How I Cured Years Of Excruciating Stomach Pains Without Doctors Or Medicines

Post image for How I Cured Years Of Excruciating Stomach Pains Without Doctors Or Medicines

Walking home from school one day I wanted to burst into tears.

It was the spring of my 6th grade year and no, I wasn’t being bullied.

My stomach pain began just before school let out and was so severe I almost couldn’t, or just didn’t want to, walk.

The pain was an intense burning that made me sweat uncontrollably and beg for relief.

I finally made it home, which was about 2 blocks from school, drank some Pepto Bismal, and tried to go to sleep.

At the time I didn’t know laying down would only prolong the burning in my stomach.

After 20-30 minutes of agony the pain subsided completely and it felt like nothing ever happened.

And it didn’t happen again for about a year.

Finally, one day in 7th grade, the pain returned.  While my class was supposed to be reading quietly I was bowled over in my desk trying to sleep.

My friend Jason looked at me, noticed the marathon runner’s sweat on my face, and asked if I was OK.

“No, I think I’m dying.”  Typical adolescent exaggeration. :)

The truth is, during these bouts of stomach pain death sounded like a great alternative.

The pain began occurring more frequently.  Once every month or two.

I wasn’t a fan of doctors back then and I didn’t bother telling my Parents about this recurring pain knowing my Mom would force me to see one.

By High School the pain occurred on a more regular basis.   Sometimes every day, but usually once or twice per week.

I decided it was something I’d just have to deal with for the rest of my life.

Intense stomach pain for 30 minutes every week isn’t really that much in the grand scheme of things.  That was my rationalization anyway.

Finally after High School I started keeping track of what I ate and drank immediately before a bout of pain.  I’m still not exactly sure why I did this, but I think I assumed my diet had something to do with stomach (i.e. digestive) problems.  Pretty obvious if you think about it, right?

Here is what I noticed:

1) Drinking a 7-11 Slurpee would almost surely end in me laying down in the fetal position.
2) Eating a big fast food meal (2 Whoppers, large fries, and a pop (soda) was typical for me at the time) would put me in agony about 50% of the time.

As you can tell I was on the SAD (Standard American Diet) and it was killing me.

But because of my notes I was getting somewhere. I could see when my pains occurred.

I immediately stopped drinking Slurpees and similar frozen soda treats.

And I started experimenting with my fast food meals.  (I wasn’t yet smart enough to stop eating fast food altogether.)

What if I didn’t eat the fries?

How about if replaced the soda with the lemonade or iced tea?

What would happen if I only ate sides and no burgers?

I tried any variation I could think of.

What I found was that sugary, carbonated beverages were my enemy.

Drinking any carbonated or sugar-filled beverage during a meal would usually result in stomach pain.  Fried, fatty, fast foods would bring the pain more often than home cooked meals, but the common denominator was what I was drinking.

I was a soda pop junkie and it never occurred to me that might be the cause of my problems until then.

I’d grown up drinking Pepsi, Mt Dew, Faygo (the local favorite in Metro Detroit), et al.  From a very young age 80-90% of my fluid intake was carbonated beverages.

By the time I was in college, four 20 ounce bottles of Pepsi per day was nothing.  Instead of drinking 8 glasses of water per day like is generally recommended I would drink 8+ glasses of carbonated poison per day.

So I decided I needed to stop drinking anything but juice and water.

I didn’t know what I was about to go up against.

Sweats, headaches, inability to focus or concentrate.  The withdrawal symptoms were horrible.

I feel your pain if you’ve ever quit smoking because I went through a similar situation.  It’s not easy.  But it is necessary.

The first week of withdrawal was the worst, and it lasted about a month in total.  I’m pretty good at delaying gratification and I knew if I was dealing with these symptoms then I must’ve really been poisoning my body.

And then one day: relief.

No more withdrawal.

And most importantly, my burning, agonizing, stomach pains went away forever.

Are there any health issues you’re experiencing that might be the result of what you’re putting in your body?

The easiest way to figure it out what food is causing your problems is with elimination testing:

Remove one, just one, food or drink from your diet for 2 weeks.  If you experience withdrawal symptoms then extend the period of time until after the withdrawal symptoms are gone.

Did your health issue go away?

If yes, congratulations!

If not, remove something else from your diet.

