Finally

I know it has quite a while since I made this blog and almost a year since I took on the FODMAPs diet. Part of me is very regretful for not having written earlier about my experiences, but initially took a while to get on track and I started losing hope that FODMAPS could help me (thus my motivation to write was not high).  However, after a month or two of tweaking, it finally began to work. I’ve sustained a low-fodmap diet since the summer of 2012 and have felt great!

A few words of advice for anyone who wants to go on this path.

First, read Patsy Catsos’s book on the FODMAP diet, IBS free at Last! which is available as an ebook/kindle on Amazon and paperback. If you don’t have a kindle that is fine, too. Amazon will open the book up in its own CloudReader application.  This is a great book because it is comprehensive  but easy to digest (mentally speaking). Really, it shines a light on all those gnawing questions you have about why symptoms can be so confounding. Plus there are great recipes and wealth of FAQs.

A few words of advice on FODMAPS Elimination Phase:

  • See a nutritionist.    Yes, you could easily do FODMAPS on your own but if you are anything like me, and have difficulty establishing limitations with food, or are likely to push your boundaries, then someone’s guidance is very  helpful.
  • The Suitable Food List Will Not Apply to Everyone.   Every gut is different. There may be some foods on the OK to Eat List that cause gas, bloating, etc. Thus,  individual tolerance is important and awareness of portion size. Do not get trigger happy.  Sweet potato, for instance, is a precarious food for me. So if you suspect something may be a problem, bring it up to your nutritionist. Likely, they will tell you to cut it out or limit your intake. It may be heartbreaking to keep narrowing down list in the beginning, but it’s worth it.
  • Sweeteners.  Splenda and some non-sugar sweeteners may  cause upset (although your  list may say they are safe).  Also, don’t forget to check labels. I discovered, after a few weeks of eating Whole Foods sushi, that their wasabi is sweetened with sorbitol : (
  • Alpha-galactosidase (aka Beano).  Yes it works, for digesting some fructans and galactans!  So if you are unsure if something may have garlic or onions in it, or you are eating out and find it difficult to negotiate all FODMAPs free options, taking one or two Beano (or store brand equivalent) can really help.  Caution: others have noted that Beano contains sorbitol and wheat.  Thankfully, store brands do not use these. Here is an informative post on Beano and digestive enzymes on Patsy’s Catsos website.
  • Old Friends, New Friends.    Start experimenting with new foods or fruits you may have not eaten or enjoyed before. For me, this is grapefruit, green beans, and bok choy.  Also, you may realize you can eat foods you thought were off limits.  Cheese anyone? Cabot produces a variety of lactose-free  block cheeses not to mention that most hard cheeses are naturally lactose free or low in lactose.  Caution: do not assume that just any welltouted  variety of cheese is “lactose-free”  just because popular opinion says so. How many times have I heard people go on about goat cheese being low in lactose? Well, I took the goat cheese plunge a few weeks ago and had a memorable IBS attack.  Many commercially processed cheeses do not age their cheeses long enough to eliminate all lactose, so be cautious. Patsy’s advice on lactose-free cheeses.
  • Probiotics.  FODMAPs has helped me significantly with IBS, but I cannot credit it alone.  During the time I started the FODMAP diet, about a year ago, I also began taking high potency probiotics, VSL#3. These are, to much dismay, obscenely expensive, about $ 50 dollars a bottle at a local pharmacy. BUT they contain the highest  medical grade bacteria you can find and DO work wonders for some people.  I tried other brands and had very short-lived results.
  • Don’t give up!  

Hello world!

Hello Fellow Food Intolerant Friends!

Today is my first day blogging on the low FODMAPs diet.  For those who don’t know about FODMAPS, this entry will be kind of a primer to what FODMAPS is all about, who its helpful for, and the purpose of this blog.

First of all, although I’ll be blogging about my FODMAPs experience, I want to let everyone know that I intend to be writing keeping in mind other diets, restrictions, and news regarding food and health for all.

I am no gourmand. I love to cook but aesthetic beauty is a secondary goal for me. Also, I will strive to be as practical as possible. Eating healthy is not necessarily cheap so this blog (coming from the experience of an economically limited college grad) will strive to be as  financially sensitive too!  On all of these areas I welcome comments and suggestions! This is foremost about sharing and helping each other.

What is the low FODMAPs diet?

