FODMAPS: The Solution to IBS?

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, then you no doubt know that I was diagnosed with IBS aka Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Not just embarassing, with its diarrhea, constipation, and flatulence, but it is also extremely painful for me. I’ve missed school and work, cancelled social engagements, and even gone to the emergency room because of the intense pain that no one can seem to do anything about.

It has gotten better since I was put on medication, but the fact that I’m taking 6 pills a day (not including my supplements) plus laxatives does not weigh well on my mind. So, I’ve been searching for more “natural” ways to control my symptoms, including my diet.

Over the years, I’ve been able to pinpoint a few “trigger” foods. The FODMAPS diet (FODMAPS stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, and monosaccharides and polyols) is often prescribed to those who have been diagnosed with IBS to identify foods that give them symptoms. This is why I now avoid cantaloupe/melon, sugar-free foods, grapes, cherries, and large amounts of broccoli in one sitting.

This is also why I think my symptoms got worse when I was a vegetarian and then became a vegan. As a vegan/vegetarian, you naturally eat more FODMAPS-containing foods, like soy, vegetables, and beans.

Lactose, fructose, fructans, polyols, and galactans make up the FODMAPS groups. I already know that I don’t have a problem with lactose (milk, milk products) because I do not have lactose intolerance and I’m okay with most fructans (wheat, onions, asparagus, pineapples). And now, looking at my list of “trigger” foods, I have a sneaking suspicion that I may have a problem with polyols (most sugar additives like sorbitol, cherries) and fructose (honey, HFCS, processed condiments, some dried and fresh fruits – like melon) with galactans (beans, peas, soy, cabbage) being a possibility as well.

EDIT: Definitely galactans. I ate a bowl of Kashi GoLean Crunch over 14 hours ago and I’m STILL in pain/nauseous from it. Soy protein has to be the culprit. Good thing I wasn’t a vegetarian/vegan for SEVEN YEARS or anything, right? Geez, no wonder I felt like crap literally every day for the past 2-3 years. I was probably eating at least some kind of soy-based product every day. So I’m thinking that it’s either the galactans or I have a soy intolerance, which my reading has told me produces many of the same symptoms as IBS. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to get some tests done to confirm/deny this though.

From this information, I learned that I need to limit fruit to only a small serving, as well as nuts (12 or less) and most vegetables.

I’m still learning as I go, but I’ll be experimenting more with foods and the FODMAPS food groups to see if they help improve my symptoms at all.

For example, this morning I had old-fashioned oats with natural peanut butter (1 T) and scrambled eggs with onion, yellow bell pepper, and low-carb ketchup (has sucralose and onion powder). 2 hours later and I’m not experiencing any symptoms, which probably means that I tolerate onions well (has pretty much the highest amount of fructans of any vegetable) and probably small amounts of artificial sweeteners.

However, within 2 hours of eating a bowl of Kashi GoLean Crunch I started feeling lots of bloating and gas, and the next morning brought with it pain and nausea.

I’m not going to lie, FODMAPS has been confusing and kind of difficult to figure out. Every doctor and medical resource out there has different lists, and they often times conflicting with each other. Not only that, but everybody and every body is unique and not everyone has the same “trigger” foods. So pretty much the only way to figure out what you yourself need to avoid is to experiment and/or have tests done. The testing is not really an option for me as a poor college student and a medical system that does not consider registered dietitians as being needed to be covered by health insurance (some restrictions apply, such as with renal patients).

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One thought on “FODMAPS: The Solution to IBS?

  1. Hi Ellen! I’ve been following you on my google reader for nearly a year and just realized that I’ve never officially followed you on WordPress! I’m a once in a blue moon blogger so therefore I rarely comment…but ALWAYS read 🙂

    I just had to comment because I am 23 and I have been a vegetarian since I was 9. I have ED-NOS (mostly bouts of restrictive eating + overexercise) and therefore my digestive system is pretty out-of-whack.

    About a month ago I got to thinking that I have been feeling sick (cramps, bloating, lack of energy, gas, constipation, etc…) after eating nearly every single meal. I think that I’ve been suffering for SO long that I didn’t even realize that I wasn’t supposed to be feeling so bad, and that other people didn’t have to lay down in pain after dinner each evening.

    SO I went to a gastroenterologist, who wanted to test me for Celiac’s – which I know I don’t have. I don’t react to gluten. Also, I have a needle phobia, so needless to say, I haven’t been back :-/ BUT he did introduce me to the FODMAP diet. I was so excited when I read your post about FODMAPs the other day! Nobody knows what it is – people in general are still trying to wrap their minds around gluten-free diets…can you imagine trying to explain that you can’t eat most fruits, veggies, soy, etc… (and for me, meat and lactose!).

    SO I decided to take matters into my own hands. I realized that I ate Clif products everyday, along with Morningstar farms veggie meat (all soy protein isolate – super processed – EW!), Kashi Go Lean, edamame with my lunch every single day – even the bread I was eating was made with some soy flour. I realized it would be REALLY difficult, but I made the decision nearly a month ago to cut out soy completely.

    Let me tell you…IT IS AMAZING. I have not had a single episode of IBS yet! I accidentally ate 1 slice of bread which I later found out had soy flour in it this past weekend, and once I started to feel intense stomach pains, I looked at the ingredient list on the bag and read: SOY FLOUR. DARN! Well at least it put any doubts to rest. I have a soy allergy. I definitely suggest that you try to cut it out for a week or two!

    I also cut out foods that my Doc said are very triggering for IBS: apples (in particular), veggies like broccoli…mostly I’ve been eating only cucumbers and carrots for my veggies. It sucks to have no variety but honestly it’s better than being in pain! I switched from garlic (bad for IBS) hummus to plain. I still can’t stop my hummus eating – I eat it often and love it – I just can’t give it up!!!

    OOO another thing. I stopped taking my plant-based multivitamin, which of course I am not happy about. But use Google to find out about a link between vitamins and IBS. Some people stopped their multis and so many of their IBS episodes disappeared.

    Best of luck!!!! 🙂

    – Alli

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