Stomach: Fail

Here’s the thing: I definitely have lots of stories to share about this weekend’s backpacking adventure (foreshadow: I ended up barefoot in a glacial river!), but since I am only a mere iPhone connoisseur, my photos are less than ideal. Will, on the other hand, is a photographic wonder and his snaps are much better than mine, so I’ve decided to save the recap for later this week when he has edited all of his pics. Then I can tell my stories WITH beautiful images. Hooray!

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Backpacking iPhone photo for the win

In light of this delay, y’all get to hear about some decidedly less exciting news: my freaking digestive system.  How psyched are you?!

Ever since I finished the Whole 30 at the end of April, I’ve been gradually adding food back into my diet in order to determine which foods were exacerbating my breathing issues. This was actually much worse than doing the restricted diet because I had this weird mental game going on in my head: after 30 days, my brain kept yelling at me to stop when I’d start eating a non-Whole 30 food, acting as if I was doing something wrong. Luckily, I have the mental constitution of a ninja so I was easily able to shut that nonsense down…but still. It was kind of weird!

Anyway, my results have been very mixed and quite honestly, confusing as hell. The good side is that it is immediately evident whenever I eat something that my body dislikes. In fact, Will and my parents both notice as well because I instantly start coughing and clearing my throat because of all the drainage that starts flowing like a river. Additionally, I’ve developed a *nice* side reaction to averse foods: my stomach hates them! Prior to the Whole 30, I had a stomach of flipping iron and could eat anything without any consequences. However, removing everything from my system for a month seems to have also eliminated my stomach’s resilience to poor food choices. If I eat something that my lungs don’t like, my stomach gets really bloated and uncomfortable…and sometimes other side effects come along with all of that. I’ll save you the details, but just know that’s it’s pretty freaking miserable. However, I can handle this; to me, it’s a positive that my body is so clearly telling me when something is a fail. Unfortunately, my wiring system seems to be faulty: it is not following any semblance of a pattern!

Sadly for me, my body isn’t reacting the same way to the same foods. For example, one of the first foods that I reacted poorly to was black beans (of all things, right?!) I had ordered a chicken salad at Chipotle which I had been eating just fine: lettuce, chicken, salsa, and guacamole were working out great for me and my taste buds. Naturally, I assumed black beans would be a happy addition but I was wrong: within 30 minutes of finishing dinner, I was coughing and clearing up a storm, and the symptoms continued all night long until I had blistered the roof of my mouth. Blah. However, I had some black beans a week later to double test myself, and absolutely nothing happened. WTF?

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Trail side lunch this weekend that my body loved: cheese and tuna quesadillas

Even better? Neither my stomach nor my lungs can decide whether they like or dislike crappy, preservative-filled foods. After a month of experimenting, I’ve learned that my body is fine with a Frosty from Wendy’s or frozen yogurt (with a zillion toppings!) from the local froyo place, but it totally goes into Stage 5 freak out mode when I eat birthday cake from the grocery store or a Pop Tart (Trust me: when I say Stage 5 freak out mode, I truly mean it. I ate the birthday cake at a BBQ last night and I was miserable for the rest of the night. And you don’t even want to KNOW how much coughing and hacking Will heard while packing out of the woods on Sunday after I decided a Pop Tart would be a quick and easy (and calorie filled!) camping breakfast). I thought the common denominator was grains and/or bread but I can inhale an ice cream sandwich or a regular sub just fine. Seriously, what gives??!

My only guess is that my dominant trigger is one of those bizarre, chemically-named preservatives that exist in 99% of our processed foods. I haven’t sat down to analyze the ingredients to investigate which of my poor life choices is causing my body to suffer, but I truly suspect that to be the cause. Unfortunately, until I know which ingredient is trying to cause my slow death, I’m stuck avoiding all the unhealthy deliciousness in this world…..other than Frosties and froyo, of course!


Do you have any food allergies? Or any food that just makes your body go all wonky?


  • Reply Alyssa at

    Hm, very weird. That is frustrating that you can’t just pinpoint the cause. My body gave me this weird reaction of feeling horrible yesterday because I got day drunk and was already hungover when I went to sleep. So strange.

    • Reply heather at

      Day drunk always messes with me– my whole body gets thrown out of whack!

  • Reply lindsay at

    Your body is definitely in shock mode. It can’t recognize certain food. Could be a fructose issue. Tried FODMAPS at all? Might help!

    • Reply heather at

      FODMAPS? What is that?

