This morning I had an appointment with a gastroenterologist to address my almost constant gastrointestinal discomfort. In the past I’d been diagnosed with IBS after an inconclusive endoscopy when I was about 10 years old. IBS is such an odd disorder, it seems to be a catch-all for those with stomach pains that aren’t patently caused by something in specific.
The doctor ordered a Celiac panel to make sure I don’t have it (don’t think I do, but I’ve heard that most everyone is slightly sensitive to gluten) and sent me home with a new dietary plan. I don’t have stomach pain just when I eat certain things, but rather ALL THE TIME, no matter what, sometimes even if I don’t eat! Which makes me think it’s not just gluten, or just dairy, or just spicy food, etc. I have sharp pains due to gas and bloating, and I can feel my stomach gurgling around all day sometimes.
A new dietary intervention is called FODMAPs, which has you eliminate (or reduce, at least) a group of carbohydrates and sugars that may be poorly absorbed and cause gas and bloat. FODMAPs is an acronym for “Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, and Monosaccharides and Polyols.” Essentially, it refers to foods that contain easily fermentable, short-chain sugars that increase fluid delivery into your large bowel, causing pain in certain individuals.*
Lactose (pretty much all dairy)
Fructose (high-fructose corn syrup, agave, honey, certain fresh fruits like apples, pears, peaches, mangoes, watermelon and coconut, dried fruit and fruit juices)
Fructans (wheat and rye, certain vegetables, like artichokes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, garlic, okra, onions, radicchio, shallots and snow peas)
Galactans (chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans and soy products, broccoli again)
Polyols (artificial sweeteners, certain fruits such as apples, apricots, blackberries, cherries, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, prunes, watermelons, certain vegetables like cauliflower, white button mushrooms, and snow peas)
This sounds hard, right?! I adore chickpeas and lentils, mangoes and coconut, ice cream, garlic is it’s own food group in my house, I live and die for onions and cherries in the summer. (Oh wait, maybe this is why I feel so bad all the time? Many of my favorite foods are on the “NO” list!)
So what can I do? Well, I don’t have to eliminate all FODMAPs. Especially because many of these foods are really important to health (like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc.) and are whole foods. The problem with whole grains and foods when your tummy flora is imbalanced, like mine is, that your gut microbes feast on these FODMAPs too aggressively.
The trick, I’m told, is to pay attention to the total FODMAPs load in the diet, to eat ripe fruit (unripe fruite is more problematic somehow) and limit raw foods which are also somehow harder on the gut. Below are some “YES” foods on the FODMAPs diet:
Let’s find some good news in this… I LOVE bananas, blueberries and grapefruit, and we’ve already got a lot around the house. In fact, I adore most of the fruits on that list (except for maybe durian. ew!). I guess I don’t dislike any of those veggies and, as you know from reading my blog, I love pumpkin and squash and foods loaded with herbs and spices. I can have gelato without feeling bad about it, and hard cheese (Manchego 4 lyfe!). I never used artificial sweeteners anyway, and quinoa is a staple in this household along with rice.
Well… this might affect my postings as I’m going to have to get super creative to regain my intestinal health. I’m still in a bit of disbelief, I can’t imagine completely eliminating some of my favorite foods, like onion and garlic. I also dont want to believe that I am literally intolerant of certain foods. This is going to make traveling a nightmare!!
Have you ever been put on a restrictive diet? How do you maintain a healthy tummy?
*to cite my source, check out The Inside Tract: Your Good Gut Guide to Great Digestive Health, by Gerard E. Mullin & Kathie Madonna Swift
Did I pique your interest? Here are some more links for further exploration about FODMAPs:
Fructose Free Mom: http://fructosefreeme.com/low-fodmap-diet-2/
Hungry Hungry Hippie: http://www.hungryhungryhippie.com/lets-talk-fodmaps/