SIBO update #4: A break and testing new things

I promised to give you regular updates about my SIBO process, but I didn’t do that for a while and now time has flown by and 5 months have gone by.

So it is time for an update!

Feeling nauseous

My last update was very positive. I noticed progress in my symptoms and I was slowly adding new foods to my diet to see how that went.

Unfortunately, we had to put that on pause quite suddenly.

To explain this, I first have to go back a year and a half to the summer of 2022.

Then, for inexplicable reasons, I suddenly started having a lot of nausea and pain in my stomach. The doctor expected this to be a stomach ulcer and he recommended me to start taking antacids. That took away the complaints almost immediately.

But antacids are not really good for your body, especially if you suffer from IBS or SIBO. My previous dietician indicated that it was quite possible that those antacids had actually worsened my intestinal complaints.

After a few months of taking antacids and reading a little bit about them, I thought: I want to take this stuff as little as possible. Because it didn’t feel good to me to take medication like this for such a long period.

So I started reducing the amount I took after consultation with the doctor and after that I stopped completely. That was quite difficult because your body gets used to those antacids, but in the end, I managed.

Since that time I have been getting nauseous more easily and I feel like my stomach is a bit weak.

I also noticed this when I started my SIBO journey in early 2023. I had to take quite a few different supplements that should help to resolve the SIBO.

And some supplements, such as oregano oil, made me extremely nauseous. It took quite a while before I discovered that the nausea was due to the supplements.

But when I stopped, the complaints went away. After that, I was very cautious about taking supplements and I always built up the amount that I took of a new supplement very slowly.

Shortly after I published my last update in August 2023, the nausea started again. We decided to stop all the supplements I was taking and that helped. But I still felt nauseous regularly.

I felt nauseous when I woke up, nauseous if I hadn’t eaten for too long, and sometimes nauseous when I tried to fall asleep. It was just as bad as in 2022 and I actually couldn’t function well feeling like this.

These complaints came at a very unhandy time. Because in this period I had the launch of a very big project at work that I had been working on for months. And I didn’t want to and couldn’t miss that.

So, in consultation with my doctor, I started taking antacids every other day again, because this took away the complaints.

Stress and sleep

I also looked at stress with my dietician, Jacqueline Gerrits, and whether it had an impact on my complaints.

During that period I was quite stressed because I was very busy at work. I was supposed to go on holiday in mid-October, but the last time I had a week off was in June and I needed some rest.

I therefore consciously tried to get more rest and go to bed earlier, so that I got more sleep.

When I noticed that things were getting better, I immediately started reducing the antacids again, because I wanted to use them as little as possible.

I managed to stop the supplements without getting nauseous in early October. Then we wanted to slowly start adding supplements again. Starting with a simple multivitamin.

But that also immediately caused nausea. So we stopped doing that again.

A vacation in Hongkong and Taiwan

Then it was time for my holiday in mid-October, which I was really ready for. My boyfriend and I went to Hong Kong and Taiwan for 3 weeks.

Quite an exciting destination for someone with IBS and SIBO. Especially in Taiwan, it was sometimes quite a challenge, because no one spoke English there and menus were often only in Chinese.

But I noticed that I was much more relaxed because of the holiday and that had a positive impact on my complaints.

Normally I often had more stomach problems on holiday, but now my stomach was calmer. And I didn’t have any problems with nausea either.

One time I thought I had ordered a very simple side dish of baked spinach, but it turned out to be floating in cloves of garlic. Usually, I wouldn’t dare to touch that. But now I just took a fibractase pill (which helps with the FODMAP groups of fructans and galactans) and just ate the spinach.

I remained calm about it and it went totally fine.

Only once did I make a big mistake. I had hardly drunk any alcohol since I started my SIBO diet in March 2023. I’m not really a drinker anyway, but with my stomach being so weak, I noticed that it wasn’t smart to drink alcohol at all.

But one evening on holiday we were sitting on a terrace (which you hardly ever found in Taiwan) and then I thought: let’s do something crazy, I’ll order a cocktail. And then I had another alcoholic drink.

You’d think two drinks wouldn’t be too bad, but my body thought differently. When I went to sleep I was very nauseous for a few hours with crazy pain in my stomach. So that was a painful lesson.

But fortunately, the rest of the holiday went very well.

Trying supplements again

When I got back from holiday, Jacqueline and I went to look at the mental part of my complaints. I still found myself feeling nauseous every time I took a supplement.

Jacqueline indicated that perhaps this is also a reaction that comes from the fact that when you take a supplement you always think “ohh, I hope I am not going to feel nauseous”.

So we started focusing on positive thinking in general and also when taking a supplement. So not the thought “Oh, I hope I am not going to feel sick soon”, but “This supplement will help my body with my recovery and give my body important substances that it needs”.

I’m always a bit skeptical about these kinds of things, I’ll be honest. But on the other hand, I do believe that how you think about things can also have a lot of impact.

And whether it was because of this or not, since we discussed it, I suddenly managed to take a fish oil supplement every day again. While at first, it made me feel nauseous.

Where are we now?

I notice that it is still quite a puzzle to improve my complaints. It really is a process of trying things out and seeing what works.

Due to the nausea, the entire process almost came to a standstill for a few months.

At this point, we have started reducing the number of meals I eat in a day. To see what this does to my complaints and bowel movements.

I’m a huge snacker and I’m actually constantly eating things between my meals throughout the day. Then I drink a cappuccino, then I snack on a piece of chocolate, then I have a piece of fruit and then some nuts.

My intestines never actually have time to recover in between meals, because I always eat something new.

Intermitted fasting

I have now started working up to intermittent fasting, where I skip my first meal of the day and start with a meal at noon.

I don’t eat anything after 8 p.m., so I fast for 16 hours straight. And give my body time to recover.

In the 8-hour period that I do eat, I eat 2-3 larger meals. And I try to avoid snacks as much as possible.

I notice that I often eat mainly because I feel like eating something. For example, I don’t feel hungry at all until noon, so I don’t find it difficult not to eat until then. The only thing I have is that I just feel like eating something. Because I like food.

For example, now that I’m typing this, it’s 11 a.m. and I ran for half an hour this morning. My body doesn’t feel like I’m hungry, I feel good and have enough energy. I just feel like eating because I like eating. So I’m already looking forward to the moment in an hour when I’ll eat my first meal of the day 😉

I cannot yet say how this will work out in the long term and whether it will have an impact on my complaints. But I don’t think it’s bad for me to reduce the continuous eating I used to do.

A small success

Finally, something small and positive that I wanted to share. Over the past few months, I have managed to successfully reintroduce mushrooms into my diet.

Mushrooms are one of my favorite vegetables and I always ate a lot of oyster mushrooms, because they are low FODMAP. But a while ago I thought I’d just buy normal button mushrooms (which are high in the FODMAP mannitol).

I now regularly add this to my meals and I don’t get any complaints about it. So that’s a small success to celebrate!

A short summary of this long story: little has changed in recent months due to the nausea. My complaints are still about the same as with my last update.

I have now started intermittent fasting and we will see what this does for my complaints.

I will keep you informed and will share another update in a few months!

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