There are so many different ways that SIBO can happen. However, it took me over 10 years to get the correct diagnosis. This was partly my fault, but also my physician’s fault too. My purpose in sharing my story is to show you the mistakes I made. That way you will heal fast and more efficiently than me! Here is how I created the perfect environment for SIBO.
Reflecting on my childhood, I had your typical childhood. I ate the standard American diet especially all the desserts. Every Thursday after preschool, my mom and I would get McDonald’s and then go have lunch with my dad.
I appreciate those memories, but my stomach didn’t appreciate the meal. As I got older, we would go out to eat once a week. Which was usually Friendly’s, 99, and so on. I ate a lot of processed foods as a kid. Especially when it came to desserts. Just like my dad I had a mega sweet tooth.
During this time, I had regular bowel movements and no significant stomach issues. The only thing I can remember is I’d often get stomach cramps a lot/feel nausea. At the time I thought it was normal as the feeling would past.
The only thing notable during this time was starting birth control in 8th grade. I was put on the pill due to a lack of a menstrual cycle and hormonal acne. This was honestly a decision I wish I could take back. However, it has taught me to love myself deeper and to understand my feminity more.
This is when the irritable bowel syndrome symptoms started happening. My mom also (and still to this day) struggle with these symptoms. At the time I thought it was genetic. I would get severely bloated and constipated.
Besides eating the standard American diet, there were other poor behaviors I started doing. This was around the time I began having eating disorder behaviors and body dysmorphia.
My main goal was to become thinner and prettier. I don’t want to dive too much into the eating disorder behaviors. But I was restricting significantly and using exercise as a way to purge. The foods I would demonize were at fats and dessert type foods.
This continued throughout high school and so did the chronic stress. I was very hard on myself in high school. I had to get A’s and if I got a B it would send me over the edge. The only person putting this stress on me was myself.
I didn’t have a social life whatsoever in high school let’s just say that. While in high school there two illnesses that I remember getting. The first was mono my senior year of high school, which was the absolutely worse.
The second is this stomach flu in which I didn’t vomit or have diarrhea, but I couldn’t eat anything. No matter what I ate I’d have these awful pains. I was put on a bland diet which for a week I ate saltines and toast with butter. Then one day I ate some yogurt, and it was gone. No more stomach pains. I still have no idea what that illness was.
Freshmen and sophomore year of College
As you can already tell, I was making the perfect environment for SIBO for far too long. College was when I started to learn more about health and wellness. I was still eating a lot of conventional dairy and gluten. But I was trying to include more vegetables, fruits, oats, and stuff along those lines.
However, at the time stress was very prominent. I was stuck on-campus and my relationship with my boyfriend was still pretty new. We all know that Honeymoon phase in a relationship. Overall, I missed being home and I wasn’t happy.
With making these adjustments, I was changing my perception of exercise and began strength training. I didn’t see it as a way to punish myself anymore.
I stayed on campus for a semester and became a commuter which helped to reduce a lot of stress. Even as my nutrition and exercise started to improve my gut was still off. I didn’t experience any sickness as I did in high school.
Junior and Senior year of College
This is when I knew it wasn’t just irritable bowel syndrome. My symptoms started to become worse especially when I switched to a paleo lifestyle. I was having severe bloating, awful smelling gas, constipation, and stomach distention.
I thought I could cure my digestive issues through dietary changes alone. As I started learning about SIBO and other conditions. I knew in my heart it was methane sibo. But did I start healing? Nope!
I had such a poor relationship with money that I didn’t want to go to an integrative center or pay for the breath test. It wasn’t until I got a health coach and did an elimination diet (i.e. low fodmap) did I start to feel relief.
In my mind, I thought I healed my gut, but I was flat wrong. The symptoms came back full force once I reintroduced foods. Plus, because my diet was so limited I started having food sensitivities. Through my health coach, I found my current functional nurse practitioner and finally got on the road to recovery.
Patterns that created the perfect environment for sibo
As I reflect on my back story, there are major triggers that influenced my gut health. It is worth getting a breath test and/or stool test done. These are possible factors for creating the perfect environment for SIBO:
- FAD Diets (i.e. low fat, low carb, low sugar, low whatever)
- Standard American Diet
- Eating Disorder Behaviors
- Chronic Stress
- Contracting EBV (via MONO)
- Lack of Self-Love/Worth
- Poor Relationship with Food
- Stomach Flu/Food Poisoning
- Birth Control
There are plenty of more environmental causes of SIBO. However, compounding all of these over what 10+ years is going to influence your body in some way. By noticing these key patterns can help you create a lifestyle where you won’t have a relapse.
In Part Two I am going to dive into how I came to discover I had SIBO and the steps I took to heal it permanently. Thank youu so much for reading!