I receive a LOT of emails for advice and suggestions on how to handle SIBO. I try to answer each one, but I am sure a couple slip through the cracks (and I am sorry for that). Seeing as I have had so many requests for how I maintain my health and how my diet is going, I thought I would just do another post.
Since moving to Utah I've had to find a new doctor, and it's taken a few tries. But I finally found a wonderful doctor, and she also has a similar condition to mine (so she can empathize—bonus). I've learned some new and important details. SIBO is a result (in my case), of a post-infectious situation, and I've been left with permanent nerve damage. This new doctor actually wanted me to concentrate more on the nerve damage issue, and not the SIBO. A different approach, but honestly it felt kind of liberating! Like I wasn't defined by those 4 letters (which is how it can feel). She explained that I had been treated with the best drug on the market for SIBO (a number of times), and I was also on a motility drug (Motilium). So there's not much more I can do about that. What I can do is address what's causing the SIBO, and that's the nerve damage. She prescribed Bentyl as an antispasmodic for bad days (great to have on hand and works pretty well). She also strongly recommended a different anti-depressant that balances serotonin (look into the brain-gut connection to understand this more fully). I am holding off on the antidepressant right now for personal reasons, but I do plan to try it in the future.
Also, I have been seeing a dietitian. I HIGHLY recommend this! She has helped immensely to create a diet plan that is varied, healthy, and tailored to my condition. (Plus it helps to have another person in my corner, you know?) I am on a 3-5 day rotation diet, meaning I try not to eat the same thing every single day (like I am often tempted to do). For example, I only eat corn once a week, but I eat rice 3 times a week, because my body is more forgiving when I do this. I keep a food diary to plan my meals and track my progress (or setbacks).
I have started the food allergy/intolerance sublingual drops with no negative side effects. (It took me about 5 months to buck up and find the courage to do it, because I was so afraid of having a reaction.) I won't find out if it is helping with food intolerances for probably another 6 months.
Here is a sample of what I might choose for my meals, in case you are also struggling to eat a limited diet, and rotate it at the same time. I've actually found that my diet isn't as limited as I once thought. And I am eating such a healthy range of veggies and fruits (which I can now tolerate), that I have even been told I don't need any vitamins or supplements! That's crazy talk (crazy awesome).
NOTE: Many people follow the Low FODMAP diet with SIBO. I don't strictly follow a this protocol anymore because there are so many other foods I can't eat, and honestly, I can't handle cutting out every single thing other than the blandest of foods right now. I did that in the beginning, and it helped during the "triage" stage of my illness. But now I can tolerate a wider range of food, and choose to take that chance.
• Steel cut oats (gluten free, and if you can handle them) with unsweetened almond milk and almonds (with or without maple syrup)
• Berry smoothie (frozen mixed berries, almond milk, agave, chia seeds) OR Green smoothie — Make this with whatever fruits, veggies or greens you like and can tolerate
• Chex rice cereal with almond milk and berries or a banana
• Bacon and skillet potatoes
• Sweet potato hash (with spinach, sweet potatoes, and maybe some bacon—I add bacon a lot)
• Eggs if you can handle them (I cannot)
• Salads! My favorites are BLT (bacon, avocado, Romain, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, cherry tomatoes), or strawberry spinach salad with grilled chicken or bacon and poppy seeds added to oil and vinegar dressing mix (add a little agave for sweetness). I also like add nuts to all my salads. Sometimes I caramelize them with "sugar in the raw" on the stove top.
• Grilled chicken, gluten free ham steaks grilled up in the pan, turkey patties,grass-fed beef. Pork loin in the slow cooker. BACON (in moderation, of course)...
• Veggies, sautéed, grilled, or roasted (squash, potatoes—love to pan roast them until crispy like fries—green beans roasted with garlic salt and olive oil, carrots, artichokes, etc.) Basically anything you can tolerate and like.
• Soups are wonderful! I make a huge pot of chicken broth and use that as my base. Then I make chicken veggie soup, butternut squash soup, tortilla soup, etc. You can make a lot and freeze it in small jars as single-servings.
• Taco bowls are a favorite. I cook up a lot of low-fat ground beef with gluten-free salsa, and freeze it in small Ziploc baggies. Then I can use it in single-servings. Add avocado, a little more salsa, some lime, and chips over the beef. Yum!
• Basically a re-hash of my lunch options. I also eat white rice (brown is too hard to digest), and quinoa which is a great source of protein. Rice, quinoa, and gluten-free oats are my only grains. Also, for desserts, I look for "raw food" recipes which use a lot of nuts and coconut and agave (though I now have a hard time with the coconut). But it's good for dairy-free and grain-free cooking.
Cookbooks help with inspiration. These are my four favorite cookbooks (I just alter recipes accordingly when necessary):
I hope this helps, and let me know if there are any more questions I can answer.
Thanks for reading, friends!