Digestive problems, weight loss, food sensitivities and more...

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Apologies in advance for the likely long and complicated post, but I am feeling thoroughly confused and wondering if anyone has a similar experience. I'm twenty six, and pretty much for as long as I can remember, I've had stomach pains/bloating much of the time and felt very heavy and uncomfortable after food. I've also had chronic anxiety from an early age (started having panic attacks aged 3), and didn't have a particularly happy childhood. I grew up on a diet of lots of pasta, bread, ice cream, cakes and biscuits (all homemade), but was never overweight. Aged 19, and away at university, I grew so fed up with being in pain, I started restricting food, and, combined with a bit more stress, lost quite a bit of weight quickly. I had no idea what I was doing with regarding changing my diet though, and ended up pretty much living on cereal, toast, and apples - and sweets for enough energy to keep me going. That lasted for several years, during which time I was underweight but not severely so, but felt consistently awful: fatigued, brain fog, headaches, stomach and muscle aches and a lot of nausea. After yet another stressful period, I started to get muscular chest pains (diagnosed as a 'brief' bout of costochondritis and still going strong 3 years later), never-ending sore throats, and itching all over my body. After many fruitless blood tests and a couple of X-rays, I was given a vague diagnosis of fibromyalgia and sent away with high strength painkillers and a warning I'd need to learn to live with it. Ever since I was a child, I've also lived with a disgusting sour taste in my mouth after eating, which can be almost impossible to shift. I chewed so much chewing gum to try to improve it, I ended up developing an extreme sensitivity to sorbitol (artificial sweetener). In recent years, I've started to realise the taste is only brought on by foods high in carbs. Any sugars trigger it, including dried and fresh fruits, as do breads and starches. The only things I can eat to avoid or get rid of it, are nuts/seeds, coffee, or vegetables. A couple of years ago, I started losing weight again, slowly. Fast forward to this year, and my GP suggested I might likely have coeliac disease. Unfortunately I haven't been able to get a conclusive test result as I don't seem to produce IgA, so the test measures come back as inaccurate, and I haven't yet had an endoscopy. I have had a colonoscopy, which showed no inflammation, so no Chrohns/ulcerative colitis.I decided to give up gluten anyway in March, as I was so desperate to try anything which might make me feel better. Without gluten, my brain fog improved hugely, and the few occasions I have had gluten it comes back with a vengeance. Unfortunately, I've continued to lose weight. My BMI is 14 on a good day, and that scares me. I rarely eat sugar, since that aggravates my symptoms, but do still eat apples. I eat masses of quinoa, which I seem to be fine with (thankfully!), lots of beans, houmous, avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds and loads of vegetables. I've been vegetarian since the age of 16 for and absolutely hate the idea of having to eat meat or fish. Unfortunately dairy also irritates my stomach, but I do force myself to eat it sometimes. I can eat soya if I put up with the upset stomach afterwards... The NHS seem at a loss as to what to do with me, short of referring me to an anorexia clinic. My blood tests all come back healthy, and I've also seen a private nutritionist who tested vitamin and mineral levels, but apart from a vitamin D deficiency ( now corrected) they were fine too. The nutritionist tried a lot of supplements including probiotics, none of which had a noticeable effect. I'm very scared of losing more weight, but am really not sure what I can try. I just wondered if anyone else had had similar experiences, or any advice to share? Oh and I know coconut oil is supposed to be helpful in these sort of situations, but I absolutely cannot stand the stuff, so please don't suggest that... 

Thank you so much for reading smile

0 likes, 12 replies

12 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi Vicky,

    Sounds like you have been through the mill!! Have you had your thyroid tested, you do not mention that you have. Reason I ask is that you have a few symptoms pointing to overactive thyroid i.e. weight loss, itching all over sore throats and fatigue and generally feeling awful..If you havn't been tested for thyroid problems go back to your doc and ask for a blood test to check your thyroid....also while there ask for an H.Pylori test this tiny bacteria can cause a lot of stomach pain bloating and sickness also acid reflux as it burrows into the stomach wall and duodenum...it is usually done via your stool..hope you get sorted...best wishes...

  • Posted

    Hi Vicky,

    I'm suffering from similar problems to you, always had food issues, bloating, brain fog extreme anxiety and it's all got worse since I've been in the peri menopause. Lilian may well have a point about thyroid as I suspect that hormones play a big role in this. No H pylori but I know I have atrophic gastritis, probably due to eating foods I was intolerant too for many years. I lost a lot of weight last year as my foods were so greatly restricted and my BMI dropped to 18 which is not too bad but I only maintained it by using best part of a litre of olive oil in cooking per week! I also ate (sorry about this) a lot of protein which stopped me losing too much muscle mass. Wheat is a big problem for me too and all carbs and sugar, so milk products are out too. I roast my veggies in the oven absolutely dripping in oil which helps (and they are delicious). I think you have to find a diet which suits you (not easy I know), eliminate what irritates you  and perhaps consider eating meat (organic?). I'm sorry for you, you're young to be suffering from this.  

  • Posted

    I too have the same food problems and there is lots I cannot eat, I have been diagnosed with candida, try googling that, at first I lost a lot of weight but now I have a struggle to not gain weight, you can try caprylic acid and coconut milk the milk you can cook with and does not taste coconutty in the end result and make delicious sauces and soups, it is also possible to buy wheat free flour and make your own bread as I do, sugar free natural sweeteners are honey and carob syrup but only in very small amounts hope this helps
    • Posted

      Hi Louise,

      Thank you for your reply and suggestions smile. I'm sorry to hear you've been suffering with similar issues, and hope you are starting to feel better.

  • Posted

    Thank you so much for your kind and supportive responses! Lillian - yes sorry, I forgot to mention I have also had my hormones tested but thyroid seems to be fine, though doctors have agreed I do seem to have many of the symptoms. I feel there is definitely a hormonal element as I also have menstrual cramps for about 24 days out of every 28 day cycle... I've been told by doctors I simply must be imagining that though, as it's 'not possible' apparently! My hormone levels are balanced according to my blood tests, and I've also had scans and have seen a gynaecologist but all clear. 

    I googled h pylori and it doesn't sound like that, luckily - thank you for the suggestion. 

    Kerri - I think you're absolutely right that it's about finding a diet which works 'for you' - it's just an exhausting process, isn't it?! I'm sure you're right about needing to increase protein, so I will make a conscious effort to do that with vegetarian proteins first and if that doesn't help will think again about meat or fish. I'm also glad to hear I'm not the only one who gets through litres of olive oil! I'm sorry to hear you're struggling with this too, and hope you are starting to see some progress. 

    Thanks again, and best wishes to you both. 

  • Posted


    What you say about your menstrual cycle could be very significant. I looked up information about hormones and the digestive system to try to understand why I'm like this and I discovered that when estrogen drops the hormone cortisol increases, cortisol makes you anxious and wreaks havoc on your digestive system. If I'm not mistaken an estrogen drop is also responsible for the cramps (I've just had 10 days of 'full on' pain before my period started). I've just discovered a herb which has amazing reviews, it's Vitex agnus castus. Apparently it regulates your hormones. See what you think. Good luck. 


  • Posted

    No beans.... Its fine to say you are vegetarian but there are a lot of vegetables that cause gas and bloating..probiotics are great to keep your stomach flora together. Try acidopholus and a digestive enzyme. You need to check your acid production..
  • Posted

    Hi Kerry,

    Ah, that looks really interesting! Thank you and sorry about my slow response. I've been googling and seems as if I has great reviews, so I think I will give that a go, alongside more protein smile

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