S.I.B.O. – So I’m Basically Overdue (for a pizza)

April 20, 2015

Here we are again, 3rd update!  I’m chugging along verrrrrry slllllowly, like a little SIBO sblog1snail. But a pissed one.  Imagine a pissed, bloated, starving snail.

I have only 4 days left on this elemental journey.  I can’t believe it.  If you would like to hear about it from the beginning, please click here for the first entry and here for the second entry.

Since I’ve been putting myself out there more with this SIBO thing (blogging openly, making a point to be more social or to go to community events like I used to) I’ve been explaining this over and osblog2ver to people.  People are curious because they’ve read my blog or because they see me drinking my “fart shake” (or “farty” as my husband and I so lovingly refer to it in our household) instead of eating.  They naturally have questions, but I’m not very good at explaining all of this in a tidy little nutshell. And I still haven’t found a way to explain it without being totally gross and off-putting.  “Lemme tell ya about the ins and outs of my poo!” isn’t the most palatable way to explain.  Even with all of this practice, I still totally suck at it.

Something I get a lot when I talk to people about this is, “Well…you look great.”  Sometimes it’s delivered with a side-eye, like they don’t really believe I’m sick.  Sometimes it’s said with genuine surprise, like they are honestly shocked that you can be ill and not look like a crusty troll that just crawled out from under a bridge.  Sometimes it’s meant to comfort me I think…they don’t know what else to say so they want to throw me bone.  Not that it isn’t a sincere bone, but these are usually said sadly or awkwardly or with a little lilt on the end…”Well…you look great?”  Like, “At least?”

I wonder if men get this.  We place such an emphasis on women and beauty that I am willing to bet that if they do, they don’t hear it as often.  Nor do they probably hear, “You look so thin!  How DO you do it?!?!”  Uhhh…how do I do it?  I poop out everything I eat, which is usually relegated to pureed mash and bland meat.  Therefore I am not absorbing any nutrients and am essentially starving my body.  Most don’t seem to wanna jump on THAT poopwagon of a diet when they figure out what it really is, but like I mentioned in a previous post, a select (misguided, insane) few seem to think it is the ticket to getting thin.  We could totally start a new diet trend here, SIBOers!  Let’s figure out how to infect people with SIBO and we could make millions getting people thin!  They would all be hangry raging monsters, but…they would be thin!

A friend of mine that recently lost a ton of weight and I were talking about this a few monthsWoman stands on scales which have two categories: Too Skinny / Too Fat. ago…how people felt it necessary to constantly give her a running commentary about her (new) weight. Everything from asking her “secret” to congratulating her to telling her she was “beautiful now!”  It was very disheartening for her and confusing.  Was she not beautiful before? (she was). The comments were never about her health, it was only about her appearance.  For all they knew, she was starving herself (she wasn’t) and making herself very, very sick, only to be congratulated on a daily basis for getting thin.  I remember being confused about it myself. When she posted new pics on instagram, I absolutely noticed her weightloss and wondered if I should comment on it.  Did she want comments?  It’s a socially acceptable thing to do, right?  If someone loses weight, we think they are TRYING to lose weight on purpose and we make a congratulatory comment about their physique.  It is meant to be kind and supportive, but we were discussing how strange it truly is.  I would never be able to walk up to someone that put ON weight and make a comment about it (even if they needed to gain weight…the comment would still be considered rude), so why is it perfectly acceptable to do it to people that have lost weight? I will tell you why…because women are supposed to be thin. That is the never-ending pressure.  When I noticed others commenting over and over about it I decided against it.  I didn’t want to jump on the congratulatory bandwagon and send some sort of message that she wasn’t amazing and beautiful before, because she absolutely was (is!).

Now, in an effort to always try to be transparent, I’m not going to pretend like this illness doesn’t come with majosblogr insecurities.  Please do not think that I am above caring that it makes me feel like the blueberry girl from Willy Wonka. I know I shouldn’t care, but I do.  I hate not being able to wear jeans because my belly is extra bloated.  I hate that this thing has made my skin and hair dry (lack of nutrients and water) and makes me feel like I’m prematurely aging and starting to resemble Nick Nolte’s mug shot.  I hate that I”m losing muscle definition that I spent years and years and years working for.  But mostly, I hate that I hate it.  I need to learn to just accept my body, in whatever state, once and for all.  Hell folks, I’m not gettin’ any younger and this big-mouthed feminist needs to be better about practicing what she so LOUDLY preaches. So, I’m working on it.  It’s very hard to undo a lifetime of conditioning.  I am trying to accept that my body will never be the same again.  Sure, I have hope that I will get healthy and get this into remission…I am nothing if not determined, but I need to let go of the dream that I will be the way I was before.  I will not, and that needs to be ok.  We need to stop defining women by their looks, and we need (as women) to stop internalizing that message and continuing to buy into it. Because I know that every woman reading this has amazing strengths and passions and intelligence and warmth and brilliance to share, way beyond her outward appearance.  And before it is said, I know that men too are scrutinized about their weight and appearance, but it is not even close to the way in which women are treated and evaluated. Just go to any magazine isle and I will rest my case.


sblog4Quickly, before I get into the daily updates, I want to answer some questions I’ve gotten from readers:

Question: I would love to hear if you think your mood swings are blood sugar related, and how you’re feeling for blood sugar generally on the elemental diet?

