A bloated belly, excess gas and nausea are some of the symptoms Alana Scott has to endure with a diagnosis of coeliac disease and irritable bowel syndrome.
The 27-year-old is visiting Cambridge and Te Awamutu to talk about how she has overcome that pain and rediscovered her love of food.
Alana is the author of The Gut-friendly Cookbook and creative mind behind the website www.alittlebityummy.com.
Alana's journey to good health started when she was a student at Waikato University.
"I was eating a lot of bread and Weet-bix - cheap food for a student - and I got to a point where I had a really unhappy gut," Alana says.
She describes an unhappy gut as like living with a constant stomach bug.
"People experience different gut symptoms like really bad gas, abdominal cramps, diarrhoea and nausea."
For Alana, this led to some embarrassing moments.
"I was the girl who sneakily unzipped my jeans in the middle of a lecture theatre to let my bloated belly escape and relieve the intense pain," she says.
"I started having issues at networking events where I was always sneaking into corners to have a quiet little fart because I was so uncomfortable.
"Then I got really, really ill and I never wanted to leave the house because I was really nauseous and tired all the time."
Alana was eventually diagnosed with coeliac disease, irritable bowel syndrome and a nut allergy. After seeing doctors, gastroenterologists and dietitians she was put on a gluten-free diet and the scientifically proven low FODMAP diet. FODMAP is an acronym for short chain carbohydrates Fermentable Oligo-saccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols.
For Alana, this meant farewelling her favourite foods like ciabatta bread, onions, garlic, stone fruit and mushrooms.
She says changing her eating habits was an overwhelming experience.
"I remember doing a supermarket shop with my mum after being put on the low FODMAP diet," Alanah says.
"I got so confused and ended up walking away from the supermarket with a bag of carrots and a chicken breast.
"I didn't know what to cook any more because I'd lost my favourite foods."
But then Alana returned to her roots and took advice from her mum, the owner of the now closed Tirau business, the Oraka Deer Park and Restaurant.
"My mum's philosophy is that good food is fresh - it doesn't have to be complicated," Alana says.
"Once I stopped being scared, I got creative in the kitchen, rediscovered my love of food and started writing about it."
Alana launched her website www.alittlebityummy.com which supports people with gut issues and welcomes 1.3 million unique users each year.
Alana's followers requested she compile her best recipes into a book, which is how The Gut-friendly Cookbook was born.
The book is made up of 100 self-written low FODMAP and gluten-free recipes and has been designed to support people with food allergies, irritable bowel syndrome and coeliac disease.
It is a catalogue of meals, sweet treats and background information on FODMAPS.
There is also a shopping guide and tips on how to improve your gut-health.
The Gut-friendly Cookbook has been approved by a registered dietician and endorsed by Allergy New Zealand.
"All the recipes pass the 'normal person's test'," Alana says.
"My dad is a farmer and he initially thought I was crazy, but is slowly coming around and will now happily try these recipes.
"The recipes are written so that you can get most of the ingredients from your local supermarket."
Waipa residents are invited to join Alana for an hour as she chats about living with gut issues and the hilarious situations she's ended up in.
Alana is speaking at the Cambridge Library on Thursday, March 21 at 6.30pm and the Te Awamutu Library on Friday, March 22 at 6.30pm.
She will have signed copies of The Gut-friendly Cookbook available for purchase.
The book will be for sale at Paper Plus in Te Awamutu and Cambridge this month or can be pre-ordered at www.alittlebityummy.com.