Help me figure out what's going on with my butt
February 7, 2014 1:54 PM Subscribe
Is there a scientific, non-woo, non-exclusion diet based way to test for food intolerances? Lots of snowflake details and some TMI inside.
posted by terretu to Health & Fitness (31 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Over the last year or so, I've developed some IBS-type symptoms (bad gas, bloating and diarrhoea, with some acid reflux & nausea, some cramping, and feelings of fullness way past the point that I should be feeling full). It's really irritating, as I used to have a cast-iron stomach. I saw my GP about it and she was worse than useless (she said "IBS usually occurs in anxious and obsessional people", gave me a pointed look and moved on).
Cutting out certain foods (specifically broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, cabbage and cabbage-like foods) tends to keep the worst of it under control, and massively reducing the amount of wheat I eat (and cutting down portion size in general) has helped with the feelings of excessive fullness - but I'm still getting attacks when I don't eat any of these things, and I can't figure out the cause.
Is there anything kind of test that can tell me what I should avoid? I've had some success with cutting out really obvious culprits (the last time I ate a small bite of bell pepper by mistake, I had around twelve bowel movements the following day and near-constant gas - as soon as I'd pass some, it was like I could feel myself immediately inflating again), but I'm wary of doing a full-on exclusion diet for several reasons, including that we get free lunch at work and it's really hard to have any control over what I'm going to get to eat, plus I have a history of disordered eating and don't want to end up down that path again as a side effect of cutting stuff out to see what's causing this. I'm already getting aversions to certain foods that I fear are going to make me sick, and I'm really nervous about this getting out of hand.
I already avoid a lot of the foods on the IBS trigger lists - no alcohol, carbonated beverages, coffee (or caffeine in general), meat, etc., and not a lot of really fatty or fried foods. I generally drink soy rather than cow's milk out of taste preference, but haven't seriously investigated cutting down on dairy as cheese is one of my biggest weaknesses. I've been vegetarian for around eight years now, and I really love vegetables - but the diet of broccoli and bran that had been working for the last seven or so now seems to be hurting me.
In general, I seem to get way more attacks when I've eaten out or eaten at work - when I've prepared the food (or my SO, who I live with, has), it very seldom makes me sick. It's been a huge issue this week as I'm travelling on business and have been eating out for almost every meal. I feel so bad right now that it's almost like food poisoning, but I'm pretty sure it was something I ate last night.
My bowel movements (I'm so sorry) are generally very loose, and sit somewhere on the colour spectrum between green, yellow and orange, with plenty of undigested plant matter in there even though I try to be careful about the amount of insoluble fibre I eat.
Does anyone have any idea how I go about finding a more definitive list of the stuff I should be avoiding? Is there a test? Should I be cutting out more things to see if that helps, or trying a full exclusion diet or a FODMAP diet? It's getting to the point where it's impacting on my quality of life, and I just don't want to be the guy with a bunch of nebulous food-based intolerances. I'd like to be able to eat without having to worry that it's going to make me feel awful all the next day (or longer).
I don't have a lot of money at the moment as we just moved, and my experience dealing with this through the NHS (I'm UK-based) was terrible, but I would be prepared to pay for a couple of hours with a nutritionist/dietician if that's something that might help.
Any and all advice gratefully received.