When I started planning a trip to Bali 6 months into the GAPS diet, I was concerned with what food I would be able to eat over there, but I wasn’t concerned about getting food poisoning. A lot of people had warned of the dreaded “Bali Belly,” but I hadn’t given it much thought. The one thing I did prior to going was double my dose of my bio-kult probiotic because I think probiotics are a great supplement when you’re traveling anywhere.
Everything was perfectly fine the first few days and then it happened. Both my partner and I got food poisoning from the same restaurant. Getting food poisoning while traveling in an international country may be one of the worst things imaginable.. and the thought of setting my stomach healing back was making everything worse. The first thing I did was google “food poisoning while on GAPS/AIP,” hoping to read about someone’s experience with this, but I couldn’t find anything so I want to write a little about it here. Here is a break-down of what I experienced.
- It was bad, but it didn’t do any lasting damage or set me back in my healing.
After having spent the last year healing my stomach, I was petrified that this bout of food poisoning would un-do all of the good I had done. This wasn’t the case. Once the symptoms were gone, meaning I had cleared the infection successfully, my digestion and general over-all health returned to what it was prior to the food poisoning. I chose not to take antibiotics after consulting a doctor, who confirmed that it was a bacterial infection that a healthy body would clear on its own in due time (for me, due time was almost 10 days, but I really didn’t want the antibiotics). I think my recovery was largely due to very high doses of a therapeutic-grade probiotic, like biokult.
- The hardest part was not being able to eat the grains that usually help alleviate food poisoning symptoms, namely plain toast and rice.
The first day I had the food poisoning I didn’t eat anything, but by day 2 I felt like I needed some nourishment, but didn’t want to break my diet and this posed great difficulty. There aren’t many foods that can help alleviate stomach bug symptoms and are readily available in a place like Bali. I subsisted on some bananas and hard-boiled eggs and was dreaming of getting home to make some bone broth.
- Chicken stock helped ease the symptoms dramatically.
The moment I was home, my roommate very kindly offered to go to the grocery store to buy a whole chicken and some veggies. I made a big batch of chicken stock as quickly as I could and made some soup with the stock, well boiled veggies, and a small amount of chicken. This soup tasted as good as a chocolate cake at the time because my body so badly wanted and needed the nourishment. I basically followed the GAPS intro diet for a week and my symptoms improved rapidly.
- Assessing your tongue gives you a good idea of the state of your gut bacteria.
I spent almost 4 years under the care of an amazing acupuncturist. She is a highly qualified practitioner of Chinese medicine and would always answer my curious questioning during my sessions, as I was trying to understand as much of Chinese medicine as I could. When I would complain of digestive issues, she would always look at my tongue, and one day she explained to me why. The coating on the tongue offers a lot of information on your digestive health. For me, I constantly had a thick white/yellowish coat on most of my tongue, signaling over-growth of bacteria and/or yeast in the gut and an over-burdened digestive system (referred to as damp heat in Chinese medicine). When I had the food poisoning, my tongue was frightening. I had not only a thick yellowish coat, but a black coating on top of that yellowish coating. It was pretty disgusting and shocking to see, but it very clearly told me I had some seriously bad bacteria in my gut. As the infection cleared my tongue lost the black coat, but kept the white/yellow coat for another couple of weeks and then my tongue returned to normal. Paying attention to my tongue helped me track and assess the changes in my gut bacteria.
The punch line? If you are following a healing protocol and contract food poisoning or a stomach bug, rest assured that you will be fine and will get right back to healing once your body recovers.