Family stomach weirding

On several occasions, I’ve thought about writing a blog post on our eating habits and how they contribute to good gastrointestinal health (I haven’t done a study, but I feel like we contract GI bugs at a lower than average rate, and I imagine that our high-fiber, high-prebiotic, low processed food diet has a good bit to do with that).  Anyhow, I’m not superstitious, per se, but writing such a post seemed like tempting fate a bit too much — you know, write post, get slammed with stomach bug from hell — so I never wrote it.

Of course, generally good health or no, we all get sick once in awhile.  Many stomach bugs hit fast and hard, but then they’re over.  Or not . . . .

Our timeline:

  • January 28: G has some kind of 24-hour-ish stomach bug.  It hits fast and hard, with three hours of vomiting starting in the early morning hours.  By the next morning, he’s almost back to normal (but we kept him home from school).
  • January 28-29: Matthew and I both felt a bit off; Matthew enough so that he stayed home from work on the day G was sick, thinking that he might decline quickly, but that never happened.  In general, we had mild nausea, lack of appetite, fatigue, and feelings of being overfull when we did eat.
  • January 30-31: We think we’re out of the woods.
  • February 3: Matthew wakes up feeling not so great.  Stays home from work, continues feeling bad, and finally vomits late in the afternoon, after which point he feels much better.
  • February 3-4: I have similar, low-level GI symptoms as in the previous week.  I’m not sure if I actually have a mild case of something, or if it’s simply the power of suggestion.
  • Several days of feeling pretty normal.
  • February 11: I start feeling pretty yucky after lunch; after a few hours on the couch, I feel better.

Since then, we’ve all had intermittent “weirdness.”  I had a 36-hour period where I was burping almost constantly, and I felt overfull anytime I ate anything.  My burping subsided, but it seems to have infected Gabriel (it’s clearly not something he’s doing on purpose or to be funny, but something he can’t control — he calls it “hiccuping,” but it’s not).

G has also had several instances of low appetite, enough episodes clustered close enough together to be odd, and not just normal preschooler appetite fluctuations.  Matthew and I both continue to have intermittent instances of low appetite, feeling overfull, very mild nausea, and/or mild stomach cramping.

We’re not sick exactly, but it also seems that we’re not 100% well.  I think our GI flora (i.e., the normal population of “friendly” gut bacteria) got thrown out of whack back in late January and never got back on track.  The high-fiber foods that are good for GI health in healthy guts are currently not our friends.  We’ve been intentionally upping our yogurt intake, trying to reintroduce some good bacteria, but I’ve been at it for two weeks with little effect.

I found this study talking about cases of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) that start after a gastrointestinal infection, and that kind-of sounds like what we’re dealing with.  I’m also looking at information on small intestine bacterial overgrowth.

I’m ready to go ahead and try a probiotic supplement (pill form, instead of just the yogurt) to get things back on track, because I’m really ready [for all three of us] to get off this grumpy stomach roller coaster.


  1. Monica says:

    GREAT POST! I particularly interested in your observation of diet and the lower than average rate of contract the stomach bug. I’ve wondered that myself. If the nutrients in a more plant-based diet are more absorbed in your tissues, is your immune system better to fight these sort of viruses?

    1. Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

      Monica, certain plant-based foods act as prebiotics, or, essentially “food” for the probiotics and good bacteria. WebMD and Mayo Clinic mention some foods in particular as good sources of prebiotics: asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, bananas, oatmeal, whole grains, onions, garlic and legumes.

      Our normal diet includes legumes (beans, lentils, etc.), whole grains, onions, and garlic. G and I also have oatmeal every day. We mostly eat asparagus when it’s in-season here, which is usually 4-5 weeks in May and early June. I LOVE bananas (toast with peanut butter and banana slices is one of my favorite things), but usually avoid them because as a tropical fruit, their carbon footprint is pretty high. I’ve been buying them recently because they’re a good “stomach rest” food, but I didn’t know about the prebiotic benefits — looks like I have an excuse to buy more 🙂

  2. Green Girl says:

    Grains cause many people major GI stress, myself included, like IBS and leaky gut. I used to get that ‘full’ feeling that you described all the time and I got rid of so much bloating and gas by giving up grains. Most of my carb cravings are now satisfied from potatoes, quinoa, fruit and some beans. I find that ground flaxseeds make a good substitute to oatmeal. Legumes and nuts can also be hard on the gut, but soaking and sprouting can help alleviate these symptoms. Lentils are easier to digest than legumes. I suggest reading a few books on the Paleo diet. Even if you don’t eat meat, 90% of the suggestions can be applied. You can also google “paleo vegan” or ‘pegan’. Even Joel Furhman in Eat to Live (vegan diet) puts grains low on the list of nutrient dense foods, so there shouldn’t be much concern about eliminating them. The Paleo diet is centered around organic, locally sourced, and sustainable farming methods, instead of monoculture type foods, with the biggest emphasis on vegetables, so a very green, healthy diet. A friend of mine caught a nasty parasite and even though she has been treated, she can now only eat this way otherwise she continues to get very sick. Good luck.

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