I think I had small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.
(Sorry not sorry for any TMI in advance. My blog, my rules)
All the signs were there – bloating, maldigestion of fruit, FODMAPS, coconut, fermented foods, weird smelling burps, slow “transit.” But I never got the breath test or anything, so I really can’t be sure.
My symptoms are gone now, and that’s really all I care about. I expect that some of you reading this may want to know what I did to cure my maybe-SIBO, though, so I’ll tell you what happened.
In a few words: I chilled the hell out about my health issues.
In more words, I relaxed and used logic to solve my problems. For many months I had browsed the alternative health forums, websites, studies, and more to try and get to the bottom of what plagued me. Everything seemed to point towards small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, and I felt almost triumphant and relieved to have located the origin of my problems. Finally, the root cause of my health issues! But I never got the special test to determine if I had SIBO; I just sat and worried and marinated in my own self-obsession. The difficulty in obtaining the test and potential expense plus a good dose of avoidant personality left me grinding my teeth and imagining a gunked-up small intestine slowly ruining my life.
Something I’ve realized is that in a lot of cases, no doctor can fix your problem. It doesn’t matter if they’re the wisest physician in the world – nobody knows and cares about your body like you do. If you aren’t that acquainted with yourself, the illness may be your body’s cry to be acknowledged. Of course, in some cases illness absolutely requires a doctor’s care, but in my experience many sufferers of chronic disease simply need to turn their attention inward to heal themselves. In application to my maybe-SIBO, I’d read online countless people who had tried the conventional and alternative treatments for the illness and failed to eradicate the pesky bacteria. The drugs didn’t work, the herbs didn’t work, nor did the incredibly restrictive diet. I figured that if doctors couldn’t help so many of these people, then it certainly was not unreasonable to think I could fix my maybe-SIBO myself.
I decided that my diet was already restrictive enough, especially given my history of eating disorder and tendencies to overly control my diet. At the time, I wasn’t eating grains (except white rice), dairy, legumes, eggs, or nightshades – I certainly did not need to eliminate another class of foods that included most of the vegetables I ate. So I decided to simply reduce my consumption of FODMAPs (I’m not going to explain the science here, Google does a better job) for a month and then slowly increase. I adhered to a mandatory 4-hour minimum between meals to allow the intestines to do their job in moving things through. SIBO is very much tied to disorded digestive waves, and by creating strict mealtimes I allowed my body to process food in waves as it should. I strengthened my brain-gut connection by only eating when hungry, stopping when full, and paying close attention to what my body was wanting at the moment. I stopped reading and rushing at meals and took my sweet time eating.
And guess what? My symptoms improved and continue to do so. I didn’t see a doctor once. Of course, I didn’t have diagnosed SIBO, so some of you reading this may scoff or think I’m silly. For me, the proof is in the pudding. Illness is about so much more than a label – it is about the PERSON! In fact, the name of the disease is usually the least relevant fact. I plan to delve more into my philosophy on illness in a future post. But for now, if you are reading this, consider turning your gaze inward and realizing your innate healing potential.
You may just be the medicine you need.