Following A Strict Diet While Traveling: IBS, Sibo, GERD, and More
Traveling has undoubtedly triggered most of my gut issues. My ex, too. But, after struggling for what felt like an eternity, we both solved our issues through diet.
Matt (my ex)
At this point, Matt had completely quit taking his Omeprazole (a protein pump inhibitor, or PPI, used to lessen the production of acid in the stomach). It took him about a month to not feel excruciating pan and discomfort from his acid reflux after he stopped taking the medicine, but after a while, he felt a bit better. The acid reflux and burping were present, but he wasn't taking unnecessary and harmful medication!
However, the acid reflux was still present and horrendous like before he took Omeprazole. He took the typical measures, like not drinking coffee, not eating anything spicy, giving up fatty and greasy foods, and so on. But, nothing improved for him whatsoever.
He obviously took things like TUMS, Zantec, and Pepto Bismol. Although they helped for several hours, once they wore off, his symptoms returned as normal.
My IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, symptoms and constant vaginal/urinary infections were still running rampant. I was still unaware of what to do about both of those issues, so I would just "deal" with my issues as they came, like constant gas, gurgling, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.
I also started to notice some occasional "wet" burps similar to Matt's, but they were rare, so they didn't bother me too much. However, I did notice them and they continued to worsen.
While in Barcelona, we both ate tons of food without much thought: fish, cheese, bread, wine, beer, dessert, sangria, paella, etc. But, while eating all of these delicious food items, Matt and I still had tons of symptoms.
Toward the end of our five days in Barcelona, Matt sat down and did a ton of research online about how to solve his acid reflux issue. He'd seen doctors before, taken medication, and done everything he should've (all mentioned in my previous post), but nothing helped. So, he dove into the internet, desperate for some answers.
It was then that he stumbled upon the Fast Tract Diet. According to a plethora of testimonials, this was the cure for acid reflux and multiple other disorders, like IBS, Crohn's Disease, Leaky Gut, and more.
Matt downloaded the book on his Kindle and read it relatively quickly. The main idea of the book was that things like IBS, acid reflux, etc. are all causes by SIBO, which stands for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth.
When a person has SIBO, the bacteria within their lower intestine somehow manages to find it's way into their small intestine where it doesn't belong, causing gas. From there, issues like IBS, acid reflux, leaky gut, etc. develop.
This all made sense to Matt because even when he took medicine for his acid reflux, the acid reflux would subside, but not the constant burping!
That was enough to make Matt give this diet a try.
In this diet, all food items are assigned FP points. You count FP points, or Fermentation Potential points. The higher points you eat, the more likely you'll experience symptoms. Things that are high in FP are things like pasta, pizza, rice (except jasmine rice), pastries, anything with sugar, anything with flour, etc. Basically, carbohydrates, processed foods, and sugars are a big no-no.
This diet is extremely unique to the other common gut issue diets. Other diets pertaining to our issues tell people to not eat greasy foods, fatty foods, coffee, and more. But, this diet was saying that all of those things are perfectly fine. Carbs and sugars, however, are not!
To put it simply, it's a high-fat, low-carb (actually, almost no carb!) diet. So, in the diet, here are some things that are fine to eat:
Any meat: beef, pork, chicken, turkey, sausage, bacon, rabbit, cold cuts, fish, etc.
Some vegetables, like zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant, lettuce, celery, and others
Gin, vodka, red wine
Here are some things that you should not eat:
Rice (except jasmine)
Anything and everything with flour, starch, and/or sugar!
We returned to our apartment in Prague and started the diet, but it didn't work perfectly for us as we'd hoped-- but that was because we were still eating tons of Jasmine rice and not following the diet perfectly. We definitely saw some improvements, but not nearly enough as we needed.
It took us both until we were in Italy during this month to completely stop eating carbs and sugar (..what a terrible place to be when doing that, right?!).
Then came what is known as the "keto flu." When you give up carbohydrates and sugars after being so dependent on them for energy for so long, your body has to transition to use fats as its source of energy-- and it reacts in a big way. We were exhausted all the time, had brain fog, couldn't concentrate on anything, and felt hungry. But, eventually, that subsided after a week and we were full of energy! Finally, our guts could start to heal-- and we quickly noticed that they had begun to do so!
During Christmas, we cheated a lot on our diets. On Christmas Eve and Day, we stuffed ourselves with spaghetti, breaded and fried meats, cake, pie, cookies, and so on. We ignored the diet completely.
