Research has long linked IBS and eating disorders. The sheer pain that food can cause in a severe case of IBS can lead to avoidance of food, which in turn, can develop into an eating disorder. But what happens when you have these two conditions the other way around?

I was diagnosed with IBS just over a year after I was discharged from treatment for my eating disorder. While different GPs in different surgeries meant that a link was never pointed out, research suggests that my eating disorder could have been a trigger for developing IBS. Here's what it was like being diagnosed with a gastrointestinal disorder so soon after an eating disorder.

It was (and still is) exhausting

Heema Gokani

I'd been battling my demons for a good few years and was finally learning how to eat like a normal human being. Suddenly, IBS was thrown into the works and I had to watch my food carefully all over again. It was exhausting, never knowing when I was going to feel ill or not, and it felt unfair — I was partway to conquering one food-related illness, and another had stopped me in my tracks!

Nausea, nausea, nausea

cake, tea, pizza, coffee, beer, stomach ache, girl looking sick, feeling sick, unwell
Julia Gilman

I went from feeling sick after food due to my mental illness to feeling sick after food due to my physical illness, with a blurry transition in the middle. It felt different, so I could fairly accurately guess which was the cause of the nausea, but it still sucked.

Fear foods reversed

seafood, rice, vegetable, fish
Spoon University

Foods that I'd considered to be "fear foods" suddenly became some of the main things that I could eat on my low FODMAP plan. Things that had always been "safe foods" became trigger foods that would leave me in agony after eating them. It was hard getting used to this reversal, and forcing myself to eat foods that had triggered negative responses for so long.

It was confusing

Heema Gokani

And not just for me. If I said I was feeling sick, people close to me would suddenly watch me like a hawk. No one (except from me) really knew the difference between IBS-sick and eating disorder-sick, which meant that everyone went into overdrive whenever I complained of a health issue.

Having one food-related disorder isn't fun, let alone two. My IBS diagnosis turned my diet upside-down, throwing my recovery plans up in the air! If you're struggling with similar issues, it's worth taking a trip to your GP — there are always management options!