On the Fast “Tract” to healing???

May 11, 2015

Aloha from SIBO world!  Not to be confused with sea world…though I do sort of have whale belly sometimes.  I am 12 days off the elemental diet and into eating REAL FOOD!!!!  It’s been a very interesting transition.  As usual, 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 excited to shove food into my gullet. Like…SO. EXCITED.  I got up early and started cooking my meat broth.  It smelled so gloriously decadent while simmering on the stove.  I cannot even tell you.  I had only broth at first and it tasted like a warm hug; salty, herb-y, and delicious.  My stomach immediately (within about 20 minutes) reacted, but that was to be expected.  I’m sure my digestive system was like, “Whoooooa now, what’s goin’ on here?!?!  We were used to that stinky fart drink garbage you’ve been guzzling!  Now we have to remember how to process this…”

After the first meal, I added a little bit of shredded chicken to the next bowl of broth.  I continued eating only broth and chicken for the first day.  The next day was mostly broth and chickenftblog1 again, with a little more chickeny-chicken.  I then slowly added back pureed carrots and pureed butternut squash, then red meat, then a little cheese (starting with dry curd cottage cheese, otherwise called DCCC), then a few more roasted veggies (all veggies deseeded and skinned). It was funny because once I started eating, I didn’t want to stop.  I WANTED TO EAT ALL OF THE THINGS!!!  I swear I could have holed up in my house for a week just eating non-stop.  But I tried really hard to hold back.

I had decided to combine several aspects of several diets.  The Fast Tract Digestion Diet (FTD)SCD, and low fodmaps.  Well, that lasted about 3 days.  Trying to combine all 3 was not only miserably limiting, but damn near impossible.  So while I had visions of being able to ftblog2seamlessly meld these, it quickly became clear that I am an idiot and that was impossible. Certain aspects of the diets are in direct opposition to one another. For example, an orange is considered low fodmap, so yay!  But an orange is considered high in fermentation potential on the FTD, so boo.  😦  Conversely, watermelon is considered high fodmap and is a no-no, but on the FTD it has the lowest fermentation potential of all fruit so it is considered the safest.  WTF? What’s a girl to do?  I’m running out of food options here!  That air diet above is looking more and more likely…

It was then that I decided to hell with it, I was going to give the FTD a sincere chance.  I had done SCD + low fodmaps after all for over 2.5 months with very little results.  Why not try something new and a diet that was created specifically for the little SIBO assholes?  So, I immediately threw all of my combining research out of the window (actually, in a moment of pure hatred and frustration I threw it on the floor, stomped on it, and then threw it in the recycling…and no, I am NOT kidding) and decided to work with the FTD.

Allll my charty-charts for FP values!

Sooo the Fast Tract Diet in a little bloggy nutshell?  The diet is a quantitative approach to gut health (meaning, it is numbers-driven). Like the low fodmap diet (the most common suggestion for SIBO sufferers), it limits lactose, sugar, fiber, fructose, and resistant starch in an effort to reduce foods’ intestinal fermentation potential.  We ingest foods with high starch, fiber, sugar, lactose, etc. and it sits in the intestine, fermenting. These foods are harder for our bodies to process and break down, giving them time to ferment and feed pesky bacteria shitheads that make us all miserable human SIBO zombies.  The point of the diet plan is to limit these foods that have high fermentation potential (FP) so that we can more easily digest what we consume, leading to an ease of SIBO symptoms.  The author, Norm Robillard, specifically addresses SIBO over and over again in book, which was a relief after reading Breaking the Vicious Cycle (the SCD food guide), which not once discusses SIBO.  The book has a total of 15 different food charts so that


All my many food charts!!!

