I’ve seemed to have acquired a bit of a following about my gut health in Australia. Turns out, since I opened up about the bizarre bloating that suddenly started out of nowhere since I moved to Australia, many of you have been experiencing the same thing.
So I started a Gut Health Facebook group because I know only too well how much of an awful experience it’s been but also so mentally damaging too.
No one really understands what it’s like to have a constant gut pain, that most people fob it off like it’s nothing. But it’s not. It’s probably more mentally damaging than anything as it can strip you of your confidence and more importantly of who you are.
The main thing I’ve learnt especially over the last few years since I’ve been travelling a lot is that I only get this gut problem in Australia. It was only when I put it out there on our Instagram page that a lot of you started to come forward with your stories too. I couldn’t actually believe it’s even a thing.
I can leave and go to other countries and be fine almost anywhere. So I realised it must be something down to the food and/or water. I’ve been to a lot of naturopaths, spent a fortune (we’re talking $1000’s) on every single possible thing out there to find out what was going on and still yet nothing.
So I’m going to briefly talk about what happened to my gut over the last couple of months in America, Australia, England and more importantly when I came back from England to Australia just last week.
Hopefully this might help you guys to reassure you that you are not alone and more importantly that it’s not in your head.
Table of Contents
Recent travels to America, Australia and England
So recently I’ve spent the Aussie winter in USA for five weeks, with two weeks back in Australia before heading over to England for three weeks.
I knew this was going to be an interesting test to see what happened to my gut as I strongly believe it’s something to do with being in Australia that causes it for me.
In America for five weeks
The difference in my gut from when we were in Australia on the left to living in America on the right (photos taken within two weeks of each other).
Whilst in America I was totally fine and the food was terrible, like beyond terrible. I would feel like I had a terrible hangover from it but interestingly my gut was OK. You know when people say it was terrible, here’s a photo so you know what I mean. So I started to eat mainly meat and veggies which I cooked at our apartment along with eating literally a tub of Haagen Dazs a day followed by a 4 pack of Reeses cups. I’m being honest here and yeah I know that’s nothing to be proud of but the fact is I didn’t react to the ice cream but I would bloat when eating the chocolate. When you’re restricted to foods in Australia, I know I’ll jump on what I can when out of the country.
The main thing is my swelling went down massively in America as my whole body tends to swell up massively in Aus.
You can read more about my gut experience in America here.
Back in Australia for 2 weeks
So when I arrived back in Australia, I made sure I didn’t drink any tap water as we found this awesome boxed 100% natural spring water instead from Woolies for $6 here. If you’re going to test out using natural spring water, just check the label to make sure there’s no fluoride in it. I use this for everything – tea, washing veggies, drinking water and so on. I also went back to eating the same diet as I did in America but without the junk food.
Just to be clear if you’re wondering what my diet is (because there’s nothing worse than someone writing a blog post and not outlining what the diet actually is), this is what has been working for me:
Drink about 1 litre of natural spring water
A big mug of hot cacao (I buy the Chef’s Choice Raw Cacao from here and mix two scoops with hot natural spring water). I swear this stuff really helps my gut a lot.I’ve been drinking one mug of this raw cacao everyday and it’s helped me loads and given me loads of energy! If anything I’ve noticed it helps me go to the loo if I’ve been a bit on the constipated side.
Brunch / lunch time
3 eggs in an omelette cooked in pure butter, with mushrooms, 1 tomato and a handful of spinach with half an avo on the side.
Sometimes I might make a smoothie (berries and frozen bananas) instead but I’ve tried to stay clear of fruit as it flares me up. Weirdly fruit makes me feel so alive and amazing but it hates my gut and I bloat. I know the sugar just attaches itself to my gut 🙁
Piece of meat (steak, chicken or fish) with stir fry or steamed veggies (eggplant, capsicum, zucchini, mushrooms, broccoli, green beans, tomato, big chunk of ginger and half an avo on the side) or a salad.
I also drink peppermint tea throughout the day.
Weirdly I did one of those intolerance tests when my gut problems started in 2015 and I remember them saying I couldn’t eat beans or eggs. I do remember flaring up when I ate eggs but now I’m OK on them. A friend who also has gut problems told me the same thing too.
So going back to when I arrived in Australia…
To be honest I actually felt OK during the first week. It was onto the second week before I went to England that I started to get a bit of a sensitive tummy especially if I ate any bread.
But the main thing I noticed straight away when I came back to Aus was I started burping a lot. I’m assuming that my body was finding it hard to break down the foods, I’m not sure. But it’s definitely something I noticed because I didn’t have this at all in America.
So what happened when I arrived into England?
When I got into England I had made a bit of a plan to eat anything and everything and to drink water from the tap.
I wanted to see what would happen to me and of course I took photos of pretty much everything I ate.
I ate everything from bangers & mash, eaton mess, Sunday Roast, fish & chips, chocolate croissants for breakfast, you name it, I ate it.
Let’s just say I felt hungover after this but actually had no gut problems at all.
And let’s just recap again…
I had been on a very limited, if not zero carb diet for sometime now (I know, bar the ice cream and chocolate).
Victoria Sponge cake gave me no problems at all.
To be honest, I’m surprised I didn’t bloat out big time from this new diet of eating everything. I did bloat out a bit but I wasn’t in any pain at all. I mean I could even eat baguettes and sandwiches without noticing anything.
