FODMAPS what the hell are these? Have you ever heard of them??? I hadn’t either until approximately 1.5 years ago. Lets backup a minute before delving into this world and give you a little history.
As mentioned in my last post I suffered with chronic fatigue for large portion of my life. The most notable things which remain from this are I am still often tired ( although I live a relatively full life) and second my digestion is SHOT.
Now I don’t want to regale you with tales of bloat, looking 9 months pregnant, too much poop not enough poop but you get the picture and it’s not pretty. Plus I am sure this also added to the weight gain. A couple of years ago I kept getting swollen and really sick and ill and ending up on antibiotics. At first it was thought I had diverticulitis (unusual in one so young) and no one knew what to do with me. Given that a lot of my work is located in the middle of whoop whoop (read: the outback) with no medical care or hospital within a 6 hour drive and a severe cost penalty to the program if I was too ill to do my job this was an inconvenience for sure. Once I did a really long swing of 14 hour days for a good few weeks straight with a large portion of that surviving on barley sugar sweets! Yes I got thinner ( and I did enjoy that) but I didn’t feel crash hot.
Then I got infected again on a trip with friends to a new city and the doctor who treated me knew exactly what the problem was FODMAPS. Confusing and relieving. So I came home and was sent to work with a dietician. Fodmaps is a pretty new phenomena with the main guru living in Melbourne (Sue Sheppard) so I probably would never have found all this out if I had been in the uk.
FODMAPS are basically short chain (?!?) carbohydrates which certain people cannot digest. I am one of them. They can pass through you ( hello upset tummy) and in my case provide a feast for the bad bacteria as they are undigested and pass through causing a party in the digestive tract which is fun for all those in attendance but not the host!
What are FOMAPS? I wont bore you there is heaps of info about this online but I will provide a quick summary.
Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides And Polyols.
In a nutshell fructose, lactose, fructans, galactans, raffinose, and sugar polyols. If you think this may affect you I would encourage a visit to a dietician specialising in this as if you look up online or try to follow it yourself it can be really restrictive. The treatment is an initial phase with very low fodmap foods and you gradually try others to work out your limits. This is the thing about fodmaps they may not all affect you and each person has different limits.
How I work the fodmap diet….
Fructose- I do struggle with this and tend to stick with fruits that have a balance of fructose and glucose so they can be absorbed better. My go to fruit is lemons, limes, bananas, berries, passionfruit oranges, kiwi’s. An apple can screw my stomach for days but as I have improved I can now eat them. I also largely avoid dried fruit ( concentrated fructose) and fruit juice. I have green juice ( fresh, mainly veg with lemon) but try to stick to green smoothies for a fruity drink as I can handle this. I try to keep tabs on my fruit to 1 -2 pieces daily. I also avoid a lot of health products as they contain agave and honey both of which are fructose based.
Lactose- This stuff kills me. I have learned to make my own almond milk which is nice for a smoothie or porridge. Lots of shop bought ones are sweetened with agave ( see above). I tend to have 1 coffee daily with cows milk or 1 yogurt daily ( plain greek is best as its lower lactose and use dairy free milk for porridge etc.
Fructans/Galactans/Raffinose- I mainly avoid wheat and gluten this stuff hurts me and upsets my stomach if I have too much. At home I am pretty much gluten free so if have a little cheat when I am out its less of an issue. Wheat etc sends me straight to sleep! I seem to be ok with legumes, onions and garlic in moderation which others cannot have. ( update one wheat item in a day seems to be ok, any more and it is trouble)
Sugar Polyols- this is found in some (mainly stone) fruits, which I personally seem to be able to have in moderation. Avocado seems fine. It is also found in most man-made sweeteners.. I cannot have this, have never been able to. The effects are NASTY. The only sweetener I will use and this is pretty rare is Stevia and I am trying to move to using this at all times.
Also, worth a note if I am successful at avoiding these for even 3-4 days when I slip up within 30 mins I willbe suffering ( use your imagination).
I am trying to get better at eating this way as it really does clear up all my symptoms and is much better, hopefully this blog will help. How do I handle this.. BALANCE. That is all. I try to limit by fructose, gluten, lactose etc to only 1 portion per day and if I have had a lot of one I avoid the other. This seems to work. If I have had a really fodmap heavy meal ( such as dining out) I use movicol which rehydrates the intestines and bowels to make the situation more manageable. Now I understand fodmaps it really makes life easier. There is a balance between restricting your diet so heavily for ultimate health and managing your life. Personally the strict removal of all these items was causing more stress ( which I hold in my digestive tract) and so a level which is not detrimental and I can have a little provides the necessary balance in my life.
Do you have any digestive ailments? what do you do/avoid to make it better?