What food or drink should you start with?

First, eliminate soda.  If you do your own research you will find that carbonated beverages are poison.

Second, eliminate fried and junk food.  I eat a healthy vegan diet, but I won’t preach.  If you eat fried meats (or if you’re a junk food vegan/vegetarian), I’m not going to tell you to stop, even if it is in your best interests.  Do your research and do what you want.  Just don’t complain about your health problems. ;)

If eliminating soda and fried/junk food doesn’t work, it’s time to tackle the 8 foods that account for 90% of all food allergies: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat.

Wheat is by far the most difficult since it is in virtually everything.  That said, it is doable.  I recently went on a gluten free vegan diet for 30 days.  It took a little extra planning, but I exposed myself to lots of awesome new meal options.

Elimination testing takes time, but your health and happiness is worth it.

Photo Credit

{ 17 comments }

Dave Mauder

Great post Karol! I recently decided to stop caffeine AND aspartame at the same time. It’s been almost 20 days, and I’ve discovered an interesting dilemma. First, just from stopping caffeine, I’ve noticed more sustained energy throughout the day, I can sleep much better through the night, and I don’t have stress & pain in my neck, shoulders and upper back.

BUT… Since I also stopped drinking diet soda, I started drinking regular soda and other sugary drinks. Whenever I get a drink at a restaurant, I’ll opt for Sprite, Sierra Mist, lemonade or punch of some sort.

Well, as you can probably imagine… The sugar overload makes me feel horrible! So, I’ve realized I need to stick with water or decaf coffee and/or herbal teas.

Thanks again for the post. I’m still waiting for the one about your veg* diet! :-)

Karol

Thanks Dave! :)

While I’m not against caffeine (I drink tea daily…mmmm…adagio.com) it’s awesome to hear that it has helped you with sleep and pains!

Diet soda is garbage as you now know. And the other “clear” sodas aren’t any better. In addition to being healthier, it’s also cheaper to get a cup of water at a restaurant. :)

The vegan post is coming eventually. I’m still experimenting with the right mix of health posts vs other posts.

Thanks again Dave!
Karol

Tzaddi

Good for you, sleuthing this out at a young age all by yourself. It can be tough to question let alone go beyond the cultural norms you’re raised with.

To the list of foods that might cause problems, I’d add nightshades. A naturopathic doctor recommended I try that years ago and it really helped me. Same with a friend who has some relief of her arthritis and migraines. Nightshades are common: potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers… so it’s challenging at first but you get used to it.

Karol

Thanks Tzaddi! I’d never actually heard anything about nightshades but I’m going to look into that.

Karen

Hey Karol,

Great post! I totally agree that soda is the devil.. I work at a restaurant, where I serve it constantly, and it amazes me at how large a portion of the general public consumes mass quantities of it.

Bravo to you for changing yourself from the Standard American Diet!! I go from eating incredibly healthy, to buckling under stress and lack of time and laziness and just eating fast food and soda. I’d like it to never happen, but I just don’t have that much self discipline. Yet.

I’d love to hear your take on how you became a Vegan! Just sub’d to your blog… I’m not sure why I hadn’t before!

Great post, and point of view.
:)

Karen

Karol

Hey Karen,

Thanks for commenting/subscribing!

My vegan post is coming eventually. It’s a touchy subject because I absolutely hate when somebody preaches to me, but I feel strongly (backed by science) that a healthy vegan diet is optimal for everyone (animals, the environment, ourselves). So I’m trying to keep the article from being too political. Maybe I’m overthinking it. :)

I don’t consider it a diet so much as a lifestyle change and that’s the key. Lifestyle changes are forever. Diets are fleeting.

Although my willpower/self-discipline is strong, I don’t feel at all like I ever have to use it to stay away from non-vegan foods. That all said, I do allow myself junk food sometimes. So far today, for example, I had lots fruits (1lb grapes, 2 bananas), veggies (a good 1 lb of mixed veggies), quinoa (lots and lots of quinoa), and almonds… but I also had about 2 oz of soy ice cream. :)

Karol

Dave

I think soda and sugary foods are more harming to our bodies than we are told or want to be told. I barely ever drink soda but do tend to have a raspberry nestea if at a restaurant that doesn’t have options (that tea is pretty much soda). Glad you found out what was wrong.

