Tag Archives: Bloating

Mashed, puréed, blended or blitzed, give me baby food and my body is happy

11 Sep
Baby food all the way! Photo credit: monosodium via Morgue File

Baby food all the way! Photo credit: Morgue File

I thought it was about time I returned to the theme of my diet and food intolerances. I’m sure you’ve all missed hearing about the idiosyncrasies of my digestive system and bowels and been waiting with bated breath on the edge of your seats in anticipation….No? Oh that’s just in my head then.

This week I had my 2 month review appointment with my nutritionist. It gave me pause to stop and reflect on how things have been going since I cut out the long list of foods that the food intolerance tests showed I have issues with – it seems there are not many things in life, food or otherwise, that my little ME/CFS addled body does not have an issue with..grrrrrr.

And you know what? I have seen improvement. Whoooooo! Now I don’t mean that my abdomen is super flat and smooth (I wish…tho think that would involve a lot of gym visits as well as no trigger foods) and that my bowels are operating regularly without assistance. No, sadly miracles don’t happen. But I am getting far less bloated and far less frequently. And with the aid of the organic natural soluble fibre supplement acacia senegal I am seeing bowel activity most days! Those of you reading this who share my IBS and digestion woes (and I know there are a lot of you) will fully appreciate just how wonderful this is. I would even go as far as to say that I’m having toilet action nearly everyday!

I haven’t cheated and had any, not even a tiny bit, of my trigger foods AT ALL since I came back from France a month ago. And the only trigger food I had during my holiday was a couple of sips of wine (grapes and yeast are no nos for me) and a little garlic butter on a steak. So overall I am pretty darn pleased with how things are going diet wise. As well as my digestion improvements I think I have seen improvements in my ME/CFS symptoms as well – fewer bad headaches and slightly more manageable fatigue levels. The improvement in fatigue is negligible but I’ll take that! Any progress is better than no progress after all.

Water water water, how much do you drink? Photo credit Morgue File

Water water water, how much do you drink? Photo credit Morgue File

I have still had the odd times where my digestion has just seemingly gone on strike and I have bloated up to resemble a final trimester pregnant lady and had no toilet action.  But a pattern is beginning to emerge as to the cause.

My last day in France I had a steak that came with garlic butter melted all over it. The presence of dairy on my plate was not a good start but slowly I have realized that the hunk of red meat is not so good for me either. It wasn’t the best steak in the world and had been pretty near cremated (I’d asked for bien cuit – well done – knowing the French tendency to under cook meat but this chef was clearly used to cooking for tourists as bien cuit was tres tres tres bien cuit). It was very very chewy and took far too much of my limited energy just to chew and swallow. It made me realize that if it was that hard work on my jaw and teeth, imagine how hard it was on my poorly digestive system. I was very bloated for several days after, each time I ate, the food baby would grow. And worst of all, no pooping for 4 days. Urrrrggghhhhh indeed. I was incredibly fatigued that week with a real spike in my ME/CFS symptoms which was to be expected what with the effort of the travel home  but the red meat will not have helped and may well have been a significant contributing factor to my problems. Since then I’ve only eaten red meat twice and both times it was  home made very slow cooked tender lamb (a mild korma and a tagine) where the lamb literally melted in my mouth. And you wanna know the good news? Eating the lamb in this way seems to have been okay! No major bloating and no blockages in the poop department – yipppeeee!

Relaying all this to my nutritionist she asked me what blood group I was. Huh? I was a bit confused. Whilst I rummaged in my purse to find my NHS blood donor card which I new stated my blood type, my nutritionist explained that those of us with type A blood groups have far less stomach acid than the other blood groups. Less stomach acid means less fuel to break down food which leads to bloating, constipation and all the other lovely digestive problems that are such a part of my life. Ah Ha! I eventually located my donor card and guess what? Yep I am blood group A Negative. So I naturally have low stomach acid. Great. Makes sense. Low stomach acid is particularly problematic with heavy proteins as they take more to break down, hence my problem with the super charred steak. I was advised to take several digestive enzymes each time I ate steak and to save it for special occasions. Fine by me.

Now add to my already low levels of stomach acid the fact that I drink buckets of water each day and you get even lower acid levels meaning it is even harder for my body to break down food. Good okay. So I should drink less (I drink close to 3 litres of filtered water / herbal tea per day) . Yes well that’s easy to say. But I am constantly thirsty. And if I don’t drink when thirsty I get a horrendous headache. So yes I have the choice between low stomach acid and digestive problems or persistent thirst and headaches. Wow what a choice. The reason I am so thirsty is thanks to my lovely friend ME/CFS. Thanks to my nervous system being totally screwed and permanently stuck in stress mode my brain is constantly being signalled that I’m thirsty. Hence the gallons of water I get through each day.

So where does this all leave me then? Well avoid heavy cuts of meat like steak for a start. Stick with my soluble fibre focus to keep me regular.

Smoothies are good for my tummy! Photo source Morgue File

Smoothies are good for my tummy! Photo source Morgue File

Purée, mashed, poached, blended into smoothie or blitzed into juice, soup, slow cooked, soaked, de-seeded and de-skinned (yes I am the crazy lady peeling the cucumber and scooping out the tomato seeds). As Mr B says, give me a jar of baby food and I’ll be just fine…But hey, call me crazy, I don’t really care, cos it seems to be working. Fewer skins and seeds seem to be helping my digestive system to function that bit more smoothly. As a reminder of this yesterday I had 5 dates as a snack with my morning smoothie. My tummy was near enough instantly bloated, hard to touch and wasn’t happy for the rest of the day. Dates have quite tough skins….

