Need help gaining weight: I was just recently... - IBS Network

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Need help gaining weight


I was just recently diagnosed with GERD and IBS-D, but I’ve been deal with these issues for a very long time. At the beginning of this year I was about 125lbs (56.7 kg), but now I’m barely 100lbs (45.4 kg). Just this morning I woke up to my stomach cramping and had to sit in the bathroom for about an hour, slept on the couch for another hour, and then woke up again to my stomach hurting. I don’t know what would be best for me to be eating right now so if anyone can give me any suggestions that would be great! I’ve also come to the conclusion that I THINK it’s sugar that messes me up, but I’m not 100% sure yet. I eat quest bars every morning for breakfast, and I drink protein shakes. I’ve been hoping those will help me gain weight, but the highest I’ve been in the last two months is 108lbs (49kgs). I’m also only 5’4” and 19 so I am a very small girl and I am just struggling to keep up with my stomach. Any help would be appreciated!

11 Replies

I feel your pain.

When I get a flare up I've come to the conclusion that my digestive system has to work to hard and then objects... Various symptoms... So I have usually 2/3 days of porridge (thin). Soup (thin/clear) and good quality brown toast. That's it..... Seems to rest my insides. Then I reintroduce other foods slowly. I get tired but seems to work fairly well for me. Just an idea for you.....

Just looked and quest bars have milk and sugar in. It’s what gives me this symptoms.

Try rice based breakfast with soya or almond milk. When it comes to meals, little and often helps. Don’t try eating your way heavier. Good luck.

I'm taking complan at the moment it has all the vitamins proteins etc and is gentle on the stomach

Just be careful with ingredients

In regards to gaining weight things that you should be OK with are white jasmine rice and adding a tablespoon of olive oil to your meals (if you can tolerate fats), plus trying to get lean protein with each meal. When I was in your position I could also tolerate cooked carrots. There are also FODMAPs to consider - see below - this means looking at ingredients of what you are consuming.

Have you been getting any help with your IBS? It seems you are suffering a lot from it at the moment, particularly you might want to report your weight loss to your doctor. Here is some information about IBS that I have shared with others in this group in case any of these tips are of interest to you:

IBS can be due to a number or combination of factors - these can be stress (including stress from early life experiences) which impacts the communication between the brain and the digestive system. There are lots of free webinars online at the moment regarding mindfulness meditation which might help. Plus you can ask to be referred for CBT or something similar to reduce your anxiety - I would have thought online appointments are available. Exercise can play a major role in IBS in terms of reducing stress, helping your gut microbiome and regulating bowel movements.

There is also not absorbing certain types of carbohydrates called FODMAPs very well, the residue ending up in the colon and bacteria feeding off them causing symptoms. Ordinarily feeding gut bacteria is a really good thing - when you feed good gut bacteria these produce by-products that have great health effects in the gut and throughout the body. However, in some people with IBS bad bugs might have the upper hand over good - these bad bugs may cause symptoms such as excess gas, pain or disordered bowel movements. There is an interesting infographic on this here:

This is why it’s worth trying probiotics such as Alflorex (which has been scientifically studied for IBS) or Symprove to crowd out the bad bugs and make their numbers die down. If that doesn't work you can try the FODMAP elimination and reintroduction diet. This is normally under the guidance of a nutritionist via GP referral - this may not be possible at the moment so you can read about it online. If you download the Monash University FODMAP app and Kings College fodmap apps, they will tell you which foods contain FODMAPs and in what quantities. You can eliminate all FODMAPs for 2 weeks and then introduce each type of FODMAP one at a time starting in small quantities, increasing over a 3 day period and wait up to 4 days for symptoms. I go much slower than this - only introducing a small amount (1/4 to 1/3 of a normal portion size) of the same food for 3 days and then increase if tolerable or no symptoms and cut back to the previous amount if symptoms for longer and then try to increment again . I've read your microbiome can adapt to handling a new food if introduced very slowly and your bad bugs are under control with a good probiotic. Ideally you want to eat as many FODMAPs as you can since they are good for your health. Many people with IBS don't have diverse gut bacteria - it has been found that people who lack a diverse microbiome are more prone to diseases in general. In the long run, if you can get your symptoms under control, the ideal situation is to have a very varied diet - lots of different coloured fruits and vegetables, a variety of protein and carbohydrate sources including cereal fibres. This may seem a long way off, but with the right treatment all of this is possible. Last year all I could consume to control my IBS was white rice, protein and limited low fodmap veg. Using the approach above (particularly introducing Alflorex) I am now able to consume far more foods - more than I've ever dreamed of including wholewheat bread which is unheard of for me.

If you are also suffering from pain, you may be suffering from visceral hypersensitivity (functional abdominal pain) - there is info about it here:

It is where the brain interprets the normal activity of the bowel as pain - this is due to a wearing down of neurons in pain control centres of the brain which can be caused by PTSD, neglect or abuse in childhood, extreme stressful events etc. The first line treatment is nerve pain agents such as low dose amitriptyline. There is a theory that being on something like amitriptyline for 6-12 months can help the pain control centre neurons to regenerate. Note that amitriptyline can cause constipation, but this can be helpful in people who are diarrhea dominant. Unfortunately I couldn't tolerate these. Linaclotide (for IBS-C only) & Alflorex have helped me with this intestinal pain.

You may also find assistance with anti-spasmodic medication such as mebeverine (Colofac) or enteric coated peppermint.

You can find some info on self management here:

If all of the usual IBS remedies fail and you are experiencing diarrhea, it is worth getting tested for BAM (Bile Acid Malabsorption), which can cause constant diarrhea - there is a separate test and treatment for that. Good luck.

Gadzooks52 in reply to xjrs

This was super helpful and I just want to say how grateful I am of you to reply to my post with this. Seeing all of you guys respond literally made me start crying because it’s so nice to have people who actually UNDERSTAND. I do take a probiotic everyday, but I will definitely look into alflorex. I take Librax with Clindinium which is an anti-spasm anti-anxiety medication that I was prescribed right after getting diagnosed. Right now I’m just trying to find the right foods for me to be able to gain weight and reduce flare ups.

xjrs in reply to Gadzooks52

Yes. It can seem really isolating at times - especially when everyone around you seems to be able to eat what they want. Glad to be of help - we are all here to support each other - it is a wonderful group. Good luck with finding something that assists you.

Try to eat 5 small meals a day, start really small amounts and build them up. Keep a food diary to control symptoms and quantities. And try to eat simple.

All the best

Nut butters, cheese (lacto free), olive oil are your best friend here. Focus in nutritionally dense things that you don't need a large volume of

Protein shakes do not agree with me at all!! Get the vegan ones and use vegan milk oat/almond. Go to the doctors and get referred to a dietician maybe try a low fodmap diet also

Yeah, I’ve tried so many different protein shakes, but I can’t find any that actually sit well with me either! I’ve seen the vegan ones at some stores around me so maybe I’ll try those! I have a follow up appointment with my doctor today, so I’ll try to talk to him about what I should try to get

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