My Diet: food intolerances & acid-reflux

In the beginning of 2014 I began to get some symptoms that I wasn’t used to. I had severe abdominal/pelvic pain each day, would become extremely bloated and felt nauseous often. Initially, it was the pelvic/abdominal pain that was the most severe, and it began really interfering with my day-to-day life. I would have to miss uni classes or social events often because I couldn’t relieve the pain, and also wasn’t able to keep up my exercise routine so it indirectly contributed to my other symptoms worsening because I couldn’t manage them properly.

I had a number of investigations done which all came back normal. It wasn’t until I saw a Gastrointerologist who diagnosed me with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and recommended I start a low FODMAP diet.

It isn’t an easy diet to follow, many things that are needed to be eliminated are common, every day foods (wheat, gluten, onion, garlic, and many fruits). You can find the full list and a thorough explanation of the diet in the Recipe & Diet section. 

I was initially quite sceptical of the diet and didn’t expect it to help with my symptoms. I had yet to realise the true power food has over how we feel and function. It was only when re-introducing these foods that I discovered just how much they affected me. They were the cause of my severe abdominal/pelvic pain and bloating, and now if I don’t eat them then I don’t get those symptoms. I also found that I would go into a ‘food coma’ straight after I ate any of them, and would need to sleep it off for hours. Certain foods (such as onion, garlic and gluten) would effect me so much I would feel unwell for days after eating them. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed this before.

So after going through the process of discovering which foods I was intolerant to, I was able to implement changes into my lifestyle so that made my diet a high priority because I realised how fantastic I felt when I ate propperly, and how unwell I felt if I ever ate anything I was intolerant to. I now pay close attention to how I feel after I eat something (immediately and for the next few days). I see it as my body telling me what it likes to be fuelled on, what will help me thrive and what will do the opposite.

Later in 2014, my existing acid reflux flaired up and stopped responding to the medication I was on. I began to feel sick after absolutely anything I ate, and eating started to become a chore. 

When I was a baby, I had severe acid reflux that stopped when I was put on some anti-acid medication. I hadn’t had any symptoms of it again until I was put on a course of extremely strong anti-inflammatories (with side-effects of damaging the stomach / oesophagus lining) in 2011 in attempt to settle my other pain. Even though at the same time I was put on a preventative anti-acid medication, it wasn’t long before I developed severe acid reflux again. As the anti-inflammatories weren’t helping much anyway, I stopped them. However, whilst the acid reflux decreased, it still remained and was easily aggrivated. For a long time I was on anti-acid medication daily, and couldn’t have any form of anti-inflammatory (even mild ones like nuroffen) without becoming symptomatic.

More recently in 2014 it became more severe, and I couldn’t eat anything strongly acidic (lemons, limes, oranges or even the smallest amount of alcohol) without feeling very unwell. Initially I found if I avoided these things then I would be fine, but then I began to get symptoms of reflux after eating other mild-moderate acidic foods (like berries, other fruits, tomatoes and more). My doctor put me on to a different type of anti-acid medication that helped for a little while, but still didn’t allow me to freely eat these foods without symptoms. Eventually I went off this too because I found it wasn’t helping anymore. It got to the stage where after almost anything I ate, I would just feel sick. I stopped enjoying eating and I stopped cooking (which I love doing) because I felt I couldn’t make anything that would make me feel good on the inside, even if it was healthy.

I began to do a lot of research into foods likely to aggrivate acid-reflux, and also into those which are likely to settle it. I also looked into the naturopathic/natural options and found a number of products which have helped quite tremendously. I didn’t want a short term fix like another anti-acid medication, but rather long-term options which were more likely to repair my stomach/esophagus lining and stop me becoming symptomatic in the first place.

I am still playing around with these at the moment, but am finding that I am becoming gradually less symptomatic on a day-to-day basis, which is a very rewarding feeling. Everything that I have learned through my research and personal experience will be here on my blog.

“Symptoms are not enemies to be destroyed, but sacred messengers who encourage us to take better care of ourselves” - annonymous