Food, Healthy Eating

I Tried The Low FODMAP Diet For Bloating & Stomach Pain—How It Changed My Life

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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.

Bloating or Stomach Pain? Why the Low FODMAP Diet Might Be Your Solution!

Trial and (mostly) Error

-Gluten Free?

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.

-Vegan Diet?

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.

-Probiotics?

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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Stick with it! Derailing from the low FODMAP diet will only make you have to start again.
  6. 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

Fed Up With Chronic Illnesses? 5 Holistic Protocols To Finally Heal Your Body

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Photo: Yoann Boyer Via Unsplash

Bella Gadsby

Bella Gadsby

Contributor at Peaceful Dumpling
Bella is a writer and actor based in LA. She was raised vegetarian and, after two failed attempts at being vegan, the conversion finally stuck in 2015 when she realized not all chocolate contained dairy. After this discovery, Bella fell deep down the endless rabbit hole of vegan cooking, she may or may not have been seen since. Follow Bella on Instagram @thegreatbgadsby.
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