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Vegetarian diet causing severe stomach problems?

(23 Posts)
flumperoo Thu 03-Mar-16 09:15:06

I've always been a big meat eater but recently decided to have a go at giving it up. I had about 5 weeks of being vegetarian and druing this time my stomach became more and more uncomfortable and was increasingly becoming more bloated, round, firm and painful. It all came to a head when I spent a night awake in agony followed by several hours of diarrhoea. After a day of feeling horrendous, my stomach was flat and completely back to normal. I had diarrhoea every time I ate anything for several days before being ok.

Some internet searching brought up the fact that these issues are quite common in new vegetarians and when I thought about it, I had massively increased my intake of things like dairy, tofu, beans and legumes and thought this must be to blame.

Since then, I've avoided beans, legumes, tofu, have eaten my usual amount of dairy and have started to eat seafood again to ensure that I've been getting enough protein. Now, a couple of weeks later, my stomach is getting bloated and painful again and I'm concerned about have a repeat of the previous issues.

Does anyone have any suggestions about what might be going on and what I can do about it (before I give up on vegetarianism altogether) please?

MagpieCursedTea Thu 03-Mar-16 09:19:33

Maybe it's the increased fibre in your diet? I've been a veggie for 16 years and don't remember experiencing the symptoms you've described. It sounds pretty unpleasant though!
I'd suggest having a chat with your GP about it.

SpuriouserAndSpuriouser Thu 03-Mar-16 09:22:17

If you ate a lot of meat before you probably weren't getting much fibre. So when you go vegetarian and start eating lots of fibre it can be a shock to the system. Personally, I would cut back on fibre (kind of what you have been doing with the seafood) and gradually increase the amount of fibre-rich food you eat so you can get used to it. When I went vegetarian I had a couple of weeks of doing awful farts (sorry for TMI blush) but it passed. You just have to wait for your body to get used to it.

If it bloating etc. Doesn't pass then I would go see my GP.

Branleuse Thu 03-Mar-16 09:27:18

are you eating quorn?

flumperoo Thu 03-Mar-16 09:39:26

Thanks for your replies. I don't think I have increased my fibre intake. I've always eaten lots of fruit and vegetables and I eat things like wholemeal bread, potatoes and oats. So, I can't really pinpoint an increase in fibre.

flumperoo Thu 03-Mar-16 09:40:46

No, I'm not eating queen and an now avoiding tofu in case that's a factor.

pinkyredrose Thu 03-Mar-16 09:40:51

Have you drunk enough water?

flumperoo Thu 03-Mar-16 09:41:26


flumperoo Thu 03-Mar-16 09:43:03

Yes, plenty of water.

DoreenLethal Thu 03-Mar-16 09:53:19

What have you eaten mainly that you wouldn't eat when you were eating meat?

I never had this as I just ate less and less meat until I made a meal one day and then couldn't face it.

If you have just upped the things you were eating anyway then it could just be your body getting used to not being constipated which is the effect meat has on your body.

misscph1973 Thu 03-Mar-16 09:54:46

You might want to see your GP, it could be something else unrelated?

Perhaps try a good probiotic for a while?


lljkk Thu 03-Mar-16 10:41:19

I thought IBS was linked to high fibre diets in some people. I want to suggest to OP to try going back to more plain starches in the diet (white bread-potatoes) & then slowly increasing fibre part of diet over time. Most vegetarians I have ever known (typically poor students!) ate huge amounts of plain starches to get calories, rather than lots of veg or pulses, etc.

flumperoo Thu 03-Mar-16 13:35:38

Thanks again for all the replies. Now that I've cut down on the beans, tofu etc, I really don't feel like I'm eating any differently (although I know there must be an underlying cause). So, for example, I'm eating rice or salad/vegetables with seafood instead of chicken. I'm fairly repetitive and simple with food at home so most days I'll eat eggs on toast and/or porridge and lots of fruit and yogurt (as well as treats, I'm no food Saint). I eat plenty of different things when I eat out but I can only thing I can see that I'm doing differently is replacing meat with seafood. There's obviously something I'm missing though. I'll give probiotic drinks a go and I'll try keeping a food log. Will also look at seeing a doctor (I'm not in the UK so it's not as simple as making an app with a GP). In the meantime, I'm not sure if eating less or more carbs (brown or otherwise) would help? I'm concious of putting weight on because I'm still carrying a few extra pounds from Christmas which I'd usually shift quite easily, but not this time for some reason (plus the bloating is making me feel big and hefty, although I'm actually not, other than this swollen belly!).

