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Is It: Food Poisoning, Stomach Flu…Or, Just a change in diet?

Several recent threads touch (lightly) on the painful results of pilgrims on Camino suffering from either food poisoning or possibly stomach flu. In these threads, the writer describes the symptoms and, if professionally treated, the clinical finding.
But, let’s be candid, “When you are vomiting every hour or going through a bad round of diarrhea, you may not care that much whether you have a stomach virus or food poisoning.” See https://reliantmedicalgroup.org/blog/2018/07/20/is-it-a-stomach-virus-or-food-poisoning/
Nearly two years ago, I drastically changed my eating habits. Gone are my life-long love affair with pasta, rice, cereals of all sorts, especially steel-cut oats. And, I began receiving letters from my local package store inquiring if I were OK. Unfortunately, they missed my weekly visits stocking up on rum, fine single-malt whisky, and wine. The rum has made a hasty retreat, the single-malt relegated to Sunday evening and holidays, but the wine remains a nightly staple with supper.
On my previous Caminos, I plodded along, eating just about everything I could get my hands on. All in the name of cultural saturation. Many of the foods I no longer eat were right in line with my standard daily menu at home, so, except for losing about twenty pounds (9kg)on my first SJPDP to SDC and a few pounds/kgs on other Caminos, I had no noticeable discomfort.
My upcoming (August 26th) Camino Frances, starting at SJPDP, will be an actual testbed as to whether my current eating regime will result, given I do not contract either food poisoning or stomach flu, in noticeable distress as my body absorbs the possibly non-essential nutrients resident in a traditional “menu del dia.”
Let’s see how it all comes out, shall we!
 
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D74

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Walked Frances 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
Several recent threads touch (lightly) on the painful results of pilgrims on Camino suffering from either food poisoning or possibly stomach flu. In these threads, the writer describes the symptoms and, if professionally treated, the clinical finding.
But, let’s be candid, “When you are vomiting every hour or going through a bad round of diarrhea, you may not care that much whether you have a stomach virus or food poisoning.” See https://reliantmedicalgroup.org/blog/2018/07/20/is-it-a-stomach-virus-or-food-poisoning/
Nearly two years ago, I drastically changed my eating habits. Gone are my life-long love affair with pasta, rice, cereals of all sorts, especially steel-cut oats. And, I began receiving letters from my local package store inquiring if I were OK. Unfortunately, they missed my weekly visits stocking up on rum, fine single-malt whisky, and wine. The rum has made a hasty retreat, the single-malt relegated to Sunday evening and holidays, but the wine remains a nightly staple with supper.
On my previous Caminos, I plodded along, eating just about everything I could get my hands on. All in the name of cultural saturation. Many of the foods I no longer eat were right in line with my standard daily menu at home, so, except for losing about twenty pounds (9kg)on my first SJPDP to SDC and a few pounds/kgs on other Caminos, I had no noticeable discomfort.
My upcoming (August 26th) Camino Frances, starting at SJPDP, will be an actual testbed as to whether my current eating regime will result, given I do not contract either food poisoning or stomach flu, in noticeable distress as my body absorbs the possibly non-essential nutrients resident in a traditional “menu del dia.”
Let’s see how it all comes out, shall we!
You could try taking some of these - https://www.optibacprobiotics.com/uk/product/for-every-day-30-capsules

I found they helped me, as I was worried about food poisoning. They also do a range designed for people travelling abroad - https://www.optibacprobiotics.com/uk/product/for-travelling-abroad-20-capsules

Have a good one...walk that is.
 

Storyteller Matt

Storyteller Matt
Past OR future Camino
2021
Keep us updated on your progress. I start my Camino on September 17, and when I walked three years ago, I had stomach issues near the end. I am bringing this amazing Grayl water filter with me as I wonder if my stomach wasn't ready for the bacteria in the tap water. We will see what happens.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Several recent threads touch (lightly) on the painful results of pilgrims on Camino suffering from either food poisoning or possibly stomach flu. In these threads, the writer describes the symptoms and, if professionally treated, the clinical finding.
But, let’s be candid, “When you are vomiting every hour or going through a bad round of diarrhea, you may not care that much whether you have a stomach virus or food poisoning.” See https://reliantmedicalgroup.org/blog/2018/07/20/is-it-a-stomach-virus-or-food-poisoning/
Nearly two years ago, I drastically changed my eating habits. Gone are my life-long love affair with pasta, rice, cereals of all sorts, especially steel-cut oats. And, I began receiving letters from my local package store inquiring if I were OK. Unfortunately, they missed my weekly visits stocking up on rum, fine single-malt whisky, and wine. The rum has made a hasty retreat, the single-malt relegated to Sunday evening and holidays, but the wine remains a nightly staple with supper.
On my previous Caminos, I plodded along, eating just about everything I could get my hands on. All in the name of cultural saturation. Many of the foods I no longer eat were right in line with my standard daily menu at home, so, except for losing about twenty pounds (9kg)on my first SJPDP to SDC and a few pounds/kgs on other Caminos, I had no noticeable discomfort.
My upcoming (August 26th) Camino Frances, starting at SJPDP, will be an actual testbed as to whether my current eating regime will result, given I do not contract either food poisoning or stomach flu, in noticeable distress as my body absorbs the possibly non-essential nutrients resident in a traditional “menu del dia.”
Let’s see how it all comes out, shall we!
SO..precisely, what are you eating these days ? I read what you are not eating…
 
