Why is my stomach angry all the time?
October 17, 2013 5:06 AM   Subscribe

I've been having gastro problems on and off for the past few months (more on than off). I finally have an appointment with a specialist, but it's not for another month. In the meantime, I'd like to try to do an elimination diet & see what's what, BUT most of what I'm finding online about elimination diets is very broad and don't explain enough. I'm looking for guidelines of how they are typically done as well as recipes and food ideas for the first stages of said elimination diet.

I saw this old post and this old post, but they don't quite answer what I'm looking for.

Thank you!
posted by firei to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I did the Virgin Diet to discover what was at the root of my gastric distress. I was shocked to discover that gluten, eggs, chocolate and nuts were a real problem for me. (gas, bloating and explosive diarreha.)

I'm feeling much better now!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:31 AM on October 17, 2013

I suspect you're not finding much because elimination diets, the kinds that cut out almost everything and involve living on lamb, pear puree, and rice, are generally done under medical supervison. Also, if you eliminate gluten now, you may get a false negative for celiac when the specialist tests.

Have you considered keeping a food and symptoms diary instead? Helpful for the specialist, and you may be able to see patterns that aren't clear without records. Also, proboitics may help take the edge off; I like the 10B bacteria per capsule variety rather than the "eat more yoghurt" variety.

If you're 100% set on switching up your diet before seeing the specialist, three common places to start are cutting lactose, cutting gluten, and cutting FODMAPS. But FODMAPS includes gluten, and again, you may want to think carefully about that one.
posted by pie ninja at 6:02 AM on October 17, 2013 [5 favorites]

I have had a lot of gasto problems over the course of my life, especially the last decade. Multiple medical tests and medications and colonoscopies (ugh), etc. but nothing really helped all that much. I was diagnosed with IBS but that didn't really help me to find a solution.

The simpliest but most unbelievably huge change I did was just to try going gluten free for a while. This was not at my doctor's suggestion, I just did it on a whim, out of curiosity. Well.... STOMACH PROBLEMS GONE! ... Well, almost. I also have acid reflux, which was causing a lot of the nausea and heartburn symptoms, so no gluten + daily Pariet = STOMACH PROBLEMS GONE! Honestly. I have no clue it was gluten that was making me so sick. I had horrible stomach cramps, belching, heartburn, gas, diarreha... All gluten caused. Take out the gluten, and fixed! FWIW I had the blood test done for celiac and it came back negative, but there is no question in anyone's mind, including my doctor's, that I have a very real gluten intolerance. They suspect that the gluten is just a trigger for my IBS, but if that is the case then gluten alone is my ONLY trigger. Without gluten I have none of my IBS symptoms. My point is that tests aren't always the end all be all. If I based my choices only on the results of the tests I probably wouldn't have tried going GF. Sometimes just logic and "Oh, when I eat pancakes/spaghetti/cereal/pizza/hamburgers/etc I get sick" observations. I'm frankly pissed over the fact that I have a gluten allergy, it all just seems so stupid, and occasional I will "test" to see if I am still gluten intolerant by having pizza or pancakes or something... it never ends well. Ugh.

So go for an elimination diet if you want, but if I were you (just knowing how much of an unexpected difference it made to me) I'd start with just cutting gluten.

Also, yeah, food diary helps narrow things down as well. Write down everything you eat and how you feel after each meal. Eventually you will probably see patterns.

Best of luck to you! Stomach problems suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck and I really hope you can get yours figured out.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 6:12 AM on October 17, 2013

I would wait to cut out the major stuff until the appointment. Is it possible to get a different specialist who has an earlier appointment? I totally agree with the keeping a food journal idea.

In the mean time though you can try cutting out things that are irritants or more acidic. That includes coffee, caffeine, onion, garlic, spicy sauces, alcohol, stuff like that.

Those are all things that really set my stomach off and are common in many foods. (Experience, horrible stomach-ache causing GERD and mild IBS, however garlic is such an irritant that I now tell people I have a garlic intolerance.)
posted by Crystalinne at 6:14 AM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't start a specific elimination diet until your appointment. Your doctor knows best! But, here are some common suggestions doctors would give you.
  • Drinks: drink less caffeine, alcohol, and acidic beverages (like sodas, lemonades, et cetera). Drink more water.
  • Foods: eat less spicy food, hot (temperature) food, eat less dairy, eat less soy, eat less bread, eat fewer beans and peas, eat less onion and garlic. Eat more leafy greens and simpler meats like chicken.
  • Behaviors: keep a food/symptom diary (doctors love this and it is very helpful), eat more small meals throughout the day rather than just two or three big ones, get more sleep, and think about whether you have any stress triggers that you can work on.
Just trying that list may give you some relief as it encompasses most of the biggest triggers for this kind of problem. But see if you can get that appointment bumped up so your doctor can see you soon... a month is a long time to wait with this kind of condition, I know first-hand. Hope you feel better soon.
posted by Old Man McKay at 6:45 AM on October 17, 2013

Like crystalinne says, your best bet for now is a simple bland diet. Google for which foods to avoid as you come off a BRAT diet. That should be a good list of some of the sneakier troublemakers, like strawberries.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 6:47 AM on October 17, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for all the info & tips so far! I harassed my doctor's office into moving my appointment up to a week and a half from now instead of a month, and I will start keeping a log in the meantime of what I eat and how my stomach reacts.
posted by firei at 7:45 AM on October 17, 2013

You can also see an allergist in addition to the GI doc. In fact, the GI might suggest an allergist, so if you already have that appointment lined up, there will be less waiting. Many people are familiar with testing for environmental allergens, but dietary items can be tested as well.

Beware. When they ask you to check off the things you commonly eat, they're decidnig what to test you for. So if you check off peanuts and almonds but not walnuts...you'll need to be retested when you realize that you can no longer have peanuts OR almonds...but don't know if you can have walnuts even though you would really enjoy them now. You would need to go get retested.

So maybe get tested for more things than you think you "commonly" eat.
posted by bilabial at 8:20 AM on October 17, 2013

Eat a lot of wheat for some time before you have the blood test for gluten intolerance. The blood test will not work if you're not eating plenty of wheat.
posted by Ery at 9:08 AM on October 17, 2013

If you're interested in trying a low FODMAP diet (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, And Polyols), Monash University makes an app that makes it much easier to tell what foods are "safe" and what foods aren't. I got this when my daughter was diagnosed with fructose intolerance (fructose??!?) and it has reduced the level of complexity by at least an order of magnitude.
posted by KathrynT at 9:11 AM on October 17, 2013

So glad you were able to get your appt moved up. It's amazing what you can do to sweet-talk the scheduling people!

Definitely keep a detailed list of everything you eat and how you feel. That will really help your doctor.
posted by radioamy at 12:36 PM on October 17, 2013

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