Many people who have SIBO tend to lose weight. There can be a multiple reasons, including malabsorption, ongoing diarrhea, or an overly strict diet. Here are some tips to help you gain some weight back or avoid losing it in the first place.
1. EAT CARB/FAT/PROTEIN COMBOS – Make sure your meals combine a variety of carbs, fat and protein. If you tolerate low FODMAP grains or starchy vegetables, be sure to include those. When you’re testing foods, play with amounts and frequency. For instance, maybe eating a cup of white rice doesn’t work for you but ½ cup does. Maybe you can’t eat ½ cup of sweet potato every day, but you can eat it three times a week. And remember, you can expect to have some symptoms if you have SIBO, the diet is meant to help limit them and make them manageable.
2. ADD AN ELEMENTAL DIET – The elemental diet from Integrative Therapeutics or other elemental formulas can also be used in conjunction with a SIBO diet to add calories and nutrients. It is easily absorbed and can be added to a morning smoothie or with water.
3. WORK WITH FOOD FEAR – If you sit down to eat and are anxious about food reactions, it’s more likely that you are in a sympathetic dominant (fight or flight) state that will in fact hamper your digestion. Whenever possible before your meal, take a moment to quietly sit and remind yourself of the nutritious value of your food and the fact that if you have symptoms it’s your body’s way of giving you valuable information. When you eat, take your time eating, chew your food slowly and relax and enjoy yourself as much as possible. If you’re bored with what you’re eating, try some new recipes or talk with a nutritionist about widening your diet.
4. SNACK SMART – Many people avoid snacking to support the migrating motor complex. It is desirable to wait four to five hours between meals when possible. But if you’re feeling faint, weak, or generally hangry and are at a low weight, it’s important to support your general health first. Try to wait at least three hours between meals and have a snack closer to mealtime. For instance, if you have breakfast at 8 am, try to wait for a snack until 11 am and then have lunch at 12 pm. When you are at a stable weight and begin to feel healthier, you should be able to wait longer in between meals.
5. DRINK YOUR CALORIES – Whenever possible, add calories to a meal with a drink. Whether it’s bone broth blended with ghee or coconut oil, or a healthy homemade drink like a Jasmine Lime Cooler, drinks will add calories and keep you hydrated.
6. VARIETY IS KEY – Sometimes people whittle their diet down to a handful of foods in order to avoid having any symptoms. But you’re much more likely to react to a food when you’re just eating a few things. Make sure to continue to widen your diet over time so you don’t react to one of the few foods you’re eating.
7. ADDRESS SIBO AND THE UNDERLYING CAUSE – Many people buy into the thought that food will cause SIBO but that hasn’t been proven to be true. A SIBO diet is meant to only mitigate symptoms, for most people it won’t cure SIBO. If you are still experiencing many symptoms from the food you eat, work with a nutritionist to review your diet. Additionally, it’s really important to have a doctor who is knowledgeable and interested in your case. If your SIBO isn’t resolving and you’re continuing to lose weight, you’ll need to take a closer look at possible concurrent issues and/or your underlying cause.
8. HEAL THE GUT – Upon receiving a negative SIBO test you may be so glad that it’s finally OVER! But there’s still a fair amount of healing that needs to occur. Some people don’t gain necessary weight immediately and need to continue to support themselves after a negative test. It’s helpful to use a healing protocol, including l-glutamine and other supplements. Additionally, it’s important to widen your diet over time while still keeping an eye on symptoms. Testing high FODMAP foods individually is key so you know what you tolerate and what you’ll still want to leave out of your diet for now.