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As I’ve gotten older, many foods that I use to eat regularly with no issues now seem to trigger an upset stomach and bloating. I also had bouts with self-diagnosed Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It was troubling because I eat a relatively healthy diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, fish (I’m a pescatarian), and healthy carbs. Rarely do I indulge in junk food. So what was going on with me?
One day at work, I shared my issues with a co-worker who experienced similar issues. She shared with me that she was seeing a gastroenterologist who recommended a low FODMAP diet. She was already a few days in and stated that she had noticed some differences. Intrigued, I decided to give it a try as well.
What is a low FODMAP diet and how does it work?
Essentially, a low FODMAP diet decreases the consumption of foods containing slowly absorbed and indigestible short-chain carbohydrates called FODMAPs. FODMAPs are found in many foods such as wheat and other grains, some dairy products, some vegetables and some fruits. Because the above carbohydrates are poorly absorbed, they induce gas production. Therefore, the objective of a low FODMAP diet is to minimize their intake to decrease and avoid the osmotic reactions and gases.
Common foods that should be limited (High FODMAP) include:
Yogurt, Bread, Flour, Pasta, Fruit juices, Chickpeas, Apples, Mangoes, Peaches, Pears, Plums, Watermelon, Artichoke, Asparagus, Avocado, Mushrooms, Peas, Snap Peas, Milk, and lactose products
Low FODMAP foods include:
Sweet Potato, Wheat free bread, Wheat free pasta, Rice, Polenta, Bean Sprouts, Carrots, Celery, Olives, Plantain, Spinach, Banana, Grapes, Oranges, Pineapple, Strawberry
As I read about foods that are High FODMAP, I realized that many of them are in my regular diet. Certainly all of them were not creating issues for me, but I soon discovered that some of them were. I went through a period of eliminating foods and re-introducing them back into my diet to identify the culprits. Additionally, there are many, many low FODMAP foods that I already enjoy and eat regularly. The end result for me is that I am better able to manage/avoid discomfort and symptoms previously experienced.
Although you have to limit the consumption of certain foods, there are a number of good alternatives. The key is to tailor your diet to meet individual needs and to also ensure the sufficiency of your nutrition is not negatively impacted.
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