She can't eat what?! How Emma made good food work in her favour
Living with IBS can be a real struggle. Often we ask ourselves, why me? Why do I have to deal with this embarrassing condition called IBS? But what if, on the contrary, it actually enriched your life? What if you finally found the passion and the job you have always dreamt of? All that, because you have to deal with a super-sensitive tummy.
We had a chat with Emma, who left her regular job to follow her passion to cook and write. ‘She Can’t Eat What’ is her own blog where she creates and publishes simple, seasonal recipes that can be enjoyed by everybody - including those of us with IBS and a sensitive gut.
Though she was diagnosed with IBS at 14, Emma had a sensitive gut for as long as she could remember. Nevertheless, she learnt not only to manage it without limiting her diet, but to enjoy food, too. She believes that whether you have food intolerances or a sensitive gut, you shouldn’t have to feel restricted in what you eat. Good food is for everyone!
How do you handle IBS flare-ups?
It depends on where I am and what’s been going on. Even after so many years, flare-ups can still be really debilitating, feel like they’ve come out of nowhere and really get you down. Taking a step back, some deep breaths, going for a walk, or doing some gentle movement really helps me. Likewise, lots of peppermint tea and some meditation when I wake up. Sleep and stress can have a huge impact on my IBS too, so I really try to keep them in check (not always easy).
What is your favourite food?
I have such a sweet tooth. Fruit desserts, pastry, cream - but then cheese, vegetables, seafood, pasta too. I basically love all food.
How do you feel about having a very sensitive gut?
I’ve learnt over time not just to come to terms with it, but to embrace it. It’s the reason I now have a career in cooking and writing and content creation - which I love - and it’s made me really listen and get to know my body.
How did you start ‘She Can’t Eat What’?
I was at university when I first started blogging and I was in my second year when I was first told about the Low FODMAP Diet. After years of nasty IBS symptoms, it completely changed my life and I wanted to shout about it from the rooftops - especially because at the time it felt like there was hardly any information about IBS and the low FODMAP diet out there. I started posting about the recipes I was cooking and I had such an amazing response from people also suffering, one thing led to another.
What is your idea of having fun?
Right now, after the last year - and of course when it’s safe to do so - I’m looking forward to a very big party.
If you could change one thing about IBS, what would it be?
That it wouldn’t have such a stigma surrounding it. Even I get embarrassed at times explaining it to people - and I’m annoyed at myself for it! We all have bowels, we all poop. Gut health is so important. The more we talk about it and get educated about it, the more empowered we’ll all feel and the more informed we’ll be to make decisions about how we cook and what we eat.
Have you heard about Zemedy before?
I have! I was so excited to discover something like it out in the world, especially because it’s supported by the NHS and so many institutions.
Have you tried the Zemedy app yourself?
Yes, and it’s absolutely brilliant. I’ve learnt so much and now feel armed with simple tools that I can do every day. Naturally, because of my career, I focus on the food and diet side of IBS - but there is so much more that goes into helping to manage symptoms (for me) as I mentioned earlier.
What’s next for you and ‘She Can’t Eat What’?
Very soon I’m launching a series of low FODMAP recipe ebooks - please keep an eye on my website/Instagram to find out more. Can’t wait to share. I’m also moving house (an increasingly common pandemic activity it appears!) so juggling a few bits at the moment, but couldn’t be more excited for spring and summer.
Where can people connect with you?
I blog and share recipes at www.shecanteatwhat.com and I’m @shecanteatwhat across most channels. I’ve also got a newsletter that goes out weekly which I’ve been loving writing throughout the pandemic - something so lovely about connecting with people outside of social media. Sign up on my website for the latest recipes, recommendations and events!
Do you feel inspired to get creative in the kitchen now? Go after it! Delicious food is for everybody and just because you have IBS, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the tastiest meals. Let’s get cooking!