Hello SIBO friends! I wanted to create a letter that could be shared with loved ones to help them understand what SIBO is and how they can best help us through our healing journeys.
Dear Family and Friends,
As you probably already know, I have gut problems. I am actually battling a particular gut problem called small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or SIBO. While it may have a cute acronym, there is nothing cute about SIBO.
Let me get you up to speed on SIBO. It can be defined as an overabundance of bacteria taking up residents in the small intestines.
You may be wondering, aren’t bacteria supposed to be good for your gut? That’s what Jamie Lee Curtis said in those Activia commercials, right?
Good bacteria aka probiotics are supposed to primarily reside in the large intestine not the small intestine. When too much bacteria overgrows in the small intestine, this causes so many problems.
This bacteria sends me on a one way ticket to bloat city. No, I am not prego, but thanks so much for asking. My SIBO baby is just showing.
SIBO doesn’t only make me look like I am at the end of my second trimester, but it also makes me feel terrible. When I eat fiber, I feed these gut bacteria and they release gas that makes me feel like my whole abdomen is about to bust at the seams. Most days I feel like my digestion is clogged up and uncomfortably full like I just ate a bowling ball!
Plus, you have probably noticed that I have bathroom problems. SIBO usually comes with a side of chronic diarrhea and/or constipation. Different types of bacteria will produce different changes to your bathroom habits. These are serious problems that even the great people at squatty potty cannot solve.
I wish that these were the only symptoms I had! But, the local inflammation in the gut caused by this displaced overgrowth can lead to systemic problems.
The small intestines is the primary site of digestion and absorption. With SIBO, you aren’t what you eat. You are what you absorb, which in a lot of cases is not much!
These bacteria rob me of my nutrients. This leaves me feeling tired and worn done because my body is malnourished. Have you noticed that I have been losing weight lately? Its because of my damn gut bugs!
Also, my brain just doesn’t seem as sharp as it used to. I am living in a complete fog. The gut and the brain are linked. If the gut is inflamed and imbalanced, endotoxins are released into the bloodstream that lead to inflammation in the brain. If the gut is on fire, so is the brain.
I am not sharing this letter to throw a pity party, but I do admit that those can be fun sometimes. My goal is to help you understand what is going on in my body, so that you can help me this best you can. Because I need your help to beat SIBO.
Here a some quick tips to help you help me.
1. Don’t make me feel like a burden
I know I may have some dietary restrictions that may impact you. Maybe I can’t eat the delicious food you always used to make me. Maybe I am making healthier SIBO friendly dinners for you that just don’t taste as good as the original recipe. Maybe we can’t go to our favorite restaurants anymore because the food is just too hard on my gut.
Having to make some dietary changes to be accommodating can be hard, but trust me it is way harder for me.
You can take a break from living that SIBO friendly life when you are not with me while I have to remain on the straight and narrow 95% of the time.
So please try hard not to complain to much when I want to stop putting onions in our recipes because I react to them. And don’t beg me to make those delicious cookies you love, so that I can watch you eat them in front of me and imagine how good they taste. I am damned if I do and damned if I don’t. It’s torture not being able to eat the cookies, but my gut would also be tortured if I did eat the cookies.
Please just try hard to not make me feel bad about the changes I am making. I am trying my absolute best to heal and improve! Keep in mind that these diet changes are temporary. Once I have cleared the SIBO and healed, I should be able to broaden my diet. The more patient and supportive you are with my diet changes the faster I will be able to heal.
2. Try new things with me
It can be incredibly disconnecting when I can’t enjoy foods that I once loved with those that I love. From the beginning of time, humans have bonded by sharing meals together. Food is an outlet to share an experience with friends and family.
SIBO can make me feel isolated, but it doesn’t have to. The good news is that you can help!! Maybe we can’t enjoy our weekly tradition of hitting up the local pizza place for a slice of heaven, but we can make a new tradition. Let’s try a new place that is SIBO friendly or we could even try a new recipe together.
Diet and lifestyle changes for SIBO can even be fun when I am able to connect with you and try new things. Help me be creative and not get stuck in ruts.
3. Stay engaged in my treatment and check in periodically
SIBO is not only isolating because I have to make dietary changes, but I also feel like no one understands what I am going through. And to be fair, no one can fully understand my experience with SIBO. But all I ask is that you try your best to understand what SIBO is and how you can help me through my treatment.
Ask me about my treatment plan, research SIBO on your own and even come to my appointments. The more you stay engaged and understand SIBO, the better you will be able to support me during my treatment.
4. Help me laugh and have fun
SIBO is such a pain in the ass. It exhausts me physically, mentally and emotionally every day. The best medicine for SIBO is to make me laugh and have fun. Nothing reenergizes my weary SIBO soul like a good belly laugh.
Invite me to do fun activities! And if I am feeling too bad to leave the house, come over and we can watch a funny movie or animal fail videos on the internet. Or we could even play some fun games like Cards Against Humanity, Monopoly or Heads Up (I am eternally grateful to Ellen DeGeneres for making this game).
5. Give me hugs and affection
Like I have mentioned multiple times in this letter, SIBO makes me feel alone. Human touch and affection keeps me feeling connected.
SIBO also stresses me out. There is tons of research that has proven that affection lowers stress. Send hugs and kisses my way, because they really do make me feel so much better. I always feel like everything is going to be all right when I am surrounded by the love of my family and friends.
To conclude, I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this letter to understand SIBO a little better! They always say “it takes a village to raise a child”. Well, it takes a village to beat SIBO. Your love and support is essential to the healing process and I am so grateful to have you by my side!
Your SIBO fighter