A woman who lives with a rare stomach condition has revealed that she survives on a diet of plain biscuits.
The only food that 25-year-old Talia Sinnott is able to keep down include 10 digestive biscuits and plain crackers each day.
This is because Sinnott, a trainee clinical psychologist from Wolverhampton, suffers from a chronic illness called gastroparesis that means her stomach is unable to process food.
She was diagnosed with the rare condition four years ago. The illness caused her to be sick up to 30 times a day, Sinnott says, and her weight plummeted by three stone (approximately 19kg) to just five stone (31kg).
Sinnott relies on a feeding tube to provide her with necessary nutrients and can only eat McVitie’s digestives and plain crackers.
Even the dry biscuits can be “hit and miss” with her condition. “Some days the biscuits sit OK and sometimes they don’t,” she explained. “I can’t eat a lot in one go and I have to pick at them throughout the day.”
Sinnott said her ability to process certain crackers is “bizarre” as she can have some types but not others.
“There is no pattern at all to my eating so it’s always a guessing game and I haven’t got a safe food I can rely on. One day I can be absolutely fine with eating a certain kind of food and then three days later, I can’t tolerate it,” she said.
“I went through a stage of being able to stomach mashed potato because it’s soft but now I can’t. It’s really difficult because it’s not like an intolerance where you can avoid a certain type of food – it’s very random.”
Gastroparesis is a long-term condition where food passes through the stomach slower than usual. It is thought to be the result of a problem with the nerves and muscles that control how the stomach empties.
Symptoms include feeling full very quickly when eating, experiencing nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss, bloating, stomach pain or discomfort, and heartburn.
Sinnott said her symptoms began in 2018, when she started feeling like “food was sitting on her chest”.
The symptoms began showing up intermittently but became more aggressive over the years. She was initially prescribed medication that helped alleviate the symptoms, but only for a short time.
She is now trying to raise funds to have a gastric pacemaker fitted, which will send impulses to her stomach muscles to allow it to digest food better.
“So little is known and understood about my chronic illness, which is why it is often misdiagnosed, and people are left without a diagnosis for years and people are told it’s an eating disorder,” she said.
“I was very fortunate to get a quick diagnosis. Although my symptoms have been there since 2018, it is only this year that they have really been bad.”
Sinnott is hoping to raise £80,000. Half of the money will cover treatments such as tube insertions and appointments she has already had, and the other half will go towards the gastric pacemaker.
She hopes that the device will help her enjoy food again next year.
“My life has been put on pause and it’s been very difficult… It’s horrible, it never gets easier, but just becomes part of your day which is sad to say,” she lamented.
“I was a very big foodie before, and I loved food and still do. Even though I am tube fed, I never feel full. Your brain doesn’t get that signal that you’re full, and I crave food all the time.”
She added: “I can’t wait to get back to my studies and eat and drink whatever I like. I can’t wait to not wake up and feel awful and be in pain.”
Additional reporting by SWNS