  • Reply Sarah Kay Hoffman at

    JUST the topic I LOVE to discuss! Super thankful that Lindsay Cotter referred me to your site. I have a million things I’m thinking right now, most of which are likely addressed in my e-book, BUT I will say 2 things:
    1. re. Black Beans – doesn’t surprise me at all. They contain a ton of fiber and starch. If you don’t break it down, they ferment in your gut and you produce gas. But let me guess…your gas is super stinky? OR, it’s silent and hugely violent?
    2. It will be so hard to ever figure out what is *truly* the cause if the amount of your ingredients per meal is high. For example, cake and ice cream nearly hits on everything your body could be reacting to. Same goes with the chicken, lettuce, salsa, rice and beans. The sum of the parts may be greater than any individual thing.

    One last thing…the digestive system is very sensitive to emotion and stress will play a huge part. I TRULY had to learn and study the art of: eat. play. love. I have Colitis. I completely manage it with food and lifestyle, no medication in years.

    Hang in there…

  • Reply Amy at

    I don’ think I’ve ever read a post that I agreed with so much! I have been trying to add in and eliminate food similar to you. My cough is the first thing I notice and is always followed by an awful stomach ache. I originally thought I could be lactose intolerant, but I’m not sure if it would cause the cough. So far I’ve only eliminated some foods and found more food that I shouldn’t have and just keep eating, froyo included!

  • Reply Julie at

    Interesting. I’m glad you posted this because food has been on my mind quite a bit recently and I like to learn about others’ experiences. I’ve been cutting out grains for about 5 months now. I occasionally have things with oats or rice but have been pretty good about avoiding wheat (well, gluten), mostly to see if I can end my migraines (or cluster headaches, or whatever they are). I recently broke this no-wheat streak to join in a prerace pasta dinner. The pasta was delicious, but the next morning I wound up with a migraine that lasted 1.5 days. Fortunately it didn’t hit full swing until a few hours after the race was over. It was my first one in 8 weeks, though, which is a record (they usually hit every 3-4 weeks), so there might be something to this gluten thing. Shortly thereafter I decided to try beer and learned that, while not headache-inducing, it now makes my stomach feel….bad. I’ve had similar experiences with beans and corn. Sometimes I’m fine, sometimes I’m not. It’s frustrating when your body doesn’t give you a consistent reaction. It’s so hard to figure out exactly *what* it is that causes the distress! Best of luck.

  • Reply Kayla at

    Oh that is terrible, especially the inconsistent part….cause now you’ll wonder, or just keep suffering along the experimentation path. I changed my diet this week to a Paleo inspiried version, but refuse to ever COMPLETELY block anything out of my diet for fear that my stomach of steel may turn into a lamer-whimpier version of it’s self like everyone else I know who’s completely shut-out those things and tried having them again. On the bright side….atleast there’s icecream and froyo!!

  • Reply Rachel @ BettyLIVIN at

    Thanks for sharing! I am awaiting test results to hopefully diagnose a food allergy because I have symptoms similar to yours. My doctor said if the tests come in normal it is likely I have IBS or chrohn’s. Maybe blood tests might help you figure out what’s wrong? I hope you feel better soon it sucks feeling sick all the time!

  • Reply Amanda @runtothefinish at

    i do have sensitivities, but mine don’t usually show up in a huge immediate way which is far more annoying. Often a day later I’ll be like why do I feel so bad and have to retrace my food to start finding the one common thing. oh the fun, I too used to eat anything!!!

  • Reply Teri at

    Girl, I’ve got the same issues. I just tell myself that I am really not meant to eat what I am not meant to eat and those foods are usually the man-made processed ones (that maybe none of us were meant to eat). It’s your body being smart and telling you what it doesn’t want or need. Yes, sometimes it sucks:( Favorite things I lost, greek yogurt, pizza, real ice cream….

  • Reply Elle at

    I have had 3 different allergy attacks since I did my first Whole30 in January. I have read that this can be progressive. I have no idea what triggered them.. there doesn’t appear to be a single common item in the meals that preceeded my reactions.

    Keep a journal. I am starting another Whole30 today. It is the best way for me to eat, I am sure.

  • Reply lynne @ lgsmash at

    i noticed that too waaay back in the days after my paleo experiment. fortunately, i’ve pretty much eaten my way past stomach unhappiness again 🙂 good luck in finding something that works for ya! not fun – i feel ya!

  • Reply GiGi Eats Celebrities at

    My mom called me a Medical Enigma. I cannot eat wheat, dairy, gluten, sugar, soy, nuts, fruit… and even the foods that I can eat, I sometimes don’t feel good either. I always walk around with a stomachache, like right now… And every so often I get the STOMACH PAINS OF DEATH that leave me pacing around my apartment with a 20 month pregnant stomach thinking crazy thoughts.

    It doesn’t help that I don’t have a large intestine, but even before it almost exploded (thus leading the doctors to take it out) I did have digestive/stomach issues as well…. Digestion is such a weird thing. Next Tuesday, I am posting a video about probiotics, which have REALLY helped me… But I still suffer, just not as often!

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