Here are the previous posts in this 'series'
After 2 years of digestive agony (unexplained and seemingly irrational GI symptoms), I was eventually diagnosed with H Pylori.
Prior to my diagnisis, several differenet doctors and specialists put me on very restrictive diets with no succcess (they believed I had allergies, SIBO, etc).
I was basically eating only frozen spinach, potatoes, strawberries, cucumbers, zucchini, unsweeteneds almond milk, green beans, and salad mix. This "diet" seemed to work though, I was still having random "flare-ups" and later I developed endocrine issues because my diet was so restrictive.
FINALLY, I was diagnosed with H Pylori and put on an aggressive antibiotic cocktail. I thought, "this was it! Let's kill these nasty bugs and then I will be HEALED!"
My H Pylori infection was so severe that I was riddled with ulcers. This means even after the H Pylori was gone, the damage was not. I continued to have pain and symptoms, though not as many as before.I followed a low acid diet to help the ulcers heal. Yet even after 6 months, I still could not eat normally and I was still suffering from several of my symptoms.
Everything on the internet (or in gut books) says to eat more fiber and fermented things (e.g. kombucha, kimchi, yogurt), exercise more, take probiotics.
Well, I did all that. I went from doing yoga once a day to doing yoga, walking for an hour or more, and riding my Peloton 30-60 minutes per day. I ate upwards of 100g of fiber per day (from food, not supplements), and I spent a small fortune on kombucha and fancy probiotics.
I didn't get better. If anything, I felt I might have gotten worse...
Thankfully, this story ends relatively happily.
I'm now about 90%. There are many foods I still can't eat and I wouldn't say that I can "eat normally" but I am living at 85-90% and my flareups are getting fewer and farther between.
Here is what I have learned and it goes against EVERYTHING you will reador hear on the Internet or from "experts" or in books by doctors about gut health.
SO if you have a big balloon belly (severe bloating and distension), constipation, or gas that hurts...
READ THIS list below!! particularly if you are vegan or plant-based.
20 SHOCKING TRUTHS ABOUT CONSTIPATION & BALLOON BELLYS
- The extreme bloating and distension happens as a result of constipation.
- A high fiber diet exacerbates the issue.
- Consuming fermented things makes it worse. You already have a lot of fermentation going on (that is what the bloating and distension is) you don't need to add MORE of that.
- A high-fiber diet is great IF you're not already constipated.
- Adding more fiber (especially difficult-to-digest fiber) on top of constipation makes the situation worse.
- You should not take any kind of fiber supplement when you're already constipated.
- It is not shameful and you should take or use enemas, Miralax, colace, or other stool softeners to get it out.
- A 24-48-hour water/broth fast (aka colonscopy prep) may also help reset your system.
- When you are constipated or bloated, but back of "ruffage" and FODMAPs.
- Fiber supplements can be taken for prevention, but only after constipation is resolved.
- Probiotics can make things worse.
- Supplements (e.g. iron, calcium, vitamin D, NAC, omega-3, co-enzyme 10, etc) can cause chronic constipation or decrease bowl motility.
- Ditto for Protein powders (even vegan ones)
- Ditto again for NSAIDs, Anthhysthiamines, birth control, and HRTs.
- Constipation can be life-threatening.
- Constipation can cause depression.
- Magnsium supplements might help.
- Psyllium Husk can be super aggrivating and make things worse.
- Take digestive enzymes.
- Cook food super well; Avoid raw.
For a while, I was taking Citrocel once or twice a day. I tried ColonBroom and didn't have good results. Once I was having regular movements, I decreased the Citrocel. It took MONTHS on it but I do think it helped me.
As for my diet, I still can't eat a lot of beans or lentils. Tofu seems fine as long as it's not too frequent and it definitely can't be fried, baked, or air-fried. Actually, that's true of all foods. I really can't eat dehhydrated things without gas or bloating. I also can't digest jackfruit, seitan/fake meat, or tempeh.
