Travelling with IBS and food intolerances

This week’s blog update is coming from guest blogger Angi, who travels extensively, while still managing to look after her gut, by finding eateries that are food intolerant friendly.

Do you love travelling? If yes, you’re the same as me. My name is Angi and I’ve been wandering the world for over a year – with my gut issues always by my side.
I have IBS-C and many food intolerances (lactose, fructose, wheat, onion and garlic, just to name a few). And even though this obviously sometimes gives me a hard time, it’s been the best year of my life!Angi The Intolerant Wanderer
Travelling has always played a huge role in my life. It’s my passion and I said to myself that I won’t let anything stop me from doing it. Was it difficult at times? Yes! And overwhelming? Absolutely! Especially at first. But with a little preparation and calmness everything is doable. Also it gets easier with time. And along the way I learnt a lot about myself and how I deal with different situations. It’s definitely been a journey in every aspect – for my body as well as for my mind. If you want to read some more tips on how to travel with food intolerances, check out the article I wrote for intolerant.me.

intolerant.me is a platform I created together with my partner Pam while travelling. Our main goal with it is to make life a bit easier for people with food intolerances and allergies. There is a lot of information out there scattered around. That’s why we try and channel some of it on our Instagram profile by sharing worldwide recommendations for restaurants, products and recipes – all food intolerance and allergies related. Currently most of the action happens on Instagram. But we’ve already organised some events and have many more ideas what to do next.

Besides this, I have my personal Instagram profile the intolerant wanderer on which I talk about personal stuff, my travels and how I deal with my intolerances. It has helped me a great deal to openly speak about my gut issues and interact with others who go through the same. It’s people like Meredith who give me so much and keep me going. Thanks! Also for giving me the opportunity to introduce myself here.

About Angi:

Angi is originally from Switzerland but feels home wherever she is in the world. As the intolerant wanderer she portraits her journey. With that she wants to help others and show that it’s still possible to travel and enjoy a location independent life, even if you have food intolerances. Together with her partner Pam, she also created intolerant.me which is a platform for people with food intolerances and allergies. It’s supposed to be a place for inspiration, information and interaction – and to make life a bit easier.

 

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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

 

 

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

 

 

 

Yellow vegetable curry

I shared a picture of a yellow veggie curry in my slow cooker on Instagram and had some requests for the recipe so here it is. It’s on repeat in my house!

This curry is low FODMAP, endo-diet friendly and vegan. It’s not a complicated recipe and can definitely be tweaked, so feel free to use whatever veggies are in season or add some chickpeas if your gut can tolerate them.

Yellow veggie curry

Serves 4-6,

Requires a slow cooker, or a setting on your stove top that allows you to cook at a very low temperature.

You’ll need:

  • A 400g tin of coconut milk (without additives)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tsp ginger finely grated
  • 1 tbsp turmeric ground
  • 2 tsp cumin ground
  • 1 tsp cardamom ground
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • A sprinkle of sea salt
  • 1 medium sweet potato chopped (or pumpkin)
  • 1 white potato chopped
  • 2 zucchini chopped
  • 1/4 cauliflower chopped into small florets (use broccoli for low FODMAP)
  • 150g of chopped mushrooms (use oyster mushrooms for low FODMAP)
  • A handful of fresh coriander leaves to serve
  • 1 lime to squeeze over when serving

If you’re not on a low FODMAP diet or don’t have IBS or SIBO, try adding some chopped onion and 1 minced garlic clove.

Method:

Take a slow cooker pan and add the coconut oil, heat it over the stove top on a medium heat, add the spices (including the fresh ginger) and when they are fragrant slowly add the vegetables and cook stirring for about 2 minutes. Next, add the coconut milk and heat through (but don’t let it boil).

Place the pan back into the slow cooker and cook on low for about 4 hours.

Yellow vegetable curry

I like to sprinkle hemp seeds, sunflower seeds and almond flakes on top when serving for added protein and healthy fats.

Serve with rice of your choice, I use jasmine but brown rice is best if you can tolerate it.

Meredith x