Researchers from Australia have come up with a novel approach for IBS treatment, that of having patients follow a low FODMAP diet as a way to reduce IBS symptoms. They have coined the term FODMAPs to describe a collection of short-chain carbohydrates found in many common foods. FODMAPs stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides (fructans, galactans), disaccharides (lactose), monosaccharides (fructose), and polyols (sugar alcohols).

The FODMAP theory holds that consuming foods high in FODMAPs results in increased volume of liquid and gas in the small and large intestine, resulting in abdominal bloating and distension, excess wind (flatulence), abdominal pain, nausea, changes in bowel habits (diarrhoea, constipation, or a combination of both), and other gastro-intestinal symptoms.

The theory proposes that following a low FODMAP diet should result in a decrease in digestive symptoms. The theory further holds that there is a cumulative effect of these foods on symptoms. In other words, eating foods with varying FODMAP values at the same time will add up, resulting in symptoms that you might not experience if you ate the food in isolation. AKA this explains why sometimes eating a certain food (bread for, instance) one day will cause no trouble but the next it will!

How does one go about the FODMAPs diet?

Ideally, after being diagnosed with IBS or some other bowel disorder you should begin the diet with the help of a nutritionist/dietician who is well versed in FODMAPS.  Also, your doctor may recommend that you take a Hydrogen Breath tests to detect how well/poorly you digest certain carbs (however these are not always  conclusive).

Typically, the diet begins with an elimination phase meaning you eliminate all FODMAPs from your diet for a few weeks, building up to the next phase in which you reintroduce certain FODMAPs foods.

* Important note: A low FODMAPs diet does not mean you cannot eat foods with FODMAPs.  It stresses that you keep these foods low and in moderation so they do not seriously upset your digestive system.

Who can it benefit?

Although research has been done primarily on those who suffer from IBS (a functional bowel disorder) those who suffer from inflammatory disorders like Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis or Celiac disease may also be helped by an low FODMAPS diet.

What are the FODMAPs?

So I know the acronym seems pretty intimidating and you might be asking yourself, how do  I remember all of these different carbs?  Some may be easier than others. For me personally, my body instinctively shudders at the thought of certain FODMAPs foods as my body has learned over time it doesn’t like these things.  However, some are truly surprising. That’s why we have…a List! that I am borrowing from Cassandra Forsythe (thank you!)

FRUITS TO AVOID:

Excess Fructose fruit:
Apple
Mango
Nashi fruit
Pear
Persimmon
Rambutan
Watermelon

Excess Fructan fruit:
Persimmon
Rambutan
Watermelon

Excess Polyol fruit:
Apple
Apricot
Avocado
Blackberries
Cherries
Longon
Lychee
Nashi Fruit
Nectarine
Peach
Pear
Plum
Prune
Watermelon

SUITABLE FRUITS:
Banana
Blueberries – buy organic
Boysenberry – buy organic
Cantaloupe
Star fruit
Cranberry – buy organic
Durian
Grapes – buy organic
Grapefruit
Honeydew melon
Kiwi
Lemon
Lime
Mandarin
Orange
Passion fruit
Paw paw
Pineapple
Raspberry – buy organic
Rhubarb
Strawberry – buy organic
Tangelo

Suitable dried fruits (some people are ok with dried fruits, others are not):
Banana chips
Cranberries (often are coated in sugar – only eat if not sweetened)
Currants
Paw paw
Pineapple (often are coated in sugar – only eat if not sweetened)
Sultanas
Raisins (may not be suitable for everyone…)

Special notes on fruit:
Limit intake of suitable fruits to one serve per meal.
e.g. One whole banana or orange.
Third to half a glass of suitable juice.
Small handful of berries or grapes.
Small amount of suitable dried fruit (e.g. 10 sultanas).

VEGETABLES TO AVOID:

Excess Fructose vegetables:
Sugar snap peas

Excess Fructan vegetables:
Artichokes (Globe & Jerusalem)
Asparagus
Beet
Brussel Sprouts
Cabbage
Chicory
Dandelion leaves
Fennel
Garlic
Leek
Legumes
Okra
Onion (brown, white, & Spanish)
Peas
Radicchio lettuce
Shallot
Spring onion (white section).

