A less known fact about me is that I suffer from something called Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS. You may have heard of It before on TV or from a friend/family member, or you may even suffer from it yourself. If you do, then you know it’s NOT fun at all.
It’s currently estimated that about 10-20% of the population suffer from IBS. That includes both diagnosed and undiagnosed. The symptoms and triggers are extremely individual, and can vary from day-to-day.
The most common symptoms include diarrhea, constipation, abdominal discomfort, bloating, and gas. The triggers can be as simple as fatty foods or alcohol, and can be as complex to include FODMAPs.
What are FODMAPs?
By its name, FODMAPs sounds pretty intimidating. It stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols. Yes, it sounds super complex. In fact, even when I was in university first learning about it I was somewhat overwhelmed.
Now, before you run to hills – let me tell you about a super simple book writer from one of my colleagues Danielle Capalino MSPH, RD. It’s called Healthy Gut, Flat Stomach and gives information about what FODMAPs are, along with step-by-step instructions and meal plans to complete your own FODMAP diet.
If you suffer from IBS, you may want to note that 75% of all people that have tried a FODMAP diet have found success with it. That’s a pretty huge number if you ask me.
The book starts by giving a background on what exactly FODMAPs are, along with what foods contain FODMAPs. FODMAPs are foods that are high in specific carbohydrates: lactose, fructose, galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), fructans, sorbitol, and mannitol.
I know those are really big words that may not mean anything to you right now. What I really love about this book is that Danielle gives it all in simple terms, and also provides a great list on both foods that high and low in the specific FODMAP categories.#BookReview: Rid your #IBS with the #FODMAP diet - Healthy Gut, Flat Stomach from @dcapalinoClick To Tweet
You may be aware that there are many gut issues that display similar symptoms as IBS. Given that, Danielle goes through some of the common disorders along with testing to ensure you have ruled out other causes for your stomach woes.
The Elimination Phase:
First things first, once you determine what FODMAPs are, you need to undergo an elimination diet. This is important to get into a phase where you should have no symptoms of your dreadful IBS. Now, this is just a temporary phase.
As Danielle explains, many foods that contain FODMAPs are actually really healthy. Because IBS is so individual, you will need to determine which of the specific FODMAP categories causes you grief.
What’s amazing is that Danielle provides a sample meal plan along with recipes to help you get started on the elimination diet. It’s super easy to follow, and I know as I even completed it myself. Generally this phase is seven days, unless you chose the simple method outlined in the book (which will take five weeks).
Now I really want to show you how delicious some of the recipes are – check out this Raspberry Blueberry Chia Jam I made from one of her low FODMAP recipes (pictured below). I was surprised as to how easy this was to make, AND it was super delicious.
The Testing Phase:
Once your symptom free, then begin introducing some of the high FODMAP food categories back into your diet one-by-one. This is called the testing phase. Danielle chooses a representative food from each of the FODMAP categories for you try, along with a defined portion size. Depending on how you feel after each of the foods, you will even try increasing them to see if you have a “dose” response to some of the FODMAPs.
In the appendix section of the book there is worksheets for you to track your symptoms while your in the testing phase. This is important, as you will be able to see how you felt with each of the foods, along with the increased portions.
The Personalization Phase:
Once you figure out which FODMAP categories affect you, Danielle does a great job at putting all of the pieces together. Simply, she explains what foods you should avoid, and how to can approach eating out, and even store bought foods. In addition – some foods may contain multiple categories of FODMAPs, in which she discusses what these foods may be, and what you should do.
Overall I was very impressed at how simple and easy the Healthy Gut, Flat Stomach book was to follow. The recipes were delicious, and meal plan was easy to follow, and both the instructions and information was very detailed. It definitely made the FODMAP diet easy to understand and follow, which is important if your looking to rid your IBS symptoms once and for all.
If your looking to purchase it yourself and start living your life symptom free, you can order this amazing book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or IndieBound.
What I Learnt:
Even though I have suffered from IBS for about 8 years – I honestly have never even considered trying the FODMAP diet. This is only because over time I have figured out which foods really affect me. That being said – some days I have no idea what triggered my IBS, even if in my opinion I was doing everything right.
As I decided to undergo my own FODMAP diet, once I completed the elimination and testing phase I was surprised by the results. It turns out that high doses of fructans, or specifically onions and wheat, really cause me grief.
I am fine with smaller portions of this category. Which would explain why some days I had no symptoms, whereas other days were a different story depending on portions, and my choices.
I’m happy that now that I know, going forward I will be symptom free of the dreadful and no-fun IBS.