What to Eat When You Have SIBO or IBS – Guest Blog


There’s a lot of talk these days about the gut microbiome and ‘good bugs’ and ‘bad bugs’ kind of duking it out over who gets to rule your gut.

While I agree that a healthy gut is key to avoiding many major diseases, I tend to think the good vs bad bacteria argument is over-simplified. I would argue that a very small percentage of gut bacteria is inherently bad for us. Most illness or inflammation in the gut comes from a lack of balance of these bacteria. One problem that results from this lack of balance is SIBO.

SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) is a result of bacteria that is beneficial and needed in the colon migrating or overflowing into the small intestine. Symptoms are similar to IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), and the truth is that a lot of people with an IBS diagnosis really has SIBO. IBS is more of a list of symptoms, while SIBO is getting at the ‘why’ of the symptoms.

Some of the symptoms associated with SIBO include:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Cramping
  • Heartburn
  • Joint pain
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Environmental allergies
  • Food sensitivities
  • Itching and rashes

Healing from SIBO requires a three-pronged approach:

  1. Reduce the amount of bacteria in the gut through herbal or very specific pharmaceutical antibiotics.
  2. Maintain the reduced level of unwanted bacteria through diet.
  3. Support the gut through pro-kinetics and specific probiotics.

Today I’m going to focus on #2 because this is the area of most confusion and, frankly, the most fun. The diets thought to best support the gut during this healing process are the Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet (GAPS), the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), the low-FODMAP diet, or some combination of the three. FODMAP is an acronym for Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols. These are short-chain carbohydrates that can be difficult to digest.

When you have SIBO it’s important to “keep things moving” because the longer food sits in your intestines, the more likely it is that bacteria will grow.

I won’t get into the specifics of each diet here, but all three are similar and it could be argued that each is a variation of the others. With all the diets, grains, high-carbohydrate vegetables, most legumes and most sweeteners are removed, as well as a host of other odds and ends. You can find the food list for each diet at the links below.

OK, enough of all that. I did say the diet is the fun part, and so far it probably sounds pretty awful, right? Well, never fear. All it takes is a little planning and the willingness to try some new recipes and you’re good to go.

The most important thing to do in making sure that you follow the diet strictly is to always have something on hand that you can eat. You don’t want to find yourself suddenly starving with nothing “legal” available. So, always always always carry food with you.

Here are some examples of things I carry with me when I leave the house:

  • Veggie sticks – carrots, cucumbers, peppers, etc
  • Homemade beef jerky – experiment with various seasonings and marinades
  • Muffins – made with almond flour and/or coconut flour
  • Fruit – blueberries, strawberries, grapes, etc
  • Nuts – almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, etc
  • Seeds – pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds

Meals are mostly going to be meat and veggies. Here are some of my favorite SIBO-healing meals:

  • Leftover veggies in a scramble with grated cheese
  • Carrots, broccoli and greens with bulk pork sausage
  • Muffins with almond butter
  • Squash pancakes
Dinner (lunch is usually leftovers)
  • Steak, roasted veggie medley, braised greens
  • Herbed turkey burgers (no bun) topped with bacon and a slice of cheese, steamed broccoli with butter and slivered almonds
  • Ground beef and tomato stuffed peppers, lentils and bacon
  • Stew of Italian sausage, lentils, kale and butternut squash
  • Roasted chicken with acorn squash and beet-topped salad
  • Chicken thighs marinated in orange juice and coconut aminos, collards with bacon, honey’d carrots
  • Strawberry or blueberry muffins
  • Banana with almond butter
  • Melon slices
  • Handful of grapes or berries

So, there you have it. Delicious, right? If you would like help coming up with more meal ideas, want to know how to make all this a reality, or just aren’t sure where to start, please feel free to contact me.

About The Author

Genevieve White

Genevieve White is a Certified Health Coach and advocate for personalized health care. After healing herself from years of chronic fatigue, digestive disorders and generalized pain, she now shares her knowledge, expertise and passion with others who are struggling to find a sense of balance and wellness in their lives.

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