I have 1/3 to 1/2-cup servings of beans once or twice per day, or 1/4-cup lentils. If I start to worry about my protein or my muscles start to feel sore from activity, I take a high-quality protein shake made from European split peas.
I do best with the large white beans (cannellini, Jacks is my favorite brand) or refried beans made by me. Chickpeas don't jive with my belly at all, not even as hummus.
Corn, in any form, is out for me. I also don't do great with wheat or gluten (causes swelling in my legs more than stomach issues). I don't bother with GF stuff because it has so many gums that are irritating.
I like flax milk and almond milk (unsweetened).
I eat all vegetables except corn (and broccoli, as I'm very *very* allergic) but never raw. Often times they are in a pureed soup. I was so excited to reintroduce cauliflower (as "rice") and brussel sprouts after years of not having them.
Green beans, asparagus, and zucchini are still my favorite. I do try not to eat too many onions, garlic, and tomatoes. (I miss salsa horribly). I also don't eat much eggplant, but that is more of a personal preference. I find most recipes don't miss garlic and onion too much if you ramp up other spices.
I really like red and green bell peppers. I'm not a huge fan of carrots but do incorporate them as an option for variety. I also eat a tremendous amount of greens, particularly dinosaur kale, but always cooked well. I still also eat a lot of frozen spinach. I've recently been eating more arugula, collard greens, and chard. Have I mentioned how happy I am to have cauliflower again?
I'm still not eating a lot of grains. Certified GF oats on occassion, but I never really liked eating rice or quinoa, TBH. Flours in any form from any source are constipating for me. I am almost immediately constipated if I eat things like crackers or pasta or bread.
Potatoes and squashes always feel good to me. Right now I really like pressure cooked Japanese sweet potatoes. I miss delicatas and was eating at least one a day in the fall.
I would say I eat 70% non-starchy, 20-25% starch, 25% protein (e.g. beans) and a minimal amount of fats (necessary to help heal the endocrine things caused during my illness). Lately I've been experimenting with raw persian cucumbers and that is going well. Sadly, jicama did not and it used to be a favorite food.
I've also been doing well with mushrooms lately, so I've been eating more of those, which is exciting.
I eat a lot of oat yogurt (unsweetened) with a berry compote. The brand is Nancy's. I also liked an oat yogurt by a Scandanavian brand. It's sweetened with apple juice, but I can't find it easily.
For the compote, it's basically frozen berries simmered until soft with some chia seeds added during cooling.
Strawberries are everything. I love them so much. Blueberries cause acid reflux unless I cook them. Bananas are a hit or miss. Citrus is a hit or miss, but I still do like to add a slice of some citrus to my water. Tropical fruits are delicious but tend to feel very acid-like so I reserve them for a few token dishes and yes, I cook them too. Olives are fine, except they taste so salty.
I have cut back on condiments. I do still eat mustard, but am careful about which brands I buy (I try to avoid any "gums") and I've drastically reduced my hot sauce use (I know, sadness). I'm not using a lot of vinegar. Mostly only small amounts in recipes. Mostly I really (really) avoid gums like xanthum gum. You couldn't pay me to eat maltodextrin. Anything with that is OUT.
I still do not like avocado or nuts as a personal preference, so I don't experiment with them very much. I have been eating a lot more ground flax, chai, and hemp seeds. Usually on my yogurt. I might ground them in my bullet first if I feel worried about my stomach.
I do really like a little tahini, though and drizzle it on a lot of my vegetables. I wasn't a fan of sunflower butter. I also eat hot GF oat bran (it's like a porridge) a few times a week when my belly feels like it's starting to have problems. I generally don't like the taste of peanut butter or almond butter, so I haven't really used either. On occassion I might use powdered peanut butter in a recipe. I'm still off coffee and sparking/carbonated beverages.
I'll never drink a fermented thing (like beer or kombucha) ever again LOL. I also don't eat kimchi or sauerkraut, mostly because I don't like it all that much. I do still use miso in recipes. Ironically, I like chickpea miso the best and it doesn't bother me. Strange.