Firstly the main thing I noticed is that I had no swelling whatsoever on my entire body. I know this because even some of the strappy tops I wear, had finally become looser on me. Whilst in Australia I found my back swelled up a lot to the point that on some days I found it hard to put my bra on and the top below was way too tight.
I had enough room in my strappy tops and jeans in England.
I actually ate two chocolate croissants from Tesco most days for breakfast.
But I did get bloating. I got bloating from having a dessert one night that flared me up big time. But I wasn’t actually in pain.
Now I did eat so much junk food that I took photos of everything I ate to remind myself if I needed to in the future, and to of course share with you guys.
I know that many people often write posts on gut health pages on Facebook saying they went away for the weekend and ate rubbish and had no problems. As soon as they started eating healthy again, the bloating would come back. (So just on a note about this, I tried sticking to this terrible diet when I got back to Australia which I talk about more in this post.)
I also just want to say as well that on the day I left Australia, I got my period back. For the first time in a long time, it came back to normal, like for six whole days. I couldn’t believe it. I had been having like a half a day light period on and off for a long time.
Interestingly, my friend who’s since moved back to England has said that her periods have since come back to normal. I know this HAS to be related, it’s a bit weird why we’ve both only experienced irregular periods since this whole thing started.
The mental aspect
It’s quite interesting being back in England because mentally I felt very freeing of this weird condition I have. Maybe it was in my mind but it felt so good to be able to eat anything again and not to have to worry about being ill. I wondered, what if I had this mentality in Australia? What if I just ate anything, would it come back? Find out later what happened…
I know when I feel better in England or any other country that isn’t in Australia, I often think to myself that maybe I was being a bit over the top about being ill before, that maybe it wasn’t that bad and that maybe I won’t get it again. I’ve had this feeling a lot that I’m sure some of you might be able to relate to as well.
So yeah, it was great being in England and being able to eat everything and drink alcohol without swelling up and feeling like a normal person again. Read more about my time in England here. Opportunities like this is gold dust to me. But unfortunately I wish I could feel like this in Australia too.
This is why I am so open about sharing my experiences with you all, so that we can learn from each other, support each other and hope to get through it together.
What happened when I came back to Australia?
When I arrived back into Australia I thought I’d continue my junk food eating and see if anything would happen.
As soon as I arrived into Aus, I went out that night in Sydney and actually drank alcohol. I tend not to drink much in Aus because when I’m feeling already swollen, I don’t want to add to it. Interestingly I met an Aussie / Irish couple out that night and they both said that they suffer from gut problems only in Australia too.
The next day I ate loads of rubbish as you do on a hangover and I even drank tap water as a test.
But within 24 hours of being back in Australia the pain came back as well as the burping. The burping hasn’t actually stopped yet.
I realised the pain is like having trapped wind where my lower stomach feels like something is stabbing it constantly but it just doesn’t go away. By the end of the first day, my stomach was so sensitive that I could only wear my tracksuit bottoms.
The magic pills
Another day went by and my husband to be Steve gave me some gut pills to take called Gut Connection, Digestive Balance from Country Life which you can buy from here. He bought these in America and whilst I’ve been in England, he’s been raving about how good they are (he suffers from the same gut problems as I do).
So he handed me four pills to take before bed time. Stupidly I didn’t even question him about whether I should be taking that many and before I was about to go to bed.
Within three hours, I was awake and thought I was going to throw up. I then had the runs every few minutes for the next few hours. The hot and cold sweats continued throughout the night. BUT, by the morning, I felt amazing. My belly was flat again and I was in no pain whatsoever. To be honest, my stomach felt better than it did in England and in America.
So how long will that last? I don’t know but I’ll keep you updated. To me, this is pretty huge, I can’t believe how good I actually feel and it’s been a couple of days now.
For now, I’m back on the boxed spring water and eating my old diet of clean eating again. To be honest, although it was nice to eat anything and everything in England, I do feel better and have more energy now that I’ve given the junk up (obviously).
Luke Hines’ Smart Carbs
So with this diet I’m on, it’s a bit on the limited side and I know Steve is well over me cooking the same meals every night so I thought I’d try out a new cooking book.
I’ve been reading up a bit about the fitness dude Luke Hines recently who’s Australian. As someone who’s on TV from time to time, instantly you’d think he’s always looked as healthy as he does. But he’s someone who’s struggled with his diet for a long time which I like because it somehow makes you feel like you have a common ground with him. There’s nothing worse than someone who’s always had a ripped body telling you how it is when they have no idea what we’ve been through, trust me I know.
He’s got this book out that is basically limited carbs, no dairy and is very healthy. I know it’s about weight loss, but most importantly it’s about limiting foods that will make you swell up. I found it in Kmart but you can pick it up on Amazon here. The purpose of the book is that all of his recipes are easy to make.
To be honest, I’m pretty impressed. So I’ll keep you guys informed about how I get on with this book. I thought I’d just share it with you if you fancied getting a copy too because although I started following a Keto diet, I’ve wanted to cut out the dairy because I know it can be an inflammatory. And I want to keep that to a minimum as possible which is why I think this book will help.
So right now I feel pretty good. I’ve got back into doing yoga which I think helps as my circulation isn’t the best and I’m trying to move more. I’m also conscious not to over exercise as when I trained for the half marathon back in June, it was so hard that my gut issues got worse as time went on with the training.
Make sure you sign up to my Gut Health Support Facebook Group here so we can chat about what has worked or not worked for you recently. The more we talk about this, the more we can get through it.