I’m pondering a few more dietary things:

Raw v cooked fruit and veg – a raw salad leaves me feeling worse than steamed veg; eating an apple sends my tummy outwards in seconds whereas stewed apple does not.

Sugar. Sugar, sugar, sugar. If I eat ‘too much’ (by which I mean very little) refined sugar my fatigue increases. I noticed this with the granola bars and flapjacks I made this weekend for my friends coming over. The flapjacks were an overdose in golden syrup so yes naturally high in sugar and naturally bad for me. But the granola bars used light muscovado sugar. I keep reading about people who ‘quit sugar’ and felt so much better. But they cut all forms of sugar out of their diets, including fruit and high GI veggies. I think I need to detox a little from sugar. But I’m very wary about triggering detox symptoms as I do not need to trigger an ME/CFS flare, that’s the last thing I need to do. Cutting refined sugar out of my life isn’t hard as I don’t eat much of it anyway but for now I think I’ll keep the fruit in my life.

So for now I’ll keep pondering.

How are you doing with your diet? Do you notice an improvement in your health when you eat a certain way? What works for you? Whilst diet is inherently personal and what works for me may not work for you and vice versa but it’s always good to share. Information is power after all.

Must go, time for me to purée some bananas 🙂

If  you missed (what were you thinking?!) my previous posts about my diet and food intolerances, you can read them here, here and here.

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Eureka!! An ME/CFS Light Bulb moment!

10 Jul
Eureka! Light bulb moment. Photo credit: Tat via Morgue File.

Eureka! Light bulb moment. Photo credit: Tat via Morgue File.

A few days ago I had a bit of a Eureka light bulb moment. Sadly it wasn’t discovering the magic cure for ME/CFS. But it’s still worth posting about…

For months now I’ve been battling with my bloated belly, trying desperately to figure out what is causing the food baby bloated belly to reappear without fail day after day.

Having added high soluble fibre foods and supplements to my diet, I have seen some improvement. My poor belly is not anywhere near as bloated as frequently after meals as it has been.  Yay! I’ll take that as success, even if it’s only partial. Some improvement is better than none.

But that’s not the end of the bloating story. If only it were… Each night when I’m getting ready for bed, my belly is swollen and bloated to the extent that the skin feels like it is being stretched and pulled so tight that it may tear at any moment. It’s incredibly uncomfortable. I look like I’m a few months pregnant each and every night.

I began to notice that this bloating seemed to appear late on in the evening and regardless of what I’d eaten. Was I reacting to each and every kind of food I wondered? But no, usually after dinner, with the help of the soluble fibre eating plan, my tummy was fairly flat and not bloated.

So then I wondered am I reacting to my toothpaste? But as my Mum pointed out to me, I don’t actually swallow it, so how could that be causing the problem? A valid point.  I also don’t have the same issue when I clean my teeth in the morning.

Is it that I’m getting too much air into my system whilst cleaning my teeth? (Yes I know that makes no sense, it’s thoughts like these that makes Mr B laugh and wonder how I ever got accepted to Cambridge University!)

Somehow I had overlooked the obvious cause of this evening bloat. This bloating that only comes on after 8.30pm….the time at which I take my last meds of the day….

And then…EUREKA!!

It’s some of my meds that are making me bloat!

At 8.30pm I take 30mg of Amitriptyline and 2mg of Melatonin.  I take these each and every night.  Having (finally) made this connection, I had a read of the accompanying leaflets for both of these medications. First of all, if you’re a worrier don’t bother reading these leaflets as they basically say the medication can cause every possible side effect known to man…All jokes aside, seriously you should read the leaflets to check you’re not allergic or in a high risk category. Perhaps if I’d done that it wouldn’t have taken me quite so long to figure out the medication-bloating pattern…oh well better late than never!

So what did I learn from these leaflets? Well both Amitrip and Melatonin contain lactose…a food stuff I know I’m intolerant to. So putting 2 +2 together and making 5, I’m guessing that I’m reacting to the lactose in each of these tablets. Even if that doesn’t quite add up, and perhaps lactose isn’t the specific problem, I’m pretty confident that it is these two medications that is causing my tummy to blow up to epic bloated proportions each night before I go to bed.

Having made this discovery is great, at least I now know the cause, but on the other hand I’m not sure there’s much  I can actually do about it.

It would be the Amitrip and Melatonin that are giving me these side effects, the two drugs that I actually feel are helping me! On the odd occasion when brain fog has gotten the better of me and in my befuddled state I have forgotten to take my Amitrip, the next day the myalgia pain is significantly worse. At these times I’m like, why am I in so much pain? I didn’t do anything yesterday, how can I have this much pain from nothing? And then I look at my strip of Amitrip pills and I realize…duh I didn’t take these last night.

The same is true with the melatonin. If I find myself wide awake an hour or more after going to bed, staring at the ceiling, fruitlessly counting sheep, tossing and turning, unable to fall asleep, I look at my melatonin pack and realize that I forget to take the magic sleep inducing pill.

So yes, it would have to be these two meds causing me the bloating problem and not say the Levothyroxine which I take each morning, and which I’m pretty sure is doing zippo for me.

I’m awaiting words of wisdom from my specialist, the prescribing doctor of these meds. But I’m wary about switching to alternative meds when both these seem to work so well for me. And I definitely don’t want to stop taking them as they are two very important parts of this jigsaw of recovery from ME/CFS. They actually do make a difference so definitely don’t want to lose them! So it looks like I’m stuck between a rock (the meds) and a hard place (the bloating) and that I’m just going to have to put up with the bloating for now.

And to be honest, a bloated very pregnant looking belly is a small price to pay for reduced pain and beauty sleep. So I guess I should quit grumbling about the bad side and be grateful for the good side 🙂

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