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frida1

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances April 11-May 11 2014
On my first Camino (CF) in 2014, I got a bad stomach thing. It was running like wildfire through the pilgrims around me, in varying degrees of seriousness. For me, it resulted in about 12 hours of vomiting and a couple days of recovery. I never have known whether it was a food borne problem or stomach flu. I’m more inclined to think flu since it affected random pilgrims. I’ve never had that since on any of 5 different pilgrimages in Europe. I think slight stomach difficulties can easily result from any change in local bacteria or just different foods. I notice that especially as I get older, and especially with richer, more fatty foods. Just can’t do them as much anymore.
 
SO..precisely, what are you eating these days ? I read what you are not eating…
Meat, Brussels Sprouts, Riced Cauliflower, avocado, asparagus, Broccoli, shrimp, lobster, pistachio/almond nuts, hard cheese, liver, pork rinds ( instead of chips) mostly anything low carbohydrate-high fat. My Dr sez my blood panels are that of someone in their mid-sixties. No more pain or HBP meds. So far so good.
 

wabana

Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
I am a microbiologist by training and God willing I start my Camino September 9.
I will stick with bottled water even though I don’t like to waste all the plastic I’m not taking chances. That being said I will still have to figure out how to consume at least 2 to 3000 cal per day and hopefully not all donuts- and I’m not sure all of the foods will be cooked in other words heat treated to kill the micro organisms. my guidebook has always been if the restaurant and what I can see of the kitchen and the workers look sanitary I’ve generally been pretty lucky. My point is if I observe the converse —-lack of overall cleanliness in both facility tables workers and glances into the kitchen I will skip it. I’ll never forget taking a chance in the Philippines and I thought I was going to die of the food poisoning I got from a sketchy place eating an enchilada that was probably scraped up off the floor!
 
Past OR future Camino
2021
Several recent threads touch (lightly) on the painful results of pilgrims on Camino suffering from either food poisoning or possibly stomach flu. In these threads, the writer describes the symptoms and, if professionally treated, the clinical finding.
But, let’s be candid, “When you are vomiting every hour or going through a bad round of diarrhea, you may not care that much whether you have a stomach virus or food poisoning.” See https://reliantmedicalgroup.org/blog/2018/07/20/is-it-a-stomach-virus-or-food-poisoning/
Nearly two years ago, I drastically changed my eating habits. Gone are my life-long love affair with pasta, rice, cereals of all sorts, especially steel-cut oats. And, I began receiving letters from my local package store inquiring if I were OK. Unfortunately, they missed my weekly visits stocking up on rum, fine single-malt whisky, and wine. The rum has made a hasty retreat, the single-malt relegated to Sunday evening and holidays, but the wine remains a nightly staple with supper.
On my previous Caminos, I plodded along, eating just about everything I could get my hands on. All in the name of cultural saturation. Many of the foods I no longer eat were right in line with my standard daily menu at home, so, except for losing about twenty pounds (9kg)on my first SJPDP to SDC and a few pounds/kgs on other Caminos, I had no noticeable discomfort.
My upcoming (August 26th) Camino Frances, starting at SJPDP, will be an actual testbed as to whether my current eating regime will result, given I do not contract either food poisoning or stomach flu, in noticeable distress as my body absorbs the possibly non-essential nutrients resident in a traditional “menu del dia.”
Let’s see how it all comes out, shall we!
Thanks for sharing as this weighs on my mind. I have anti diarrheal OTC pills packed but now I’m reconsidering leaving them at home. Much of the food listed in the article that could cause food poisoning are some of my favs - bummer.
 

tomnorth

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances: September 24 - October 31 (2015)
When I walked in 2015 a number of people came down with a gastrointestinal illness. They had problems at both ends, if you get my drift. My guess then and now is that it was Norovirus (see Wiki article linked below). In the linked article they mention that one of the risks is living in close quarters. Sound familiar? Hmmm.

Wikipedia Article on Norovirus
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I'm glad I never read of all the many gastrointestinal issues suffered on the Camino prior to my first. I never have had any in 5, but in the future I hope I do not overly concern myself with the possibility as I have always looked forward to the next hot meal.😋
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
I've never had a problem drinking the tap water or eating the food. As we now all know, fellow human beings are much more likely to make us sick! Hopefully the Covid safe rules will work with transmission of all human pathogens.
 
