Last night I had a double whammy peri-menopausal (I would say menopausal also but I am not quite there yet) situation. I was wake from 3am to almost 5am with digestion issues. My colon literally felt like it was percolating. So I thought, okay maybe this is a sign to finally blog about FODMAP.
In my early forties I began experiencing very uncomfortable and sometimes painful abdominal bloating. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I went to the doctor, I had Xrays, blood tests and an ultra sound. Initially I didn’t know if it was a female issue or digestion issue. It was finally determined that it was digestion so the GI doctor ordered a colonoscopy. I was only 42 but because I have a family history of colon polyps the insurance company gave the thumbs up. Side note: During the colonoscopy procedure I thought it was a little odd that in the room was the doctor (male), the anesthesiologist (male) and the nurse (male) and me with my bare backside exposed. Hmmmmm………Anyway, the good news is that there were no polyps. So the culprit to my abdominal pain? My diet.
The doctor told me my colon was getting old (Really? At the ripe old age of 42? Thanks) and that I needed to put more fiber in my diet. Twenty two grams of fiber a day to be exact. I also read that it is a good idea to slowly build up to eating twenty two grams a day otherwise all that fiber may be too much for your body all at once. So I loaded up on fiber as much as I could. I frequently had refried or black beans at dinner, ate fiber rich cereal and basically found foods that contained high fiber. I also took fiber supplements every evening. The goal? Just to have a daily BM. Is that too much to ask?
The doctor’s wise words of advice (sarcasm) did absolutely nothing. In fact in some ways it made it worse!! I continued to suffer. As mentioned in a previous blog I spent many hours on the internet researching to find a cure to my digestive misery. One Sunday morning I came across FODMAP. For you Latin lovers it is an acronym for Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols.
Here’s what I learned: There are foods that are hard for the body to break down and there are foods that are easy for the body to break down. In laywomen’s terms when we eat foods that are hard for the body to break down the food sits in our colon longer (because they are hard to break down) and literally begins fermenting. This fermenting is what causes the gas and bloating. Sooooooooo what we want to do is avoid eating the foods that are “high” FODMAP, meaning hard to digest and eat foods that are “low” FODMAP, meaning easy to digest. Guess which foods are high FODMAP? Beans, high fiber cereal, etc! Ugh.
When you start this diet, and by the way I don’t like calling it a “diet” because it is not a lose weight kind of diet, you are supposed to eat only low FODMAP foods for six weeks and then slowing begin incorporating high FODMAP foods to see which ones bother your digestion system. When I started this diet and went with all low FODMAP foods I never looked back. My stomach felt SO MUCH better I didn’t want to take the chance of feeling yucky again. I also want to add that the FODMAP diet is one recommended for those that suffer with IBS.
So I have been following this diet now for about three years now. It hasn’t cured my digestive issues completely but I will take the 85% improvement. The daily BMs that we all strive for happen more frequently and I don’t take fiber supplements anymore. Although I still have bouts of uncomfortable bloating it usually follows with a long time with no problems again. I have also been turned on to Magnesium supplements, Smooth Move Tea, Heather’s Tummy Tamers and most recently Apple Cider Vinegar (still trying out this one, not sure about it yet). I highly recommend the FODMAP diet for any digestive issues and to be honest the change in diet wasn’t that big of a deal.
Below is a link to the list of high FODMAP and low FODMAP foods. Remember, its the high FODMAP foods you want to avoid.
P.S.-Wine is low FODMAP. A toast to no more bloated stomachs!