My experience with the Fast Tract Diet for SIBO and IBS

I posted back in February about the Fast Tract diet for SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth). For those who aren’t familiar you can read up on the Fast Tract Diet here, you can also read my previous post here.

In summary The Fast Tract Diet helped me, but I needed to personalise it to my own needs; there were certain foods that just don’t agree with me and given that I have endometriosis I’m cautious with dairy – I only eat organic dairy and preferably made from goat’s or sheep’s milk, cheese is ok for me but yoghurt or milk isn’t.

The Fast Tract Diet

So I should share with you that I didn’t follow the diet extremely closely and didn’t add up the points manually, I just learnt the diet and scoring system then ate accordingly. I roughly eat anywhere between 30-40 fermentation points per day (my understanding is 25 fp points per day is recommended initally).

I think the Fast Tract Diet has worked well for me because I can eat many different high FODMAP foods including garlic and onion, which is why I wanted to give this approach a whirl as the low FODMAP diet wasn’t assisting me greatly. I think if you’ve tried a lot of different approaches for dealing with SIBO (such as low FODMAP) and aren’t getting anywhere, then perhaps The Fast Tract diet could be worthwhile trying.

I am feeling so much better since I’ve been on this diet, but it hasn’t just been the diet that’s helped, as I’ve also been taking prescribed nutrients and strains of probiotics and prebiotics (partially hydrolysed guar gum). I also meditate and practise yoga regularly as I believe the mind body connection is extremely important to healing.

For me personally I’ve spent a lot of time and effort trying different approaches to treat my health concerns and it can be isolating and confusing going it alone. I’ve learnt that long-term health issues such as SIBO and endometriosis warrant the ongoing support of a qualified health practitioner. I think if you’re completely confused about what to eat, see a nutritionist and let them take the complexity away so you can instead focus on healing and most importantly – enjoying life.

Health and healing,

Meredith x

 

 

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Eating out with diet restrictions

Do you feel a pang of anxiety when you get invited to lunch or to an event where food is being served? Or perhaps you’ve looked at the menu and realised they don’t cater to your diet?

I can relate. In fact I’ve been personally dealing with this since I started following a diet to manage my endometriosis after I was diagnosed in 2013, then things got really complicated after I was diagnosed with IBS and SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth). I was feeling unsure about what to eat at home let alone what I could eat at a restaurant!

Here’s the thing, I LOVE eating out and trying different types of food so I decided I had to learn how to get around my diet restrictions. I’ve also learnt that declining invitations and events because of my dietary restrictions is isolating and depressing. Socialising with others and feeling like you have connection with others is key to good health – we all need human connection.

eating out with dietary restrictionsSo how do you tackle these situations? Well, read-on!

  • Is the restaurant / cafe menu completely unsuitable? Why not suggest you all go somewhere else instead?
  • If this isn’t possible or you don’t feel comfortable asking to change the venue, then read the menu online, if it’s just a coffee catch up, do they offer herbal tea or an alternative you can tolerate?
  • Be the driver of change! Call the cafe and ask them how they can cater for you; for example, do they offer cow’s milk alternatives? Think of it as a service to them; you’re actually helping the cafe by educating them about food intolerances, allergies and dietary restrictions, some businesses won’t change or offer alternatives unless people demand it!
  • Make friends with the waiter; they are your link between you and the kitchen, ask them what’s possible, I’ve had plenty of success doing this, more times than not they are happy to help accommodate your needs.
  • Learn what types of food you do well with; for example, I don’t make Japanese food at home but I love it and my body tolerates it quite well, I usually just avoid tofu and fried food and pick the healthiest items off the menu such as; green tea, sashimi, sushi and salads and keep the soy sauce to a minimum.
  • Remember, what matters most are your regular eating habits (how you eat majority of the time), if you are tempted while out then don’t beat yourself up, just enjoy the moment and move on. If you are going to indulge, seek out the healthiest version or choose what’s going to give you the least amount of symptoms. Sometimes, denying ourselves things we crave make us want them even more, from this an unhealthy relationship with food can develop – I think it’s always good to keep this in mind.

