An old childhood neighbor of mine told me about FODMAPs a few weeks back and I’ve been experimenting with it. FODMAPs is an acronym for Fermentable Oligo- and Di- and Mono-Saccharides and Polyol. It’s a way of eating based on research done in Australia that is just beginning to be talked about in the U.S.
FODMAPs are carbohydrates (sugars and fibers) that ferment rapidly in your gut, which means they feed bacteria (which causes gas) rather than nourishing you. They also can alter the fluid balance between the small and large intestine, which can lead to either constipation or diarrhea. Charming, eh?
So my old neighbor recommended a good e-book for this, called “IBS Free At Last! Change Your Carbs, Change Your Life” by Patsy Catsos, who’s a registered dietitian.
It’s a really hard diet to get started on, as there’s a steep learning curve. Things that are a problem: lactose— milk and milk products, fructose–honey, fruits, and high fructose corn syrup, fructans— wheat, rye, some vegetables, polyols–some fruits and vegetables, and some sugar free foods, and galactans–dried peas and beans.
Unfortunately there isn’t a list that mentions every food, so there’s a lot of reading and re-reading and it’s easy to go hungry while you’re scrambling to do the right thing. Meat and eggs are always okay. The only 100% safe fruits are bananas with spots on them, and blueberries.
The idea with the book is to eliminate all FODMAPs for 2 weeks and then do challenges on each of the above classes one at a time, so you can see what specifically is causing your problems, then eat only as much as you can get away with.
It’s really amazing to see that foods I thought were fine were contributing to my problems: avocado is high in fructans :’-( Hummus is high in galactans. These were both a big part of my diet. Honey is a no-no, but sugar and glucose don’t feed these bacteria, so that’s a small positive for us under-deprived folks, although sugar feeds yeast, so for me, the only sweetener that gets a clean bill is stevia.
Mushrooms are a problem. So is anything from the cabbage family. Onions. Garlic. I was really upset about the garlic. I loved me my garlic salt on my avocado…
I had such problems with milk for years- I had long given up dairy, but tried it again as part of the GAPS diet, using home-cultured yogurt with 2% fat that had fermented for 24 hours (as opposed to 12 hours with commercial yogurts). It was like kryptonite to Superman. I laid down in Bikram class, in class after class, exhausted like I had never been before.
It turns out that that the problem was because I was mixing yogurt with honey, kale and mango puree. Once I cut out the extras and tried the yogurt on its own, I was fine. Without the FODMAPs e-book, I’d never have figured it out.
So why go to the trouble of sorting out how to eat this way? Well, it’s not healthy to take antacids. Taking antacids is the equivalent of sticking your head in the sand while your house is on fire.
There’s a lot more going on: inflammation is building up in your system. Without stomach acid, you’re not getting the nutrition you need from your food. You’re just building up stockpiles of fat, which also causes inflammation of its own.
Inflammation is what kills people off. It might be digestion system-related or it might be in the circulatory system, or it might be both, but I don’t want any surprises, thank you very much. I just want to figure out what is safe to eat and what will build my health.
The hardest part of changing your eating is the fact that our gut bacteria influence our cravings. If you are unhealthy, check with your doctor and consider trying the elimination part of the FODMAPs diet. For the most success, I’d pair it with a colonic using hydrogen peroxide and switching to stevia. My sweet cravings have gone way down since I’ve done all 3 things.