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About me: Girrlock Holmes, Diet Detective

I’m a Sherlockian with a Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO.)  A better Sherlockian than I would no doubt go a litter farther with that but as I’ll explain, this blog is mostly about the SIBO, and only occasionally with the Sherlockian thing come up. The earlier posts that form this blog were written a few months before I self-diagnosed, then tested for and was officially diagnosed with SIBO, and if you need information on how to really run an elimination diet, well, you’ll sort of get that from those…but you’ll mostly see how totally common it is for someone on an elimination diet to whine and moan and hate their lives.  Which is useful information only if you’re in the throes of misery because of your elimination diet. In which case, good luck! You can do it!

Anyway, now I know that I have SIBO and this blog reflects the experience of living with a condition that threatens your quality of life on a daily basis, and of constantly building up an arsenal of tools with which to rail against the threat and live as healthily as possible. Because I am only human, and because I am a social scientist, not a microbiologist or a nutritionist, I am constantly learning and its my simple mission to translate what I learn to easily digestible information in blog form. Obviously I get things wrong sometimes; I misread a scientific study or I get led astray on a wild goose chase. I’m not going to go back later and delete the blog, or the parts of it where I was wrong. Life is about living and learning. Of course my goal one day is to play a role in forming consensus among people with SIBO, about the best way to eat, the best way to medicate, the best way to heal. I hope this blog will play a small role in leading us all there.

An earlier incarnation of the “about me page” is below….

Welcome to my Diet Detection Blog. If you’ve come here via a search on bloating and abdominal distention, you’re in the right place. I’m using this forum as well as The Daily Plate (see link on my sidebar) and good old reliable paper and pen to track my progress through a series of dietary trials to figure out the cause of my gastrointestinal distress these last two years. I used to be one of those people who could really eat just about anything. Except for never being a thin person, no food ever seemed to cause me stress. Not since I became vegan, anyway, which I was for about six years; albeit my diet often consisted of its fair share of both whole foods and overly processed high-carb sweets & meat substitutes. Then one day four years into my cruelty-free dietary bliss, it seemed I just couldn’t eat anything I wanted anymore. And then it seemed like I couldn’t eat anything. In the course of two years, I have seen over 25 doctors and nutritionists, had three surgical procedures, and received in total over $75,000 worth of medical treatment. Finally, through the dietary trials which are detailed in this blog, (fueled by nothing but a few observations from the preceding years, emotional support from my husband and my nutritionist, and the kind of frustration that comes before at that moment right before you throw in the towel,) I discovered a few triggers for my symptoms and a surprising connection between the macronutrient carbohydrate and my digestive woes. At present, I have begun eating meat, as I’ve found that I can control my symptoms greatly with a ketogenic/low carb diet. The reason why this is the case is yet unknown. I have a difficult time justifying/rationalizing the eating of animal flesh, but the one thing I have an even harder time justifying is keeping myself sick. This is the reason that I continue to eat meat – I feel 90 – 95% better doing it. It gets a little easier all the time.

I hope this blog will help me through the process of healing, and I really hope that it will also serve a second purpose; the rather unselfish purpose of proving to others that it is never worthwhile to take their doctor’s advice when their doctor’s advice is “You need a really good psychiatrist to work through whatever is causing you all these problems.” I really hope that this blog will show other people, especially women, especially overweight women, that this kind of disrespect is not only inappropriate, but absolutely unhealthy, and therefore not worth accepting. Can you imagine the worst problem in your life? One that considerably impinges on everything you care about – your appearance, your education, your career, your fitness routine, your friendships and your marriage? Now can you imagine being told over and over again by various healthcare professionals that it is somehow your fault that you have this problem? That if you would just relax it would go away? Can you imagine how it feels when you spend countless dollars and hours at ashrams and yoga classes and hot baths and gyms trying to relax? And you actually feel relaxed? And you still can’t rid yourself of this horrible problem? Not to mention that you believe that stress in and of itself is part of the wonder of being alive? And that good stress like competition and risk-taking is not something to be dispatched of at all costs? Well that’s how I feel after two years. And I really want this blog to serve as living proof that neither I nor anyone else should ever have to feel that way. I will try my very best, but I believe we’re in it for a long haul….

