FODMAP? What’s a FODMAP and Why do I Care?


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“Ugh. What did I eat this time? But I ate that the other day and was fine. Why didn’t my body like it this time?” This is a conversation I’ve had with myself a lot over the past few months. I was diagnosed with IBS a few years ago, given a high fiber diet and told to figure out the foods that set off my symptoms. Well, the high fiber diet didn’t really work, and I couldn’t figure out the foods that did it because the symptoms seemed so random. Sometimes I could have a bowl of cherries and be OK, other days cherries would make me sick. What’s up with that? Talk about frustrating.

A couple of months ago, I decided to try the FODMAP diet. What’s a FODMAP? FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, mono- and polyols. These are all types of sugars that some of us may have problems digesting. If you think of your gut like a bucket, you can eat FODMAPs until the bucket fills and then you get symptoms. Each person has a different size bucket and reacts differently do the different FODMAPS. I had gotten Patsy Castos’s book IBS Free at Last! and read through it. The plan seemed solid. However, I just didn’t want to give up all those yummy foods that contained FODMAPs. That was until I had a bad couple of weeks that landed me on the couch and feeling horrible just about every day. I’d reached my limit. I started the elimination diet after reading through all of the materials again. Within two days, I felt better than I had in a long time! It was amazing!

After following the plan for a couple of weeks, I started the challenge phase. Honestly, this was and still is hard. It was hard to eat food that I thought might make me feel bad when I’d begun feeling so good. The challenge phase is a necessary evil though. If you don’t challenge yourself you can’t find out how much of the different FODMAP foods you can tolerate. I’m still working on challenging myself with different foods. At least I’ve found that I can have small amounts of fruits and gluten-containing products. Dairy and I still don’t get along well, though.

If you have ongoing stomach or gastro-intestinal problems, or have been handed a diagnosis of IBS without follow-through other than a high fiber diet, FODMAPS may be a good fit for you. I’d highly recommend Patsy’s book. She also has an excellent website. If your not sure if FODMAPS is right for you, she discusses that here. Either way, if you have ongoing GI issues keep looking for answers. Your days don’t have to be filled with pain and the stress of not knowing if or how your body is going to react to food. If you want more information feel free to email me or post in the comments section below.

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Dr. Penny

My goal is help you take control of your triggers so you can lead a normal life. I’ve had Irritable Bowel Syndrome for over 14 years. I’ve been told, “It’s all in your head.” And, “You just need to figure out what’s causing your symptoms” without being provided any help to figure it out. I’ve finally gotten my symptoms under control. I want to help you do the same thing. I want to help you get your life back.

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