you are able to calculate your individual food’s fermentation potential. The ideal is to have as low an FP per day as possible. This is where it gets tricky for many people, including yours truly.  I hate to be the stereotypical girl that is terrible at math (because that is a dumbass stereotype with absolutely NO merit!) but math = YIKES in Katie-land!  And not because I’m a chick.  Shit people, I can barely add and subtract. And we’re talking algebra, here!  But honestly, once you get the formula down, it’s easy-peasy…even for a math moron like myself. The trick is to not let yourself be intimidated by it, as it’s sort of a lot of work at first.  You must weigh your food by using a food scale to get the correct serving size to calculate the FP.  This is annoying at first, and I was a little forgetful at times (brain fog, anyone?), but after a while, I started making my own charts of foods that I eat regularly, and it became a much quicker process.  And you have to be diligent about writing down your every food particle. ***EDIT: Since writing this blog, an FTD app has come out that has made my life soooo much easier! It has an FP calculator and allows you to search and save foods (and their FPs) that you eat regularly. So read the book AND be sure to get the app for a much easier go of it.*** Shout-out to Norm…your book is amazing and I am seeing great results thus far…thank you and mahalo for your diligence and expertise!  If you want to read a little more about the diet and compare it to other common SIBO diets like SCD, low fodmaps, and Paleo, click here to learn about it from the Digestive Health Institute website.  (where there is a ton of useful information!).  Also, for a Q&A with the author about fodmap versus FTD, click here.  

One thing about the FTD gave me great pause, and well, I’ll just say it (you all have never known me to hold back anyway, right?) suspicion.  Many of the foods in the charts are processed foods.  Even the FP of diet soda is listed!  At first this bothered me greatly.  I’m not a certified nutritionist, but I have worked long and hard to educate myself about food and I know that many of these foods are not healthy.  Should I be taking the advice of a person that tells me the FP of wonderbread and Snickers?!?!?!  However, eventually I came to the conclusion that this book is written for the masses, and that (sadly) most Americans eat a heavily processed, poor-nutrition diet. And as such, many have IBS.  And if those people don’t want to make a major life-style change (because so many people resist), the author gives them a way to eat certain foods that will aggravate their symptoms less.  For dis’ girl though…I’ll be eating only real, healthy foods.  You won’t see diet soda or wonderbread in my vocab (you will see chocolate occasionally though, which is far more exciting, anyway!), but I do think I understand better why the author made this choice.

How am I doing you want to know?  Well, thanks for asking!  Guys, you know you’re gonna get honesty here!  I’m doing really well.  The elemental, I am coming to realize, gave me far more healing than I originally thought upon completion.  After that initial digestion trouble over my first meal, everything has been much improved. Not perfect, not totally healed, but greatly improved.  Totally normal ftblog7BMs…I’m talkin’ normal poo!!!! For dayssssss!!!!  I know it’s sad that I am this excited about poop, but this is my life now.  I’ve had virtually zero pain and my bloating, while still there, has decreased. I even ate out for the first time in nearly 5 months at the Hawai’i Book and


I’m eating out! IN public!

Music Festival.  It was only a grass-fed, no-hormone, plain burger with swiss cheese, but it was TERRIBLY exciting! I felt like a normal person for a hot second! Several people have asked me if I believe it was the elemental or the Fast Tract Diet that has brought me so much relief. Well, I have no idea. That is a very chicken-or-the-egg question, isn’t it? I guess my best answer is: both. I have a feeling that the FTD would have been a far better option for me about 4 months ago than low fodmaps or SCD. I also think that had I not done the elemental, I wouldn’t be where I am now, either.  I know people in my SIBO forum that have been fighting this SIBO battle for years and I can tell you that I do not want that to be me.  So I am happy with how things have progressed, as I feel like I am moving at a rapid healing pace compared to most people (as of right now…I am well aware that can change in an instant).  I think this is largely due to diligence and determination to be better, to a good caring doctor, and to this new diet that has started to allow me to not bend over in pain after having a simple meal.

Makin’ my glorious homemade almond milk!

Having sung the praises of FTD here, I need to mention that I still keep aspects of SCD around, though. Namely, that I will cook and create most everything I eat with my own two hands. I see many people on the SIBO discussion boards still eating store-bought almond milk, store-bought gluten-free breads, store-bought jams or sour creams…and lamenting that they are feeling awful.  I get it, folks.  I really do.  It’s not only hard as hell to have to cook and create everything you eat (from your own mayo to your


Homemade almond nut butter!!!

