I mentioned in a recent post that I’ve been experiencing some very discouraging stomach discomfort as of late. Well, really, I’ve been experiencing strange stomach discomfort for I’d say three years now, but because my discomfort has never been what I considered “IBS” – I struggle with more “tightness” rather than bowel distress – I never thought my problems had anything to do with digestion. Or food at all, for that matter.
In the last three months, however, I began to experience a twisting sensation in my right side underneath my ribcage, as well as a larger degree of bloating and abdomen distention. It got to the point where it was constant.
This is all quite ironic timing as it was in these last three months where I started my new job and began really focusing more on intuitive eating. I was doing really well. Funny how this mental improvement brought with it a decrease in physical improvement. Come on, people.
Still, however, the thought that these issues could be related to food or digestion just didn’t ever cross my mind.
It seems a bit silly of me, now.
As my symptoms and stomach discomfort continued to get worse and worse, I finally got myself in to see a doctor.
My doctor was away so I saw a stand in. I was really hoping to be sent for some actual tests. Something to get some sort of answer. “Tell me anything concrete, please!!” But, sadly, I wasn’t rushed away to any gastro specialist or testing lab. Rather, the doctor pulled out a paper and said…
“I’d like you to go on the low-FODMAP diet.”
I’ve been following Joyce over at The Hungry Caterpillar for a while now and through her I was introduced to, and have been learning a lot, about this – new to me – diet. While reading her posts, I found myself constantly expressing sympathy for “How hard it must be! How much work this must take!” and internally thinking I am so lucky that I do not, nor ever will, need to be on such a diet. Because me with any sort of IBS? That just wouldn’t happen.
I’m not going to get into it here, but basically, FODMAPS are “Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols,” – a collection of molecules (specifically carbohydrates/sugars) found in food that can be poorly absorbed by some people. For more information, I’ve been finding A Little Bit of Yummy, Kate Scarlata, Joe, My Gut Feeling, and of course Joyce, to offer some great help.
The doctor said that the symptoms I was experiencing were very common amongst those who find relief after going on a low-FODMAP diet. It turns out, maybe IBS doesn’t just mean bloating and gas and bowel movement distress? Maybe IBS could be a blanket term for any sort of stomach discomfort?? I’m doing a lot of reading and research on this topic. But, its definitely a new idea for me.
Sigh. Me on a diet?
Could the doctor be in the right territory? Or is she just throwing a paper at me?
I was pretty wary. I mean I was pretty annoyed that I wasn’t sent for any kind of testing, and I did get the feeling that this stand-in doctor didn’t really offer me much actual sympathy or care. But I took the paper, quickly began researching everything I could find about this – what I now see as – a new and quickly growing diet prescription, and have decided to give it a shot.
I’ve been working my way into it all very slowly. And apprehensively. I don’t tend to go “all in” to things very easily or quickly. I’m still trying to decide how “strict” I need/should be going, and how much/what to actually eliminate. Obviously if I were to decide to really do the elimination phase, I’d have to fully eliminate all the foods that are considered high-FODAMP. You are supposed to do this for 2-8 weeks, and then start reintroducing each item slowly to see which ones cause reactions. It’s already been taking a lot of research, a lot of “mistakes,” and a lot of planning.
Although I’m still wading through which items to really watch, I have decided to eliminate a few things more or less completely. These are:
Honey and Agave
Kombucha (huge, huge boo)
And other stone fruits such as peaches, pears, and dates.
There are so many other things you are supposed to eliminate on the low-FODMAP diet, and many things you are supposed to have only in specific, smaller quantities. I’m going to talk more about the food aspect of things – what I’m discovering to be triggers and what I’m watching – in a following post.
You know, it could all make pretty good sense.
If I’ve been experiencing a certain level of chronic discomfort for three years now, how would I have EVER thought it could have had anything to do with things like onion and garlic? Or apples!?! These are things that have been a steady part of my diet, but in such quantities that I never would have thought anything of them. My intake of “FODMAPS” would have been totally up and down and unrecognized, so my varying levels of discomfort – with what seemed like no rhyme or reason – would have made sense.
