Low-FODMAP! Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides and Polyols. These are essentially short-chain carbohydrates in our foods that, for some unfortunate souls like myself, are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. Disclaimer: I am not a dietician or expert on the matter in any way. For a more in-depth explanation of what FODMAPs are, head over to dietician Sue Shepherd’s blog or the website for Monash University. Both are great, educated resources to learn from.
So what do FODMAPs have to do with me, anyway? Well, let me provide you with some background information.
My digestive tract went south in 2010 during my sophomore year of college. Whether it was the pressure I placed on myself to do well in class or some other life stressors I dealt with that led to my tummy woes, I will never know. All I know is I had never thought twice about my digestion, and then I started having abdominal pain and… well, I’ll spare you the in-depth details. I tried eliminating dairy at one point, but nothing changed. For the next two years, I resigned myself to ‘just dealing with it.’ I was a broke college student without the time or money to bother addressing the issue medically.
In 2012, I entered a graduate program. I needed some vaccine testing done for school, so while I was at the doctor, I mentioned my digestive distress. She tested me for celiac’s disease, but it came back negative. She then gave me some smooth muscle relaxants and said “if these work next time you have abdominal pain, it’s most likely IBS.” Well, they worked. After that, I again resigned myself to ‘just dealing with it,’ using the medication in ’emergency’ situations. I know, I know… I could have worked with the doctor, gotten a referral for a nutritionist or dietician, etc. etc. But my excuse remained the same…I was a broke graduate student without money or time to deal with it!
And now, 2 1/2 years later, I’m one year post-graduate school and almost finished working my first year as a school-based Speech-Language Pathologist! What could be more exciting than that?!? Well, my wonderful mother (who, bless her heart, has listened to me complain on and off about my stomach over the last several years) gave me an article from our local paper about FODMAPs about a month ago. You can read it here.
Upon reading the article, I felt both dismayed and hopeful. These HEALTHY foods that I love might be upsetting my stomach?? But if I change my diet, I could get my digestive issues under control?? I immediately delved into further research and decided to follow the diet for a little while just to see what would happen. I was shocked that my stomach felt pretty darn good after only a few days! But I found that strictly adhering to the diet was really difficult. In addition, if you read up on the FODMAP diet, you will see that it has two phases. First, one goes through the elimination phase where the diet is followed very strictly. Then, each type of FODMAP is slowly reintroduced to determine which ones you tolerate and to what extent.
You will also read that working with an expert is essentially a necessity. In order to carry out the phases correctly and really figure out what’s causing you trouble, an expert’s help is best. With the school year nearing its end, I plan to visit my doctor ASAP this summer to get started on conquering my digestive issues once and for all.
My hope for this blog is that I might help someone else who has the same frustrating, uncomfortable, somewhat embarrassing personal struggle find solutions and relief! I will continue to post as I find new research and resources, modify recipes to fit the low-FODMAP requirements, and move forward in working with a doctor and dietician to get everything under control. I hope that you will stick around and follow my journey 🙂