Symptoms:

Daily – Bloating & abdominal distention. This varies between bloating as a “feeling” of being bigger, pants being tighter, etc. and an actual increase in abdominal girth. Usually occurs after eating or with vigorous physical activity, although can occur in the morning on an empty stomach. Often I’ve left the gym in the middle of a workout because I just can’t take the belly and chest pains only to find that the skirt I wore there won’t zip up anymore.

Not daily – Abdominal pain, varying in location. Usually a burning in the mid-abdomen or a cramping in the lower abdomen, although sometimes cramping in the mid-abdomen. Alternating bathroom extremes.

Other – Weight loss is nearly impossible for me. Don’t believe me? Please see my Daily Plate (link is located in sidebar) and view over six months of daily food intake. I had my RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate) tested by Denise Williams at A Much Kneaded Massage and Martial Arts by a Bodygem – 1980. Even with an average daily caloric intake of 1500 – 1600 calories, I only lost 7 lbs in five months.

Other (not gastrointestinal) – So I have a wishlist of symptoms that I would love to see cleared up by this diet, which excludes all processed foods, preservatives, wheat, gluten, dairy, yeast, and sugar. Do I really think these things are diet-related? I have no idea. What I do have is a healthy, open mind and no expectations.

Depression – Sugar-free diet has partially alleviated
Anxiety – ditto
Leg pain – Amazingly enough, this is gone now too
Irritability -see above
Difficulty concentrating – still working on this one
Urinary hesitation – symptoms are no better
Doctor-hate (this one’s sort of tongue-in-cheek, and I really never care if it goes away.)

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15 comments

  1. 🙂


  2. Hi,
    Your blog gives me illusion as if I have written it myself (except for the refereneces abt husband as I am a guy myself)
    I have been doing almost exactly the same things as you are doing and have exactly same symptoms. My GI has no answer except for IBS and asking to check diet allergies, intolerance like lactose wheat etc. I am not able to find any way of loosing weight and bloating problem after eating anything inspite of eating stricly “healthy ” diet , very few calories and doing 1-2 hrs of exercises and weights.
    I ‘ll greatly appreciate your comments and suggestions that can help in curing any of these symptoms based on your experiences.
    I keep checking your blog so pls do take out time to update it if there are any improvements.
    Also suggestions for food (vegan) that do not cause these problems.


  3. CompProf, glad you found your way here. Feel free to join my SIBO group on Yahoo. It is just getting started because there might be an environment there more conducive to discussion: http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/sibonation/

    I definitely don’t have any suggestions for vegan foods that don’t cause these problems. If I did I would still be vegan…..if you truly have an overgrowth of bacteria, even one that would be under the radar for a hydrogen breath test, then you can imagine that high-carb foods would cause a big problem. Have you tried low carb?


  4. i am trying low-carb but not able to find enough food in veggis & chicken.
    What do you do about required fibre , vitamins and other things that body needs but not provided in low carb diets.

    Are you going to update ths Blog or can you provide email ?


  5. Hi Diet Detective

    Are you continuing this research? I have the exact symptoms you describe, only the SIGHT of a banana makes me cramp! My Dr won’t give me a hydrogen breath test at all, even though I brought in bloated photographs and a wintness (trustworthy husband) and my last attempt to get help from a gastroenterologist left some nasty remarks in my medical file, so I can’t mention my bloat anymore. Have you found help yet? It’s technically amazing how you can sit down to a light lunch with a flat belly, and within half an hour, be inflated to look six months pregnant! My midsection is always sore, and I curl around it, and am developing a non-athletic hunchback. I tried to fast, to rest my guts and “starve” whatever organisms are overgrown (candida, SIBO, i have no idea)but by day three I feel free of gut pain but weak and starved beyond endurance. And so starts another cycle. I feel obsessed, demented, depressed. There is no help. What can I do?

