On Digestion - 6 Apr 2017

Happy Birthday, Suzy, wherever you are.


My current theories as to what's causing the digestive (and breathing) issues while eating vegan:

  • Food sensitivities
  • Coffee
  • Tight waistband
  • Grazing
  • FODMAPs

Food Sensitivities

There are a ton, but I'm not sure how true they are.

Lettuce: this has plagued me for at least 15, perhaps 16 years, but it took a long time for me to figure out what was going on. To put it bluntly, eating lettuce gives me hemorrhoids. I've noticed other discomfort with members of Asteraceae (daisy family), so I tend to avoid them in general.

Celery: this started within the past few years; it causes some internal discomfort, but the most obvious sign is the fact that I experience allergy symptoms around fresh celery stalks. It doesn't seem to happen with other Apiaceae (carrot family plants), but we don't eat the stalks of most other species, so I don't know for sure. Maybe I'll try carrot greens when they come in to season.

Tomato: this one is hit or miss, but causes intestinal issues. There's a family history of allergies with this, so it's not surprising.

Wheat: this one has come and gone; in addition to digestive issues, I've been noticing arthritic symptoms. This is strange; it may have started after a few bouts of food poisoning, or possibly after taking some probiotic pills, but I don't have the data to back it up.

Legumes: dried beans, as well as fresh peas, appear to be the worst. Black or kidney beans give me instant stomach discomfort, which is bizarre: I used to eat them several times a week. I can tolerate moderate amounts of tofu and peanut butter.

Nuts: also strange, because I used to eat them quite regularly, but nuts have been giving me digestive issues as well. In particular, almonds and hazelnuts.

Dairy: while not a consideration in a vegan diet, it is in a vegetarian diet. I tend to notice skin irritation, especially on my hands, and indigestion.

Chocolate: instant stomach discomfort with dark chocolate. Lighter chocolates don't affect me quite as much.

Artificial Sweeteners: most of the newer ones seem to hurt my stomach, and some lead to other issues.

I've been playing around with digestive enzymes, at the suggestion of a friend. They don't seem to help with beans or wheat, but they do seem to help with nuts, chocolate, and dairy.

Coffee

I love the taste of coffee. It's also a gut irritant, and it's recommended that people with IBS eliminate it, even decaf, due to its ability to irritate the gut. I've never been diagnosed officially with IBS, but that's essentially what this is.

It's really hard for me to kick coffee and function, though. I'm working on it.

Tight Waistband

As silly as it sounds, this may have actually been the issue that caused me to give up on a vegan diet the first time around: my pants were too tight.

This also seems like a plausible cause toward the shortness of breath I was experiencing, or at least a trigger. Mercifully, that's been resolved (more or less) with an H2 antagonist and pants that fit.

Grazing

I seem to do better with meals followed by solid breaks of time. I kept getting hangry (hungry + angry) while eating vegan, possibly because I wasn't eating enough fat to sate my appetite. The end result was that I was eating all the time, and I think this may have overtaxed my digestive system, too.

I'm forcing myself to 3-4 meals a day, plus a post-workout snack on days when I've pushed hard.

FODMAPs

This is something I'm keeping my eye on, but I'm not taking action against it just yet, aside from adding a probiotic pill (a much different one from last time).