own nut butters!) it’s like a damn part-time job. And the clean-up? Crazytown.  I swear I spend half of my life washing dishes. But these (and many, many other) foods have all sorts of terrifyingly disgusting things in them.  And for people with digestive illnesses, they affect us more than most.  Things like carrageenan, MSG, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and preservatives, and soy. Hell, I have even read appalling things being included in our foods like human hair (HUMAN HAIR, PEOPLE!!! Otherwise known as L-Cysteine), Sawdust (used as a caking agent in spices and in cheese…in our glorious cheese, ya’ll!), anti-freeze (I shit you not, it’s also known as Propylene Glycol) and much MUCH more. And we wonder why we have gut issues when we are eating human hair and sawdust, right? I feel like a cat when I read that stuff…like I should be hacking up sawdusty hairballs every morning or something.  The point is, just because you buy it at Whole Foods or Trader Joes, or just because it says it’s organic or healthy or gluten-free, does NOT mean that it’s good for your body.  And it most certainly does not mean it is good for your gut.  Hell, if it hurts some of us with gut problems to eat organic cauliflower, you bettah believe ingesting sand (otherwise known as silicon dioxide and found in canned soups…yeah) is gonna do a sad little number on your intestines. I actually recently had a friend say to me, “I’m really lucky that nothing bothers me, food-wise. I can eat pretty much whatever I want!” This was AFTER she confessed to me that she suffers from cystic acne and rosacea and often has such severe constipation that she has to get regular colonics.  I just blinked at her.  I didn’t say anything…what was the point?  If you are in such ftblog9denial about your body, a lecture from me would not only be unwelcome, but would fall on deaf ears. Still, it shocks me that people don’t connect what they put into their body with how they feel. Even people with diagnosed digestive issues still want to believe that food is not key.  I am here to tell you…you’re wrong.  I’m so very rarely right about anything…trust me, I’m often wrong about many things…but this is one thing I KNOW to be true. So if you want to get better and feel better, start looking at what you’re consuming.  If you want to continue with your symptoms, happily munch away on your jet-fuel laden cereal (also a real thing).  I won’t say a word (I’ll just sit in the corner judging you silently).

Now that I’ve lectured you, if you’re still with me (thanks for hanging in while I rant on like a smug lunatic), I will happily admit to falling with a mighty KERPLUNK! off of that high horse.  We can’t eat perfectly all of the time.  We just can’t.  We’re bound to cheat now and then, we’re bound to slip up and not read a label perfectly, or we’re bound to just get depressedftblog14 and say screw it, I NEEDS MY CHIPS!!!!  It happens. When it does, just accept it, try not to beat yourself up too much over it, and get right back ON that high horse.  🙂  So, confession time.  I learned last week that my last breath test for SIBO was “contaminated” and couldn’t be read.  They think that perhaps the seal on one of the test tubes was faulty.  I have been on PINS AND NEEDLES wondering what my numbers are and how helpful the elemental was.  I was super frustrated when I heard that I’d been waiting 2 weeks for nothing, and that I’d have to re-test all over again (and wait all over again, too). My doc felt horrible delivering the news to me, I could tell.  I looked her straight in the eye and said, “I. AM. EATING. INDIAN. FOOD. TONIGHT.”  She didn’t even try to talk me out of it.  Sheftblog10 knew I meant business.  I think she was probably scared.  I likely looked like some sort of deranged masala-drooling zombie.  I went home, ordered my favorite dishes, and went to TOWN on those puppies. And you know what?  I don’t even feel guilty. Firstly, it was my first and only “cheat” in 5 months.  Secondly, it amazingly didn’t really bloat me (just a little more than my average dinner) or cause me any pain, and no all-night parties with my toilet, either! Everything came out normally (**trumpets sounding!**). And lastly, it was crazy, crazy, CRAZY good.  Now I must admit, the fact that it didn’t seem to derail me took away from my guilt exponentially.  I must have had some serious healing happen over the elemental and the million and one other things I’ve been trying.  So I don’t recommend this until you are pretty sure you have successfully beaten back this SIBO dragon significantly. Otherwise, it’s not worth it.  But in this case, it totally was.  😛 My always long-winded point being, I f*ck up, too. So please don’t take my lectures as sanctimonious.  They are as much for me as for you.

ftblog11So I just completed my 2nd SIBO retest and am eagerly awaiting the results. The last few days have been a little more rough.  Just slight tummy pain here and there, and I think it’s due to that damn lactulose solution that we have to drink to complete the test, and the fact that I had to drink it twice in 2 weeks. I handled it MUCH better than in the past (a little bloating but no running to the toilet or pain) but I feel like my stomach hasn’t recovered yet. Which makes me MAAAAAAD!  However, what can you do?  It’s the only way to test for this trollish bacteria-eyed asshat.

