Upset stomach from dehydrated food

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Upset stomach from dehydrated food

Postby Drew » Sun 29 Oct, 2017 12:08 pm

For years we've dehydrated food for walks. Always our dinners, sometimes lunches, sometimes part of our brekkies (like dehy stewed fruit to go in porridge, chia pudding etc). It's been one of the best bits of hiking gear I've ever bought and I can't imagine hiking dinners without it (we even dehydrated about 10 dinners and lunches for walks in Peru earlier this year).

BUT... It's become increasingly clear over the years that my partner's stomach doesn't like home dehydrated meals. She gets stinky gas (and sometimes more) within a few hours of eating meals, making sleeping in a tent uncomfortable for us both. I've also had the stinky gas on a handful of occasions (it's a distinct smell).

Typically we do fully cooked meals at home that we then dehydrate. Things like curries, dahl, tomato-based pasta sauces, ratatouille, veggie chilli bean things, bolognese. Sometimes the carbs (pasta, rice, cous cous, quinoa) are cooked and dehydrated, sometimes cooked fresh at camp. It seems that it's these dinner meals that cause problems, rather than brekkies or lunches (sometimes we do lunches of dehydrated plain veggies with noodles or cous cous and spices).

My partner does have a sensitive stomach in general and sometimes suffers from discomfort in day to day life, but the correlation with the dehydrated meals seems clear. She's mentioned it to doctors but not got any answers.

Just wondering if anyone else out there suffers this problem? Or if anyone has any ideas about what in particular about the dehydrated meals it could be that causes the problem? Ways to solve it?

I don't fancy going back to camp cooking with heavy fresh ingredients, or eating expensive and disgusting freeze-dried meals, so I'd love to find a solution!
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Re: Upset stomach from dehydrated food

Postby CasualNerd » Sun 29 Oct, 2017 1:10 pm

Is the content of the meals different to what you'd normally eat at home ? If I eat low carb mostly but grab cheap carbs for bushwalking it has that effect, mostly because of the change in gut flora - it can change a lot based on your eating habits.

I assume you serve the food hot and can rule out other contamination ?
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Re: Upset stomach from dehydrated food

Postby Drew » Sun 29 Oct, 2017 1:26 pm

Thanks for the reply CasualNerd.

Is the content of the meals different to what you'd normally eat at home ? If I eat low carb mostly but grab cheap carbs for bushwalking it has that effect, mostly because of the change in gut flora - it can change a lot based on your eating habits.


Yep, the meals are generally exactly the sort of things we eat at home with no ill effects (in fact, they're often leftovers that are dehydrated rather than cooked specifically for dehydrating).

I assume you serve the food hot and can rule out other contamination ?


Yep, always served hot. Depending on how much time we have they might be first soaked in cold water upon arriving at camp, then heated, or sometimes just rehydrated with hot water straight away. We try to give them as long as possible to rehydrate because we suspect that less thoroughly rehydrated food is harder to digest (and anyway, we don't really want crunchy/chewy bits!).

When food is prepared well in advance it lives in the freezer until the hike. Always possible that there could be some spoilage of food that's not well dried I guess, but we often share food with a group and nobody else has problems, so it seems unlikely that contamination is the issue.
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Re: Upset stomach from dehydrated food

Postby Orion » Sun 29 Oct, 2017 4:14 pm

I've had this issue with certain meals. Sometimes it's been obvious that some parts didn't rehydrate well. Other times it's been harder to pin down. I've suspected it might be the salt content of some commercial meals but I think it's more complicated than that.

I really don't know, just that some meals don't suit me very well. So I avoid them.
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Re: Upset stomach from dehydrated food

Postby Neo » Sun 29 Oct, 2017 8:00 pm

Back Country makes me fart.
So does red cabbage me thinks, unfortunately! Both are off my list.

My 'luxury' base weight is 10kg so I'm into fresh food options and minimising the rubbish (LNT) ;)
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Re: Upset stomach from dehydrated food

Postby Drew » Tue 31 Oct, 2017 9:15 am

I really don't know, just that some meals don't suit me very well. So I avoid them.


Unfortunately for my partner the reaction seems to be the same regardless of the meal.

Back Country makes me fart.


Well I didn't like the idea of Back Country as a potential solution. Another reason to stay away from it!

We might try some different methods of preparing things. I suspect that if we actually cook meals in camp using plain dehydrated veggies and other ingredients then it might not be a problem.
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Re: Upset stomach from dehydrated food

Postby Gadgetgeek » Wed 01 Nov, 2017 10:14 am

Could it be that the fat/oil content in your food is going rancid (oxidizing) while you are dehydrating it/storing? I've heard that can cause some people some trouble.
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Re: Upset stomach from dehydrated food

Postby Orion » Wed 01 Nov, 2017 1:09 pm

So you can make a curry or dahl at home with fresh ingredients and the exact same recipe, when dehydrated/rehydrated will cause problems during a walk?

