Low FODMAP Diet: Day 1
(Almost a year since I’ve written here. Oops.)
People that have known me for a long time know I am a chronic sufferer of what is likely Irritable Bowel Syndrome. A bout with C. Diff back around Christmas made me quite miserable for some time, and drove me to finally ask for a firm diagnosis from my doctor.
Bowel-related talk ahead. Proceed at your own risk.
IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion. The doctors rule out everything else that could be causing the issues and, when nothing is left, you work to treat the IBS symptoms. The possibilities are a long list of terrible, terrible things.
We tested for the easy stuff – celiac, lactose intolerance, thyroid problems, gastrointestinal infections like giardia and C. Diff (again) – and the not-so easy stuff – a full colonoscopy to check for colon cancer, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, etc. Other than some diverticulitis (which should likely pass if the IBS itself abates and lets everything else relax) I’m clean. Especially since the clear fluid diet and diuretics I went through to prepare the colonoscopy.
So. Now to deal with the IBS issues.
Please note that I am a strong proponent of scientific-based medicine. I believe there is benefits in exploring alternative therapies, but until it’s gone through some solid, scientific, peer-reviewed studies that I can look at, I’m not interested.
Therefore, the next stage in dealing with the conditions of IBS is a low FODMAP diet.
FODMAPs = Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides and Polyols
These are certain carbohydrates found in foods that tend to pull water into the intestinal tract, may not be digested or absorbed well, and might ferment in the intestines. This can cause gas, bloating, cramping and diarrhea. There’s been a bunch of studies showing that many IBS sufferers can find relief with these dietary changes.
That being said, it’s an extensive list of stuff that have high amounts of FODMAPs.
- Fructose (fruits, honey, high-fructose corn syrup, etc.)
- Lactose (dairy)
- Fructans (wheat, onion, garlic, etc. Also called inulin.)
- Galactans (beans, lentils, legumes)
- Polyols (certain sweeteners, stone fruits, etc.)
This is not to say an IBS sufferer can never eat anything high in FODMAPs. The low FODMAP diet is used to minimize the amount of FODMAPs you consume for a period of 6-8 weeks. If symptoms abate during that period, it’s pretty clear you are sensitive to something on that list.
After the 6-8 weeks is up, small amounts of the suspect food groups are re-added to the diet to determine if they can be consumed and at what amounts. Some people can consume a half-cup of milk a day without consequences, some can’t tolerate it at all.
I met with my dietician and she’s advised me to start small, removing the easiest group first before attempting the full diet. Which is good, as she’s been helping me with my diabetic and weight-loss diet and is fully aware of my low willpower issues.
So. For the next few weeks, I will be attempting a low lactose diet. Not a full dairy-free diet, but keeping the lactose to a minimum. This means:
- NO milk or most non-aged milk products (cottage cheese, ice cream, brie, ricotta), creamy sauces, sour cream. No chocolate with any milk products, which will hurt. No margarine either.
- YES to lactose-free dairy. Small amounts of cream cheese, aged cheeses like cheddar and parmesan, mozzarella. Sherbet is okay. It’s unclear if prepared breads and such that contain milk will be enough to trigger anything, so I’ll try to focus on milk-free ones when I can. Butter is okay, apparently.
Loaded up the fridge with lactose-free milk and yogurt. Lactose-free skim milk tastes like someone added a shot of vanilla to it. Got me some soy creamer to try and see if I like it. Trying to read every label to check for milk content.
Wish me luck.