When I started at my new job, however, my intake of these things most definitely increased. I was eating food from work every day, and the menu is saturated with FODMAPS. Every sauce or dressing is made with garlic, onion and most contain agave syrup (which I now just learned). My favorite tempeh bacon marinade? Garlic and agave. All the drinks?….sweetened with agave or honey. Fresh juices and smoothies? Based with apple. MY BELOVED ONION RINGS. Guys… I was having a lot of onion rings. So this right there sky rocketed my increase of garlic and well… onions. Man. That one really, really sucks.
Also, randomly enough, the nut mix that goes in my favorite bowls and salads all contain cashews and pistachios, which are both considered high-FODMAP. My two favorite nuts, but not ones that I would have consumed regularly (or much at all) before starting my new job. I mean, pistachios? Who would have thought?
Ugh and I was just getting on a role with the falafel tacos. Topped with crispy onions and garlicky tahini.
So I do see how, if I am sensitive to these FODMAP foods, that my discomforts would have really grown over these last few months.
Sigh. Bye for now BBQ onion ring burger…?
Like I said, I have no freaking clue if this could be the “cure” for my discomfort. The doctor I saw could be a genius, or she could have been way off.
But I do know that since beginning to attempt this diet, I have had two days where I have felt completely discomfort free. It’s incredible how you can become so accustomed to a certain level of discomfort, that the days where it is simply less severe are days you consider feeling “good.” It isn’t until you experience what it’s like to be totally discomfort free that you actually realize… oh my god there is something so much better out there!? Two days doesn’t sound like much, but those two days felt… amazing. I was riding my bike to work and felt like freakin’ Yoshi in Yoshi world. Nintendo ’64 version, obvi.
I’ve still experienced many bouts of discomfort and flare ups that continue to confuse me, but in general, I have began to feel much better.
So if this diet is making me feel better, even at all, then maybe the doctor was onto something. And maybe its worth a shot?
I’m not entirely sure how to proceed. I don’t know how strict to go or for how long.
And – yes – I can hear your concerns and skepticisms seeping through my screen. They’re probably matching well with my own.
Boom. Head butt.
Trying out any sort of “diet” will sure put a kink into the whole intuitive eating thing. I have been working hard over these last few years to abolish food rules, and I’ve gotten to a place where the rules and food fears are very few. According to this trip to the doctor, I had actually made pretty solid ground in the weight gain territory, too.
Right now my focus is no longer on being intuitive or gaining weight, it is simply trying to figure out the cause of my discomfort and heal whatever is going on. Right now, I feel this clash between the thrill of eliminating things and being put on a diet to – hopefully – find relief from all this physical stress, and a sense of impending worry that this is not a good idea.
But I also know this wouldn’t be forever. The low-FODMAP diet is not intended to be a lifestyle, but rather a temporary means of discovering food sensitivities and rebalancing gut health.
I’m going to continue limiting a lot of the biggest high-FODMAP foods – as long as I continue to notice a difference – but I’m not going to eliminate things like gluten and lactose, which you are also supposed to eliminate during the strict elimination phase. I just mentally can’t go that strict right now. Not when I feel uncertain and nervous.
Since seeing this first doctor, I did see another NP – one who actually knows and cares about me, aha. She is sending me for some ultrasound and blood type tests. Just to get some questions out of the way. And I’ll be seeing a nutritionist in a few weeks. I know I don’t need help with the diet, but then again …. we always need help.Being Told To Go On The Low-FODMAP diet. My Thoughts and Worries. #lowfodmap #eatingdisorder #ibs… Click To Tweet
The possibility that all of this is due to my years of restricting isn’t alluding me, either. It’s possible my body is just rebelling now that I’ve been feeding it things that were restricted for so long. Or, that it is all more stress related than anything. And that the real cure is just eating more and decreasing stress. Honestly, I think this is what scares me the most, because this doesn’t really have any concrete answers behind it. It’s a much longer prescription than a pill or diet.
I don’t know what the answers are, or will be. I just really want to feel normal again.
Sorry this is ridiculously long, but thank you for continuing on this journey right along with me and letting me think all this mess out loud.
Have you ever been/are you on the low-FODMAP diet?
Have you ever had complicated stomach discomfort?