I never thought the day would come when I’d need to write about carbs and SIBO.
I was scrolling through Instagram the other day when I stumbled upon a graphic my friend Erica shared that said, “I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t like carbs.”
It’s not that I don’t like them; I love them. In fact, I have been desperately trying to figure out how I can have them back in my life as soon as possible.
I didn’t want to write this post. In fact, I loathed the thought of it because that would be admitting something to myself. But after (almost) 10 years of trial-and-error, it has become crystal clear to me, even through my massive resistance to it.
For me, carbs and SIBO just don’t go together. Before I have the carbohydrate police explaining to me what carbs are and are not, I already know. I know that carbs are found in everything. I know that they are in fruits and vegetables, even nuts (which contain mostly fat).
For the sake of this post, I’m just lumping them together under the term, “carbs.”
Here are the carbs I have found just do not work for me with SIBO (at least these are the ones I am certain of, others I suspect):
- wheat and gluten (obviously I celebrated my 8 year gluten free anniversary yesterday)
- grains – all grains
- sugar – monkfruit has been fine and when it’s just a hint added to something (as in like 1-3g per 2 Tbsp or more), honey and coconut sugar are okay, too
- plantains – at least not right now (they are a resistant starch)
- vegetables – many of them, namely the higher carb ones
- fruit – I mostly avoid it anyways, and am even treading lightly currently on bananas and berries
Note: this list does not include many of the high-FODMAP things, fermented items (my beloved Booch), and more.
I did a little Instagram survey via my stories. I simply asked people, “Carbs with SIBO….thoughts?” And then a “Yes” or “No.” Over 100 people responded.
60% said, “Yes. Yes, carbs with SIBO.” 40% said, “No. No, carbs with SIBO.”
In addition to the resistance in my personal findings over these past 10 years, I believe this is another reason I never wanted to share this post. My findings are not going to be popular or like-able.
Carbs and SIBO
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I have 5 main reasons why carbs and SIBO just don’t work well together for me.
- Acne + Back Acne. I’m okay right now, but that’s only because I’m still on the SIBO antibiotics. The antibiotic is masking my body’s urge to break out. Shortly before the antibiotic, I was eating all the carbs and all the FODMAP foods, and my back looked likeTHIS. Shortly before being diagnosed with SIBO in 2014, my face looked like THIS. Carbs and high FODMAP foods filled both of those time periods.
- Bloat. Like clockwork, almost within minutes of carbs currently, I’ll bloat (and yes, this time even while on Neomycin/Rifaximin). While the occasional bloat is a pain in the a#$, constant and chronic bloat is maddening, exhausting, and if you want the truth – depressing.
- Fuzzy Brain. Every time I eat a lot of carbs, my brain and thoughts become so fuzzy. It’s hard to explain unless you’ve been in these shoes, but the best way I can describe it is that my brain feels like I “see” a bunch of cobwebs. I can’t find the words I’m looking for and everyday thoughts become blurred.
- Worse Nutrition Levels. I would be remiss if I didn’t share this one with you because I know so many people think, “But without carbs, you’re deficient in everything.” I’m currently seeing Dr. Jeff Kotulski, and at our first appointment, he ran a ton of tests, including the standard nutrient levels one. I am deficient in: Vitamin B3, Vitamin D3, Magnesium, Vitamin C. I am borderline deficient in: Pantothenate, Selenium, Copper, Carnitine, Vitamin E, Spectrox, Manganese, Lipoic Acid, Immunidex, Vitamin A, and Vitamin K2. This is far more than ever before (these past 1-2 years I’ve eaten carbs and FODMAP foods freely), and when I cut carbs before, I was deficient in only one thing…..Vitamin D (isn’t everyone in America?!)
- Off. I just feel “off.” Every last thing about my daily routine feels a little off, if it’s not miserable. I’ll stay happy when I’m eating whatever I want, but then the other 23 hours of the day happen, and it’s just not right.
Do you remember the picture I shared of my dad and I from the Father’s Day post on Sunday? This one.
It was taken in 2009, not even a month after I had stripped away carbs (back then I didn’t know I had SIBO, but I wasn’t eating many FODMAP foods except avocado – lots of avocado – and I was thriving).
All 5 things I mentioned above were not present.
For almost 10 years now I’ve had growing evidence, but I’ve been fighting against it. Remember, I even tried telling myself that I could heal on a Vegetarian diet.
I’ve been digging long and hard for several weeks now, trying desperately to understand why I’m fighting something I know to be so true for my healing journey.
And when I’m truly honest with myself, it boils down to these 2 things:
- I just love food, and I really love carbs.
- I loathe the questions and internal eye rolls. Doing this to be difficult? Difficult for who, though? For other people? C’mon…..this is just difficult for me. Doing this to “lose weight” when I’m already seemingly lean? Hell no. If you desire to lose weight and eat carbs, that is ENTIRELY POSSIBLE – I don’t care what anyone says. Doing this because I’m making up #1-#5 above? Get real. You can’t make this up, SIBO is real, and I promise you on my life that I have 7 billion other things to focus on in my life other than this.
To live not eating all the things is not optimal. I’ll say it again. To live not eating all the things is not optimal. I’ll say it again.
I don’t care what any gut health, supreme diet goddess tries to tell you about how their diet is a forever lifestyle for optimal health.
Every single diet out there has its benefits and drawbacks.
The point is that our guts should be able to handle diverse foods, without forced restriction. I should never have to fear a big old rice bowl with avocado, Brussels sprouts, and beans.
But for today, and until I figure out what the h#$% is going on, I must avoid them.
I’m not sitting here and writing this with the plan to “just avoid carbs.”
In a few weeks, I have a follow up with Dr. Jeff. We will review the deficiencies and overcoming this bump on my road, but also during that appointment it’s my “pre-op.” After 10 years, I’m ready to investigate internally again. My Endoscopy and Colonoscopy have been set for July 19th.
I’ve always believed in solutions over problems. Avoiding carbs right now is a temporary solution (so I don’t have to complain about a problem) while I keep figuring out and understanding the root of this problem.
Nothing more, and nothing less.
p.s. What I do is, more or less (customized 100% for me and my situation), Day 1 – 21 (only for me there is no end date, until I find answers).
You will heal. I will help.