IBS: If it’s not diet, than what else?


If diet is not the cause, then what?

So you have tried a low Fodmaps diet, reducing sugar and processed foods. You’ve been tested for SIBO and Candida, and sorted those out. And you are STILL suffering and wondering what else might be the cause?

This is where I got stuck. And where those who are still “managing symptoms” are probably stuck too. I could see that stress was causing me some problems. I worked out which people, situations, feelings, even smells were triggering me. But I didn’t know why, or what I could do about them, if anything.

But there is an answer – and it has become my specialist subject. I looked at all the diagrams with stress and fear on, like this one below. And found that fear was as big a chasm as IBS was. Invisible, vast  and imprecise. Something we think we have to endure.

So I set out to figure out what causes fear. And what else can trigger IBS.

What else can trigger IBS flare-ups?

Consider this question: Why is it that two people can go through an identical situation and experience it differently?

Well basically it all comes down to who we are, our beliefs, our past experiences, our core values.

There is a specific learning process we go through every time we interact with the outside world. If this interaction results in us feeling threatened in any way – consciously or unconsciously, it can trigger a reaction: shallow breathing, tensing of the shoulders and back, restless physical state, and even one of those lovely IBS flare-ups that we all hate.

So why is it that 2 people can have different reactions to a situation? When I studied NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) I found the answer. It comes down to whether they perceive it as threatening or not. This reaction is subsconscious, based on the patterns we have learned in the past.

cowboy bootsImagine a man comes out of a shop with big texan cowboy boots on. How would you and others react ?


One person might find that very sexy, because where they are from these boots are in fashion and very virile.

Another person might find them funny – because they look as if they have come straight out of a cartoon, they are so huge!

Another person may not even notice, because they have other things on their mind.

A fourth person might feel threatened, because there was that nasty guy at school who used to have a pair. They may or may not remember that event. But their body and mind does – and sets of that stress reaction.

All of our triggers work like this

If you feel under pressure at work, you may have a colleague that seems to sail through it all easily, unperturbed.

What if you didn’t feel the same pressure? What if you felt more relaxed? How would that feel instead? What would that change for you – and your IBS?What else can cause IBS flare-ups: pressure


I had a client who felt under considerable pressure at work. He was feeling under pressure because of deadlines and scared of making mistakes on big projects that would cost a fortune and could make him lose his job. When he felt stressed he found he was more prone to making mistakes and lost his concentration. And that pressure repeatedly set off headaches and digestive problems. In the evening he would go home and feel exhausted.  He felt he was locked in a downward spiral.

In just a couple of sessions I helped him to challenge his beliefs and perceptions around deadlines.

By stepping out of that deadline pressure he was able to concentrate more fully on what he had to do. Instead of fear and stress taking over, he could access all of his capacities. And he found he could work much more quickly and effectively. He felt much more resourceful, and finished the project way before his deadline, feeling satisfied with the result. And of course the headaches and digestive problems became a thing of the past.

What else can be causing your IBS? Triggers that you have developed through experience, and that can be changed.

I hope this shows that we don’t have to put up with fear and excessive stress. And that for you, maybe this is a missing key to improving – or even recovering from your IBS. It certainly was for me.

If you are interested, I offer IBS-specific NLP sessions. They are part of my IBS toolbox and can be wickedly effective.