FODMAP Foods and Feeling Good Again

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.*

FODMAPs include:

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)

FODMAP no

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:

fodmapyes

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 Hippiehttp://www.hungryhungryhippie.com/lets-talk-fodmaps/

IBS–Free at Last!: http://www.ibsfree.net/ (And check out her book – THE resource about FODMAP diets)

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13 thoughts on “FODMAP Foods and Feeling Good Again

  1. Wow this is quite restrictive. I have stomach issues that sound identical to what you are describing (I’ve always assumed it’s IBS). If you follow through on this, you’ll have to let me know how you feel.

    • I had severe digestive problems for 20 years. I saw two gastroenterologists who said it was a sugar intolerance but they couldn’t tell me which sugar. I found out about FODMAPs online in 2010 when I read research done by an Australian Dr. Gibson, and have been following the “diet’ ever since. I have to stay away from anything with fructose or fructans (wheat, tomato sauce, and apple juice etc). The alternative is intolerable for me so I am thankful every day that I am now symptom free. It is worth it!

  2. Thank you for sharing! I had the same tests done. I was diagnosed with lactose intolerance as a child and then IBS after I unknowingly had a GI parasite when I was living in S. America. I was sick for more than a year and a half not knowing what on earth was causing it. Unfortunately it left me with ongoing problems and it has been “grouped” into IBS. I also had this diet presented to me. Some of these foods cause horrible reactions and I know it. I’ve also found problems with carbonated beverages, large amounts of soy and soymilk, greasy pizza… I totally eliminated dairy for a long time and it felt great, but I think too many other “problem” foods were still in my diet to feel my best. Above all else stress is a huge factor. Good luck! I am managing better lately, but there are still times I double over in pain from things I ate. I hope that once you can eliminate these problem foods you can experiment with other things to see what you specifically can tolerate. Easier said than done! Hang in there!

    • Thanks, Amanda. I just found out that my insurance covers three visits/year to a nutritionist, which I might take advantage of. Some of these foods I eat all the time and are my favorites, which is maybe why I never know when I’m going to feel bad next. Even though I know garlic makes me feel bad, I eat it all the time. I have known apples made me feel bad since I was little. I don’t think dairy specifically upsets me but I am beginning to wonder more and more about gluten… Sometimes I can eat a burger and be just fine, and the next day I’ll eat a delicious, veggie-filled soup and feel like crap. Wishing I had the iron stomach my husband did! (This might also explain why my green smoothies never made me feel better after about 4 months… I’m loading them up with fruits that upset my tummy!)

  3. Hello. You might find my blog handy – I’m collecting low-FODMAPs recipes since I also have multiple food intolerances! http://fodmapscafe.wordpress.com/
    All the best with everything – I’ve been on the diet for 18 months now and it’s changed my life! I only get pains and bloating occasionally now. (When I’ve been behaving myself. :P)

  4. Pingback: Salmon over Walnut Lentil Salad with Tarragon | Nourishing and Dissertating

  5. Christina, I wonder if you might be able to digest raw milk and raw milk products. A lot of people who have issues with lactose find that they have no trouble with raw dairy because it contains the enzyme lactase that is what helps us digest lactose. Pasteurization destroys the enzyme. Also, this takes a lot of planning ahead, but you might see a difference if you use sprouted grains/flours and soak/sprout your legumes as well. And raw milk would replenish your digestive flora, as would eating homemade sauerkraut/kimchi. Check out the Nourishing Traditions book I sent you – lots of info in there. Hope you can find what works for you.

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