What if you made that recipe from fresh ingredients in the bush?
What if you served it dehydrated/rehydrated at home?
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Re: Upset stomach from dehydrated food

Postby Nuts » Wed 01 Nov, 2017 1:15 pm

Do you add a bought sauce Drew? Sounds more like a built intolerance (ie. to preservatives/colourings etc) if others don't experience the same? I have noticed these are becoming increasingly common (or diagnosed).
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Re: Upset stomach from dehydrated food

Postby wildwanderer » Wed 01 Nov, 2017 1:26 pm

Assuming you rule out food causes.

Id say its likely that what ever causes her to have a sensitive stomach/discomfort in her everyday life is the issue. Its just accelerating/more prominent when walking because the body is under greater stress/working harder/have a hipbelt pushing against stomach etc.

Another aspect to consider.. Does your partner go to the toilet during a trip? Many people have problems passing poo while on a hiking trip. Sometimes its the tightness of the hipbelt causing compression, other times its physiological (harder to go to the toilet without a seat so your mind and body avoids it). If she is not going to the toilet regularly that could also be a contributor.
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Re: Upset stomach from dehydrated food

Postby Drew » Thu 02 Nov, 2017 11:13 am

Thanks for all your replies - it's good to have some different ideas to consider! I wonder if this could possibly be a reasonably common intolerance (to something that happens to food when dehydrated/rehydrated) but one that is unknown because the number of people eating home dehydrated meals is so tiny.

Could it be that the fat/oil content in your food is going rancid (oxidizing) while you are dehydrating it/storing? I've heard that can cause some people some trouble.


Sounds feasible I guess. And possible that it only affects my partner and not others because her stomach is sensitive. But seems unlikely that the fat/oil is going rancid every time I dehydrate.

So you can make a curry or dahl at home with fresh ingredients and the exact same recipe, when dehydrated/rehydrated will cause problems during a walk?


Correct.

What if you made that recipe from fresh ingredients in the bush?
What if you served it dehydrated/rehydrated at home?


Good questions! I suspect that if it was made fresh in the bush it would be fine. My suspicion is that it's something to do with the dehydrating/rehydrating.
We could try a dehydrated meal at home. Not all that appealing when there's fresh food of course but maybe we should try it as an experiment.

Do you add a bought sauce Drew? Sounds more like a built intolerance (ie. to preservatives/colourings etc) if others don't experience the same? I have noticed these are becoming increasingly common (or diagnosed).


Nope, no bought sauces added (unless you count tomato paste, tinned tomatoes), all home made.

Id say its likely that what ever causes her to have a sensitive stomach/discomfort in her everyday life is the issue. Its just accelerating/more prominent when walking because the body is under greater stress/working harder/have a hipbelt pushing against stomach etc.


Yep, definitely possible. Although it does happen on easy hikes as well as challenging ones. And I reckon it's probably different in some way to her everyday stomach issues. I say this because the smell it's really quite distinct and not one we experience anywhere other than when hiking!

Another aspect to consider.. Does your partner go to the toilet during a trip? Many people have problems passing poo while on a hiking trip. Sometimes its the tightness of the hipbelt causing compression, other times its physiological (harder to go to the toilet without a seat so your mind and body avoids it). If she is not going to the toilet regularly that could also be a contributor.


Oy yeah, she definitely goes! Much more than she would like.
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Re: Upset stomach from dehydrated food

Postby gayet » Thu 02 Nov, 2017 12:01 pm

I don't think its been mentioned but could it be as simple as the difference in water? Town water vs 'wild' ? I'm not talking about contaminated water taken from streams but rather an intolerance/inability to handle water that has not been through the town water treatment processes and so has a different set of chemicals, minerals, and other elements in it than her gut is equipped to handle?

Trying rehy using water at home could answer that question.
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Re: Upset stomach from dehydrated food

Postby Gadgetgeek » Thu 02 Nov, 2017 9:22 pm

Thinking about it longer... Gas is often more about the bacteria, and I know that when I have a day off and sit in a chair all day, or do a full day driving, my guts can get out of sorts as the peristalsis gets all out of whack (as well as diet schedule changes)
walking can also accelerate peristalsis and that might mean food moving through the system faster than normal. I'd try eating a dehy meal at home just to see what happens. That might remove a variable.
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Re: Upset stomach from dehydrated food

Postby Drew » Fri 03 Nov, 2017 8:55 am

I don't think its been mentioned but could it be as simple as the difference in water? Town water vs 'wild'


walking can also accelerate peristalsis and that might mean food moving through the system faster than normal. I'd try eating a dehy meal at home just to see what happens. That might remove a variable.