321zerobaby Thu 03-Mar-16 13:38:51

It could be because of the increase of FOS in your new diet (fructoligosccharides), and fermentation in your gut. Look up low FODMAP foods and see if it rings a bell with you.

flumperoo Thu 03-Mar-16 15:08:00

Thanks for that. I've always suffered with some mild bloating. Usually after eating unhealthy foods/an extravagant weekend/excessive calories etc. Bloating lasts a few days, then go to the toilet and I'm back to normal. No diarrhoea though and eating generally healthily seems to keep things in order. So, there might be some foods that irritate my gut (and especially so now) so the FODMAP diet might be worth trying. It will be hard though - some things on the list that I rely on everyday (brown bread, milk, artificial sweetener, coffee to name a few staples). There seem to be variations between the lists though. Can you recommend a standard/reliable one please?

321zerobaby Thu 03-Mar-16 17:21:57

The thing is, everyone's list is different. There are lots of blogs about low fodmap, and you can see from those that what one person can have, another one can't. Also, the effects are accumulative, so you may be able to eat a small amount of one of the foods on one day, but if you do it again the next, you may have problems.
The best thing to do is try it strictly to start with, keep a food diary, and then add in a fodmap (eg onions) and see if you have any side effects. It should become easier as you get to know the foods that affect you most, as you may find that you are only sensitive to a few fodmap foods (such as beans or lentils, if they are the most recently added foods).

ouryve Thu 03-Mar-16 19:14:46

Cooking method can make a difference in some FODMAP foods, too. I've always loved mushrooms. I only realised, last year, that fried mushrooms have a terrible effect on me (I'd always put it down to another component of the meal). I'm fine with them if they're cooked more gently, in a sauce, though.

NoahVale Thu 03-Mar-16 20:11:58

Do you drink enough fluid. I too have a much more vegetarian diet this year, and like you, a feeling of bloatedness after certain foods.
I reckon it is just the body getting used to it.
if you have high fibre, high roughage perhaps you need something bulky to get rid of the gas, perhaps your fibre intake is just too high

do you feel constipated? do you go when your body wants to, or are you waiting until its convenient?

Kelpie78 Thu 03-Mar-16 20:18:23

Hi, I've been vegetarian for a lot of years and I didn't have your issue when I changed. Sometimes my stomach plays up, for a few years I couldn't eat diary products together (milk & butter in macaroni cheese for example). I started having 2 activia yoghurt a for my lunch mon - fri, and it fixed the problem after a few months. HTH.

321zerobaby Fri 04-Mar-16 22:27:18

Probiotics may help but look for one that doesn't contain FOS, (most do contain FOS as its a prebiotic, I.e. food for the probiotic) Optibac do some.

UnGoogleable Sat 05-Mar-16 10:58:47

My DH who eats a vegetarian diet at home has the same problem whenever he eats a lot of meat (at his mother's house!). He bloats and gets diarrhoea.

I put it down to a change in diet that your body just isn't used to.

I'd lay off the beans for a bit OP, see if that helps. Then gradually introduce new stuff and see whether that has an effect.

flumperoo Sun 06-Mar-16 15:23:13

Thanks again for all the responses. I'm going to try to cut out high FODMAP foods (which includes wheat and dairy) and see if that helps. Will then add things to see if I can work out what's causing the problems.

Pipbin Sun 06-Mar-16 15:28:21

I've been a vegetarian for about 20 years now and I've never really had any problems like that.
I did find that Beanfeast left my rather gummed up though. That was a soy based product I think.

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