Archive for July, 2009

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The Diet

July 27, 2009

Even though I made promises to update the blog, I’ve failed at many attempts. I’m having a couple of issues.

I prefer discussion over a monologue. Obviously this is why I do tend to give a little more attention to my yahoo group, because we can bounce ideas off one another, and address specific and targeted issues that people are having. Here too, however, I can be slow/late/negligent when it comes to writing and responding to group discussions because Outside of work I spend very little time sitting down. I had a knitting blog once. I used to like movies. But as a cursory glance at this blog will tell you, I am not one of those SIBO’ers who has trouble keeping weight on; quite the opposite, I have trouble losing, and I haven’t lost nearly 40 lbs in the last 2 years or so by blogging or knitting or watching movies. I run, I use the elliptical and crosstrainer, I lift weights, I play wii sports and wii active and I go dancing whenever I can. So blogging is just once thing that’s slipped out of my grasp a little in an effort to hit my weight loss goal (about 10 – 15 moreĀ  lbs to go btw. Lastly, I’m learning something about myself lately and it’s that I’m uncomfortable with the amount of knowledge I have about this condition. I have yet to meet/cross paths with anyone who knows more about SIBO than I. Bloggers, forum posters, doctors, you name it. I value expertise very highly and I do not think it comes easily. All this time I have been avoiding telling people how they should deal with their own overgrowth, what they should eat, what they should take, etc. But a few things are becoming clear in my group. There are only a handful but I want to discuss them a post at a time. So for starters, lets talk about diet.

1) A Low carb, high fat diet helps most everyone with SIBO to manage their symptoms and feel a little more normal. The people who aren’t helped by low carb generally fall into two categories: A) People who either think they have issues with fat digestion or people who really have issues with fat digestion and B) People who won’t even bother trying. A group discussion recently brought me enormous frustration when it went something like this:

“I am very sick.” “what’s your diet like?” “I eat pretty much nothing but fruits and oats.” “Try low carb.” “Oh that doesn’t work for me. I need lots of fiber to keep me regular. I put psyllium husks in my fruit smoothie.” “Okay, well maybe you should stop that and try to drop the carbs and up the fat.” “Oh no, I’ve tried a high protein diet before and I have issues with C.””Okay well protein isn’t going to help you go to the bathroom but fat is.” “Oh I can’t eat a high protein diet.”

I haven’t done a ton of research on high protein diets. I eat what some might consider high protein, at between 110 – 150 grams per day. I also run 3 miles a day most days, or go dancing for 3 hours at a time with no breaks. I need the protein I consume. I remember the hair loss that used to occur all the time in my vegan years; I don’t have to deal with that anymore. When you look at my macronutrient breakdown, however, my diet is really high fat. Always my fat intake is at least 60% of my total intake. That leaves less room for protein and even less room for carbs. There are a few reasons for that. First of all, when you have SIBO, fiber becomes fairly indigestible. If you can easily digest fiber, I’ve got news for you – you probably don’t have SIBO. Secondly, most sugars aren’t digestible either, so if you have no sugar, and you have no fiber, all you’re left with is starch. And guess what? While Dr. Pimentel says you can eat all the potatoes, pasta, rice, and bread that you want, (and I hope for your sake he’s right) you may be like me, and those foods may bother you about as much as low GI carbs do. Generally, we with SIBO have two modes of operating – Playing It Safe, and Life Experimentation. Playing it Safe occurs when we feel worst, when we’re trying to figure out what is wrong, when we have an important event coming up and we don’t want to pop out of our party dress or spend the evening in the restroom missing out. Life Experimentation is what we’re doing when we’re not Playing it Safe. Playing it Safe means neither of us are eating rice or oatmeal or buckwheat, if we’re smart. Unless we know for a fact that those foods aren’t feeding the SIBO, and I doubt I can find one person who doesn’t know that. But if you are them, by all means, eat those oats! During Life Experimentation, very few rules apply, except that there is no reason to think you can go overboard on fruit and fiber with no consequence. The important thing, however, is that Life Experimentation gives you something you didn’t have before – knowledge. Of how a food gets on with your digestive tract. During a certain time of the day. During a certain length of time out from your treatment. During your period. All the time. Whatever you can grasp.

High fat and high protein are not the same thing. Okay, now that we are clear there, I will need a person to tell me that they ate a lamb chop cooked in coconut oil (or something less chemically offensive if they are FCI) or a broiled steak or a piece of baked cod and then tell me that they experienced bloating and gas and cramping or some other symptom due to their meal before I will change my tune from the simple gospel that if you have SIBO, meat will not make you sick. I get so tired of reading blog after blog and discussion post after discussion post about people eating ramen noodles while their family dines on turkey or ham. If you have SIBO, there is no mechanism by which the bacteria living in your small bowel can digest or even attempt to digest meat. Meat is probably the safest food you can eat, followed by eggs if you are not allergic (most people aren’t) and dairy if you are not intolerant to that. You can add green veggies to your diet as long as tolerated – the fiber can get you though so be careful with that one.

I have heard a lot of excuses for not going low carb. Especially distubing is the SIBO sufferer who is having trouble keeping weight on; he or she is afraid to eat a low carb diet because then won’t they just lose tons more weight? Maybe I just love food too much, but my answer would be “not if you eat enough of it,” which might be easier to do once you begin to eat food that your body is capable of digesting.

What’s your experience with low carb, high fat? Did it help your SIBO? If not, please share your thoughts and help me understand why I’m being a douche.

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