Bowen Belly

I haven’t been well for the last couple of days.

It kicked-off on Monday night, when a slight stomach pain, which I tried to quell with my usual remedy, a glass of lemonade. Because burping helps. Really.

It didn’t help — instead it set off a flurry of up-chucking, joined later in the night from the other end. This kept going in regular instalments until about 3am, by which point I felt like I’d purged 20% of my own body weight. Not nice. I tossed and turned for the rest of the night.

Given I’d donated blood earlier on Monday, I rang up their hotline to alert them that all was not well. The night duty bloke, also called Daniel, sympathised and made a note on my file. I think he said they could still use the haemoglobin, but not the plasma. Or maybe it was the other way round.

Cup Day, which in the past few years has been spent away on holiday (not this year; it wasn’t a “pupil-free” day this year) was pretty miserable. The kids kept themselves busy, as I tried to catch-up on sleep and fluids, though my stomach was indicating that food might not be a sensible option just yet. By Wednesday morning everything seemed okay except the headache.

At least, as far as I could tell. It’d be nice if you got some definite feedback on this type of thing, but I suppose we’re not digital, so it just ain’t gonna happen. So we’ll have to put up with a headache and a pain in the belly, rather than “Error 407.5 — dodgy curry.”

Not that I know what caused it. We joke about this type of thing in my family as “Bowen Belly”, but its depressing regularity makes me wonder if there’s some undiagnosed intolerance that’s lurking there, rather than it being a bug of some kind.

Years ago I was tested for lactose intolerance. I honestly don’t recall what the result was, and I didn’t blog about it (it may have been pre-blog; shock horror). But I do recall trialling going off most dairy food for a while. I stopped when I realised I’m really not that keen on soy milk. Lactose intolerance is actually pretty common amongst those of Chinese origin (of which I am half).

Whether it’s that or something else, worth talking to the doctor about, I think.

(I just tried a cup of tea with soy milk. If this is what I have to do, it’ll take some getting used to.)

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

13 replies on “Bowen Belly”


We’re in Elwood and know of another family who, like us, went down with a 24 hr stomach virusfrom Friday through today…

Welcome to the club!

your supposed to have the lemonade flat so all the bubbles are removed – the main point of it is to get sugars into your system (but im not sure why they say lemonade instead of other sweetened drinks …)

another remedy that is famous in my hometown (not sure about the rest of australia) is Anchor Raspberry Cordial. it must be Anchor and no other brand. dilute it as per the norm and have a glass every hour. it does work – everyone takes a bottle with them when they go to Bali (which, being on the west coast and so close, everyone does).

good luck!

Could be gastro – apparently there is some going around according to a doctor. My wife had very similar symptoms starting mid afternoon Monday.

Canadians drink flat ginger ale instead of lemonade which makes sense as ginger is supposed to aid digestion and be good for the stomach.

Ginger tea and peppermint tea are remedies for an upset stomach. I can also remember one time when I was young my mother giving me coke syrup (the same stuff added to carbonated water to make Coca Cola) from the pharmacy when I had an upset stomach. Forunately I almost never have had an upset stomach as an adult. I do get heartburn sometimes and Zantac gets rid of it like magic.

Daniel, have you tried rice milk? It’s still not real milk, but I prefer it to soy milk. Failing that, there’s always Zymil, which the dieticians I work with recommend to people with mild to moderate lactose intolerance. As for what caused your recent upset, there’s a virulent Norwalk-type gastro virus going around – I had it a few weeks ago and boy, was I glad when it was over. I lost 3kg in 2 days, if that gives you some indication.

I second what Frannybee said; try a couple of different non-diary milk substitutes. They have rice, almond and a couple of others too besides soy. I’ve been mildly lactose intolerant for a long time (farkin’ lactose! I hate it! And the Dutch!) and found switching over to non diary milk helped.

You should be able to get lactose-free milk — pretty much the same as ordinary milk but with the lactose broken down into other sugars. It tastes a bit like UHT milk because it’s heat-sterilised; at our local supermarket it’s roughly twice the price of ordinary milk, but still much cheaper than some of the other milk variants.

Soy milk in tea, ugh. Actually milk in tea rates an ugh, you might grow to like tea without milk (recommend going tea without milk, but with sugar, then kick the sugar gradually) Repeat for coffee, till you take it short black.

Soy milk isn’t bad on cereals, think it, and banana smoothies, is the only way I drink milk. (no, I don’t think I’m lactose intolerant, but it keeps better.)

Hi Daniel

Have you tried BonSoy soy milk? It’s in a yellow carton with red writing. It’s made from organic soy beans, and the means of making it is completely natural and they don’t put sugar and barley and all that other crap like soy life and so good etc.

It’s also the creamiest and most neutral tasting soy milk I’ve ever had. My husband likes his tea with milk, and he loves the bon soy.

I use it in my cooking.

It’s more expensive in the major supermarkets and is only located in the health food aisle, but there are some health food stores that you can buy it in bulk from, and it then costs about $3 – $3.50 a carton.

Places close to the city where you can get it in bulk is Organic Wholefoods in Smith Street Fitzroy, the health food shop in South Melbourne Market, and it might be worth checking out that organic supermarket in flinders st just between degraves and elizabeth sts – I haven’t looked for it in there, but they may have it too.

The better quality cafes serve bon soy as their soy milk of choice. A Minor Place in Brunswick East, CERES cafe in Brunswick East and Sweet Agora Cafe in South Melbourne Market definitely do.


Soy milk isn’t always good for everyone, some women whom have trouble losing weight can hinder the process. It tastes like shite anyway.

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