Last edited:
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2014)
Camino Via Podiensis (2018)
Careful hand hygeine after using the 'facilities' AND prior to food preparation and eating goes a long way in preventing some of these 'gastro' issues in communal living areas.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
I suspect that if you spent a month in your home town, sleeping in different rooms every night, eating 100% of your meals in restaurants, eating from food trucks, or grabbing snacks while on the go, often without handwashing, you would have the same chance of getting sick as you do on the Camino in Spain.

Tap water in Spain is as safe as it is anywhere, and I drink it with confidence.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
I suspect that if you spent a month in your home town, sleeping in different rooms every night, eating 100% of your meals in restaurants, eating from food trucks, or grabbing snacks while on the go, often without handwashing, you would have the same chance of getting sick as you do on the Camino in Spain.

Tap water in Spain is as safe as it is anywhere, and I drink it with confidence.
Agree. I order carefully from the menu and frequently not from the menu for Peregrino and s9met8mes not the menu dl dia. We don’t consume much alcohol, especially when we need to continue walking sothefixed meal may not be as attractive to us as others. I tryto stick to simple cooked foods - lots of ckicken cutlets, roasted chicken. Ocassionallya good state in a particular location. always a good pizza and wonderful Fresh saladin Ponferada
 
how to successfully prepare for your Camino
This book's focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared.
Camino Way Markers
Original Camino Way markers made in bronze. Two models, one from Castilla & Leon and the other from Galicia.

mattythedog

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
Several recent threads touch (lightly) on the painful results of pilgrims on Camino suffering from either food poisoning or possibly stomach flu. In these threads, the writer describes the symptoms and, if professionally treated, the clinical finding.
But, let’s be candid, “When you are vomiting every hour or going through a bad round of diarrhea, you may not care that much whether you have a stomach virus or food poisoning.” See https://reliantmedicalgroup.org/blog/2018/07/20/is-it-a-stomach-virus-or-food-poisoning/
Nearly two years ago, I drastically changed my eating habits. Gone are my life-long love affair with pasta, rice, cereals of all sorts, especially steel-cut oats. And, I began receiving letters from my local package store inquiring if I were OK. Unfortunately, they missed my weekly visits stocking up on rum, fine single-malt whisky, and wine. The rum has made a hasty retreat, the single-malt relegated to Sunday evening and holidays, but the wine remains a nightly staple with supper.
On my previous Caminos, I plodded along, eating just about everything I could get my hands on. All in the name of cultural saturation. Many of the foods I no longer eat were right in line with my standard daily menu at home, so, except for losing about twenty pounds (9kg)on my first SJPDP to SDC and a few pounds/kgs on other Caminos, I had no noticeable discomfort.
My upcoming (August 26th) Camino Frances, starting at SJPDP, will be an actual testbed as to whether my current eating regime will result, given I do not contract either food poisoning or stomach flu, in noticeable distress as my body absorbs the possibly non-essential nutrients resident in a traditional “menu del dia.”
Let’s see how it all comes out, shall we!
I have done 7 Caminos and never had any problems with the water from fountains or springs. However, after returning from my May 2019 Camino, a sever case of food poisoning developed. Test indicated it was from bacteria often found in European shell fish. I am quite sure it was from undercooked scallops I ate in that fancy tapas bar near the Cathedral in Santiago the day before my return--I thought they knew what they were doing, so I ate the things even though the insides were clearly raw. The first antibiotic didn't kill it, the second did, but I had symptoms for 3 weeks!

I completed the Frances 22 July this year and continued to Muxia and Finnisterre with no issues. That tapas bar was closed. However, a friend walking with me developed food poising and diarrhea for several days somewhere after Saria. There was also a lot of blog discussion of Norovirus rampaging after all the isolation and mask wearing that was recently discontinued. Keep your hands clean and don't touch your eyes!
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
A few times
Spain is a first world country. It's not the water, folks. In all likelihood it's communal living and your fellow pilgrim's poo-poo hands from poor hygiene habits after toilet time. Said poo-poo hands pass on those nasty little fecal bacteria everywhere, especially in albergue kitchens.
Wash any utensils and plates, bowls etc you are going to use even if they're in the cabinet or drying rack.
 
Past OR future Camino
Frances x5, Portuguese VdlP12, Sanabres, Aragones, Norte,Salvador,Primitivo, VdlP 17,Madrid18Norte
My one horrendous bout of D and V began after leaving Burgos and came to a head after climbing up onto the meseta. I'm sure it was food poisoning from a tapas dinner the night before. I don't know how long the food had been on the counter but as I love eggs I had extra tapas with eggs. My friend ate no eggs and was not affected. I struggled into Hornillos to the Albergue El Alfar, on the left and asked for a bucket, promptly throwing up and nearly passing out. They were so kind to me and next morning the owner drove me to his friend's Albergue in Castrojeriz and I rested in a private room until feeling human again in the evening.
I'm very wary now of tapas.
 

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