On another note, now that you are doing the Alist Blogger thing with Leo, try and remember us little bloggers when you are all successful and a world-renowned blogger in the next month.

Thanks for the great post!

Dave
LifeExcursion

Karol

I used to love that fake nestea stuff too. It gave me stomach pains just like regular soda though. The tap water at restaurants is usually just fine.

As far as your other comments: don’t be crazy. :)

Karol

Bia Kunze

I was grown with my mom putting soda and soft drinks far away from me. But there comes a time when all we stupid kids want to do is whatever our friends do. I went to some parties and got some cola and a few other things alike.
Then I had the 2 worst days of my childhood, all spent in bed and bathroom :P
I believe people drink and eat all these garbage just as an habit. They’ve been drinking it their whole lives, then it’s hard to stop later.
Recently I discovered I developed an allergy to milk and eggs and I’ve been hardly trying to adapt to a new routine. But it’s not the end of the world, but I’d love a post from you about food.
Second: do plan visiting Brazil? I live in Curitiba, southern Brazil, and it’s very different from the rest of the country… mild weather and many german, poland and ukraine descendents and a great ecological urban structure of public transports and recycling. Maybe you’ve heard of Jaime Lerner, worldwide award-winner mayor, famous architect and urbanist, who made Curitiba this great city, and later developed projects for other cities like NYC, Shanghai, and others.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaime_Lerner
We are very concerned about the environment here. It would be great to have you around!

Karol

Hi Bia,

Thanks for sharing. Great to hear that your Mom kept that poison away from you. And the fact that you got sick when you drank it proves just how poisonous the stuff is.

As far as Brazil: I’ve been wanting to visit (the Amazon specifically) since I was 8. But there are other places I will visit first. I will make it there. Maybe around this time next year. :)

Karol

BJ

Karol-
would you be willing to share your Quinoa recipe? I hear great things about quinoa, so I bought a bag of it. Now I don’t know what to do with it. Do I boil it like rice? Do I mix it with something? If you’re eating lots and lots of it, you must be doing something right with it.
Thanks!
BJ

Karol

Hey BJ,

Thanks for asking.

1 cup Quinoa
2 cups water
little bit of salt

Put it all in a pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Then bring the heat down and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the quinoa has absorbed all the water. Fluff with a fork and eat!

I made a dish with quinoa yesterday. As above and then in a separate large pan I sauteed onions, and then added carrots and cauliflower until they were hot. Mix it all with the quinoa. Delicious. I usually just use whatever vegetables I have or vegetables that are almost over ripe to use them up before they go bad. I made so much of this dish I’m about to eat more right now. :)

Kristof Alentijns

I also went from drinking soda and eating garbage all the time to drinking mostly water and sometimes tea or coffee and the occasional beers (am cutting back on that too). Still working on my eating habits though, they’re getting better but sometimes laziness still takes over (although I will not eat at any fast food chain).

What’s your take on bread btw? I’ve been reading that white bread is pure crap (because of white flour being almost like sugar) and whole grain is better but not truly healthy either.. Need to read some more about it but thought perhaps you had some interesting articles about it. I really love my whole grain bread though :).

Karol

Hey Kristof,

I don’t eat much bread, but I don’t strictly stay away from it….except for white bread. Like you mentioned, it’s pure crap.

Karol

Elana

This is a really excellent point – and a lot of people don’t take the initiative to self-experiment like this. I’m a doctor, and I can tell you that there are certain medical conditions/symptoms that are really hard to address in a 15 minute appointment: things like vague stomach pain, headaches, vague body pains, etc. Doctors don’t know everything and there isn’t always one obvious, explainable cause for why a symptoms occurs that we can tell you in a short period of time.

If you see a good doctor about a symptom like this, they might tell you to keep a journal of diet, sleep, habits, etc, to see if there’s a connection between the symptom and something you’re doing.

Either way, taking responsibility for your own well-being and body and not expecting someone else to solve problems you’ve created for yourself is key to staying healthy.

Steve

I have this problem as well. I get stomach aches after drinking soda. However, I have other bad habits which doesn’t help the situation, such as drinking alcohol and eating spicy foods.

Do you think alcohol and spicy foods also cause stomach pains?

Karol

Maybe. You have to cut them out of your diet to find out.

Previous post:

Next post: