I left off my last post discussing the necessary changes to try and get my gut health back to normal. I would be lying if I said that I was all better and everything was wonderful. It’s not. I’m still not doing all that well. But I do know if I wasn’t on the FODMAP diet I would be a lot worse off.
I started off cutting out a lot! I kept everything very plain and simple. It was the only way. I cut all red meat, potatoes and tomato out of my diet for one month. At the same time as sticking to the strict FODMAP diet. The process of this diet is actually supposed to be done in two stages. I’m actually months later still on stage one of this diet. (Generally you would only need to do stage one for 2-6 weeks, but we still are not at the point where we have discover exactly what the issues are).
At first I started making these changes without consulting anyone. I was so sick that any change had to help. Every meal was making me run to the toilet so I was desperate. A few days after my gastroenterologist followed up with me on the phone. She also suggested the FODMAP diet and taking a probiotic (VIVOMIXX) to help repair my gut. I looked into buying this particular probiotic but it was only available online and quite expensive so I started with just some available at the chemist. I spoke to many people about what I could do to help. Probiotics were generally what I was told along with what I was already doing. It really was going to just be a matter of time (and a lot of it!).
I was taking two different types of probiotics, one that was specifically designed for gastro issues and the other just a regular probiotic. Morning and night I would take these, and also have the little drinks during the day. The next step would be to see a dietician to help with further advice.
Time went by and although I could see some improvements there was still plenty of times that I was just as sick as ever. Every day I would feel a range of symptoms from gassy and bloating to stomach discomfort and reflux. I was eating what I was supposed to according to the diet and not making a great deal of progress.
Once again my doctor asked me how I was during another visit for the kids, it was at this point she referred me to a dietician.
I decided to bite the bullet and order the previously recommended probiotic and take this, it could only help..right?? Ha! well this stuff is strong!!! The directions say that you can have 1 to 3 sachets a day. Ok then, I’d been having the others quite often so I figured I’d start with 2 and then 3. I have never experienced so much pain (other than childbirth of course). I would actually compare this to having a never ending contraction. I was bloated, I was doubled over in pain. All I could do was lay on the bed in agony and wait for it to stop. Turns out that this was all caused by the probiotic. Lesson learnt! Don’t over do the extremely strong probiotics! After a few days I came good again (thankfully it was over a weekend when my husband was about to help with the kids and I was at my worst during the night). After another doctors visit, she suggested to cut back to 1/2 a sachet and build it up from there. I was so nervous, the last thing I wanted was to go through that again. The following week I would see the dietician for the first time. She requested I keep a food and symptom diary so she could work out what to change.
She was helpful in pointing out a few things I was unware of. Such as ingredients that can be found in a youghart that I thought was ok to have (lactose and dairy free) but was actually causing me problems. I’m still seeing her and she’s still talking me through my diet and changes I need to make. I still suffer gas and bloating but my bowels have settled down a lot. It’s not perfect at all, I will sometimes have trouble with loose stools and other times I won’t go for a week! Which of course is part of the problem too (that’s what causes the gas). We are working to improve this by increasing my water intake and monitoring symptoms. In conjunction with probiotics I’m taking SBfloractiv which is supposed to help make the probiotics work better.
I’m eating the same foods daily, but still having symptoms. I’m still not to the point where I can reintroduce foods to test if I have problems with them. This is 6 months after being on a strict FODMAP diet.
In this time I have found many ways of still having foods I enjoy or finding alternatives. I had changed to almond milk, however recently thought I might be having too many almonds (a food that is limited in the FODMAP diet). I’ve changed this to zymil, a lactose free milk. I have nutlex and other alternatives for dairy and gluten items. I swap in gluten free flour and cooking and lactose free milk. I have discovered many alternatives at the grocery store and it seems they are becoming more and more common. At first bread was a huge issue. The gluten free bread found in the supermarket really wasn’t great. I discovered a really nice GF bread at my local bakery and started buying this… for $7 a pop!! But hey, if you put it in the freezer and only have one piece a day it’s not too bad. It is all quite expensive, but when your diet is as limited as mine is at the moment, it doesn’t cost much. Take a walk up and down the aisles of the supermarket and you will start to realise how much you can’t eat. Read a few packets and bottles, you’ll be hard pressed to find a sauce that has no onion, garlic and that’s gluten free.
I’m lucky that I can still have eggs. I would be lost without them. I have scrambled eggs for lunch on a daily basis. I have found that my body seems to tolerate larger meals during the day rather in the morning. Breakfast is very basic for me, one piece of gf toast with peanut butter and a cup of tea. Scrambled eggs and bacon with one hash brown for lunch. Then dinner is steak, a few chips and my steamed carrot, corn and broccoli. I have to be careful not to have too much corn, but I’ve found what I can and cannot have (now to get the gas and bowel movements under control). That’s my day… every day! I have a few cups of tea during the day, the occasional gf biscuit. And I’ve found that there are a few snack packs of gf chips available that I can have for a treat at night. Other than this there is not much variety. I stopped having tomato again recently after a visit with my dietician, as there was a concern I might have trouble with salicylates. I don’t believe this is the case but tomatoes were a food that can be a little problematic for the gut.
I’ll hopefully put some recipes I’ve managed to adapt online for those of you that are in my shoes and have had to gut gluten, dairy and other high FODMAP foods.
Not to sound all Pete Evans (arrr he’s been smokin’ the wacky tobaccy) but this week I’m giving bone broth a trial. Cooked up a chicken carcass in the slowcooker for 24hrs, strained and having a small cup of that each morning before eating anything else. I shall let you know how this goes. The very thought of it makes me shudder lol (I just keep telling myself it’s chicken soup!) but I’m managing, and hey, if it helps then great!