I have SIBO – what do I eat? It’s a fair enough question as there are many things you should not consume such as; sugar, starch, gluten, grains, legumes and certain dairy products. Even the things you’re allowed to have, many have limits on them, for example almonds; you can have a couple but no more than 10. It’s also important to leave a minimum of 3 hours between meals. For someone who loves to graze this is not an ideal situation! But it is doable.
Put as simply as possible, the SIBO diet is a combination of Paleo and a low FODMAP diet with a few exceptions; you should avoid starches e.g. sweet potato and sugars e.g. maple syrup.
I’ve found it’s important to eat plenty of protein and healthy fats, as this is the best way to feel satiated while eating a low carbohydrate diet.
The bulk of my diet consists of freshly prepared vegetables (low FODMAP vegetables only, so no garlic, onion etc), accompanied with eggs, fish or chicken and occasionally grass fed red meat (I was previously a vegetarian but I have found it too difficult to maintain while treating SIBO). Add plenty of herbs and spices but read labels and make sure anything you buy in a package doesn’t contain any nasties! Fresh is best. Use healthy oils to cook with such as coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, organic grass fed butter and ghee.
I make every meal from scratch, it is time consuming and you have to be organised, but I’ve found it’s the best option. Always choose organic pastured / grass fed eggs and meat, if you have SIBO it’s more than likely you have a leaky gut which means any toxins or excess hormones you consume can leak through your digestive tract into your blood stream, causing havoc with your body and already compromised immune system.
Your naturopath or doctor will prescribe you either antibiotics or anti-microbial herbs, these play an important part in treating SIBO as they kill the bacteria. I’m currently taking HCL to aid digestion, Bactrex to kill the bacteria and selected supplements to aid my various nutritional deficiencies such as iron.
Please note that I am on a SIBO maintenance diet, which is where you gradually introduce and increase certain foods into your diet. When I first started treatment I was not allowed any fruit and restricted the quantities of certain foods that could trigger a flare up. Below are some examples of vegetables to restrict initially:
- Asparagus limit to 1 spear
- Artichoke 1/8 cup
- Beetroot 2 slices
- Broccoli 1/2 cup
- Brussel sprouts 2 each
- Cabbage 3/4 cup
- Celery 1 stick
- Chilli 11cm
- Fennel 1/2 cup
- Garlic not allowed (try infused in olive oil as an alternative)
- Green beans 10 each
- Leek not allowed
- Mushrooms not allowed
- Onion not allowed
- Peas 1/4 cup
- Potato (or sweet potato) not allowed
- Pumpkin 1/2 cup
- Snow peas 5 pods
- Spinach 15 leaves
- Zucchini 3/4 cup
All other vegetables should be well tolerated. I would suggest restricting fruit initially then introducing berries (limit to 1/2 cup) as you start to improve.
Avoid sweeteners except pure Stevia powder or liquid initially.
Dairy is usually avoided then gradually introduced in the form of butter and hard aged cheese, I only seem to be able to tolerate butter and a very small amount of cheese.
I must reiterate how important it is to read labels, if you can’t pronounce it don’t consume it! Maltodextrin, starches, sugars, gums, carragenan, thickener, soy, tamari, palm oil, agave, xylitol should all be avoided.
Below are some example meals that I eat. Everyone is different and if you can’t tolerate any of the food listed, listen to your body and try introducing it at a later stage when you’re feeling a little better. As for drinks, stick to water and herbal tea, I personally love lemon and ginger for an anti-bacterial kick and a chamomile blend of an evening.
I start my day with a hearty breakfast to keep me going.
- Poached eggs on a slice of nut & seed loaf with smoked salmon, avocado & rocket drizzled in lime juice and dill.
- Scrambled eggs with finely chopped kale and spinach, accompanied with roast carrots and fresh coriander in garlic infused olive oil.
- Shakshouka, which is a Middle Eastern dish of eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce, check out my instagram page for this recipe.
- Spiced zucchini and tomatoes with eggs, recipe here.
- Frittata filled with roast vegetables, olives, some pine nuts and a little grated parmesan cheese served with a green salad.
- Fritters made with zucchini or pumpkin grated with eggs, almond meal and herbs.
- Paleo pancakes (made with coconut flour), go easy on these as excess coconut can cause symptoms.
You are allowed to snack but make sure you leave a minimum of 3 hours between meals. Some of the below items listed may not be good when you are first starting out on the diet, just see how your body reacts, if they don’t agree then remove. Quantity is important, try not to consume too many nuts, seeds and fruit as they can cause symptoms.
- Nut & seed loaf (1 slice) with grass fed butter and a teaspoon of honey, or avocado. Organic clear honey is allowed in very small amounts.
- Berry smoothie, 1/2 cup of berries blended with 1/2 cup of coconut water, 1/3 cup of almond milk, ice and 1/4 tsp of pure vanilla powder.
- Carrot sticks with 1 tsp black tahini paste or almond butter.
- Coconut and lemon bread this one is great as it’s nice to feel like your eating cake again! Stick to 1 small slice though.
- Frittata, this is a great dish to keep in the fridge and there are so many variations to try.
- Bone broth made from beef or lamb bone.
LUNCH / DINNER
- Baked spiced chicken thigh with a side salad.
- Nicoise salad, without potato, opt for low FODMAP salad ingredients.
- Salmon pan fried served with a herb sauce or crust, served with salad.
- Roast chicken breast, marinated in garlic infused olive oil, lemon juice and herbs with vegetables or a salad.
- Roast chicken and vegetables.
- Mexican inspired beef burrito mixture served with avocado, cucumber and rocket dressed in lime and olive oil and some spicy home made mayonnaise.
- Vietnamese inspired chicken salad.
- Vegetable and lentil soup.
- Roast vegetable salad.
I hope you have found this post helpful.There’s so much information relating to this topic, so I’ve tried to make it as succinct as possible. If you have a question, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll respond to you.
For me personally, I am by no means cured from this disease, I’m tackling it everyday but I have noticed gradual improvements. My naturopath is helping me with my treatment and I would highly recommend seeking medical advice if you believe you have a gut disorder such as SIBO.
Yours in health,