An Update On The Low Fodmap Elimination Diet I’m Trying.
I was contacted by several readers about my recent post on the Low Fodmap Diet. One reader asked if I would write a follow-up article discussing whether it has helped with my Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS-D) symptoms.
As you may recall, I contracted a severe case of food poisoning, in June, from a restaurant in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. This was not your average bout of food poisoning and after multiple trips to my Internist, a round of very expensive antibiotics, an Ova & Parasite Test and a diagnosis of Post-Infectious IBS-D, I declined the prescription medication, at least for the time being, and decided to consult “The Google.”
My Internist did what most doctors do when they don’t know what else to do. She wanted to refer me to a Gastroenterologist, which most likely meant there would be more tests, and prescribe a medication to control and regulate my bowel movements. I really like her and I will be sticking with her as a patient but, I feel it’s my obligation to make her aware I’m not a typical patient, and I will be an active participant in my health care.
I would also like to make it clear that I don’t think it’s fair to blame doctors entirely for prescribing medication, as I believe their intentions are mostly honorable. I do believe they want to help us feel better and they’re only doing what they were trained to do …… treat the symptoms.
But ……… ultimately, it’s MY CHOICE and MY RESPONSIBILITY to take a purposeful interest in my health!
So …………. I said, “No thank you ………… not yet.” At that point I communicated to her that I was interested in exhausting all of my “natural” options before I subscribed to her philosophy. She was supportive and asked that I keep her updated.
I returned home feeling somewhat defeated, but determined not to give into western medicine ideology. My quest for advanced knowledge on IBS began at that point.
“Each patient carries his own doctor inside him.” – Norman Cousins
After searching the internet for a natural remedy I found some staggering statistics, including, 1 in 5 people suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Whoa 🙁
As a society, why do we suffer in silence?
Well, that’s a no-brainer ……….. no one wants to talk about their poops, as it’s not exactly cocktail conversation and some would consider it embarrassing.
Nope, not me! 🙂
Since this began, I have gone from annoyed to enraged to resolute, so I’m ready to talk about this until I turn blue in the face, or brown? 🙂 If I can figure this out, hopefully, I can help others, and apparently there’s a lot more of us out there than willing to admit. 🙂
So, if you’re ready to ditch the stigma of IBS and talk about it, let’s dive in right now. I hope my story and this information will help.
Here are some more statistics I dug up:
- It occurs more often in women than men.
- Can develop after episodes of gastroenteritis.
- Possibly caused by dietary allergies, but has not been proven.
- There might be a genetic link, but it has not been found yet.
- Stress is thought to play a role, but not a cause.
- An underlying condition called SIBO may be a factor.
- An intestinal infection, such as food poisoning, can cause IBS.
Some symptoms of IBS:
- Abdominal cramping
- Sudden urge to eliminate
- Alternate periods of diarrhea & constipation
- Change in stool frequency or consistency
- Mucus discharge from rectum
- Abdominal distension
- Loss of appetite
IBS is a symptom based condition and there isn't a reliable diagnostic test at this time, which means your doctor must primarily rely on the symptoms reported by the patient for a diagnosis.
The information I found on the internet about IBS led me to a plethora of books on the subject and multiple case studies in which people have gotten considerably better adhering to the Low Fodmap Diet.
So …….. I’m trying it. What do I have to lose.
But, what is the Low Fodmap Diet?
A brief overview of the Low Fodmap Diet procedures:
- Eliminate all high fodmap foods from diet for 2-8 weeks until bowels have stabilized and more regulated.
- Add one high fodmap food from one food group at a time to test tolerance.
- Design your personalized diet according to tolerance.
Although most alcohol is Low Fodmap, with the exception of rum, it is considered a gut irritant and should be consumed carefully.
There is a list of foods, which you can find on the internet, that you must not consume for the initial elimination period. These foods cause pain and bloating in the intestinal area by drawing water into the gut while others create gas and, some foods do both. Ugh 🙁
Gluten must be avoided during the elimination period as well. Keep in mind that just because a food item is "gluten-free," does not mean it is Low Fodmap. Many GF foods are sweetened with High Fodmap sweeteners! For example: I made the mistake of assuming the GF bread I was eating was Low Fodmap because it was GF, however, after I started reading "Healthy Gut, Flat Stomach" by Danielle Capalino, I realized the bread I was eating everyday was sweetened with pear juice. Pears are High Fodmap and one of the forbidden fruits during the elimination phase which was affecting my results. It took me about 10 days into the diet to realize how tricky and complicated the elimination phase can be, as well as critical to my success!
If you have not yet acquainted yourself with the reading, and understanding, of nutritional labels, now is the time to do it. Although I have looked at food labels for years, I really started paying more attention to the nutritional fact label about 5 years ago, when I developed a Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS).
For that reason, I do have a head start on the “label-reading” thing and it has been easier than I anticipated to follow the Elimination Diet, although I have had to adjust my cooking.
Because many beans, as well as peas, create gas in the gut, I have added more fish, chicken, eggs and egg whites to my diet for the needed protein. However, small amounts of lentils and chickpeas are suitable for the elimination phase, but I have erred on the side of caution and have only eaten lentils a few times.
“No disease that can be treated by diet should be treated with any other means.” – Maimonides
Tips For The Diet:
- Don’t overeat, portion control is key
- Eat slowly
- Avoid excessive intake of fats
- Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine
- Limit alcohol
- Eat regularly, possible more often and smaller meals
Along with eliminating certain foods, you must keep a food diary. This might be the hardest part of the process.
You not only want to write down what you eat but …….. well …….. you really need to document your poops! I’m using a number rating system from 1-10.
My Poop Rating Guide:
- #1 = watery
- #5 = perfect (my goal)
- #10 = constipated
TMI, right? Of course I know this but, how are we going to help each other if we’re not completely honest and upfront?
When I started this experimental diet process, I was running to the bathroom between 3-7 times before 10am with watery bowels and severe stomach pain but, as you can see from the next picture, now I visit the bathroom once, maybe twice, with much better results.
Trust me, get yourself a little notebook and write that stuff down! You really need to know, and REMEMBER, where you started to get where you’re going. It will also be imperative if you want to discover your food triggers during the Reintroduction Phase.
I am at the end of my fifth week of the Low Fodmap Elimination Phase and am feeling back at the top of my game. I am experiencing very little stomach distress, regular stools and a normal energy level.
Things seem to be getting back to normal and I am absolutely thrilled that I have found a natural way to heal my gut!
My plan is to start the Reintroduction Phase after the fifth or sixth week. Before I start though, I want to make certain that my stomach and bowels are at a stable point in the process before I move forward.
Because I had never experienced IBS issues in the past, this diet is super exciting for me! I can’t even imagine how people who have suffered in silence for years must feel after learning about this natural food cure. There really isn’t a “cure” for IBS, it’s more of a “symptom management” issue but, for me, it sure feels like a cure!
As you can imagine, I am very excited to update my Internist! I hope to update my readers as well after I begin the reintroduction phase.
Stay tuned <3
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” – Hippocrates