About the Low FODMAP Diet

After years of pain, gas and bloating, I found much relief after trying the low FODMAP diet. The low FODMAP diet is designed to eliminate key IBS symptom triggers for a few weeks and slowly introduce them back into your diet to better understand what your body can handle and what you should continue to avoid.

So, what is the low FODMAP diet? For starters, a group of scientists at Monash University (in Australia) have identified that short-chain carbohydrates, may be poorly absorbed by the small intestine, which causes IBS symptoms. These carbohydrates were given the acronym FODMAPs and refer to Fermentable Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides, and Polyols. Not all carbohydrates are considered FODMAPs, so don’t worry about giving everything up just yet.

About the Low FODMAP Diet

The FODMAPs in the diet are:

  • Fructose is a carbohydrate found in many fruits, honey, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and agave syrup. Fructose malabsorption is not completely digested due to the lack of an enzyme, but the absorption of fructose is dependent on another carbohydrate, which is glucose. Therefore, foods with a 1:1 ratio of fructose to glucose are generally well tolerated on the low FODMAP diet. However, foods with excess fructose compared with glucose, such as apples, pears, and mangos, will likely trigger IBS symptoms.
  • Lactose is the carbohydrate found in cow, sheep, and goat milk. Lactose intolerance is caused by partial or complete lack of the enzyme lactase which digests lactose. When lactose is not completely digested, it contributes to abdominal bloating, pain, gas and diarrhea, usually occurring 30 minutes to two hours following the consumption of milk products.Foods high in lactose include milk, ice cream, yogurt and cottage cheese.
  • Fructans are carbohydrates that are completely malabsorbed because the intestine lacks an enzyme to break their fructose bond. For this reason, fructans can contribute to bloating, gas and abdominal pain. Wheat accounts for the majority of people’s fructan intake, however it also occurs in onion, garlic and many other vegetables.
  • Galactans are carbohydrates are malabsorbed for the same reason as fructans, which is that the intestine does not have the enzyme needed to break them down. Consequently, galactans can contribute to gas, bloating and abdominal pain. Beans and lentils are the primary galactans.
  • Polyols are also known as sugar alcohols. They are found naturally in some fruits and vegetables and a added as artificial sweeteners to sugar-free gum, mints and cough drops. Sugar alcohols have varying effects on the bowel. It is wise to limit your artificial sweeteners that end in -ol, such as sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol and maltitol. Splenda and aspartame are deemed safe on this diet, but many people experience bowel issues with these sweeteners, as well.

It should be noted that the low FODMAP diet is it not only what you eat, but in what quantities. Many people with IBS cannot digest large meals due to the cramping and diarrhea it causes. Personally I can always tell when I ate too much, even with all low FODMAP foods. My system just can’t take a large quantity of food, so I eat 200-300 calorie meals about 6 times a day. Even if I dine out, I usually save half and take it home.

For your convenience, here is a complete High FODMAP food list, which outlines what foods should be eliminated on the diet. After you read that (and get freaked-out), here’s some additional information that you’ll want to read:

The way the diet was designed to work, is that you should do an elimination phase of 6-8 weeks and exclude all potentially harmful foods. After 6-8 weeks, you can slowly add one category back in at time to understand what is causing your IBS symptoms. Here’s detailed information on how to reintroduce FODMAPs back into your diet.

Great Low FODMAP Diet Resources:

the Low FODMAP Diet

I’m not going to sugar-coat it, the low FODMAP diet is difficult to incorporate into everyday life and I have had a few meltdowns to show for it. Luckily, I was already gluten and lactose free at the point I started it, but it was still very difficult for me to eliminate garlic and onions, which I miss everyday. However, I do not miss the pain that they cause me, so I can rest easy… literally.

I feel very strongly that this diet shouldn’t limit your life, it should limit your pain and discomfort to allow you to take on more adventures.

Advertisements

Recognizing the Symptoms of IBS

I remember the first time I farted in front of my husband (then boyfriend). It was over a year after we started dated and I was sitting on his lap. It was loud and he could feel it vibrate his leg. I was embarrassed, however, I laughed so hard that I ended up farting again, which is probably why I remember the moment so clearly. It wasn’t that I always hid my flatulence from him, it’s just that I didn’t have gas that often.

Fast forward to 10 years, and possibly 100,000 farts later, I look back to the moment and realize how lucky I was then. Gas and bloating is a common, daily occurrence when living with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and I am no exception to the rule. Not to mention the constipation and diarrhea that take their turn messing with my digestive system.

The Symptoms of IBS

Here are the common IBS Symptoms:

  • Gas (Flatulence)
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Mucus in the Stool

The symptoms of IBS are hard to deal with on a daily basis and they can make you crazy. For me, the abdominal pain, gas and bloating are the worst and I have spent countless days and evenings curled up on the couch in the fetal position. I am lucky to have a job in which I can work from home whenever I wish, but many other people don’t have that luxury. IBS symptoms can make you miss many days of work or school and make it hard to lead a normal life. It can also put a big strain on your relationships because it’s difficult to be happy or social when you’re in severe pain. I realized that I needed to take more action when I canceled plans with a friend three times in row because of my IBS symptoms.

IBS Symptoms

  1. Disclaimer – I am not a doctor, so if you have these IBS symptoms, you should first seek medical help before taking my advice.
  2. Disclaimer – I use humor to make light of serious and sensitive issues, so instead of the awful pictures you see on other IBS info (a too-skinny woman holding or stomach, an interior shot of the intestines, a sketch of bodily systems), you will NOT find here.

So what’s causing this constant distress if you have IBS? Briefly stated, the items that you’re putting into your body, which is food, drinks, medicine and even gum. Your body is reacting negatively to something you’re ingesting and it’s important to figure it out to get the symptoms to subside. For me, I have taken kindly to the low FODMAP diet, which is difficult to get started, but the relief I feel is well worth the trouble.

Stay tuned for more posts on how to pin-point what is causing your symptoms of IBS.

Want to Live Happy with IBS?

Featured

IBS Problems

So did I. For years, the pain, bloating, gas, and other issues that come with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) kept me from living a full life. It took me a very long time to pin-point some of my issues with food and other items with the low FODMAP diet, but once I did, I found I was able to live that life that I wanted. I’ve been there and I want this blog to be a resource to others who are suffering with all the discomforts that comes with IBS, as well as IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease). Know that you’re not alone.