In the years since I first started trying to fix the intense gut pains that, in some way, have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, but that I only began to work on in 2015, I have cut a LOT of foods out of my diet. It started with a recommendation from my doctor to try the low FODMAP diet, because my symptoms matched Irritable Bowel Syndrome. That diet is supposed to be used briefly, in a way. One cuts out all foods with FODMAPs, which is an acronym for a certain type of fiber, and if one feels better, then one adds back in one food at a time to figure out which foods are triggering.
I followed that diet. I did not experience relief. So I added some things back, and I tried to eat things that didn’t make me feel worse. But it was hard to know what those things were. A few years later, I got diagnosed with mild delayed gastric emptying and they told me to cut out fiber.
I didn’t get much information other than, cut out fiber.
Everything I read online indicated a diet low in fiber shouldn’t be long term and should only be under supervision of a doctor. My doctors looked at me like I was crazy when I talked about reintroducing fiber.
It was as if they were convinced simultaneously that 1) what I had wasn’t going away and 2) they couldn’t prove that I had IBS. But if they couldn’t even prove that IBS was the problem, because IBS is, itself, not well understood, then how could they expect me to trust that I couldn’t change anything?
Last year, I started trying to eat more healthily and focused on the removal of foods with “natural flavors” or “artificial flavors” in the ingredients list. I figured that if something was irritating my gut, then I should know every ingredient that I ingest. Those two phrases can be substitutes for any number of compounds, any of which could cause me trouble. The less of those I ate, the better, I figured.
And in December, my husband and I began calorie counting. We keep track of what we eat and how much of it we eat. Turns out it’s hard to find foods that not only exclude unnamed flavor compounds, but also fit in with the kinds of food I currently allow myself – low fiber, trying to avoid most FODMAPs with the exception of apples because that’s one food that I haven’t had trouble with. I ended up trying a food that contained nutritional yeast.
It messed me up. After that, my digestion went crazy, causing constipation and bloating. I felt my stomach gurgling that night and I kicked myself for not looking up if yeast can cause issues with IBS before I ate the damn things. But I didn’t go checking until the next morning, where I found absolutely no counterindications regarding IBS and yeast.
But I did find information about yeast intolerance, and I could check off just about every box for symptoms of a yeast intolerance.
So now I’m trying 30 days without eating yeast. My husband has cooked up some roti for me to eat instead of sourdough bread. I’ve discovered the crackers that I relied on for snacks and meals also have yeast so they’re out. I’m counting day 1 as March 17, since I did a liquid diet that day (no, not beer, that’s got yeast). But I’m already showing signs of better digestion.
I’m feeling both positive and angry. Excited and sad. Because if this turns out to be the thing, the big thing that has always been wrong with me, that is, maybe, the reason that I’ve always been a bit overweight, then that it will be amazing that I found it. But terribly frustrating that it took so long to figure it out. And infuriating that no doctor once suggested it as a possibility.
Still, this might just be a wild hare that I’m chasing. I need to be prepared for the possibility that whatever is going on can’t be fixed by a simple dietary exclusion. Or, at least, not this particular exclusion.