eating out and other dietary mistakes setting me back in my gut healing

I have been sticking with my GAPS diet for almost 6 months now, but things seem to have been getting worse in the last couple of months. I have been getting some of my symptoms back, including fatigue, brain fog, lack of concentration, depression, bad mood and lots of bloating, abdominal distension, abdominal discomfort and pain…

…Not as bad as they used to be before starting on the GAPS diet, but definitely annoying and interfering with my quality of life.

Fortunately, I use a detailed food journal where I keep track of everything I eat, my sleep habits, exercise and any symptoms I have. I have records for everyday starting last May! This is SO helpful to do some detective work to find the cause of your food-related symptoms. Here is what (I think) I have learned:

  • During the Holidays, I have had a few coconut flour, nuthoney and fruit-based treats. Although it was not to bad in very small amounts, even what would be considered a moderate serving caused bloating.

I only ate out three times since the Holidays, but each time, I got sick for a couple of days… I always make sure the items I order are gluten-free and free of the most offending ingredients, but it seems like there is either always something hiding in my food or cross-contamination in the kitchen.

  • The first time, we went to a sushi place and I ordered sashimis, specifying that I needed my meal to be gluten-free. They seemed to know what I was talking about… and I had brought my raw coconut aminos (a soy-free, grain-free, wheat-free, gluten-free alternative to soy/tamari sauce). Strangely, the sashimis were served on a bed of rice, but I didn’t eat any of it… that night and for at least 2 days, I experienced bloating, pain, severe fatigue, fuzzy thinking and changes in my bowel movements.
  • The second time, we went to a regular restaurant with not that many gluten-free options, but they at least had a gluten-free menu available. I got the tartare duo (beef & salmon), which was served with French fries and a salad. I asked for the French fries to be replaced by veggies or more salad, and apparently they couldn’t do it…. How can restaurants be so lame at respecting their clients’ requests??? I didn’t eat any of the French fries. Again, I was sick for at least 2 days.
  • The 3rd time, I was meeting with a high-school friend I hadn’t seen in a year and chose a restaurant in my neighborhood featuring a gluten-free menu (which is quite rare in the rural part of Canada I was in!)… well they actually had 3 items: 1) gluten-free spaghetti (out of the question, I don’t eat grains AT ALL!!!); 2) a steak (which was a bit expensive, especially that it was definitely grain-fed); and 3) a chicken salad (very depressing chicken breast served on iceberg lettuce and a couple of spinach leaves). I got option #3. Although I asked for the dressing to be served on the side (a balsamic and maple syrup-based “homemade” vinaigrette, I had a bit of it. That evening, I started to get sick again.
And then, as I was starting to get better, I ate bacon…
  • After not having had bacon for sooo long, my husband found a new product offered here in Canada: “natural” nitrate-free bacon. I knew it contained some sugar and came from non-pastured pigs.. but just wanted to enjoy a few slices. Well, it turns out it was a bad idea… Although that bacon doesn’t contain “artificial” nitrites/nitrates, it contains cultured celery extract, a “natural” source of nitrites/nitrates… (see the CBC Marketplace reports here). Chemically, it is the same stuff! I had a couple of slices here and there and didn’t really notice anything. But then I had a few slices at dinner and a few more at breakfast the following day, which was probably too much within the course of 16 hours. Was it the nitrites/nitrates? Was it the small amount of sugar? Or the high omega-6 fat content of non-pastured pork? I don’t know, but IT WASN”T WORTH IT… No more bacon for me.

Photo credit: the Globe and Mail
Finally, last week I met with my naturopathic doctor again and she recommended I take some liquid vitamin B12. My last vitamin B12 test showed it was adequate but my MCH (the size of my red blood cells) was slightly high, which may indicate a suboptimal B12 level, which is quite common in people with SIBO.  Unfortunately, she was out of her B12 drops, so asked me to buy some at my local health food stores.
  • I had never bought liquid B12 and it turned out to be very difficult to find in my area. The only one I found was not in the form of drops and contained the following ingredients: purified water, vegetable glycerin, citric acid, pomegranate natural flavor, potassium sorbate, ascorbic acid. The label mentioned it was free of dairy, wheat, gluten, yeast and corn. I was a bit skeptical of this strange ingredient list but thought it would do more good than harm… it proved to be the opposite. After a bit of research, I found that vegetable glycerin = glycerol = polyol = FODMAP! Although I managed to wake up with a flat stomach on most days, every afternoon, the bloating and discomfort started, increased in the evening and even caused insomnia  a few nights. After 5 days, I couldn’t figure out what was wrong in my diet and pinpointed it down to my B12 supplement.

I know I probably shouldn’t have had some of these foods, but sometimes, the circumstances are not ideal. You may not feel like making a big fuss at the restaurants, especially if eating with people that are not aware of your condition. You may just feel like a little won’t hurt too much….

Make the best choice of the options offered to you, but don’t take chances.

 

TAKE IT SERIOUSLY.

BE EXTRA CAREFUL

WITH EVERY BITE YOU PUT IN YOUR MOUTH. 

Stick to your regimen… it can take a lot of time to heal . I probably set myself back in my gut healing….

 

No more eating out for me for at least a few months. No more “natural bacon” either and no more coconut flour, nuts and honey. No more supplements with doubtful ingredients. Back to the GAPS diet I was following before the Holidays that helped me control my symptoms! I want to go back to not having any bloating and pain again! I will also double my dose of homemade bone broth to try to speed the process… I just hope I can go back to having a flat stomach for more than just a few hours in a row again…

 

Have you ever taken a step forward and two steps backwards while following the GAPS diet?

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day 12

1-hour walk before breakfast

:: 11h30am: sauerkraut

:: 12h00: 3 free-range eggs + 2 slices of free-range bacon + 1/2 avocado + lettuce + balsamic vinegar

*** last night, I had a bite of my boyfriend’s chocolate Easter’s bunny and this afternoon I felt SO AWFUL! When looking at the ingredients more closely, I realized there was wheat in it… 😦 Spent the afternoon in bed, very tired, extremely bloated and had abdominal pain… all of that for a piece of cheap chocolate that wasn’t even good… god, need to think more before I eat! this is why I wasn’t hungry for dinner and only add veggies + coconut oil + avocado…

:: 6h30pm: zucchini + red bell pepper cooked in coconut oil + avocado

::8h00pm: 2 hard-boiled eggs (I got so hungry so had to eat a little something!)