I thought I’d add a little blog post here to update you on the progress of my dairy-free diet, or lack of progress on the dairy-free diet, which would be a more accurate description really. I went onto a dairy-free diet at the beginning of January in an attempt to try to get my IBS symptoms under control. My GP confirmed (through blood tests) a long time ago that I am allergic to dairy, so I knew that continuing to consume it wasn’t doing me any good. I figured that the continuing problem with IBS was being caused by my dairy consumption so I cut it out. With the exception of the occasional thing that I haven’t realised had milk powder in it, I’ve been dairy-free for a long while now, but the IBS remains.
A while ago I made the mistake of eating a generous portion of onion rings and was up all night ill. I’ll spare you the grisly details, but I was in a lot of discomfort to say the least. I’ve known for ages that onions were a problem for me to eat, but I’ve never really taken it seriously and have continued to use them in my cooking. However, after being ill all night I returned to bed with a cup of peppermint tea and decided that I needed to find answers as to why my body was having this reaction so frequently. At around 4am that morning I discovered the low FODMAP diet.
Monash University researchers discovered that in the majority of cases, IBS was triggered by particular types of carbohydrates called FODMAPs:
Fermentable: (In which the bacteria in your gut breaks down undigested carbohydrates to create gas)
Oligosaccharides: (which include Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) which are found in wheat, rye, onions and garlic and Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) which are found in legumes/beans and pulses)
Disaccharides: (found in lactose products, such as milk, cheese and yoghurts)
Mono-saccharide: (which is fructose, a carbohydrate found in honey, apples, and high fructose corn syrups)
and Polyols: (Sugar polyols, such as sorbitol and mannitol, which are found in some fruit and vegetables and are used as artificial sweeteners).
Now, I know that’s quite a lot of science to digest (pardon the pun), but bear with me.
I’ve mentioned before that I work in a book shop and since the beginning of the year I’ve occasionally put FODMAP diet books out on the shelves or sold them to customers, but they’ve been in such low quantities that I didn’t really take much notice of what they were or what the FODMAP diet was. Let’s be honest, there are so many diet books out there it’s unlikely that I’m going to look in depth at them all.
However, when I started looking into the low FODMAP diet in the early hours of the morning I realised that there could be something in it. Also, by that stage I was willing to give anything a try that could possibly stop my abdomen feeling like an end of season battle scene from Game of Thrones.
Essentially there are low FODMAP foods and high FODMAP foods. The low FODMAP foods contain carbohydrates which are easy for the body to digest, whereas the high FODMAP food carbohydrates cannot be digested properly and will therefore create diarrhoea and gas. Monash University suggests that under the supervision of a nutritionist you should dedicate two months to only eating low FODMAP foods. After that time period, high FODMAP foods can start to be introduced into the diet in small quantities to see how well your body can tolerate them.
I’m not doing the low FODMAP diet under a nutritionist, but I’ve been using The Complete Low-FODMAP Diet book which has been invaluable, as has The Low-FODMAP Diet Cookbook because it’s helped me discover meals that are suitable for me to eat. I’m also going to treat myself to Emma Hatcher’s book The FODMAP Friendly Kitchen Cookbook which came out at the beginning of the year and contains some amazing low FODMAP recipes. She also has her own blog She Can’t Eat What?! which has great low FODMAP recipes on it.
Monash University also have a FODMAP app that you can download which contains a brilliant explanatory guide, a comprehensive list of low and high FODMAP foods, a collection of low FODMAP recipes and a shopping list creator. I’ve found it very useful indeed. I also found this website which lists low FODMAP foods and high FODMAP foods (both of which correspond with the Monash FODMAP app at the time of writing).
My friends, at the time of writing this I’ve been on the low FODMAP diet for a week and I feel ten times better already. My constantly bloated, rumbling, painful tummy is starting to disappear, as have the painful IBS spasms that I put up with for so long. On the third day of being on the low FODMAP diet my partner woke up and said “Wow! Your stomach wasn’t making whale song noises all night long!”, to which I replied a curt, “Thanks, I think!”.
I guess the point of this post is simply to let you all know that from now on my food will continue to be dairy-free (because that’s a definite in my life now), but it’ll also be incorporating gluten-free, low FODMAP diet food too. But you can bet your bottom dollar it’ll still be damn tasty!
See you in the next blog post!
Love, Jane XXX