Tackling SIBO all on your own can create isolation, time issues and anxiety. It’s helpful to have an entire team because SIBO can be connected with many other conditions and people tend to have a large variety of symptoms. Your team size or members will likely change over time as your health changes. Check in with yourself along the way to make sure your SIBO team still feels as helpful as possible.
Your SIBO team may include:
You: For many people, healing from SIBO can be a long and challenging road. You may be sick and tired, frustrated and overworked. Yet, you will always be one of your best resources, because you know yourself better than anyone else ever will. Decide which pieces of your health support you need help with and which ones you can take care of on your own. Get used to conducting research, tracking symptoms, bowel movements, food choices and moods. And know when to let that all go and focus on self-care. Develop your inner-authority and also be open to accepting help and support.
Doctor: I can’t stress enough the importance of working with a knowledgeable and curious doctor whom you trust. I have spoken with many people who have wasted precious time with a doctor who didn’t seem interested in their case, didn’t believe in SIBO/food intolerances/etc., or just didn’t know much about SIBO and wasn’t trying to learn more. I don’t mean to sound unnecessarily negative here, but because SIBO can be so very hard to deal with, it’s very important to have the best support available. If there aren’t doctors in your area who are SIBO experts, you can consult via telephone or Skype with a doctor in another area. Or if you can only see a certain doctor because of your insurance, it’s important that you pick up the slack by doing your own research or having another SIBO team member that can help connect the dots.
Nutritionist: Look for a nutritionist who has specific experience with SIBO. If a nutritionist only has general “healthy gut” experience, the information they give you will likely be more focused on what people with already healthy flora should eat vs. the needs of someone with a bacterial overgrowth and a compromised system. If you are having a hard time picking a diet, staying on a diet, deciding what to eat or how to cook it, then a nutritionist can help. A nutritionist can also support you with menu planning, recipes, tips on eating out and socializing around food, weight loss or gain, common SIBO diet pitfalls and SIBO friendly nutrient dense food. A word of caution – once you find a diet that works for you, it’s extremely important to tailor it to your own preferences and tolerances. Beware of a nutritionist or organization that has a “one size fits all” diet that you must follow fanatically.
Personal Chef/Food Delivery Service: It may sound extravagant when I suggest a personal chef. However, there are many options, from economical to higher end. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, if you don’t love to cook or don’t have the time, some support in the kitchen can make all the difference in your stress level. If you are looking for a lower priced personal chef, check in with local cooking schools or colleges that offer cooking or nutrition degrees. Students are often looking for experience and will go out of their way to make sure you are satisfied. If you’re looking for a professional, they will tend to cost more but will likely also be more efficient. Often a range of services is available – from someone coming in once a week to cook meals in your kitchen, or coming once a month to help you make and freeze some of the basics. Food delivery service is also a great option if it’s available in your town. The bigger national meal kit delivery services are unlikely to be a good fit, as they don’t usually specialize in therapeutic diets. However, smaller local delivery services may be able to cater to your diet and can sometimes be less expensive than a personal chef. They are also a great fit for people who, for space or other reasons, can’t have a personal chef cook in their home.
Family, Coworkers & Friends: It’s important to have support from those you see often. You have to decide how much you want to share with groups or individuals. Once you’ve done that, and set appropriate boundaries, do your best to accept support when it’s offered and forgive those who have good intentions but may not always know what to say. If certain people are not being supportive, you may choose to speak with them to see if they can come to a better understanding of your health situation and surrounding needs.
Acupuncturist/Massage Therapist/Physical Therapist/Etc: Many people benefit from a variety of adjunct care when they are healing from SIBO. Depending on your insurance, some modalities may be covered.
Life/Health Coach: I personally didn’t have a coach on my SIBO team as a patient but it may be extremely helpful to have someone who is experienced, empathetic, organized and has real practical knowledge to support you as you move forward. There are SIBO specific coaching programs available on the Internet. This is also a nice option if you enjoy the support of a group of people who are going through similar health issues.