When I first moved to Asia I experienced the full force of the Travel Belly, twice over, in the span of one year.
I was working in an office and happily joined the rest of the team when they tucked into local delicacies, which came from a street vendor down the road.
After having spent 24 years in a Northern European climate, under very different hygiene conditions, eating very different, non-spicy foods my system wasn’t ready to deal with hot, spicy, oily food touched by hands that hadn’t seen soap for quite a while.
It wasn’t pleasant. Both times I spent a few days hugging the toilet bowl, feeling like death, lost a ton of weight and all my energy.
The local doctor gave me a heavy dose of antibiotics each time (that’s what they do) and it took a few weeks to recover.
It turns out I never fully recovered. Both episodes along with the antibiotics messed up my digestive system pretty good and I suffered from the after effects for many years.
My Travel Belly became an Expat Belly: subtler, more consistent, and possibly even more frustrating.
An Expat Belly is what makes you rethink your tight jeans when you are about to go for dinner and to quickly change into loose clothing to leave some room for expansion.
It is what makes you gassy, suffering from constipation, the loosies or both.
It makes you break out in a sweat with the cramping when you go to the bathroom.
It’s the acid reflux or nausea.
It is the result of moving across the world to climates and environments very different from the one you grew up in. It’s the combination of an already delicate digestive system and exposure to new microorganism and foods. Add to that stress, due to relocating or otherwise, and boom.. you’ve got yourself an Expat Belly.
It isn’t exactly cocktail conversation yet it affects many of us expats.
What I did was spend many years to figure out how to solve this.
I learned how to care for my digestive system like a mother cares for her child.
I healed, repaired, rebooted my gut flora and I can happily say that after all that work, my digestion runs smoothly today. Hallelujah.
It’s impossible to cover it all here; also because everyone’s gut situation is unique, but here is one way you can begin to see a big improvement.
Eliminate Trigger Foods
When your digestive system is compromised certain foods add fuel to fire.
In order for my system to reboot I had to eliminate some foods for some time that added to my digestive distress.
It’s a little different for each person, but for me, sugar, gluten, dairy were my main culprits. Grains and legumes were on the list too. These foods can be hard to digest, cause internal inflammation and interfere with nutrient absorption. The way this showed up for me was fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and bloating.
Most of my clients get instant relief when they remove trigger foods from their diet; their digestive symptoms disappear, energy levels go up, brain fog lifts, aches and pains go away, skin becomes clearer and they loose the belly bloat and even pounds.
One of my clients recently reported that her skin color has completely changed since she eliminated certain foods. In two weeks time! She lost over 5 kilos to boot, no longer has an afternoon slump and looks healthy and radiant.
The time it takes for your digestive system to heal and repair varies from person to person but the aim is to be able to bring most of these foods back into your diet, to learn to listen to your body and go easy on them so that your digestion can stay strong and support you through your expat adventures.
Taking care of your digestion is going to help you resolve many health issues. I speak from my own experience and those of the people I work with who see not only digestive symptom resolution but also better energy levels, sound sleep, clear skin, you name it.
If you’re serious about getting this handled, get in touch here, and let’s see if I can help.