Tuesday, November 13, 2012

exploring a low fodmap diet

this is the post where i tell you one of my biggest, darkest secrets. something i've been afraid to share with the world for the shame and embarrassment that often follows.

i, alicia of inhealthyhabitswetrust.com, have ibs. irritable bowel syndrome.

okay, so it's not that big of a deal. millions of americans have ibs - it's quite common. but it's still embarrassing to talk about the difficulties your gastro tract has in getting things through your system, isn't it? but now is not the time to be shy with my blog. i've already told you how much i weigh, my % body fat - and those are secrets i swore i'd take to the grave. so, i might as well open up about my struggles with ibs and how i'm trying to treat my body through (mostly) holistic ways.

after a fun appointment with my gastro doctor, following the nightmare stomach virus i had a few weeks ago, we agreed on a treatment to further address my ibs symptoms. the approach was two fold: try and keep things moving and adjust my diet to include less foods that will irritate my stomach and gastro track. the diet that is often recommended for ibs folks is called a low fodmap diet. yeah, i didn't quite catch the name the first time i heard it either. but i've been learning about fodmaps and thought it would be some great information to share, plus, if you teach others, you retain the information better (a win-win for you and me).

*disclaimer* i am not a doctor, as i'm sure i've given a disclaimer for previously, so please consult your actual doctor before deciding to try a fodmap diet or to see if it will work for you. i'm just sharing what i've learned from my own experience.

what is fodmap?
fodmap is quirky little term used to describe a chain of carbohydrates found in common foods. fodmap stands for: fermentable oligo-, di- and mono-saccharides and polyols. in other words, it stands for a bunch of words that i have a hard time pronouncing and don't quite understand what they are.

why are fodmaps a hot digestive topic?
foods that are high in fodmaps result in an increased volume of liquid and gas in the small and large intestine, which results in distention and symptoms like abdominal pain, gas, bloating (common symptoms of ibs). the theory is that a diet low in fodmaps will reduce the digestive symptoms as listed above.

my doctor gave me a handy guide for foods that are high in fodmaps and should be avoided, as well as a list of foods low in fodmap that are "safer" for consumption. some of the foods that are high in fodmaps (aka should be avoided) really shocked me, and made me sad. some of the foods that are low in fodmaps (aka can be consumed happily) made me happy, because they are foods i've already adjusted in my diet for other reasons.

sample of foods HIGH in fodmaps (to avoid), w/ my commentary:
- apples (you've got to be kidding me - the world's staple fruit! i have eaten 3 of these a day sometimes!)
- chickpeas (nooo! not the hummus!!!)
- asparagus & avocado (the two green vegetables i actually enjoy)
- wheat (c'mon! not bread! this is cruel)
- most sweeteners ending in "ol" (there goes my flavored coffees and lattes)
- honey (pfft)
- rum (okay, this is really cruel because i just found the best flavored rum ever. it's cherry and its delish in coke zero or apple cider)

sample foods LOW in fodmaps (to consume), w/ my commentary:
- bananas (phew, this is the second most commonly consumed fruit in my house. i need this one to stay!)
- lactose free products (thank gosh, if these weren't okay i wouldn't be able to eat anything at all)
- sweet potato (thanksgiving is saved!)
- gluten-free products (meh, i don't eat these much now, but i might have to!)
- wine, beer, vodka, gin (okay i guess this is a good variety if rum is out)
- sugar, pure maple sugar (not so excited about this. i'm trying to limit calories, not increase them!)

so there you have a short hand list. it's a mixed bag in terms of things i'm okay with, and there seems to be more things i'm not okay with, but isn't that always the case with a "diet"? i have more research to do until i'm ready to "dive right in" to this new diet, but it was pretty easy to start immediately after my appointment; i avoided apples at work and checked the labels of my coffee sweeteners for things ending in"ol". not a shabby start!

it will be interesting to see how this diet changes my ibs symptoms, if it does at all, but i'll definitely keep updating ya'll (aren't you thrilled?) as things progres. if you're interested in learning more and fodmaps, i found this pdf really helpful and it has a pretty extensive lists of foods as well. 

anyone else out there experimenting with a fodmap diet? i'd like to hear tips, thoughts, results and recipes, especially!!


  1. I don't know what a fodmap diet is (other than what you have posted) BUT I have a kidney disorder that I have had to completely overhaul my diet for and follow a low oxalate diet (LOD). Basically I can't have spinach, nuts of any kind, several veggies, no chocolate (and no peanut butter to go along with the nuts), no soy, no whole wheat (I have also gone pretty much gluten free). I have felt 100% better and can always tell when I eat things that I should not have!

    1. Wow! There are so many diets I haven't heard of out there! I'm glad to hear you're feeling better. I'm going to reach out to you privately about your diet changes, especially no whole wheat and gluten free. Wheat is one of the foods I should be avoiding, and it seems easier to just go as gluten free as possible (but avoiding things with honey, etc)

  2. My wife, a dietitian with IBS, has had great luck on the low FODMAPs diet. You may already know this, Alicia, since you follow us on Twitter! Anyway, great post, thanks for raising awareness about this powerful dietary tool! It absolutely changed my wife's live, and thus, it also changed mine.


Getting comments feels as good as a freezing cold glass of Gatorade on a hot summer day. So don't be shy - share your thoughts & opinions! - Alicia