Updated August 24, 2023
My Name is Sarah and I wanted to share my story of overcoming chronic GI distress as a result of Dr. McDougall’s work and of course Mary’s recipes. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I was 16 the first time I drove myself to the pediatrician because I hadn’t had a bowel movement in over two weeks. The man who stood in front of me began questioning me about my mental health status. “Have you had any recent trauma?”, “What’s going on in your life?”, “Have you been feeling down or stressed?”. He was desperately trying to convince me I was depressed and that the result was my constipation. I proceeded to explain to him that of course, I was moody, I was 16! But the main thing that was causing me to feel “down” was the fact that I couldn’t poop. He prescribed MiraLax and said it would be fine just to take the rest of my life.
This cycle continued for the next 10 years. Doctors always assumed stress or depression and then proceeded to tell me to take MiraLAX or they would prescribe supposed “miracle drugs” that ran around $400-$500 a month. I even once had a nurse tell me to eat lemons. I could’ve fallen over in laughter at that moment. However, she was probably more correct than any of the doctors I’d seen so far. Overall, the shared idea among all of the physicians was this; I would be lucky if I could go every three days, and that was their goal for me.
I was too young for this I would say to myself while I ate my daily prune/MiraLAX combo meal. This is for old people. They were now planning to do a colonoscopy and then a nerve repair surgery where they rewire the nerves of the rectum. The discussion of removing my colon had even been tossed around.
I objected to all of this. I didn’t want to take laxatives, I didn’t want to have surgery, and I certainly did not want to have any necessary organs removed. I gave up with the doctors and turned to my diet.
I knew very little about nutrition but the internet led me to all sorts of things to try; gluten-free, Low FODMAP, low carb (regrettable decision), and finally a starch-based diet. I had lost a ton of weight at this point, cutting out all sorts of foods or avoiding it altogether. Most days I didn’t want to eat because I was afraid of the wait time between eating and evacuating. For the last 6 months, I’d been on a high protein weighing and measuring program that never left me feeling full which meant no extreme bloating. I looked like death and now had a partially prolapsed rectum and varicose veins from years of straining. I was about 15 pounds underweight and my family was concerned. I couldn’t go on like this. My family thought it was all in my head, my doctors thought it was just a condition I needed to manage with drugs, and I was starting to believe them.
This is when I began to read The Starch Solution. I had heard reports that eating a starch-based could cure anything. After the first chapter, I was hooked. I immediately bought some potatoes and just started eating.
I ate everything I wanted. Beans and rice and homemade tortillas, sweet potatoes and broccoli (my go-to), oatmeal and bananas every morning. I didn’t limit myself or worry about what foods I couldn’t tolerate. I just ate.
I won’t pretend that this was an overnight success story. It wasn’t. Why should I expect that years of damage, a prolapsed rectum, and being 15 pounds underweight would resolve itself in a day or even a week? I did experience some relief about once a week. To me, this was a win. Drug-free with only prunes to assist, I could live with that. I kept on with the McDougall program. After a year, I’ve gained back 10 pounds so far (not of fat but muscle and glycogen) and now I can say that I may even go three times every morning. I don’t claim that I have IBS anymore when my primary care physician asks I tell them exactly what cured me in hopes they’ll spread the good word.
My family still worries that I’m not getting enough protein, or that I’m an extremist. I don’t let this stop me. My fiancée is more than supportive and even eats my meals alongside me though he hasn’t made the full transition himself. I feel amazing, I have energy and lastly, I don’t fear eating. The McDougall diet isn’t hard to maintain, and I truly love the food. So thank you Dr. Mcdougall and Mary for giving me back my life.