Yep, we definitely need to try a dehy meal at home. We don't have any in storage at the moment so I'll have to prepare something.

It's also been suggested to me in a PM that high FODMAP foods could be problematic. My partner did actually try a low FODMAP diet a few years ago when her stomach was giving her a lot of grief. It certainly helped her but didn't conclusively reveal any intolerance/allergy. We can't remember though if the dehydrated low fodmap meals that we ate back then caused any issues! I think the dehydrated thing wasn't such a clear issue then so we didn't think about it. But maybe I'll make a dehydrated low fodmap meal as well as a normal one and we can try both at home.

I'll let you know how we go.
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Re: Upset stomach from dehydrated food

Postby Orion » Fri 03 Nov, 2017 9:44 am

FODMAP -- I had to look that one up.


Do you make a dehydrated meal that is indistinguishable from, or at least pretty close to, the fresh version?

If so, and it isn't too much trouble, serve both the fresh and dehydrated versions. Maybe not at the same time since then it would be easier to tell them apart. Perhaps on different nights. It would be best if you didn't know which was which either but that might be difficult to arrange. Hopefully you have an exceptional "poker face".

The reason I suggest this is that placebo/nocebo effects can be very pronounced. If she knows it's a rehydrated meal she might be more likely to experience problems.
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Re: Upset stomach from dehydrated food

Postby Son of a Beach » Fri 03 Nov, 2017 3:15 pm

gayet wrote:I don't think its been mentioned but could it be as simple as the difference in water? Town water vs 'wild' ? I'm not talking about contaminated water taken from streams but rather an intolerance/inability to handle water that has not been through the town water treatment processes and so has a different set of chemicals, minerals, and other elements in it than her gut is equipped to handle?

Trying rehy using water at home could answer that question.


This is worth checking out. I know of somebody who got violently ill every time she drunk water from a good clean creek out bush, and nobody else ever had any problems with drinking from the same source at the same time. I guess it could also have other different effects of different people.
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Re: Upset stomach from dehydrated food

Postby Drew » Fri 03 Nov, 2017 3:48 pm

If so, and it isn't too much trouble, serve both the fresh and dehydrated versions. Maybe not at the same time since then it would be easier to tell them apart. Perhaps on different nights. It would be best if you didn't know which was which either but that might be difficult to arrange. Hopefully you have an exceptional "poker face".


Yeah, the placebo effect can be pretty powerful! Not sure if my poker face is good enough. And our house is a bit small for me to hide what's happening in the kitchen from her!

gayet wrote:
I don't think its been mentioned but could it be as simple as the difference in water? Town water vs 'wild' ? I'm not talking about contaminated water taken from streams but rather an intolerance/inability to handle water that has not been through the town water treatment processes and so has a different set of chemicals, minerals, and other elements in it than her gut is equipped to handle?

Trying rehy using water at home could answer that question.



This is worth checking out. I know of somebody who got violently ill every time she drunk water from a good clean creek out bush, and nobody else ever had any problems with drinking from the same source at the same time. I guess it could also have other different effects of different people.


Interesting. Did she still get sick if the water was purified? We're normally pretty relaxed about water purification and my partner would understandably like to be more careful about it. I was about to write that on our recent hikes in Peru we treated all water with a Steripen, but then I realised that we generally didn't treat water used for cooking as it would be boiled. Hmm... I don't think it's the water though, because it seems to be only dinners that cause the problem (which are full dehydrated meals), not the brekky things, cups of tea or lunch noodles.
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Re: Upset stomach from dehydrated food

Postby Drew » Wed 15 Nov, 2017 2:19 pm

We'd planned to go on a hike last weekend and test out some food but after a 4 hour drive to the start of the walk I discovered that I didn't have my boots! Rugged terrain, good snake weather and flimsy sandals were not a good combo, so the hike didn't happen.
We did have a nice arvo and night camping though, and ate pasta with a dehydrated puttanesca sauce (not low fodmap) for dinner. No ill effects whatsoever. Not conclusive by any means, but perhaps adds some weight to the theory that it's strenuous walking, hip-belt on the stomach, walking related anxiety or similar that causes the issue, not the food itself.
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Re: Upset stomach from dehydrated food

Postby Neo » Wed 15 Nov, 2017 5:43 pm

Backcountry meals or ration packs make me fart & fart & fart, takes up to a week for my bowels to return to normal so I choose fresh whenever possible, bugger the weight!
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