Please Note: This post was reviewed and updated on 8/11/19.
I’ve written a few times about how the FODMAP diet was a real savior for me and at first it really was, but it didn’t take long to figure out I completely misunderstood how to do the reintroduction phase. So here I am, doing it again to figure out which carbohydrates are the culprits of my misery and to what degree. So here’s an update on my progress and findings along eith all the resources I’ve found most beneficial for my journey through FODMAPs. If you don’t know what the FODMAP diet is, click here.
I knew there were different kinds of carbohydrates and that some affect me more than others, I just didn’t take the time to learn about each group and what belongs to each of them. I was still inadvertently eating things that were bad for me. It required a good deal of time and effort to research, but I eventually found all the information I was seeking, so I figured I’d share it here so everyone can benefit.
Getting Started with the FODMAP Diet
Since I got everything all riled up, I had to start back at square one with the total restrictions until my system recovered, as explained here. This is called the elimination phase and is the most strict portion of this dietary program for people with IBS, SIBO and according to new research, quite possibly a large range of health conditions with a gastrointestinal component. Once you’ve been on the diet for about a week or so, you should begin to feel substantial relief from bloating, gas, nausea, peptic reflux, constipation and/or diarrhea.
Now that I’ve completed the elimination phase, I’m challenging my system with each type of carbohydrate for 1-3 days to see how it reacts. For full details on the reintroduction phase, refer to this post by Joe Leach on Diet vs. Disease: reintroduction or challenge plan. By consuming only one type at a time, it allows you to be sure of the culprit when something causes symptoms. It’s amazing how much easier it is to tell when your system has gotten a good break from these food items. The reactions are almost immediate. When I react poorly to something, I have to give my system a few days to clear before I can begin with the next.
I only had to test high lactose dairy once on one day to know it is a major problem for me. I don’t know when it became a problem, because I’ve been a dairy crazy girl my whole life, but it had me running for the bathroom in 20 minutes and took 3 full days before I felt better. On the other hand, I can digest cheddar or parmesan fine, so I’m able to consume hard, well-aged cheeses with low or no lactose.
On the other hand, if testing a particular kind of carbohydrate does well, I will be eating it in increasing amounts for 3 days in a row. If I begin to react to it in larger quantities, it’s probably still too high in FODMAPs for me to tolerate on a regular basis.
Testing Does Have Some Choice
I had to figure out what’s safe and what isn’t for my stomach, which suffers delayed gastric emptying and the symptoms of IBS (or possibly SIBO) and it was turning out to be quite the task. I didn’t like all of the foods recommended for testing in some of these instructions. Going back to the internet and more advice, I found this comprehensive list of foods arranged by carbohydrate type and then broken down into high, medium and low amounts. These lists have become my quick reference guide to carbohydrates and I live by them. They have helped me choose foods I prefer for my testing and really helped me to stay safe while also helping me to find a little variety in my diet.
In case there’s something missing from the comprehensive list on IBS-Health or you want to double check something, you can use this nutrition data website. It will tell you everything you want to know about a food’s composition. In the carbohydrates section, click ‘more detail’ and it reveals the type of carb(s) the food consists of.
Once I’ve completed testing, I will have the blueprint for my modified low FODMAP diet. This is a diet it is only recommended you remain on for 2-8 weeks due to its restrictive nature, however some still cannot tolerate these ingredients after this period. If this is the case, it’s vital that you find a way to replace the nutrients lost.
From the looks of it, there are many foods I will be eliminating from my diet to better control my symptoms and I will need to find new, safe foods I can eat instead. While all of this change is inconvenient and limiting, I know I can retest foods from time to time to gauge whether there’s any improvement. If there is, I will reincorporate it back into my diet.
What’s more important to me is feeling good. A huge burden feels lifted from me. Now that I’m on the FODMAP diet, my quality of life is better because I’m not fighting constantly with symptoms and trying to resolve them fruitlessly. The FODMAP diet has been a real savior for me and I think a lot of spoonies with “IBS” can benefit from its design.
If you still experience symptoms despite identifying and cutting out FODMAP ingredients that were upsetting your system, consider some of the following to see if you experience relief:
- A good probiotic blend to help balance the gut’s microbiome. Since I have MCAS, I use histamine reducing Bifido blenda.
- A low FODMAP fiber supplement to add sufficient fiber to bulk stools, which can be highly beneficial to eliminating both consitpation and diarrhea
- The low histamine diet to help eliminate excess histamine in the diet that can cause many of the same symptoms as “IBS”
- An Aloe drink gel or juice