Answer: One thing that has been interesting about this entire SIBO process is how much I’ve come to learn that I am NOT in touch with my body. Because I am so in touch with my emotions, I thought (in the past) this automatically translated to me being in touch with my body, but it doesn’t.  I am more inclined to believe that my moodiness comes from not getting to eat.  I tend to be more moody at night, because I historically ate my biggest meal in the evening.  I tend to be more moody on weekends, because I associate that with fun food times.  I got kinda grumpy today after meeting a colleague at a donut shop (her suggestion) and sitting across from her watching her lick her fingers while smelling the delicious aroma that only donuts can produce.  The only time I think blood sugar comes into play is when I wait too long to have a shake.  Then, it’s that same hangry feeling you get when you wait too long to eat.  Something else interesting though…when you are very hungry and you have a shake, you IMMEDIATELY start to feel satisfied.  Because it’s pre-digested, it hits your body quickly. Last night I was at an event and couldn’t have my last drink until 8pm.  I was HUNGRY. After my first few sips I felt immediately better. It’s very different from food in that way.

Would you recommend the elemental to everyone with SIBO? You seem to have done really well on it, do you think it takes a person with a huge amount of endurance or can anyone do it?

Answer: This is tricky.  I want to encourage anyone that wants to try it to give it a whirl, but I DO tend to think it takes a certain mentality or mindset. I am a particularly determined person.  If I set a goal, I WILL make it happen.  I also take my health very, very seriously. Having said that, as someone that has definitely struggled with food issues her entire life (using it as a crutch, as an escape, to self-medicate or self-soothe) I was really worried I wouldn’t be able to do this.  But from even the first day, I knew I could.  It just wasn’t as hard as I was expecting.  As mentioned before, when I’ve done juice cleanses, I could barely make it 3 days. I was MISERABLE.  I was hungry and suffering from crazy intense cravings and all I could think about was pizza.  I literally dreamed (I’m serious…I had real dreams) about eating cheeseburgers.  And yes, I have had some cravings while doing this but NOTHING like that.  I think the big thing with the elemental is knowing what you’re getting into. Be prepared for it to suck and be hard, but know that you can handle it. People do this for months, ya’ll…some for years, and some are forced to do it for life.  When I really start to get mad about it, I think of those amazing folks.

Hammy, playing in my Vivonex Box 😛

You sound like you’re still having symptoms. Are you scared this isn’t going to work? What will you do next since you’ve already tried antibiotics and herbals?

Answer: Uh. YES.  A resounding, bell-ringing, symbol-clanging YES!  I’m petrified I am a part of the 15% that don’t move into remission with the elemental.  But all I can say to myself is this: all studies have shown that this diet gives the digestive system a much-needed break and allows for healing to occur.  Even if my SIBO is not cleared, I am highly doubtful that my numbers won’t improve.  I had crazy high hydrogen counts (like, off the charts), and I greatly expect them to dramatically fall.  And if I have to do this again in the future to completely move myself into remission, I will.  I will throw a tantrum and probably cry like a 4 year old, but I will.  As for next steps, my doc and I have discussed trying Allimed (more herbals) and I am looking into FMT with my husband being the donor.  For those of you that are of the queasy variety, do yourself a favor and DO NOT google that.  And for the rest…when you are desperate you are desperate and there is NO shame here. FMTs are the number 1 treatment for SIBO in China and in parts of Europe.

I am extremely thin and I am fearful I will lose too much weight on this.  How much have you lost?  Should I be worried about doing this if I am already too skinny?

Answer: Tough call, but I think it would be ok, unless you’re dangerously thin.  My doc was a bit worried about this with me.  I am 5’4 and started at 113 lbs.  I have lost 5 lbs. while doing this.  That happened in the first 1.5 weeks and has stabilized, so I’ve been the same for the last 5 days.  If you are concerned, you just need to keep on top of the shakes.  Don’t skip any, and if your doc allows it, add in some coconut oil for fat (this greatly helped me to keep weight on).  I typically have 3 shakes on non-running days and 4 on running days.  I do not feel hungry unless I wait too long and if I do get hungry, I just have an extra drink.  I would NOT recommend this diet to anyone that has a history of eating disorders or severely disordered eating, however.  

