IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome, can disrupt your life. Not only is it painful and uncomfortable, it also comes with unwanted gas, bloating, diarrhea and other horrible side effects. It’s not a fun condition to say the least.
Sadly, there is no medical cure for IBS, but there are changes you can make that will alleviate (or sometimes even relieve altogether) symptoms of the disease.
The biggest change? That’d be dietary – changing up the foods and beverages you drink to decrease the workload put on your digestive system.
Increasing fiber intake is a great place to start, but if you really want to see dramatic changes – and see them fast, it’s best to try the FODMAP diet. It’s been proven by numerous scientific studies, and millions of people have found IBS relief by jumping on board.
What is FODMAP?
FODMAP is an acronym for a number of short-chain carbohydrates that put a strain on your small intestine. They’re known to be particularly hard on IBS-sufferers, and lowering intake of these carbs, or eliminating them completely, is often the best dietary choice to decrease symptoms.
FODMAPs are: Fermentable, Oligo-saccharides, Disaccharides, Mono-saccharides and Polyols. And while I could go into great details as to what each of these means, it’d be very science-y and most people wouldn’t get much out of it.
Instead, I want to cover foods that are high in FODMAPS – ones you should work to avoid if you suffer from IBS. Here are the biggest culprits:
- Wheat – This includes most flours, breads, noodles, chips and crackers.
- Lactose – This is most dairy foods, including milk, soft cheeses, yogurts, etc.
- Some vegetables – Onions, garlic, artichokes, asparagus, cauliflower, mushrooms, shallots, snow peas and avocados are the worst.
- Some fruits – Watermelon, pears, apricots, cherries, blackberries, boysenberries, mangoes, peaches, nectarines, persimmons, plums and apples, to name a few.
- Some legumes – Pistachios and cauliflower are both high-in FODMAPs.
- Sweeteners – Honey, fructose, high fructose corn syrup and sorbitol.
Your first step to relief would be cutting out these high-FODMAP foods as much as possible. That means doing dairy-free and gluten-free, and paying special attention to the produce and sweeteners you use.
Next, you’d want to start working more low-FODMAP foods. Here are just a few you can choose from:
- Vegetables – Broccoli, cabbage, bell peppers, carrots, celery, cucumber, eggplant, green beans, kale, leeks, lettuce, peas, potatoes, pumpkins, radishes, spinach, green onions, olives, parsnips, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, corn and zucchini.
- Fruit – Bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, grapes, grapefruit, honeydew, kiwi, lemons, limes, oranges, passion fruit, paw paws, pineapples, raspberries, rhubarbs, and strawberries.
- Grains – Anything gluten free, buckwheat, millet, oats, rice pasta, rice flour, potato starch, quinoa, white or brown rice, rice noodles, sorghum, spelt bread, arrowroot and amaranth.
- Legumes – Chickpeas and lentils are the only safe legumes if you’re looking for a low-FODMAP diet.
- Dairy – Some dairy is low in FODMAPs, but these are typically ones labeled “lactose free.” Eggs and hard cheeses are generally OK, too, as they are primarily made of fat – not lactose. But if you also looking to shed some pounds, I would recommend to leave options like brie, camembert and cheddar for your cheat meals.
I know it sounds like a huge pain – and like a pretty boring diet – but if you suffer from IBS, it’s worth trying for at least 4 to 6 weeks. It could alleviate cramping, gas, bloating, diarrhea and other gross symptoms, and it could make your life a whole lot more enjoyable!
Important Notes about the FODMAP Diet
Before you try the FODMAP diet for IBS relief, make sure you schedule an appointment with your doctor. If done incorrectly, the FODMAP diet could cause a nutrient deficiency and lead to even more health issues in the long run. Your doctor can help you build a diet that is customized exactly to your needs and health concerns, and ensure you’re getting the proper minerals and nutrients your body needs to function.
Also, make sure you’re prepared to put a little extra thought and effort into your meals. You’ll need to plan ahead, make thorough grocery lists, and get creative with your recipes and ingredients if you want to stick to the diet. It may be hard at first, but you’ll get the hang of it faster than you think. And when those symptoms start dissipating, you’ll be glad you did!
Fortunately, going gluten-free is easier than ever nowadays. Millions of people have jumped on the gluten free bandwagon, and restaurants and grocery stores across the world are offering up GF options left and right. As wheat and gluten are some of the worst high-FODMAP foods around, this can make trying the FODMAP diet even easier the first time around. And the easier it is, the more likely you can stick to it, right?
Do you suffer from IBS? Will you try the FODMAP diet to alleviate or eliminate your symptoms? Share your thoughts with me in the comments.
Remember to share this information with all your family and friends, especially those who suffer from IBS; so that they can benefit from the FODMAP diet.
Together we can make this world a happier, healthier world!