    CRBloatedT


    • Hi Yowza. Thanks for the comment. I am sorry to hear about your symptoms and especially sorry to hear about your doctor’s dismissal of your situation. Is there any way that you can get a new doctor? There’s simply no call for that kind of behavior from a medical professional.

      I never meant to let this blog languish and die. I did feel better after the Xifaxan course I blogged about here, and then I turned my attention more toward my yahoo group, and then immediately got caught up in job/apartment hunting, layoffs, and more job hunting, etc. I plan on getting this blog going again, and I’ll talk a little about my experiences with testing and treatment for SIBO, which I’ve now found are ongoing. I’ve had to have two courses of Xifaxan, and lately I’ve been having mild bloating and discomfort again and I’m wondering if I’m headed for a third.

      Anyway, Yowza, fasting doesn’t usually help much, unless you are on the elemental diet, which some people have luck with, but it is very expensive. If you are able to join the SIBO group I host on Yahoo, and look around at some of the postings, you’ll find that there are some things that have helped most of us with the bloating and discomfort, but no one thing has helped us all. A low carb diet, avoiding systemic antibiotics, and taking the probiotic VSL#3 are very popular and have helped a lot of us. Once the bloating starts I really never feel normal again until a course of Xifaxan, but other people post about feeling better with diet or probiotics alone.

      I urge you to join the group and see if you can find some info that will help you. That way you can keep me and everyone else updated about your progress too.


      • Just found your blog…. I’m not sure what’s all here as I haven’t gone through much yet… but wanted to comment on the Xifaxin. I had to take 2 10 day courses back to back of it and then I felt better for almost 2 months! My SIBO symptoms are now back and I am on a new course, only 2 days left of the 10 days and am NOT feeling much better. I also got a rx for Cipro because my GI Doc said that some insurances won’t cover Xifaxin (luckily mine did). I think I will get that one filled and back up this last course of X with the Cipro and see how that does. I guess if I can get 2 months good after this I’ll be happy!

        PS: dx SIBO after a Hydrogen breath test. My doc said that I may have to go on and off the Antibiotics forever, it is just unknown at this point how long it could go on.


  6. Hello, I came across your blog and am just wondering if you might have any ideas to help my daughter 2 yrs old. Her symptoms sound a lot like SIBO. She has severe gut dysbiosis and can only eat meat, broth, eggs, and avocado. We have had her on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet for 2 months now and cannot add in any other foods without diarrhea. Her digestive enzymes seem to be destroyed (she takes a supplement but it is not enough to help with problem foods). We are getting strong conflicting opinions about the use of antibiotics. We are seeking an expert to help us and greatly appreciate any advice, ideas, links, etc.


    • Jen, I’m so sorry to hear that your daughter is having such a difficult time. You say you’re seeking out an expert but I am definitely not one of those; I’m just a patient.

      Additionally, I have pretty much no knowlege of nutrition for children. Your daughter is likely in good hands with a caring parent like you who is willing and eager to investigate the cause of her distress and it is good that you have found a few nutrient-dense foods that she can tolerate for now.

      SIBO is a definite possibility so I would look for a doctor/center/hospital willing and able to perform a breath test on her. In my search for a suitable place for myself to take the breath test, I found a few centers that only performed pediatric breath tests, so that should not be hard to find. If you’re in the New York area, let me know and I can give you some ideas.

      I’m sure you already have a a pediatric gastrointerologist; they often see diarrhea and digestive distress in babies and children. There will always be conflicting information about antibiotics as they are indeed a double-edged sword. In my research I have not found anything else that eradicates SIBO if that is indeed the underlying issue, however, antibiotics alone are often not a lasting cure.

      A few other ideas: The blogger who writes Cheeseslave is a mother to a 2-year old and perhaps she may have some ideas for you? I do not know her or have any contact with her but its a good blog; she is very much a traditional foods eater/writer and she often updates about her 2-year old daughter.

      You could also join the yahoo group and direct your question to a wider audience, but sadly I don’t know that any of us are experts when it comes to children. Its easy to experiment on oneself but its another thing completely to find the best care for a child, as you clearly know. Best.