On that note, have you heard the news about the new SIBO (blood) test to diagnose IBS?  It was just released today by Dr. Pimental.  Check out the video here.  And the press release here from First Line Media!  Exciting things are happening!!! Maybe doctors will start to actually take us seriously?!?!?!

I’ve been putting together a recipe page for you, since that is a huge topic of discussion for many with digestive illnesses, but it is taking some time.  I’ll be following the FTD while doing so, but I invite you back soon to check it out! That’s all I’ve got from this side of the Pacific!  Thanks for reading, and for stopping on by the SIBO world according to Katie.  🙂  

22 Responses to “On the Fast “Tract” to healing???”

  1. Bethany said

    Yes. Clean up is crazytown. I concur with ya and I love that expression. 😉 thanks for sharing your story and experiences!


  2. Kristi said

    Okay, I couldn’t read the whole thing as the pink letters were playing crazy with my eyes but I read about half… Congrats! I can feel your excitement! I’ve been on SCD for about 4 years… Okay I did SCD straight for 18 months and then I had chocolate every day.. .haha! But it makes me happy to find people who can use diet to heal them. (I have Crohn’s not SIBO.) Glad you are better! Love that you were able to eat out in public! It’s the best feeling.


    • Ha! Oh no! The pink shows up as very readable on my screen but maybe on not others’! Thanks for letting me know! Phew, Crohn’s is a BEAST girl! Good for you for sticking with SCD – it’s not easy. 🙂 Thanks for reading!


  3. Erica Ouellette said

    Katie, this post has me laughing inside at work. I’m 24 from Maine and was diagnosed this past March with SIBO. I had it 8 months prior but it was a b***h to try and get my doctors to give me the breath test! I swear it’s like you’re trying to get a mail order bride or something. It’s pretty bad when you have to self diagnose yourself. (Positive breath test, high in hydrogen close to 100). Anyways, I joined the Facebook group you’re also in and follow posts trying to get tips and ideas. I’ve tried just about everything like you, rifamaxin, herbals, vitamin supplements, etc, no improvement. I read the fast tract to digestion (because I also have “heartburn” and I say it in quotations because my doctors didn’t find any heartburn with all of my tests. I’m guessing it’s the hydrogen pushing my LES valve open and burning my throat. I’d like any suggestions if you have any…I tried the vivonex plus ten for one day and I COULD NOT drink it! It was disgusting… So the box sits on my shelf. And how the heck did you afford a month’s worth?? Oh and I follow the fermentation tables as well!


    • Hey there! Thanks so much for reading and maaaaan do I feel you on doctors that won’t listen. I feel like war buddies with my SIBO peeps because of all of the fighting we have to do to get people to listen to us. :p I am lucky to be able to afford Vivonex through a flex plan (through my insurance). It is sooo pricey. If you can’t stand the taste, you could try the homemade version on http://www.siboinfo.com (under “diets”). Some people say it tastes much better. I am lucky to have escaped the horrible reflux that so many suffer with, so I might not be much help, but I have heard that many people find relief (from at least that symptom!) in the fast tract diet. My biggest advice is to stay diligent and not give up. Follow diets explicitly and with fervor, make everything you can at home so you know exactly what you’re ingesting, and find a good n.d. or doc that will actually listen and take your concerns and questions seriously. That is so key to understanding all of this and feeling better, I think. Good luck, keep reading, and hope to see ya in the group! 🙂


  4. Jennifer said

    I would love to see some recipes! I plan to start the Fast Tract diet soon (for reflux) and I am so unmotivated to start and research another damn diet.