...But, we then faced the consequences. For several days after Christmas, we both were in agony. Matt had constant burping and acid reflux. I had constant bloating, gurgling, discomfort, gas, and diarrhea. That, and I had itching and burning in my urethra/vagina.
Basically, we were a mess. However, we saw this as a learning opportunity. The diet does work-- when we follow it. When we don't, our symptoms come back with a vengeance.
After Christmas, we swore to follow the diet again closely-- and so we did.
Present (May 2018)
Since starting the Fast Tract Diet (FTD), Matt has lost twenty pounds! His acid reflux has improved dramatically as well. It hasn't improved 100% because it's a very gradual healing process, but there is a big difference! Also, he does cheat once in a blue moon (we can't all be perfect!), so that doesn't help.
My IBS issues have almost completely vanished while following the diet. It's life-changing. No running to the bathroom, no bloating, no constipation, no gurgling, nada. My female issues have also gone away, which is another incredible thing! I thought I was going to be stuck with these issues forever, but a simple change in diet fixed them!
However, in the last several months, I have noticed an increase in my indigestion/acid reflux. I have what I believe is LPR, or Laryngopharyngeal Reflux, a.k.a. "silent reflux." I have symptoms like clogged ears, lump in throat, sometimes acid reflux, and pain in my vocal chords.
Although those symptoms have recently developed, I noticed that the diet does help soothe them! That, and it's proven to me that I have both SIBO and Candida (an overgrowth of yeast). Lucky me!
Will you go back to eating carbs again when you feel better?
No. Maybe sometimes very rarely we'll eat carbs, but not even a fraction of how much we used to eat! We don't need to and they only cause problems. They definitely contributed to our gut issues in the first place!
Don't you miss carbs?
At first, we really did! We loved eating pasta, pizza, rice, and all the other carbs you can think of! But, they've proven to hurt us, so why would we continue to eat them?
Don't you need carbs to live and for energy?
We are living proof that you don't need carbs to live or for energy. Once you stop eating carbs, your body makes a change. Instead of relying on carbs for energy, it relies on fat. Then, your body burns fat for its energy. And, guess what? You lose weight and can easily have an overall healthy body! Surprise! Fat doesn't make you fat-- carbs and sugar do!
Isn't eating too much meat bad for you?
Eating too much of anything can be bad for you, if you want to be literal. But, in all seriousness, contrary to popular belief, eating meat isn't bad for you! Think of it this way: what did our species' ancestors eat for survival? Meat and some vegetables! That's it! They didn't have bread, pastries, croissants, oatmeal, pasta, cheese doodles, or ice cream-- and they certainly didn't need any of them.
What is another diet similar to the FTD diet for those without gut issues, but want to be healthier?
The Keto Diet most closely resembles the FTD diet for those that don't have gut issues (although, even if you don't have gut issues, you could still follow it!). It's yet another high-fat, low-carb diet!
What are some other changes you've noticed on this diet?
We've both lost weight, as I mentioned. Our faces have "thinned out." While eating carbs, our faces looked bloated! Now, they've thinned out and look healthy! We have lots of energy, don't need to eat as much, and feel healthier in general. For me, even my fingernails are healthier! They never chip, peel, or crack like they used to!
Oh-- and anything and everything with sugar is extremely sweet! Even something as simple as a strawberry is too sweet!
That, and when we do go off the diet a little bit, we notice that our symptoms aren't nearly as unbearable as before! So, it's proof to us that we are healing!
How We Follow This Diet When Traveling
Most of the time, we cook and eat at home. We make some meat dishes with a little vegetables and a salad for dinner. We make ourselves eggs and bacon with some vegetables for our breakfast/lunch. Simple, yummy stuff!
However, while traveling around, it can be a little more difficult. But, it's completely doable!
Examine any menu of just about any restaurant. You will notice that most of the food has carbs, whether it's bread, croutons, breadcrumbs, french fries, potatoes, etc. However, don't get sucked in! Substitute it! We do that all the time.
My favorite go-to meal is a burger without the bun and I substitute the french fries for a salad or grilled vegetables. Simple! But, you could really order almost any meat!
For appetizers, I love to nosh on cheese and meats of any kind!
We use caution with the sauces that are available as well. There are plenty of hidden sugars, starches, and flours in them most of the time.
No one can be perfect when eating out, of course. But, it's good to at least come as close as you can get to following the diet! It'll be worth it-- especially for those with gut issues!