  7. Girrlock Holmes,
    Hi I was just wondering if you could help. I have been experiencing severe abdominal pain after eating, bloating on an empty stomach and after eating( more bloating in the evening), constant gas and belching for an entire year. I am a very healthy person, I used to have a flat stomach and I have not seen my flat stomach in a year. I have tried countless diets, probiotics, accpuncture, digestive enzymes, otc gas meds, and countless doc visists with no results. I recently finished a 2 week course of xifaxan and that did nothing for me. Any suggestions? I am so bloated and full I can’t stand it.

    thanks
    Nikki


  8. Your blog fits my journey through IBS/Gastro issues to a T. I have gas, bloating and abdominal pain with alternating extremes going to the bathroom. I was a Vegan for the last year and a half and was gluten/dairy free for two years prior to that. My Gastro that I see now is actually great. I am grateful to be with a doctor who is also understanding, patient and open minded. He worked with Dr. Pimentel at Cedars-Sinai for 5 years. We’ve done two rounds of Xifaxan once last Fall and once this Fall. This time we are trying to manage my symptoms through improving Motility and Diet. It is strange that I am eating mostly lean proteins and veggies after being Vegan. It is psychologically messed up. But I feel better this way and allow myself some white pita or toast every now and then. I went through Accupuncturists, Ayurvedics, tried Macrobiotics, you name it. Now I am just sticking with what is working right now. i am not heavy but have a serious resistance to Weight Loss over the last few years. I can eat 1200 cals a day and the scale won’t budge. IT breaks my heart so I just don’t weigh myself too often anymore. As long as I can fit into my size 4 jeans I am OK with it (at least I try to be upbeat about it). I am OFF sugar as much as possible. I allow a hard candy or diet soda every now and then to help with cravings for sugar. Sucrose and glucose are not harmful in small quantities. It is the small quantity part that I have trouble with so I have to remain vigilant. My only problem with eating South Beach style is that I don’t go to the bathroom every day. I am wondering if inulin or other prebiotic fibers (acacia fiber too) are OK for SiBO. do you know?
    Glad I found you! At least after reading this I know I am not alone…or crazy!
    Talia


  9. Hi all

    I am a fellow sufferer but fortunate enough to have been exposed to a great naturopath in the early days, many years ago. I got ontop of it but let everything lapse and guess what its come back! So again I need to re-comite to the program. Naturopaths have the wholistic (whole picture) that those in specialists and GPs don’t. Too much bad bacteria or yeast/candida has been allowed to overpopulate our gut because we unknowingly abused our body and let it (either used too much alcohol, antibiotics, birth control pill and ate sugar and grains or stress depressed our immune system and allowed the over growth) How I manage it:Take the many natural antibacterials/fungals I love olive leaf extract pue liquid and kyolic garlic, high quality multivitamin or liquid iron and lots of acidophilus and bifodus. With that I do the diet so as not to feed the bad bacteria and sugar or starch that it can ferment and produced gas. NB fructose + milk is my biggest problem. Can anyone relate? I do hate being on a strict diet and treat sometimes but always live to regret it. Cheers Cam


  10. hey there,

    I recently found out that i have sibo, after couple of years of stomach discomfort, abdominal bloating and irregular stools i thought it was part of growing up (i am 25) but now i quit smoking and drinking and still suffer which made me go to see many many doctors.

    anywhoo – wuick question – are you cured?

    2) i took cipra for 5 days and felt fantastic – it came back – went on round 2 for 7 days but no effect at all. now i am scared that i am already resistant to cipra.
    3) did you try natural antibiotics like grape seed extract oil? olive leaf oil?

    Please and thanks
    Seshank


  11. Hello,
    I am thrilled to have found your site. I can’t believe I didn’t find it sooner. I have created an entire site on SIBO – siboinfo.com. It looks as though you have stopped blogging- is this so? I am linking to your site.
    Warmly, Dr Allison Siebecker


  12. Hi,

    I have been diagnosed with sibo & candida. How do I contact you in regards to treating both?

    Thanks.



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