Do you find it challenging eating out? I’d love to know your tips and any of your favourite eateries in Brisbane that cater to dietary requirements.

Health and healing,

Meredith x

 

Overcoming SIBO

Following my diagnosis of SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) in 2015 after surgery for endometriosis, I made it my mission to learn as much as possible about this gut condition; I’ve read scientific literature, listened to interviews with experts, spoken to countless health professionals and am gaining knowledge through my nutrition degree.

Initially I was relieved to finally have a diagnosis, but then the super strict treatment regimen combined with round after round of treatment not working took its toll on me. I started to lose hope and became exhausted and malnourished. However, following my last round of treatment in January 2018 I’ve experienced a turnaround in my health.

Meredith overcoming SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth)

Because of my experience (and that I’m feeling a whole lot better), I wanted to share what I believe are some of the most important things to consider when trying to overcome SIBO:

 

STRESS

This is number 1 on my list of things to address as it’s key to helping your nervous system and gut functioning optimally. It doesn’t matter how dedicated you are to your treatment, if you aren’t coping, are struggling with anxiety or depression or think you might be, it’s essential to address it. Anxiety or depression can be due to nutritional deficiencies so it’s important to get this investigated. Otherwise, gain healthy habits that you can fit into your life; practise yoga, learn to meditate, have coffee with friends or spend time in nature.

Diet restrictions can cause their own anxiety, be conscious and acknowledge it if this happens to you; my suggestion is to not worry if you ate those chips or that piece of cake, what’s more important is how you eat the rest of the time. Remember to chew your food and eat slowly, it seems Grandma did know best with that one!

FIND THE ROOT CAUSE

Find the root cause if you can, consider the possibility there may be other conditions co-existing with SIBO (or even causing it). You need a good, thorough health practitioner to help with this (an integrative doctor or naturopath is helpful here).

PERSONALISE AND TWEAK IT

Personalise your diet and your treatment – it may look different to others, try out different approaches and see what works for you. See a qualified nutritionist who understands SIBO to help you work through your individual needs. Also remember that when you start to reintroduce certain foods you’re likely to have a reaction; it’s not necessarily a bad sign, more just an adjustment period, just go slowly when reintroducing foods.

SUPPLEMENTS

Don’t dismiss pre or probiotics, they might just help. I know it’s controversial when it comes to SIBO though. For the last 4 months I’ve been using hydrolysed guar gum (a prebiotic) and specific probiotic strains after avoiding them for years, but I feel like they are helping. I also tried FMT (fecal microbiota transplant), but I wouldn’t recommend FMT unless your gastroenterologist recommends it specifically for you as it’s not really used for SIBO. It’s also important to tackle the issue of low stomach acid if that’s a problem for you and slow motility by using a pro-kinetic such as ginger (again, only if this is relevant for you). There are loads of other supplements I could talk about here but it’s best to chat your health practitioner about what’s right for you.

LET IT GO

Let go of the outcome, it’s important for your mental health. This one ties into to my first point about reducing stress. Letting go isn’t about giving up; if you’re really attached to an outcome it can make you anxious and then disheartened if the treatment doesn’t work exactly as you hoped. Remember that most people require rounds of treatment to get better, not just one.

Health and healing.

Meredith x

 

 

 

How to meal prep

What is one major reason why some people eat consistently well and others don’t? Food preparation. Eating well consistently will help improve our overall health. It’s especially important to eat nutritious food when you’re struggling with a health condition like endo, SIBO or leaky gut.

It might seem time consuming, complicated and exhausting if you have a chronic illness – I get it. I’ve found though that preparing food in advance makes life easier. I know for myself if I don’t eat well (home-made food) majority of the time I feel it; I’m more tired, don’t sleep as well, don’t handle stress as well and have more reactions to food.

