This way of eating changed my life.
I was extremely disheartened before I found the low FODMAP diet. My stomach was frequently bloated and painful. I felt as though I had no control over my body, and I lacked self-confidence. I wasn’t living life to the fullest because I was either in pain or afraid that pain would come.
For years I was on a quest to ease my stomach issues.
I first noticed the stomach pain midway through my freshman year of college. At the time I ignored it, passing it off as “period-related.” A little after the start of my sophomore year of college, I became very aware of the pain. It would come on sporadically, seemingly brought on by nothing. Twice I went to the doctor. After being examined, I was told everything was fine and was sent on my way.
But I wasn’t fine. I was still experiencing deep internal pain and bloating. Thus I began my journey of trying to alleviate my stomach pain.
Trial and (mostly) Error
In 2014, everyone seemed to be going gluten-free. I thought, yes, this must be it, I have a gluten intolerance! For the next six months, I was on a completely gluten-free diet. However, I still felt the same level of symptoms. I decided to try something else.
-Coffee or Apples?
People had told me that coffee and apples could have negative stomach effects. I tried eliminating coffee and still had the same amount of pain. Next, I tried eliminating apples; still the pain persisted.
The summer going into my junior year of college I went vegan. Although the reason for going vegan was not to cure my stomach issues, I was hopeful it might alleviate the symptoms. Unfortunately, it didn’t help.
My last attempt was probiotics. I made it my mission to get a good dose of probiotics every single day; usually in the form of kombucha, sometimes a vegan yogurt. Out of everything I tried, this was the most helpful. However, the marginal relief I felt wasn’t good enough. I decided it was time to see another doctor.
The Answer: Low FODMAP Diet!
I went to a new doctor and explained to her my symptoms and the various diets I’d tried. She told me that although I wasn’t experiencing all the symptoms of IBS, a low FODMAP diet could benefit me. IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome, is characterized by stomach pain, bloating, gas, and constipation or diarrhea. My doctor said that because I wasn’t experiencing all the symptoms, the other doctors I saw didn’t consider recommending a low FODMAP diet.
What is a Low FODMAP Diet?
A low FODMAP Diet, or a FODMAP elimination diet, means eating ONLY low FODMAP foods for 3-8 weeks. I did it for six weeks, which was a doable and effective amount of time. During the elimination phase, it is paramount to stick to the specific list of foods AND the specific portion sizes.
Here is a wonderful and informative resource on what the low FODMAP diet is (there also is a helpful grocery list posted in this article). In short, “FODMAP is the acronym for a group of osmotically active, rapidly fermentable, short-chain carbohydrates. It stands for Fermentable Oligo- Di- and Monosaccharides and Polyols.” The low FODMAP steers clear of or limits portion sizes of foods with these potentially gut-irritating substances.
Where do I even begin?
- Give away all the perishable food in your home that does not qualify as low FODMAP, including: asparagus, onions, garlic, legumes, sugar snap peas, beets, celery, corn, apples, pears, mango, watermelon, nectarines, peaches, plums, dairy rye, regular (wheat) bread, pasta.
- Check out low FODMAP websites, save recipes you like, and write down a list of groceries, such as: green beans, bok choy, carrots, bell peppers, herbs, cucumber, lettuce, tomato, zucchini, banana, orange, mandarins, grapes, gluten-free bread, GF pasta, rice, quinoa, tofu, tempeh, almonds, peanuts, sesame, kale.
- Bring the low FODMAP food list with you grocery shop. If you don’t have the list, everything you pick up seems to be a “No.” This can feel very discouraging. Instead, look at the long list of things you CAN eat.
- Plan ahead. Know that going out to dinner will probably be very tricky. You must know every ingredient and the portion size. Eat ahead of time and plan to get a low FODMAP beverage when you go out. Suggest a dinner party, and bring a low FODMAP-safe dish.
- Stick with it! Derailing from the low FODMAP diet will only make you have to start again.
- Have “safe” snacks in your bag, car, and workplace. You don’t want to feel deprived.
Here’s a great resource for finding vegan, low FODMAP recipes:
Is it worth it?
Yes! Oh my goodness, yes. I have gone from having stomach pain 40% of the time to 5% of the time. The stomach pain I get now is solely stress-related. Today I stick to low FODMAP foods about 70% of the time. There are some things that I know I cannot eat: Cashews, Apples, Coffee, Gum, and Fake Sugar. Others, for example, such as garlic and onions, I have to be careful with. While FODMAP is restrictive, it’s designed to be for a limited time only. So give it a try–you will be pleasantly surprised!
If you are having stomach issues I highly recommend trying the low FODMAP diet!
Have you tried any elimination diets to cure your stomach issues?
Also by Bella: Gluten-Free Vegan Eggnog Cookies With Holiday Spiced Tea
Related: The Autoimmune Protocol Changed My Life–Why It Will Make You Feel Phenomenal
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Photo: Yoann Boyer Via Unsplash