I think I covered all of the ones that I haven’t personally answered in private messages, and these are a few I’ve gotten over and over.  I’m so honored you are all reading this and feel it is helping you. Whether it just gives you insight into the elemental, makes you laugh, or makes you nod your head because you know the struggles of which I speak…I thank you for going through this with me.  IF it actually works, I will post my entire regimen, as that is also something I am often asked.  But I do not want to post it until I know I’ve had success, as I don’t want to lead others astray.  And the next time I update, I’ll be done!!!!!!!  I only wish I could celebrate with a cocktail! (or 8!)  😛


No question about it, my hardest day yet.  I have no idea why, but I really struggled today. Both this morning and last night I had stomach pain (die off…I hope?) but it went away by this afternoon.  Joe and I went for a nice long walk (4 miles) just because I needed to get out of the house and get my mind off food.  I feel like I’m in the middle of a marathon and have hit “the wall.”  I’ve pushed past that wall through many a marathon and I will get through this one too, dammit.  But I have been daydreaming about food all day.  I want asblog7 cheeseburger with a donut bun on top of a pizza stuffed into a burrito topped with heaps of sour cream.  I’m clueless as to why on day 11 I suddenly get intense cravings. I’ve been so proud of myself, because I feel like I’ve handled this like a friggin’ rockstar, but today was just brutal.  Again, I do think the weekends are harder for me though, because for years I’ve associated them with “fun” eating. Joe and I would ritually get Indian food on Friday nights and have a delicious brunch somewhere on Sunday mornings. Mmmmm…brunnnnch…NO! Fight the brunch! Fight it!  I’m really hoping tomorrow will be better.  I also talked to a few people who just finished this diet and I think it kind of got me down and discouraged.  One relapsed within a week, and the other doesn’t feel it worked (she still has symptoms).  That kinda knocked me off my SIBO horse.  It petrifies me to know that I could be doing this all for nothing.  But, I’m pushing on through because what else can I do at this point?  Most everything else has been tried.  Anyway, 11 days down, 10 to go.  FRACK that seems like a long time.


I had a solid night’s sleep (11 hours!) and I felt MUCH better today. Definitely perkier and less food obsessed (though still a little).  I went for a run in the sunshine, and ignored my husband’s Thai food for dinner (though it smelled like what I imagine heaven to smell like.  I wanted to crawl into the curry and bathe in it whilst eating it…don’t judge me).  I really think the weekends are just hard for me and are going to continue to be so.  BUT, I only have one more left!  I am still having bloating issues, and it sincerely amazes me every day that it’s hanging on SO HARD.  I’ve been on the Protease (Biofilm Disruptor) only a few days, but haven’t noticed anything different, except that my stomach is quite loud after I take it (gurgly) so maybe that’s a good thing.  No nausea from it, thank goodness.  And still no die-off symptoms, which is strange.  I cannot decide if that makes me lucky or makes me unlucky. Another person I know doing this said her bloat did not go away until day 14.  Welp, here it is day 13 and I would be shocked if it magically disappeared overnight.  I get frustrated if I think about it too long.  I am working so hard to get healthy and even THIS doesn’t appear to be working!!!!  ARGH!  But I try not to let myself slide into that way of thinking too far, as it isn’t going to help me.  And I don’t really know what’s happening inside my body, so catastrophizing it in my mind is just silly.  Buuuuuut das’ what I do! I’m a pro!  😛


I cannot believe I am almost at 2 weeks!  Some time ago this seemed impossible.  It’s amazing what we can do, isn’t it?  Hahaha, I act like I just won the Pulitzer or climbed Everest without oxygen.  Well this is my Everest, baby!  My Food Everest.  I woke up and went for a great run, met a friend and colleague for coffee (and sipped my disgusting drink) worked for several hours, then went for another short run.  Someone was cooking something that smelled glorious next door and it took everything not to barge in and knock them out just to steal their food.  Imma tellin’ ya…Everest.  So, I ran instead.  Now I’m sipping on my last shake of the day and feeling pretty good. I have noticed 2 things: I do better (mood-wise) on days that I run, and on days where I get out and do something social.  Today I did both and I’m feeling much more optimistic.  I am still bloated (which is annoying as shit) but I’m just waiting for the day when I wake up and have my first shake…and nothing happens.  No bloat, nothing.That will be a marvelous moment.  If it ever comes.  Still no die off.  I am starting to think that will not be a part of this equation for me.