My meal prep is usually done on a Sunday or Monday depending on what I have on and I keep it as simple as possible.meal prep

 

  1. Plan ahead. What day of the week are you going to dedicate a couple of hours to shopping and food prep?
  2. Create a meal plan for the week. Before you write a shopping list, think about the events you have on. Make a list of what you want to eat and when and roughly how many days of leftovers you can get out of a meal. Choose recipes that are not too complex and that you’ll get a few meals out of – using a slow cooker is a great way to do this. I’ll share some recipes I like to make further down.
  3. Create a shopping list. You may need to freeze some ingredients (such as fresh fish). Also include fresh ingredients you don’t need to cook such as salad ingredients like cucumber, lettuce and fruit (frozen berries are great for smoothies). Don’t forget to maintain enough kitchen staples such as olive oil, olives, smoked salmon and nut butters (such as almond butter).
  4. Once you have your groceries, spend a few hours preparing your food. Here are some general ideas to inspire you:
    • A batch of stock or bone broth in the slow cooker (for soups and to drink)
    • Roast or bake vegetables such as pumpkin, capsicum and cauliflower 
    • Roast a whole chicken or another protein
    • A curry or soup in the slow cooker
    • Slow cooked casserole or stew
    • Whip up a stir fry
    • Boil some eggs
    • Frittata
    • Make a healthy lasagne such as a Paleo style or one using brown rice pasta
    • Cook some grains and store them in the fridge (quinoa, buckwheat, rice)
    • Make some bircher muesli, granola or porridge and store it in the fridge
    • Have ingredients ready to make a quick and filling smoothie (such as nut butter, cacao, cooked pumpkin, avocado, berries, banana and a quality protein powder)
    • Snacks such as protein balls are awesome for an afternoon snack
    • Nuts and seeds are also great, a handful should be enough as a quick snack

Some of the above recipes are from the JCN Clinic website, there are some gorgeous ideas there so head on over and get inspired!

Health and healing,

Meredith x

 

 

 

Healthy lunchbox ideas

For me, eating well means preparing most of my meals, that includes lunch. Taking home made lunches to work or school doesn’t mean boring and tasteless. It doesn’t mean you have to spend ages preparing your lunches either.

Usually on Sunday I will prepare a few dishes that I know will last a few days that I can take as leftovers. I also buy items that can keep in the fridge (or cupboard) for up to a week such as smoked salmon, cheese, salad ingredients, nuts and crackers.

I recently bought a bento box style of lunch box which I love as it has compartments that can be used for different foods.

healthy bento box
healthy lunch ideas

Here are some items I like to pack in my lunches:

  • Frittata
  • Boiled eggs
  • Smoked salmon
  • Flaked tuna
  • Leftover roast or poached chicken
  • Leftover slow cooked, shredded lamb
  • Leftover lasagne (I make a paleo style, as pictured)
  • Soup, depending on the recipe it can be a complete meal on it’s own if it has sufficient protein, fat and carbohydrates
  • Leftover stir-fry
  • Rice paper rolls or home-made sushi rolls (wrap tightly though as any air makes the rice tough)

To serve with:

  • Leftover roast veggies such as baked pumpkin (as pictured) or cauliflower
  • Chopped fresh veggies such as celery, carrot or cucumber
  • Roast vegetable salad
  • Steamed/blanched green beans or broccoli
  • Kaleslaw (shredded kale, cabbage, carrot, spring onions as pictured) with avocado, lemon and olive oil dressing (keep the dressing separate to avoid a soggy salad)
  • Chopped garden salad or Greek style salad
  • Zaalouk a delicious slow cooked vegetable dish that is almost a dip
  • Olives
  • Nuts or nut butter
  • Rice crackers (jasmine rice crackers are best with no additives)
  • A small amount of fruit such as melon or strawberries
  • Homemade dips
  • Organic goats cheese or yoghurt
  • Protein balls
  • Gummies (as pictured)
  • A small amount of chopped fruit such as melon or strawberries

Everyone’s needs for protein, fats and carbohydrates are slightly different; if you have SIBO you will probably tend to be lower carb than others, but I try to aim for my meals to be around 25% protein, 25% fats and get my carbohydrates by filling my plate with 50% of veggies.

If you’re vegan make sure you consume a combination of grains, legumes, seeds and nuts to ensure you’re getting sufficient protein and fats.

Health and healing,

Meredith x