When googling lifestyle changes and IBS, the first result you are going to see is an elimination diet. There are loads to choose from, but Low FODMAP was the best fit for my symptoms and reactions to food. I do want to make a disclaimer that this diet isn’t for everyone. I recommend writing down your symptoms, doing a food journal, and working with a practitioner.
However, the biggest recommendation to discovering and healing from IBS is to figure out what is causing the reactions. There are so many forms of IBS from IBS with diarrhea, constipation, or a mix of both. This is where the journaling comes in handy! For a while, I was treating the symptoms to prevent flare-ups, which you can read more about here.
The only way to really get to the root of the problem is to make sure there isn’t any other issues. This can be SIBO as many times IBS is associated with SIBO, leaky gut, unknown autoimmune conditions, and lifestyle choices. I don’t want to give all of my tests results away, but so far everything is looking good (which I have mixed feelings about).
Let’s get into to jist of this post starting with what exactly are FODMAPS?
FODMAPS are short-chain carbohydrates aka sugar that the gut struggles to absorb, which can trigger IBS symptoms. The FODMAPS can be naturally occurring in food products or can be additives as well. What the acronym stands for is:
- Fermentable: This is through the process of the gut bacteria fermenting undigested carbohydrates causing gas production.
- Oligosaccharides: This is fructans and GOS that are common in wheat, rye, onions, garlic, and legumes.
- Diasaccarides: This is lactose that is found in dairy products.
- Monosaccharides: This is fructose, which is common in fruits such as apples and sweeteners like honey and high fructose corn syrup.
- Polyols: This is sorbitol and mannitol which can be found in some fruits and vegetables, but it is mainly used as an artificial sweetener.
Each of these represents a different sugar that can cause digestive issues. Before we get too far ahead, this doesn’t mean you can never eat these foods again. It is a matter of reintroducing and finding which foods trigger a flare-up for you. You’re pretty much figuring out your bodies needs and optimizing it through your diet.
Remember you will not be restrictive for the rest of your life!
As for doing this elimination diet, it is recommend to do it for 4-6 weeks and being reintroducing. When people begin the reintroduction phase, they often find that it is only one type of sugar that triggers all their systems.
The biggest tips in reintroducing is focusing on one type of FODMAP for a period of time. When you reintroduce a FODMAP do is every 3 days as it takes up to 3 days for your body to react. It is a long process, but by the end you will know your triggers and be able to make lifestyle changes around it.
With any elimination diet, it can be very intimidating, but the biggest thing to remember is this is a opportunity to maybe try new foods that you wouldn’t before or get crafty when going out to eat. Remember an elimination diet all about mindset. If you think of this as a positive experience it will be a positive experience!
Some great tools to use during this period:
I truly hope this helps you in deciding if the Low FODMAP method is best for you! Please share with anyone who has IBS, GI upset, or who is considering this diet.