Bloating & Gut Health

Many of us know that feeling you get after an indulgent meal, the cosy warm feeling of fullness which is often paired with tiredness and then, yup, an inflated ‘food baby’.  How many times have you cradled your pasta belly and muttered those three words; ‘I’M SO BLOATED”. It’s natural to feel like this sometimes and it’s usually nothing to even think twice about; you ate a big meal, your tummy is full, you bloat a little but by the next morning you feel totally back to normal. But when does ‘normal’ bloating turn into something that might indicate there is something else going on?

Well, do you find yourself saying “I’m so bloated” every day or maybe even after every meal? I know I was. I literally spent YEARS looking about 5 months pregnant by every evening (and having been pregnant before I can say confidently that I actually did look like this, it was not just a term of speech). Over the last year though, since having my baby, my digestion had become worse and worse. I don’t know if it was triggered by my restrictive ‘post pregnancy diet’, adrenal fatigue, stress or a combination of it all but I got to the point where I seemed unable to eat anything at all without having a a severe gut reaction. Instead of waking up feeling myself, I was actually waking up feeling bloated and heavy and this was then  just being topped up all day as I ate, until the evening would come and I felt so uncomfortable I just couldn’t wait to lie down and try and self massage my tummy.

Bloating can have such a negative effect on our energy, our self-esteem, our overall mood and our relationship to food. I truly believe that our gut health is intrinsically linked to our mental health, not least because 90% of our serotonin (our happy hormone) is actually produced in the gut. Feeling constantly bloated is not normal and it means that something in our gut is not quite right and it needs to be addressed. I felt at a loss because I’d done everything I could do myself to help it: I realised years ago that I have a severe gluten allergy so I eliminated that from my diet, I also know I am triggered by garlic & onion which I totally avoid, I don’t eat dairy or refined sugar and I rarely drink alcohol. I also exercise regularly, drink plenty of water and take daily supplements. I felt that on paper I was doing everything right and yet, still, anything I ate caused me to inflate and my self esteem was becoming really negatively affected by it. I was honestly just fed up! I was losing the enjoyment of food because it seemed that no matter what I put in my body, discomfort would follow. 

A friend had told me about the London Clinic of Nutrition so I decided to book in with one of their nutritionists, the wonderful Farzanah. I’ll be honest, I have worked with a few nutritionists before and not found it particularly helpful at all and so I was a little hesitant to believe that they would really be able to help me but I thought I had to at least try one last time.

I filled out a long questionnaire and did an at home stool test for the clinic prior to the appointment. During the first appointment with Farzanah she took me through my results in detail and gave me a real understanding of what good bacterias I was missing in my gut, and what bad bacteria I had too much of. She was very thorough with her questions, gaining a very personalised understanding of my lifestyle, stress levels and gut health. We discussed SIBO being a possible cause, so I did the test for this (turns out I didn’t have it which was great to know!) and also decided I would try a LOW FODMAP diet for a while to see avoiding certain fruits and vegetables would help treat the bloating in the short term.

The first appointment was followed up a couple of days later with a detailed plan of supplements to take and an exact description of when to take them. I purchased all the supplements recommended to me and began straight away. Some were powders that I added to my morning smoothie bowl and others were capsules to take before breakfast or after dinner.

A couple of weeks passed and I saw no change, I was so disheartened. I e-mailed Farzanah and she told me to give it time and be patient (not always my strong point) and that we would discuss everything at the 6 week follow up appointment.

By the 6 week appointment I had seen a massive shift; I was no longer feeling bloated every day and when I was it was much less severe. I had also seen a MASSIVE shift in my energy levels – which is one of the things I had said I wanted to address with her in my first appointment. I used to feel this major slump around 4pm, but now I don’t remember ever feeling like that. I wake up now between 4.30am-5am and feel energised right until I go to bed. It is incredible and I am absolutely sure that is because my gut health is so, so much better. But I still didn’t feel that my gut was ‘fixed’ and I although I was feeling better, I was still reacting to even small amounts of High FODMAP foods. So, during our second appointment, having ruled out SIBO as a possible reason for the bloating, Farzanah looked further into my initial tests results and made a few tweaks to the supplement plan and I am now 3 weeks into the ‘phase 2’ and I honestly cannot tell you how happy I am that my bloated has all but gone. I have started reintroducing foods again which are on the ‘high fodmap’ list, such as avocado, mushrooms, aubergine and my body is able to tolerate them now. I do get the odd day of feeling bloated but it is mild and it goes very quickly!

I cannot tell you how happy I am about this whole journey. I really did not want to live my life on a restrictive low FODMAP diet or feel bloated all the time. Our guts should, if they are healthy, be able to tolerate a huge and wide variety of food without any issues and I feel that I am now getting my gut back to that place. To say it feels life changing would be an understatement. I am sure that years of smoking, drinking, drugs, yo-yo dieting and stress massively contributed to my gut lose it’s natural functioning state, and I am so pleased I made the investment to start fixing the problem from the source rather than simply treating the symptoms. Alongside all the supplements I also make a conscious effort to reduce my stress levels, because cortisol is a massive contributor to gut health issues, and I still avoid refined sugar, dairy & excessive alcohol.

Before & After

I am so grateful to the London Clinic of Nutrition for helping me on my gut health journey.

All of you reading this can have a free 15 Minute consultation with them; simply follow this link

Lots of Love,
Roxie XX