Low FODMAP diet reboot

Barbara Cousins ETH Contents

What feels like a million years ago now I tried to start a low FODMAP diet to help ease my IBS and identify food triggers but I wasn’t in the right place and couldn’t stick to it. However, I am now a week into the 6-week elimination phase and this is how I’m getting on…

Why now?

I’m sat in the MDT office on placement, everything is relatively quiet with people dictating letters or typing away. Suddenly my stomach tightens – uh oh. Out of nowhere comes this high pitched squeaking sound – it’s coming from me – and my stomach starts to relax. I was mortified. I could feel my face blooming a lovely shade of tomato red, my mouth went dry, palms started sweating and my muscles were shaking. I spun around in my chair, apologised profusely and mumbled something about IBS as I dashed out of the room. The only consolation – it wasn’t in front of a client.

I had eaten gluten and dairy free tinned soup for lunch. There was no reason to be bloated and gassy but I was. My clothes felt uncomfortably tight, my insides were obviously unhappy and I was on high alert trying to make sure what had just happened didn’t happen. It was time to figure out what was going on. I went to my DR and got a referral to a dietician (who I’m still waiting to see) and started to plan out how the low FODMAP diet would work for me.

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My Low FODMAP Journey

Part of a recent IBS flare up has meant that quite a bit in my diet has had to change. I’ve already cut out gluten and dairy which has helped a lot (although made eating out rather difficult) but I have still been having some pretty gruesome symptoms – which I won’t mention for obvious reasons – that has meant yet another trip to my doctor. During said trip I chatted through my options and was offered some medication to help regulate my bowels and discussed the low FODMAP diet as a way to discover any other common foods that may be causing issues.

There is a lot of conflicting information on the internet about low FODMAP with some less than reputable websites giving incorrect information. My doctor helpfully pointed me to Stanford’s low FODMAP diet handout (where the research for the diet took place) which explains what the acronym FODMAP stands for as well as giving a list of acceptable and restricted foods.

There are a LOT of foods on the restricted list that I use daily in cooking, plus a whole bunch of my preferred fruits so for about a week I kept telling myself that my symptoms weren’t that bad and I didn’t really need to follow it. Then I had a really bad day with symptoms – tired, cramps, headaches, crying, flatulence, bloating: the lot – and I realised I could either have 6 weeks of boring/creative meals or a lifetime of IBS symptoms. It was a no-brainer.

So as of the 28th June, I will be undergoing a 6-week elimination phase where I won’t eat anything from the restricted list at all. That gives my gut some time to heal and my symptoms to settle down, plus the peace of mind that any symptoms I experience aren’t linked to my diet. Once the 6 weeks are done I will add one item from the restricted list to my diet each week. If I experience any symptoms during that week I will know they are from that particular item and I need to keep it cut from my diet for my own comfort. It’s going to take ages and make any events or meals out extremely difficult but hopefully, it will be worth it.

I’ll be sharing my journey on the blog – including recipes, tips and advice I’ve found helpful – so if you’re planning on trying it, or have been through it then please get in touch. Any hints or tips for me going into it will be much appreciated!