What are your triggers?

Here's another entry full of medical musings so you can skip it if you're just looking for recipes.  On the other hand, if you are interested in having a conversation about culprit foods and antidepressants, please keep reading and share your experiences in the comments section!

I'm fairly confident that, at this point, gluten and dairy are triggers for me, but I haven't gone so far as to avoid items that may have been cross-contaminated by shared machinery (like oatmeal).  I have a strong feeling that fried foods cause me pain (although not eating french fries and potato chips causes me sadness).  I also suspect alcohol, carbonated drinks and chocolate.  I have yet to accept that last one, and I'm still eating dark chocolate that is totally dairy-free.  One of these days, I will try to cut that out for a few weeks and then see if I notice anything when I eat it again. I also suspect sugar and I've cut back on it, but haven't eliminated it completely.  I don't eat much spicy food (anymore), but I haven't determined if mild salsa or curries are bad for my system. I haven't tried eliminating cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts) or raw vegetables or fruits, although I've read that those can brew up a tummyful of trouble.


One challenge to figuring out my triggers is that sometimes it seems more than a day will pass before I experience problematic bowel symptoms, so it's hard to trace backwards to pinpoint what the offending food was.


I'm learning the hard way about sneaky hidden ingredients in restaurant foods, and have started just telling the waiter up front that I'm allergic to dairy and wheat. Recent foods that have been bad surprises include: licorice (I feel so betrayed by Twizzlers and that cute panda on the healthfood licorice), barbecue sauces with soy sauce, sauces generally (there always seems to be butter, flour or soy sauce in them!), and beer (duh).  Apparently, marzipan and many other sweets contain glucose syrup which can be made from any starch, including wheat starch.  I haven't figured out yet what my tolerance threshold is; I don't know how far up or down an ingredient list I can go without experiencing nasty problems. 


I should also mention that I've been on antidepressants for many years and I don't know what role the medicines or depression may have played in masking or contributing to my digestive problems. Just before the worst of my tummy troubles hit (about a year ago in December), I had stopped taking Welbutrin because I was having hand tremors and I suspected that the Welbutrin may have been causing or exacerbating memory problems.  Plus, I was in a good place emotionally and had been so for a while.  (In retrospect, I maybe shouldn't have stopped during final exams but once I decide to do something I can be quite impatient.)  A few weeks later, I got an awful stomach virus (unrelated) and when I emerged from that illness, I had full-blown symptoms of IBS (although it took a few months to get that diagnosis). I've read that sometimes viruses can give rise to IBS.


In April, my primary care doctor and gastroenterologist both noted that the SSRI class of antidepressants are sometimes used to treat IBS.  I started taking Celexa and have been on it since then.  I'm curious if I can go off of it now that I've changed my diet so completely, but I may decide to wait until I finish grad school to conduct that experiment.


Now I have some questions for you if you suffer from IBS:


  1. What are your trigger foods?
  2. Have you reached a point where you were able to successfully reintroduce foods that had once been problematic?
  3. Do you have a personal history of depression and have you noticed any connection with your digestive problems? 
  4. Have you tried taking antidepressants for IBS? How did that work?

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