  5. […] chair, ’cause we’re gonna be buddies. For a history of my SIBO-laden past, click here (you’ll have to scroll all of the way down or follow the links to get to the very first […]


  6. Holy effing sh*t. Can we be best friends?



  7. Laura said

    Hey! Katie, I just found this blog and am lovin’ it! As a fellow warrior on the SIBO path (only 6 months in, and haven’t killed it yet) I enjoy every word. So much rings true. I have a question for you. I researched Vivonex and didn’t think I would be able to do it (you rock!), so I tried AbsorbPlus. I haven’t done a serious fast with it, just use occasionally as a meal replacement, supplementing with bone broth and juice throughout the day. I only ask because the unsweetened Vanilla is delicious, and I could probably do 30 days on it if I could afford to. And I know Vivonex isn’t cheap. Any thoughts about Vivonex vs. AbsorbPlus?


    • Hi Laura! Thanks for reading and for the kind words! Soooo the Viv versus Absorbplus. SOME seem to think AP isn’t really an elemental diet for SIBO purposes, that it’s more geared toward Colitis or Crohn’s. As to why that is, I can’t quite recall. I did not do AP for two simple reasons: 1) It contained whey, which I am allergic to and 2) I wanted to go with the tried-and-true route of Vivonex. Meaning, it has been tested and shown to work (worth high success numbers!) on SIBO patients in particular. I decided that if I was going to do something as difficult as the elemental, that I wanted to go the route that was proven to BE successful. Many others do the homemade elemental or other versions (there is another popular one that I can’t recall!) but I will say that anecdotally, it seems like many that try these alternative routes haven’t found the success that I have. Now that could mean it’s the Vivonex or it could be due to something else I’m doing or have done, or it could just be my body in particular really responds to the elemental. It’s very hard to tease out what worked and why! :p Sooooo…basically that probably didn’t help you at all! Hahaha! I suppose I say, go with your (messed up) gut. If you like the shakes and feel that they don’t bloat you or cause d or other histamine-type reactions (signs that they’re NOT in fact working for you), then go for it! If peace of mind is more important for you in that IF it doesn’t work will you always wonder,”what if I had just done the Vivonex?” Just go for the Viv. It’s disgusting, it’s hard, but it’s worth it. :p Either way I wish you GREAT success! You can do this. 🙂


  8. Gail England said

    Katie, not only are clearly informative, you are a hoot and a delight!!


  9. […] H. Pylori, the Elemental (there are actually 4 entries on this!), or how I came to decide on the Fast Tract Diet, scroll and read or click the highlighted links for more […]


  10. Carisska said

    Hi Katie! I’ve loving rereading your blog now that I’m on day 5 of Vivonex Plus. You inspire me to keep going, and I thank you for that (as well as dreaming about your recipes for the future).

    I have a couple questions, if you don’t mind. You said that you drank 3-4 drinks a day. Was that 900-1200 calories/day? That’s about what I’m doing so far and am pretty tired now, although my first 2 days were amazing. Second, you mentioned that you used coconut oil. How much per day did you consume? I tried some yesterday (maybe 1 T) and it caused intestinal distress.

    Thanks again!!


    • Hey Carisska! Congrats on being on the elemental for that long! Almost a week in! I did about 3-4 a day, yes. Many other people do about 6-7 a day. It just depends on how you feel. I always encourage others to drink as much as they feel they need. It’s hard enough not eating…you don’t want to add being super hungry and tired on top of it! :p So if you need more, go for it! As for the coconut oil, I added about 1 TBSP with each shake. I usually just added it to the shake directly, but some people drink it separately. You do have to add it to the shake at the perfect time (before you add ice) or the shake up gets lumpy and weird. If you find you’re reacting to the coconut oil (it’s rare but some people do!) try olive oil and see if that calms things down. Gooooood luck! You got this! 🙂


  11. […] a really wide variety of foods that I still try to keep as low FP (fermentation potential, a la the Fast Tract Diet) as possible most of the time.  After a full year of dealing with health issue after health issue, […]


  12. […] things here, you can check out some yummy recipes right hurrrr, why I chose the Fast Tract Diet here, my elemental diet days here, my issues with Ovarian cancer and SIBO and all things health right […]


  13. Denise said

    Is the book title Fast Tract Digestion IBS?
    Just want to be sure there’s not a new one just addressing SIBO.


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