Week One on the Low-FODMAP Diet

Week One on the Low-FODMAP Diet

The reason I have not posted in a while is because my time was taken up with trying this new diet to relieve my symptoms of IBS. After a very expensive shopping trip to the supermarket and a lot of preparing each evening I simply did not have time and was overwhelmed with the information I was discovering. Best of all, I am in a lot less pain, less bloating and overall feel better in myself.

I have only completed one week on this restricting diet and no it isn’t miraculous, I’m still not 100% but to eat a meal and not feel like my insides are at war with each other is a very welcoming sense of relief.

For all those unfamiliar with FODMAPs please see my explanation here: What are FODMAPs?

I knew I wanted to try the diet and I knew I would also need some direction. Not being a dietician I wanted to make sure I was following the diet correctly(otherwise I wouldn’t know if it was effective) and getting all the nutrients I needed.

So I went to the next best thing, a book. I chose The Complete Low FODMAP Diet by Dr Sue Shepherd and Dr Peter Gibson to be my guide throughout my foodie journey. It was scientific, covering everything I personally wanted to know with a range of recipes. My favourite part being the Menu Plan.

I roughly followed this menu plan, swapping meals for different days to suit me but I knew I was still getting a healthy balanced diet with foods that would hopefully not cause me any problems.

It was hard shopping for the week, reading all the labels and realising onion and garlic – things to avoid – were simply in a lot of things we eat everyday. The hardest part was trying to find allowable spices and sauces (stock and gravy). Especially as I am already on a gluten-free diet to reduce my symptoms.

I stuck to the recipes as much as I could with what I could find and for week two I’m hoping to devise a cheaper menu plan! Luckily I have a lot of herbs and spices already in the cupboard now to give my food flavour.

This was what my boyfriend feared the most, I was only going to subject him to my meals for the evening meal of the day but he thought they would be tasteless and overly healthy. Each day he was surprised with what I had cooked, not only due to the fact I had actually cooked (as this is not a talent of mine) but also the taste and variety of the food.

I found it exciting to try new foods such as, swordfish. Make pancakes with a savoury twist. Bake a handmade cheesecake, one of the things I had loved to eat before having to go on a gluten free diet and I didn’t bother trying to make my own as I assumed it was a lot of effort (turns out it is effortless, it just tests how patient you can be while it cooks, cools and then sits there in the fridge tantalising you).

I was not looking forward to trying this diet but because I was driven to make it work and prepare my lunch in the morning and create amazing cooked meals after work, I really enjoyed my food again.

I hope to stay on the diet until I feel my IBS is under control, it certainly is better but I don’t want to rush things and I want to let it heal, do some good. Then, as advised by the book and throughout the internet I shall try to reintroduce a FODMAP at a time and monitor my symptoms – I believe this will be the tricky part with a lot of trial and error – but if it means I won’t have to be so careful with what I eat and can enjoy a meal out, it will make it all worth it.


For further reading, I have also found support groups on Facebook to be helpful.

I have shared a few pictures of my low-FODMAP meals on Twitter I hope to post on here too describing each of the different meals.

My Facebook page contains latest news and tips on managing IBS and other digestive disorders.

Let’s educate ourselves on digestive health and support others to find a friend in food.

The Digestive System: Inside the Mouth

In my first post I mentioned listing foods as ‘safe’, ‘tolerable’ and ‘intolerable’ based on how your gut reacts to them and gave you a list of generally safe foods and avoidable foods to give you something to start adding meals around.

The type of foods you are eating may not be the only problem to your digestive system but there are ways we can prevent and reduce any inflammation and upset.

Our bodies work like a machine and when it works well everything is in perfect harmony; input, process, output. Together, a combination of nerves, hormones, bacteria, blood, and the organs of the digestive system completes the complex task of digesting the foods and liquids a person consumes each day.

So with that in mind, let’s see what ‘equipment’ (our organs) we have to work with.

human_digestive_system

The image above is a typical one you will find for the digestive system but it is worth remembering the effects on your digestion happen before you even start eating.

To aid digestion and reduce the risk of any upsets make sure you are mentally ready to eat. If you are stressed or unhappy it is best to give yourself some time to unwind before having a meal. When ready sit upright, dining chairs are ideal, as this does not constrict your stomach activity. Now you are ready to eat…

The Mouth

Your mouth is the first indicator whether a food is okay to eat, along with your sense of smell, take gone off milk for an example. If you like the smell and taste of the contents then your saliva glands will produce the enzyme ptyalin (also known as amylase), this is used to breakdown carbohydrates, converting starchy food, like bread, into maltose; a sugar which can be absorbed immediately.

It is thought that less than 5% of all starches consumed are digested within the mouth, before being swallowed as most of the digestive changes occur later on. This is because starch is a type of complex carbohydrate, which means that it’s made of long chains of sugars called polysaccharides. Foods high in starch, such as potatoes and some other tubers and root vegetables, are not as easily digested as simpler carbohydrates such as fruit, baked goods and pasta.

Therefore to help with this process it is important to chew your food as much as you can, it is recommended up to 32 times, if possible. Chewing for longer means your meal will last longer, making you eat smaller portions, one reason for this could be the time taken for your brain to signal that the stomach is full. This usually takes around 20 minutes.

When large particles of improperly chewed food enter your stomach, it may remain undigested when it enters your intestines. There, bacteria will begin to break it down, or in other words it will start to putrefy, potentially leading to gas and bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal pain, cramping and other digestive problems.

To reduce these problems, take smaller bites and swallow what you have already chewed before taking another bite. To reduce the symptoms of wind and bloating, try not to take down air when drinking or swallowing food.

Look out for more updates about processes throughout the digestive system coming soon.