Bloating, digestion, and painful gas after rapid weight loss
Many of my clients have struggled with painful bloating triggering fears of weight gain when they are resuming “normalized eating”.
One client experienced challenges when her medical teams put her through a battery of tests, without ever asking what she was eating, or if she had an eating disorder. They even tested her for pregnancy – not believing as a 14-year-old she was still a virgin!
She had returned to raw salads, veggies and uncooked foods as part of her belief this would maintain her weight triggering serious issues with elimination and painful bloating. Once she read this article on Gastro Paresis, and her mother assisted in helping her select warmed foods and steaming all vegetables through this time, this whole thing corrected in just a few weeks.
When here working with me we’d only used cooked foods, steams veggies etc, so there was ZERO bloating, thankfully I could remind her of this so she could have faith in her body’s recovery. This “resume normal” patterns can trigger real panic in clients with painful bloating and abdominal distention – it feels just overwhelming. The simple solution is warmed foods take much less time to be digested and steaming breaks down the enzymes almost like pre-digesting them for you, and you still have the benefit of eating veggies.
So much of these PROBLEM eating issues go unresolved because we don’t go to the doctor with painful bloating and disclose ‘oh I’m on a diet, or I’ve just lost 15 pounds in 2 weeks, and now I’m bloating’. Often the focus is on the PRESENTING PROBLEM of bloating.
Help your medical providers with full disclosure, even if you are used to covering this up, they are there to help you and they can’t without all the information.
This is really important with regards to recovering bowel impediments following a bout of disordered eating
Quick notes from Dr P. Mehler, the head of the ED recovery centre in Denver and who also is in charge of the other facilities around the USA and is highly regarded in the area of disordered eating.
In his book: Eating Disorders A Guide to Medical Care and Complications (one of the top-rated books on the subject by the way)
Page 111 – 113 he reviews Bloating:
“With pure food restriction, once a weight loss of approximately 10-20 pounds occurs, there is almost universal development of gastro issues. This refers to the delayed emptying of the stomach, bloating is the main symptom, and it may be severe and uncomfortable.
” The bloating can be worsened by a high-fibre diet, such as the vegetarian diet that many of these patients often resort to, to treat their slow gastrointestinal transit, or by increasing a fibre-based diet or use of laxatives. Once this state has developed the reflux, nausea, bloating and even vomiting can occur and it’s no longer self-induced, it’s happening as a condition of the gut.
“Heartburn may occur too, as a result of acidic reflex in the stomach…
“ALTHOUGH THE BLOATING IMPROVES WITH WEIGHT RESTORATION, improvement often takes 4-6 months and even as long as a year to be fully recovered. Therefore it is crucial to offer reassurance to these patients and instruct them to avoid legume type foods, which promote gas and distention, as well as excessive fibre or bran products which induce similar symptoms. This will enable them to understand that their symptoms will pass with time and that they are not “causing” the pain by eating. Likewise, patients should be informed that refusal to eat and regain normal weight will only delay the improvement in their symptoms.
Useful approaches to this problem specifically in patients recovering from anorexia include the following:
1: Liquid food supplements, as half of the daily calories (Smoothies) 2: Gastric emptying of liquids is unimpeded by the gastric system as with solid foods3: Use liquid food sources earlier in the meal, so these are in the tummy before solid foods, (ie: Soups and Stews) 4: Keep the food intake to multiple small meals a day
GASTRO- PARESIS induced by rapid weight loss will generally improve with weight rebalancing. This, even severe bloating initially complained of, which will often prevent a patient from eating an adequate meal, progressively improves for patients over time. A significant improvement often occurs with a weight rebalancing and in general, largely resolves completely with correct eating programs and no further restricting or dietary changes
(Each time there is restricting of foods the patient will re-experience the same bloating symptoms as the first weeks in recovery – so the restricting or fasting or missing meals actually puts the patient back and the first steps need to be repeated once again)