Digestive system just not adapting to a vegan diet


May 16, 2016
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  1. Vegan newbie
Hi Everyone,

My name's Sarah, Newbie here!

I transitioned to a vegan diet fully about 6 months ago, but had been gradually cutting out meat/dairy for a good 6 months before this.

In many ways I'm really enjoying this lifestyle, and in many ways I feel so much better in myself - I've got so much energy, I lead a busy life and I don't have the drops in energy I used to. I used to really crave processed food and I just don't get that now - so in many ways I'm getting some real benefits out of this lifestyle.

However, my digestive system is really making my life hard. *sorry maybe a little TMI* When I first went fully vegan I got some really extreme, 6 months pregnant can't get my jeans on style bloating. The flatulence was quite frankly embarassing, and I was horrendously constipated particularly at night.
6 months down the line and it has improved somewhat, I don't get nearly as bloated, but my body seems to have got in to this horrible rhythm of having mild uncomfortable constipation for a few days, then it's like my body then has to go flush out what it can't get out with some pretty awful diarrhea. It's got to the point now it's a really predictable pattern and it's causing me some anxiety as I'm worried about going out on certain days because I know that's going to be a dodgy day.

I've tried all sorts of adjustments to my diet, removing gluten, more fruit less fruit, more pasta less pasta, more raw, less raw - none of it seems to make a fat bit of difference, my body just isn't meeting me half way!

As a history for me, I come from a past of IBS, I was diagnosed with it at the age of 12 and it tormented much of my teenage years. I did, however, a few years ago get right on top of it and was perfectly fine with this before I went down this path - I've always had to watch it with high fat/spicy foods but it's easily avoided.
I have also come from a past of anorexia, just before I went vegan I was weight restored - but going vegan was something I wanted to do long before I recovered, and I had hoped that it would help me in keeping and maintaining good health.

I realise my body's unlikely to be the king of digestion after the things it's gone through, but right now I just don't feel comfortable in myself. I feel like my digestion is screwy and unpredictable and certainly shouldn't be like this.

So if anyone's gone through this, got on top of it and has some advise I'd love to hear it! I certainly don't want to give it up now, but at the same time I feel like I'm making so much effort and not getting too far.
Hi BamBam and welcome,

I have a few basic questions, I apologise if they seem obvious:
1. Are you drinking enough water?
2. Is it possible you might be intolerant to some of the new vegan food you are eating (e.g. soy)?
3. Is your vegan diet particularly fibrous?
4. Is there any chance your food might have been contaminated (i.e. through take-aways)?
5. Are you taking any medicines that could cause this reaction? There is a list of medicines that can cause commonly diarrhea on the NHS website.

If none of the above sound promising, you could consider a blood test. You do mention a history of IBS - higher quantities of magnesium in the diet can sometimes flare IBS symptoms. It is true that many report milk to ease the symptoms of IBS and perhaps your body hasn't found a way to neutralise the problem as a vegan. Unfortunately this isn't something I'm very knowledgeable about but I suggest you do an internet search for 'veganism and IBS' to see what comes up.

Let us know how you get along. I'm sorry to hear about your ED. Oh, and don't worry about the information. I did a full post on menstruation! It's important to make sure there is a resource of information most of all :)

All the best.
Hi Winter,

All of the above I have thought about, but I can't particularly pin point anything as a trigger to it. I drink a lot of water, at a guess about 2.5l if not 3 on an average day. I have tried to systematically remove different potential trigger foods i.e soy, gluten and tried doing things like bigger meals in the morning, smaller at night and the other way around.
My diet is pretty fibrous, which could be a cause, I tend to eat a lot of oats, rice, pasta etc in the day along with a lot of fruit and veg. I generally eat pretty healthily, mainly because it's the cheapest way... I've thought about trying to cut down fibre, but it's a tough one to do as it seems to go hand in hand with the majority of vegan foods.
I'm pretty against medication and a clean freak as far as food's concerned so I would think no to the last.

It is interesting what you say about milk... Dairy was the last thing I cut out when I transitioned, and the symptoms came soon after - I just assumed it was my body adapting, but maybe it's something I'm lacking that I was originally getting from dairy ... I have replaced my dairy with alternatives, but maybe that's a path way to take a look down.

Thank you for taking the time to post, I will keep trying - the trouble is the internet is so full of conflicting information, it's always hard to know what to do for the best!
Fibre is your friend! Don't cut down on it.

A vegan diet won't cause bloating by itself. You described that you had a history of IBS. Your problem suggests you may be experience symptoms of IBS again. The best I can recommend is to go to your doctor and let them know. They'll know what to do.
Hi Bam Bam,

Welcome to the forum like you I am a newbie to it and veganism as a whole. I don't have an answer to your problems but I'm not sure where you are in the world but I am from the west midlands and there is a lovely lady who treated my allergies and this is why I chose a Vegan lifestyle as I am allergic to quite a few things.

So I would suggest seeing if you have an allergist/nutritionist local to you or you can use the lady I use if you fancy a road trip.

Hope you get sorted

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