I woke up soooooo excited that I made it 2 whole weeks!  It seemed like this day would never come!  Funnily enough, I went from SUPER stoked and proud to totally depressed at night, because a whole other week seems soooo long.  Hahahaha…this damn thing is making me nutty as shit.  I am also very sad because tonight after my last shake I was more bloated than I’ve been in several days.  My belly is GIGANTANORMOUS right now.  I feel like a water buffalo.  I keep rubbing it lovingly like there is a child inside.  Will this ever go away?  I finished my round of Xifaxin today (my 2nd dose) and I’m wondering if my doc will put me on herbals again.  I think I am starting to try to prepare myself that this might not have worked.  I know I have a week left, but since I’m seeing so little results in terms of bloating, I think I need to start getting myself ready for that moment of IMMENSE disappointment.  I feel like something this hard should come with a guarantee of remission for at least a year, but there are no guarantees, are there?


I am officially getting to the end of this and starting to feel like I can see the finish line.  But it’s like when running a marathon and you can SEE the finish line from the top of a hill and it feels sooo close, but then you realize you still have 3 miles to go.  You kind of want to be hopeful and you kind of want to cry at the same time.  That’s where I am right now.  I am thankful I only have one more weekend left on this.  It’s only Wednesday and I’m already dreading the weekend.  Something weird has been happening these last few days though…my stomach has been really rumbly.  I consider this to be a very good sign, as motility is an issue for me with SIBO and even when my doc listens to my stomach with a stethoscope, she says it is always silent. Maybe thing are improving in this way?  I will be getting retested at the end of this and will have to wait 5-7 days for results. I so wish I could get them right THEN, but it is what it is.  I am now starting to try and plan for reintroducing food and it’s scary.  I cannot WAIT to eat but I’m also terrified.  Someone posted in our support group about being a recovering anorexic and this whole disease triggering those issues again, because you start to learn to really fear food in a dramatic way.  I can totally understand how that would be difficult for someone with an eating disorder.  I’m scared to death to eat again!


OH MY GOD.  5 days left!  That’s crazy!  I felt fine today and have little to report.  I felt less bloated today, though still had some at night.  I didn’t get my last shake until late (8pm) because of a women’s networking event and I was DYING for it.  I was so hungry that I swear the damn thing even tasted good!  Ha!  It’s funny how fast that changed! The event had DELICIOUS looking pupus (appetizers) and everyone was sipping wine and I was jealous.  But I know that is just how my life is gonna be.  I think thLiz-Lemonat part will slowly get easier.  For some reason the brie was calling my damn NAME.  I felt like Liz Lemon when her stomach growls and says what she’s craving…”Cheeeerrrrrse Frrrrrriiiiiiiiessss.”  🙂  But overall, a good day.


For some reason, 17 seems sooo much longer than 16!  Not sure why.  Had a great run today and I’ve oddly been much hungrier all day.  My stomach is still rumbly and I’m hoping that the increased hunger and stomach noise means my motility is improving.  I saw my n.d. todaysblog8 for acupuncture…I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but there are acu points on my shins that I often have trouble with; serious achiness when she inserts the needle and sometimes (like today) I jerk so hard when she puts it in that I shoot the needle right out of my leg.  It doesn’t hurt exactly, it’s more like a crazy reflex.  She told me a few weeks ago that this spot is the “command center” for the gut and that is why I have such a strong reaction. Interesting stuff, no?  I also asked her about continuing the diet for a few more days, because I have enough solution to last 23 days instead of 21.  I have to admit, I was secretly hoping she would tell me it wasn’t necessary, but instead she said, “Yes, I think that’s a great idea since you are still experiencing bloating.  That is what I would do, if I were in your position.”  DAMMIT.  So, instead of only 4 days left, I have 6 days now.  Sheesh.  But, I’m going to do it. I’ve made it this far, what’s a few more days? *sobs quietly over her keyboard* We also discussed easing back into food and getting tested for some other things should the test come back positive.  I think I’ve still got a long journey ahead of me.  But I WILL lick this thing.  That I know.

Ok, peace out all…’till next time!

3 Responses to “S.I.B.O. – So I’m Basically Overdue (for a pizza)”

  1. […] first installment here, the second update here, and the most recent post (other than this one) here.  All you really need to know however is that the elemental has been my dark, somewhat abusive […]


  2. […] you can read the first installment here, the 2nd installment right cheeeeere, the 3rd installment hurrrrr and the most recent (other than this one) here. I awoke my first day off of the elemental, sooo […]


  3. Marina Cavilha said

    Dear Katie, I am just about to start my Elemental Diet. As in Brazil doctors have no idea about it, I am sort of doing everything by myself. Do you recommend taking herbal antibiotics together with the elemental diet? If so, could you tell me which are they, since no one has ever heard of them in Brazil? Also, do you feel like your life has changed after the diet? Do you still get the symptoms? Thanks and best wishes


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