While this approach worked for a little while, I would run into the symptoms such as bloating, breakouts, sinus pressure, and the periodic sieges of pain during digestion. With my diagnosis of SIBO, I began to do some homework on how to fine tune my diet so that I can help my digestion and hopefully create a healthier gut that will lead to a healthier me.
After a lot of reading and podcasts, I decided to follow a low FODMAP diet. FODMAP stands for: Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides and Polyols. In plain terms, FODMAPS are the sugars that are found in foods. Not all carbohydrates are considered FODMAPS though and below is the list that I use to help me discern which foods will be easy for me to digest.
· Fructose (fruits such as apples and watermelon, honey, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), etc)
· Lactose (dairy- cheese, milk, yogurt etc)
· Fructans (wheat, garlic, onion, inulin etc)
· Galactans (legumes such as beans, lentils, soybeans, etc)
· Polyols (sweeteners containing isomalt, mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol and stone fruits such as avocado, cherries, nectarines, peaches, etc)
What happens is this--when the food categories listed above are consumed, they pull water into the digestion tract and therefore are not digested well. They begin to ferment, feed the bad bacteria and slow down gut motility. When the foods ferment, it leads to all of the symptoms I described before: nausea, bloating, cramping/pain etc. For this reason, a low FODMAP diet is often suggested for people also suffering with IBS.
Every person I have shared this with has said “So what CAN you eat?!” Quite honestly, it's not easy and every day I fight my cravings for sugar and dairy. There has been an instance or two where I have caved, and I feel the effects of it almost an hour after making that decision.
Here are my tips to successfully follow a low FODMAP diet:
- Read Food Labels: Anymore, reading food labels seems to be common practice as consumers demand better and better ingredients. With that, products can often have sugars hidden that would be otherwise undetectable by the wrapping. Take the time at the store and do your homework.
- Limit meals out whenever possible: I have caged myself in for some time with eating out because it is difficult to find a meal without cheese, gluten and garlic. I’m not suggesting being anti-social, but if you can meet a friend for a drink instead of a meal- it may be a better choice. Just be mindful about what that drink is- I stick to dry wines or vodka and club soda.
- Plan ahead: Even if you’re eating at home, make sure you keep your fridge and pantry full of FODMAP compliant foods. This will make it easier to grab something on the go! My favorites are hard boiled eggs, green jucies, jerky and olives.
- Keep a helpful list: I have a clear list (as shown below) on my fridge and on my phone. This way if I have a question I have a reference to immediately check.
Low FODMAP diet for IBS
Chris Kresser and the explanation of Low FODMAP approach
Dr. Siebecker's Podcast for Low FODMAP approach