Excess Polyol vegetables:
Avocado
Cauliflower
Mushrooms
Snow peas

NUTS TO AVOID:

Pistachios and  cashews

SUITABLE VEGETABLES:
Alfalfa
Bamboo shoots
Bean shoots
Beans (green)
Bok choy
Broccoli (may not be suitable for everyone…)
Capsicum
Carrot
Celery
Chives
Choy sum
Corn (raw corn may bother some people)
Cucumber
Endive
Eggplant (this may be troublesome for some; asses individual tolerance)
Ginger
Lettuce (may be ok or not)
Marrow
Olives
Parsnip

Parsley
Potato
Pumpkin
Silverbeet
Spring onion (green section)
Spinach
Squash (this may be troublesome for some; asses individual tolerance)
Swede
Sweet potato  (this may be troublesome for some; asses individual tolerance)
Taro
Tomato (cherry tomatoes often are moldy – try to avoid)
Turnip
Yam
Zucchini (this may be troublesome for some; asses individual tolerance)

Special notes on vegetables:
Onion is one of the greatest contributors to IBS.
Avoid:
• Onion (brown, white & Spanish), Onion powder, White section of spring onion.
• Leeks,  Shallots, Garlic.
There is undeclared onion hidden in many processed foods including, chicken salt, vegetable salt, vegetable powder, dehydrated vegetables, stocks, gravies, soups, marinades, & sauces.
Alternatives:
• Chives
• Green part of spring onion
• Asafoetida powder (* contains gluten).
• Fresh & dried ginger, coriander, basil, lemongrass, chili, mint, parsley, marjoram, oregano, thyme, rosemary & others.

PROBLEM WHEAT & Rye products:

Bread (white, wholegrain, multigrain, sourdough, pita, & many rye)
Pasta & noodles (regular, two minute, spelt, egg noodles, hokkien & udon)
Breakfast cereals (containing wheat, excess dried fruit &/or fruit juice).
Savoury biscuits (wheat based)
Cakes & baked goods (wheat based)
Sweet biscuits (wheat based)
Pastry & breadcrumbs (wheat flour made)
Others (semolina, couscous, bulger)

*includes spelt products


ALTERNATIVES to WHEAT Grains:

Rice
Corn (may bother some people)
Potato
Amaranth
Tapioca
Quinoa
Millet
Sorgum
Buckwheat
Arrowroot

ALTERNATIVES to WHEAT Products:
Gluten free bread.
Gluten free pasta, rice noodles, wheat free buckwheat noodles.
Porridge, wheat free muesli, rice bubbles, corn flakes, & gluten free cereals.
Corn thins, rice cakes & crackers, gluten free crackers
Gluten free cakes, flourless cakes.
Gluten free biscuits.

Gluten free pastry mixes, & bread crumbs, polenta, cornflake crumbs.

Buckwheat, polenta, millet, sorghum, sago, tapioca, rice, & corn flours.

Oats

Special notes on Wheat:
• Small amounts of wheat, such as breadcrumbs, may be tolerable (assess individually).
• Those with diagnosed Coeliac disease should eliminate gluten from their diet.
• Gluten free foods do not contain wheat, rye oats & barley.
o             A low FODMAP diet allows oats
• Trace amounts of wheat ingredients such as soy sauce should not be a problem.
• Many wheat derived products such as wheat starch, wheat thickeners, wheat maltodextrin, wheat dextrin, wheat dextrose, wheat glucose, & wheat color caramel are fructan free glucose chains & should be safe to eat.

OTHER FODMAPs FOODS (containing, FRUCTOSE &/or Fructans) to AVOID:
• Honey
• Corn syrups
• Corn syrup solids
• Fruisana
• Chickory
• Dandelion tea
• Inulin
• Artificial sweeteners (see GOS)
• Sugar free or low carb sweets, mints, gums, & dairy desserts.
• Baked beans, lentils, & chick peas

 NO Agave nectar  or Molasses

Alternatives:
• Maple syrup
• White, brown, raw & castor sugar (sucrose) eaten in moderation.
• Tea, coffee, & herbal teas
• Nuts & seeds (moderation)
• Oat bran
• Psyllium.
• Rice bran.
.

Special comments:
• Limit alcohol intake.
• Avoid alcohol which is high in indigestible carbohydrate, such as beer.
• Clear spirits such as Vodka & Gin with water/soda flavored with fresh suitable fruit in moderation is preferable.
• Drink plenty of water.
• Eat in moderation.
• Chew your food well.
• Limit processed foods (hidden FODMAPs & irritants).
• Limit or avoid processed meats ((hidden FODMAPs & irritants).
• Fresh fruit, vegetables, & whole meats/fish are best.

*Note: This is a great list but everybody’s body is different. Some people may find it hard to tolerate certain foods more than others. For instance, bananas can cause constipation for some people and excess sweet potato could also cause problems.

Thats all for now!