Every December, I try to give you my version of a health-related year in review.
When I first introduced the concept of The Wellness Project to you 4 years ago (!!) that timeframe (12 months) felt like an eternity. But as I get older, and as the theme of each year reveals itself over time, it seems unreasonable that I ever thought big health overhauls could happen any quicker.
Last year’s update wasn’t what I was hoping for. After 6 months of weird digestive symptoms, I started to put the physical pieces together—the outward bloating with the inward distress–and finally got a diagnosis of SIBO: small intestine bacterial overgrowth.
Learning about this chronic, complicated condition exhausted me. But at the same time, I knew my transformation story wasn’t over. And while I was standing around waiting for the other shoe to drop, The Wellness Project 2.0 found me.
Since I just can’t help but make my medical struggles ammunition for a whole new stream of resources for you guys, I immediately hopped down the SIBO internet rabbit hole.
What I discovered was a mountain of options, many of which contradicted one another. I began digging further, attending virtual seminars, and even going so far as to take an online course to become a SIBO certified practitioner. As I researched, I curated and I synthesized. And as always, I shared my findings with you.
The response was instantaneous and overwhelming.
I received hundreds of comments, messages and emails from you. Notes telling me that you too had once gone to the ends of the internet to find solutions, and that my series was one of the most comprehensive, thoughtful and easy to navigate of any you’d found. There were also notes saying that my writing prompted you to get tested for SIBO, and after years of uncertainty, you received a clear answer.
Around this time, I also got an email from my biggest fan.
“Phoebe, how amazing that you’re already attracting an audience around SIBO—I’m so impressed,” wrote my mom. To which I replied: “Mom! I’m not attracting them. It turns out my audience already has a raging case of SIBO!”
Like the Hashi Posse—the millions of women struggling with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (which, is a big risk factor for SIBO)—I realized how badly my new found SIBO Amigos needed more than what they were getting from their doctors.
What you needed was a complete SIBO self-care toolkit. An array of strategies that are sustainable. And a clear picture of how to choose your own SIBO adventure without it feeling like a complete, social-life-killing drag.
Which is why for the last few months, I’ve been secretly working on a NEW PODCAST on the subject.
Introducing SIBO Made Simple!
SIBO Made Simple is a show for those recently diagnosed or chronically fighting Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth. But really, it’s for anyone suffering from digestive woes who is hungry for solutions and wondering WTF to do next. Each week, I sit down with a different #SIBOAmigo—naturopaths, functional medicine doctors, bodyworkers—to discuss the various steps to rebalance your gut for good.
My guests and I will break it down for you in easily digestible terms, giving you the doable action items and valuable input you need to design the SIBO solution right for you. Covering everything from testing and herbal supplements to low FODMAP cooking tips, this podcast is a patient-friendly masterclass in how to heal from SIBO.
And I would so appreciate you sharing it with friends or loved ones who have dealt with IBS or are interested in learning more about gut health. Even if you’re not a SIBO sufferer yourself, subscribing on iTunes or leaving a review is an easy way to support me and my work, and ensure that the people who really need this resource can better find it.
Now that this exciting news is out of the way (I hate burying the lead), back to my health update…
My Year of SIBO
In April, after 6 weeks of herbal antibiotics and 4 months of low FODMAP eating, I found out that I was officially SIBO-free. I began to very slowly reintroduce high FODMAP foods back to my diet, starting with my boyfriend, avocado.
There are still a few things that I won’t eat large quantities of, or try to avoid on menus—mainly legumes. I still limit my consumption of cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli, because I notice when I don’t, I feel bloated and uncomfortable. And believe it or not, I still don’t cook very often with garlic or onion at home. I find that I don’t miss them, and my food tastes just as good! I hope the culinary gods don’t smite me.
I learned over the course of my research that a little bloating or gas after too many FODMAPs is not really cause for concern. It’s not even technically “failing” your reintroduction test if you experience that type of mild symptom. And I’ve felt very strongly about plowing ahead in hopes of eating as diverse a diet as possible.
If it weren’t for my thyroid antibody numbers, I might have continued to do my thing and get my diet back to where it was without overthinking my symptoms. But despite getting rid of SIBO, they continued to remain high. I thought SIBO had been the root cause, but it was clear I would need to keep digging.
My doctor gave me this comprehensive stool test, which not only shows what’s present right now, but past infections as well. I took it back in September and then promptly forgot about it. My results finally came back about a month ago, and the wait made them even more jarring.
The Wellness Project 3.0
Suffice it to say one of the themes of my health journey the last year and half seems to be: seek and you will find. And that test seemed to find all the bad things.
My most pressing pathogens are H. pylori and E. coli. On top of that, two parasites and a host of other concerning bacteria imbalances as a result.
Ironically, a friend emailed me about H. Pylori a few months ago and I responded that I didn’t know that much about it because I’d never dealt with it myself. Famous last words!
The silver lining with any health set back is of course that I will eventually have more resources to share with you (just look at what happened with SIBO!). The second, is that with every test comes more answers, that hopefully once dealt with, will finally bring me to a much better baseline.
Physically, I feel fine considering all the things that are wrong with my gut. It’s more the emotional toll, which I know that others out there who have dealt with health issue after health issue, supplement after supplement, can relate to. I knew that my story wasn’t over after writing The Wellness Project and that getting well is a journey not a destination. But that doesn’t make it any easier when the long road extends even further into the distance.
Considering what I faced with SIBO, I kept my attitude pretty positive. But this last revelation really threw me. I was frustrated and down and feeling sorry for myself. I let myself have a series of good cries, and then I did what I always do: dove into the research to find the best path forward.
Yet again, it’s going to be a long one. Another year of work before I’ve addressed each issue one by one. But on the bright side, I least I know what the theme for 2019 will be!
The first leg of my route back up Health Mountain is going to be addressing the H. Pylori, so expect a more in depth post all about that super fun stomach bacteria soon.
In the meantime, thanks for being by my side, year after year. I feel like you are my pacing buddies in the long marathon of getting well, and with each new discovery, another person jumps in to jog beside me and keep my spirits up.
Please keep your comments and feedback coming—being reminded constantly of my purpose is the best medicine, and truly the antidote to a pessimism that might have overtaken long ago.
Wishing you so much health and hedonism in 2019 and beyond,
p.s. Tomorrow is the last day of early bird pricing for the 4 Weeks to Wellness January session! Honing this program and adding plenty of low FODMAP resources has been one of my great joys and sources of pride in 2018. I hope you’ll join the tribe!