Further to my recent FODMAP for IBS post, I decided to put together some information on my own personal FODMAP journey which has led me to where I am now.
Or if you prefer to read than watch and listen, then here it is in text format:
Thinking more about my diet and watching reactions to specific foods led me down an arduous path of self-evaluation. Early on, I established that the trapped wind and resulting stomachs cramps I was experiencing, mostly occurred when I had gone long periods without eating. And when I say stomach cramps, I am talking agony, alongside hideously embarrassing er… ‘passing wind’ noises from within my stomach or intestines of wherever… Very, very unpleasant.
However, everything else felt so inconsistent. I would eat high FODMAP foods and feel fine, but other days, low FODMAP foods would make me feel terrible. In all fairness, I hold my hands up to not undertaking the process properly. I didn’t give it the 6-week phase of banning all FODMAPS and then reintroducing slowly, but I did keep food diaries.
Although I did learn a few things, I couldn’t establish many consistent patterns and this often led to feeling disheartened. This would be particularly prevalent after the initial high of thinking I had solved one of my body related FODMAP mysteries, only to find that I had misdirected the finger of blame.
As an example of the frustration, for a while, I believed that lactose was an issue for me and my initial investigations appeared to improve how I felt. However, pursuing a lactose-free diet and also, as an alternative, taking lactase pills to provide the missing enzyme – nothing made a difference. I was at least able to come to a few conclusions about the inner workings of my body such as:
Mango causes severe bloating and discomfort
Strongly flavoured crisps, sweet chilli flavouring, in particular, causes severe bloating and discomfort.
Consuming too much chocolate causes severe bloating and discomfort
Consuming too much fruit causes bloating
Unfortunately for me, these are some frustrating conclusions. Mango is a favourite, fruit, in general, is nutritious and syn free on slimming world, and then when I am being off plan, I have a great love for chocolate and strongly flavoured crisps. Still, at least I know I have the choice now. Eat those things and suffer the consequences or avoid them and stay feeling better.
Whilst continuing with my FODMAP struggle and forever feeling like I wanted to lose a few lbs, I also found it tricky to combine low FODMAP diet with Slimming World. I think a big factor was adding flavour to meals. A low FODMAP diet often leads to avoiding garlic and onion. These are staple flavourings in Slimming World recipes and it impacted greatly. This presented quite a challenge, and in favour of weight loss, I jumped from the FODMAP train and watched it toot off into the distance…
With Slimming World, I knew that a carbohydrate-rich diet (previously known as ‘green’ days) never led to a speedy loss. Instead, I aimed for as much of a low carb diet as I could manage. If you knew me, you would appreciate how tough a challenge this would be due to my die hard love of carbs. However, I was determined and saw results in a short time. I found that varying the choices I made with Slimming World led to me stumbling across a way of eating that appeared to support my IBS affected digestive system; things just seemed to work better.
The last 30 years of my life have been spent regularly consuming pasta and bread. This leads to sluggish digestion, regular bloating, irregular and infrequent toilet trips, and disillusionment and frustration as a result. I attempted gluten free but, although there appeared to be minor improvements, I still suffered the same symptoms. These days I opt for rice and potatoes to satisfy my carbohydrate cravings. Interestingly, by maintaining a generally lower carb diet, my body processes occasional pasta and bread more easily. I have less bloating, more regular and easier toilet trips, and more energy and enthusiasm in general. For me, this is an incredible improvement in my general well-being.
I still suspect that my digestive system sneers at high FODMAP foods. In particular, onions and garlic and this is due to the bloated feeling I sometimes experience. However, it is now more manageable and those infamous high FODMAP offenders form regular additions to my diet. Meat and roasted vegetables are a favourite and documenting my journey on Instagram helps me to stick to the plan. However, convincing my brain that I no longer need carbs every evening has been tough. The reality is that they are not necessary in the quantities I have been accustomed to. Although I am no nutritionist, I do have an understanding of a balanced diet and I know I eat enough carbs to stay healthy. Lean meat and vegetables definitely boost weight loss, are tasty, filling and keep me feeling well, even with loads of high FODMAP roasted onions as part of the mix!
FODMAP and me now
Therefore, I feel that I have found a happy medium with food. It is still inconsistent and occasionally I cannot understand why I am feeling so bloated, but things are greatly improved. The recent Christmas period resulted in a relatively common overindulgence, but I know how to get back on track and I have returned to the Slimming World ways to shift some of those extra pounds. If you follow my blog you will know this has stumbled somewhat, but the upside is that even if I am not losing weight, I still feel more comfortable and that is such a vast improvement to my life which, for me is of the greatest importance.
And this brings everything up to date. Have any of you discovered any similar patterns? Is this something that you might try? If so, I would love to hear how you get on. Even if my discovery proves not to be the solution for you, I very much hope that my experiences can help you in some way and support your journey down the difficult path of digestive peace.