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Overcoming digestive issues with the FODMAP Diet

After 16 years of suffering with digestive issues, I finally decided to get myself sorted out. I was fed up with struggling with my weight and had started to feel sick even after only eating a small amount of food. Whilst alternative treatments were most effective including the Vega machine which worked out which foods I was intolerant to, I wanted to get to the bottom of my problems.

I was adamant that I wouldn’t let the doctors palm me off with IBS as I knew this was only one side effect of my problem and one which I managed to control by constantly changing my foods. I started to feel like my family and friends thought I was some kind of control freak with eating issues since I was always changing what I could and couldn’t eat one minute cutting out wheat and the next sugar.

Due to my family history of colitis and diverticulitis  over four months I undertook many different procedures including a colonoscopy (which was horrible) and my results all came back clear. Whilst this was a positive, it was also frustrating as it did not solve my problem. My last appointment was with a dietitian called Jane Cunningham who was fantastic. She was sympathetic that we had not found the root cause but thought that I may have a variable type of IBS called by a sensitive gut and she suggested I try a new diet that had been recently discovered in Australia called FODMAP.

What is the low FODMAP diet?

Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and PolyolS (FODMAPs) are short chain carbohydrates (e.g. fructans, galacto-oligosaccharides, polyols, fructose and lactose) that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. Ingestion of FODMAPs leads to alterations in fluid content and bacterial fermentation in the colon triggering functional gut symptoms in susceptible individuals. Removing FODMAPs from the diet is effective in improving symptoms of people with functional gut disorders like IBS.

The low FODMAP diet originated in Australia and was developed by a team at Monash University in Melbourne. It has been successfully adapted to the UK by researchers at King’s College London and implemented at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust in London.

Taken from King’s College London

When I looked at the foods on the avoid list, I felt very positive about the diet since I saw many of the foods that caused me adverse reactions on there. The only problem with this diet is that it is not as logical as other diets so although I started it a few days ago, I have already made a couple of mistakes. You don’t have to eliminate all of the foods on the avoid list forever but for a few months and then introduce them gradually so I am hopeful that this is a way of controlling my digestive issues. Interestingly before my knowledge of this diet,  I recently cut down on fruit as I kept reacting to it and the FODMAP diet quite clearly indicates that you should only have a small amount of fruit at any one time. Again this is a little complicated as quantity varies per fruit.

I am happy that I can stop using meal replacements although like any type of  ‘diet’ you need to be super organised with shopping however, they do give you a list of fast food and convenient food options which is great for when you have a super busy week and far more realistic than to expect us to eat clean the whole time. On this diet the only foods I think I will miss are avocados and garlic!

I will attempt to update you in the near future with my progress. If anyone has tried this diet do feel free to comment. For more information visit the FODAMP website.

by Phillipa