whole list of carbohydrates they feared, and then they go. Well, then I reintroduced it and it didn't make me feel good, and so it's kind of this idea of Torrance level for these foods that you've been avoiding for such a long time. Is it true that what we're doing is we're trying to help to get our body accustomed to these foods and why, you know, in Disorder eating, we're creating these really small lists of safe foods. Things were allowed to eat. We're limiting the diversity in our guts, we're making ourselves more sensitive to these foods, in fact sometimes creating a problem where there was no problem to begin with?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, from where I see it Makes me feel so sad when I see those really small lists, and I know how scary it can be to start to bring foods back in because how it may have made you feel in the past or how worried you are about how it might have made you feel, and Sometimes bringing things out can inadvertently end up causing a problem, as he said. So you know, regardless of where you are Getting that expert help to help to start to bring things back into your diet so that you can improve the diversity of the plants that you're eating. The research is really clear that for people who eat at least 30 different plants across the week, they have better gut health. They have better health outcomes as a result of that. I know 30 sounds huge, but if you sit down and start to count it out, it may not be as small as you actually like. You may not. You may be having a lot more than you actually think because it's not just fruits and veggies, it's your whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices. So it's pretty easy to get that 30 in Particularly. You know, if you're following your beautiful recipes and Linda, you know you've got so many amazing ones there that have that diversity.

Speaker 1:

What I will say, though, is, if you are feeling worried about it, starts small and you know it doesn't have to be that whole meal is like oh my gosh, I'm going and having like all the onion or any other food that might be causing it or may cause a problem for you. Don't really slow. Build it up over time. Part of it is helping your microbiome get used to it. The other part is helping your brain get used to the idea of eating those foods again. So starting small is it's less scary. Think about anything in life If it's feeling a little bit overwhelming or a little bit scary. You're not gonna go and do the whole thing at once. You just take my little step, little step, little step, and over time, suddenly you're like oh my gosh, I got there, amazing Spot on and they take us back to that conversation we had about that mental stress or that physical stress as well.

Speaker 2:

So you're kind of anxious about eating your food. You know that can also create a problem.

Speaker 2:

Self-fulfilling nature of it all. I just want to end this chat and just to bring it to this intersection we have of binge eating and IBS and intolerances, because I think, as you know, with my expertise and your expertise, something I often get asked about is okay, help, I binge eat on the very foods that give me issues with my gut. I'm intolerant to these foods, but for some reason, I can't help but binge eat on them, and so I'm keen to hear your perspective on this. What I often find is the very foods that we eliminate from our diet, particularly carbohydrate foods. I find this most people are going.

Speaker 2:

Well, I'm not bingeing on carrots, I binge eating on lots of bread or cereal or whatever it is, and so often what we do by reintroducing these foods, by giving permission around them, you actually eat them in far smaller quantities than by eliminating them, and, of course, you still might have those negative symptoms as a result of having those foods. But already, by normalizing them, we're reducing the level of that symptom, and with time, you can get to a point where you can start to eat those foods in a bit more of a healthy state. Chloe, what are your thoughts on this? Do you approach it similarly?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, hit the nail on the head. The exact same way, I think by giving yourself permission to have it, it causes you to not feel that requirement to overdo it, because it's like, oh, this is a naughty thing or this is a tree. This is just part of what I do and it's not a problem. Also, if we come back to what we were saying before, if you are feeling a bit worried about what might happen if you have it, no matter how much you have, well then let's start small.

Speaker 1:

If it's bread, let's start with your favorite, beautiful, great quality one that you know, you really love, have a slice with some butter or whatever it is that you like putting on. I think I can't remember where I heard you talking about this years ago now, but it was something about peanut butter on toast. And if it's like you feel like you can't have the peanut butter on toast in the house, go to the cafe and have it, because then you're giving yourself permission to have it but not then having the ability to go and have, you know, the whole loaf, because you don't have the whole loaf, because you just had your slice at the cafe.

Speaker 2:

So you can feel really safe to do that and also to be have other people watching you, even if you don't know those people. In the restaurant. Binge eating is so something that we do in secret, where we feel so judged with hideout, empty wrappers, and simply making it something that you do in front of other people can be quite liberating and help reinforce the idea that that food is not off limits.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I've that peanut butter on toast in the cafe, but I cannot remember where I heard you talking about it, but it's stuck with me and it's something that I have said to so many clients over the years and it's as you say it is so liberating, it's awesome.

Speaker 2:

I'm so glad. I'm so glad because there is this real intersection between gut symptoms and binge eating and all of this. If you do feel like you're out of control with food, I will just say I've got a free webinar, free training, that I will leave a link for you to do in the show notes as well. I hope you feel like that's something that you need help with. You can do that, and I'm going to give you tips in there that I haven't shared elsewhere. Chloe McLeod, you are my go-to person for these things. I feel very, very grateful that you've had this chat with us. I feel like lots of people are going to benefit from having this conversation.

Speaker 2:

Once again, I will leave the notes for how people can find Chloe in the description so you can go and follow her on Instagram. You can go and speak to her and her team of dietitians to get support, because please do, please don't struggle by yourself. There is help out there who can help you do it without falling into restrictive traps, and to help you feel good in your body, something you so deserve. Thank you, chloe. I hope you loved today's conversation. I sure did I definitely. I learned a lot. I love Chloe. She's fabulous. If you want to go check out Chloe Chloe underscore McLeod, unscored dietitian on Instagram and follow her she's got lots of great tips. And also if you are someone who is looking for a little bit more support to be healthy and you want emails that don't suck, I will also leave a link down below so you can get on my newsletter. I send emails that you actually want to open, that have got a lot of value and things I don't share on Instagram. So go and check that out and I'll see you next time.

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