How do I prepare my stomach for coming back to the U.S.?

I know this may sound strange, but one of the things I learned by living outside of the U.S. is that my stomach doesn’t like living in the U.S.

My wife and I will be leaving Taiwan in December to come home “for good.” (meaning, at least several years). We met in France, and lived there for a year, and we’ve now lived in Taiwan for two years.

Here’s the thing: I don’t fart when I’m not in the U.S. It seems that I can eat almost anything (but I’m a very healthy eater), but both in France and, especially, in Taiwan, I just don’t fart. During a four-month visit to the U.S. last year, I was amazed not only at the gas escaping from my derriere but also the near constant rumbling in my stomach and my intestines. My wife felt the same.

My brother in law recently went to the US for the first time and loved it, except that “he couldn’t stop farting.”

What I don’t understand is that even in the U.S. we eat pretty healthy stuff. I don’t eat junk food or fast food. I try to eat unprocessed stuff (but I don’t read the ingredients of everything I eat).

So, here’s what I’d like to know. What is it in the foods back home that make my stomach so uncomfortable? What should I read ingredients for? Is this an issue of preservatives in certain things? Should I stop buying anything in a box and just shop at farmer’s markets?

If there’s any more information you might need about my eating habits to better answer my question, ask away. Thank you.

We don’t have food. We eat chemicals and preservatives. We also eat fillers and food dyes. But, no food there. They are laced with fat and vitamins.Whats the problem?

Do we have chemicals and preservatives that don’t make me feel so bad?

As far as offering advise on how to prepare for it? I got nothing. Sorry:(

I am however now reassured to find it’s not just me. I’ve been to the US twice, for a sum total of 8 weeks, and quickly discovered why the chemists (uhm Drugstores I guess (?)) sell industrial sized containers of Tums, etc.

Obviously being a tourist I didn’t have the best of diets, but even on the occasions when I had a kitchenette and stocked up on ‘normal’ foods to for myself it didn’t seem to help. I don’t know what those plastic bags full of white sliced stuff is, but it sure as hell isn’t bread.

I have irritable bowel syndrome, and whenever I eat unfamiliar food or go out to a restaurant, I can usually expect to pay for it with a bout of diarrhea. Imagine my surprise when I finally left NY and traveled to Greece last year, and didn’t have a single episode, despite eating exotic foods like octopus and other things that normally send me running to the nearest toilet. I found that the food was much tastier and fresher in Greece. The whole supermarket culture just isn’t there.

When I returned to the US, I went back to my normal diet, and immediately had the worst stomach cramps and bloating. It took me a whole week to re-accomodate myself to the crap they sell as “food” here.

Do you drink milk or eat dairy products? I only get gas when I drink milk, and only at certain times of the year (mainly spring and fall).

Ahem Apothecaries/Apothecary Shops. :stuck_out_tongue:

Anyway, what part of the US are you going to? There are taste differences abound, for example I have to examine all my food closely in Arizona because some bastard always slips a near unnoticeable spice on it somewhere (I hate spices and they hate me).

I’m from South Carolina…

Every place I’ve lived all had markets for different fresh vegetables and meat. America rightfully gets a bad rep for its abundance of processed food, additives, preservatives, etc. I’ve known a lot of foreigners who complain about it, but they buy it anyway! Just because the alternatives are less doesn’t mean they’re all that difficult to find.

Isn’t the “real” stuff considerably more expensive, though?

Lactose intolerance is what I’m thinking.

I’m going to agree with a lactose or perhaps milk protein intolerance. Milk products show up in a ton of food in the US, particularly processed foods. You might try checking ingredients carefully and shopping at an ethnic market or organic food store.

Assuming you eat out a lot, are you sure you don’t just eat more in the US? Whenever I’ve visited it’s the quantity of the food, not necessarily any quality issues, that has been noticeable. I’d usually think “That’s me done” then look at my plate and see I’d eaten less than half what was there, and eat more just so as not to appear rude.

My SO has found that differences in the water make him flatulent. He has taken to drinking mostly filtered water and that has decreased the problem. The most common explanation we’ve found is that your digestive flora/fauna/chemistry get thrown off by changes to the minerals in the water.

Canola oil? It’s in everything here, and probably not used over there.

Not if you shop wisely, but if you’d never been schooled in the art of pursuing fresh food at stingy prices, you might think so.
I can get phenomenal prices for very fresh product at Cleveland’s West Side Market, for instance…

I’ve considered that as one possibility. For instance, here in Taiwan, I eat almost no dairy products.

Do you start consuming carbonated beverages in quantity?

You can have problems if you normally eat a low fat diet and eat a high fat meal.

There are some places that my whole family can’t eat at without discomfort, yet we have no trouble at most places. I’d like to know what those certain places use that other places don’t. Maybe they’re using Olestra without telling people since the requirement was quietly removed by the FDA.

Wikipedia Olestra article

Short answer: you can’t prepare. What you can do is to mitigate the problem by using antidiarrheals and such.
From my experience I can tell you that this is something to be expected just about every time you move from one continent to another. The culprit is not the food per se, but rather the microorganisms that grow on/in it. Every time you change your location, your intestinal microbiota changes too - although not instantly. The transition to a new “bacteria mix” is (in very loose terms) what causes the problem.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess – if not lactose intolerance – that the problem may be soybeans. If you aren’t eating a lot of meat when you’re back in the U.S., my guess is you’re eating a lot of substitute protein, and in the U.S., much of those foods are fortified with soybeans. Too much of that can cause digestive problems in some people.

I’m going to go with the lactose guess. For one, one of the signs of lactose intolerance (which is a spectrum thing, not a full-on or full-off thing) is gassiness and, er, a tendency to run. The fact that he’s been in the clear in Taiwan is pretty suggestive: dairy is not commonly consumed there, but soybeans are definitely very much commonly consumed, in the form of soy milk and tofu.

That said, he met his wife in France, and the average dairy consumption in France is probably more than in the US.

In the end (ha-ha), I have to ask: so you fart in God’s Country? So what? I fart all the time too. I just cut one just now, leaned over and did a one-cheek raiser and everything.