IBS & Low FODMAP – Recipe for Success? After the past 2 years of CoVid hanging over my head, not visiting family or friends and hanging on by a thread, financially speaking, my IBS got a lot worse, recently. I decided to re-take a 6 week low FODMAP diet, which is inspired by The Happy Pear. I was lucky enough to win it a couple of years back and it helped me a lot back then. To keep everyone in the loop & for those, who may want to try something similar, I decided to write down my progress & at the same time, revive my blog. I also think it’s a great way of highlighting the struggles of IBS and creating more awareness for this illness.
IBS stands for Irritable Bowl Syndrom. Basically, your stomach is very susceptible to stress. This may be, so called, positive as well as negative stress.
NHS UK has the following definition on their website :
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common condition that affects the digestive system.
- It causes symptoms like stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation. These tend to come and go over time, and can last for days, weeks or months at a time.
- It’s usually a lifelong problem. It can be very frustrating to live with and can have a big impact on your everyday life.
- There’s no cure, but diet changes and medicines can often help control the symptoms.
- The exact cause is unknown – it’s been linked to things like food passing through your gut too quickly or too slowly, oversensitive nerves in your gut, stress and a family history of IBS.
What are FODMAPs?
A diet low in FODMAPs is supposed to be of great help, as it is a nutrition free from many things, that are potentially stressful for your gut, in a sense that they are difficult to digest, cause bloating, ….
FODMAP is an acronym for fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides and polyols. They are basically short-chain carbohydrates, like some sugars, carbs & sugar alcohols, such as fructose, lactose and xylitol or sorbitol. They are mostly part of our everyday nutrition (though sometimes added to supermarket foods) and they tend to absorb water & ferment in your colon. This is all perfectly normal, though it means a lot of work for your gut – and if it’s already stressed, it might be an overload.
Please be advised, that it’s never a good idea to exclude certain foods from your nutrition altogether, unless you’re allergic or sensitive to a certain food and you have talked to your dietician about it. Sometimes, though, it might help to take a step back, do a reset & re-add FODMAPs step by step. Which is what I’m doing those next 6 weeks. Here’s my report of the first week.
Day 1: IBS & Low FODMAP – Recipe for Success?
On day 1, I actually had a lot to organise. Bake bread, make energy balls, do the shopping for the entire week, cook breakfast, lunch and dinner & not stressing out. Admittedly, the last part didn’t quite work out as well as I’d hoped. Of course, it was too much for one day. Nevertheless, I started my first week with some buckwheat pancakes, a broccoli soup & a vegan Bolognese. I had 3 energy balls & 1 coffee as a snack, in-between. I felt okay, though I definitely noticed the withdrawal from sugar. The past months had been tough and I fell back into old habits of snacking a lot. So, if nothing else, those 6 weeks will be great in the sense, that I’ll cut down my sugar intake. Let’s see about the rest.
Day 2: IBS & Low FODMAP – Recipe for Success?
Day 2 started out a bit difficult as the sudden change in nutrition made me feel really sick. Nevertheless, I forced myself to eat properly. I started out with a chia pudding, followed by some broccoli soup with bread and some vegan bolognese. I also had a coffee, a green tea & 1 Energy ball. As some of you might already know, it’s incredibly important to maintain a fix routine, when dealing with IBS. Not only in what & when you’re eating, but also the rest of your time. Which is why I decided to take up Yoga again. I’m integrating it into my routine. So, although I’m feeling pretty bad, I’m going to force myself to a Yoga session every 2 days – no matter how I’m feeling. This & eating at set times of the day is already way more routine, than I had the past couple of months. Hopefully, I’ll see some positive results soon. So there we have it, on day 2 I’m thinking: “So much for getting worse before getting better.”
Day 3: IBS & Low FODMAP – Recipe for Success?
I woke up and I actually felt okay. Today was the first day, though, were I was actually very hungry. I started with a chia pudding for breakfast and forced myself to a yoga class. It was actually very nice, but my stomach rebelled a lot. During the whole session people could hear the funny sounds my intestines were producing… At least we had something to laugh about. After Yoga, I had a veggie salad and IT WAS NOT ENOUGH! I was so hungry after, I had to eat a slice of low FODMAP bread & an energy ball right away. Still continued to feel hungry, though it was way better. Note to myself: Don’t eat a no carb salad for lunch after only having a chia pudding & doing some exercise. Tomorrow I will do better! It might also have been tricky today as I’m on my period, so my appetite is much bigger than usual. The greens were particularly good for my cramps, though.
Day 4: IBS & Low FODMAP – Recipe for Success?
Today, I started my day with a Quinoa Porridge & topped it off with some Kiwi, Orange & berries – YUM!! I had another soup for lunch & a curry for dinner. Overall, I was feeling a little more energetic today. However, I am still feeling the withdrawal from sugar quite strongly. I hope it’ll get better soon, because it’s really quite annoying. 😀 Other than that everything seems to be going okay: bloating has gone down a lot. Let’s see what the rest of the week brings! 🙂
Day 5: IBS & Low FODMAP – Recipe for Success?
Got up at 5:30, had a coffee, a (way too small) breakfast & went off to Yoga Class. I was so not feeling it today. My body still hurt from Wednesday, I was super tired & my breathing & stomach were completely feeling off. I really didn’t want to go. I know, though, that I won’t get any better, if I don’t do any exercise, no matter how perfect I’m eating, so how’s that for motivation!? Only issue though – how do you integrate morning Yoga into your day when you start working at 8 & there’s no class starting & finishing before that? I know, what you’re gonna say. You’re gonna say, I should just do Yoga at home. Sorry folks, not my thing. What about positions being corrected or the energy of all the people taking the class? Just not the same at home.
Day 6: IBS & Low FODMAP – Recipe for Success?
I tried to sleep in, as I felt really exhausted after being hungry all day yesterday, but the idea of breakfast made me wake up at 7:30. Ha! Well, I had a little coffee in bed and then I had a bowl of quinoa porridge. I ate so much, afraid I would feel hungry again, I actually overate! How’s that for moderation?! Nevertheless, I decided it’ll be a productive day, so I planned the second week. I don’t want to get into the position of not having anything planned and eating whatever. That would ruin the whole process. For lunch I went with a soup & dinner was a brown rice & veggie dish.
Day 7: Last day of the first week…
Today was the first day, I actually felt like giving up. Giving up on my meal plan & cancelling my yoga class. I was feeling very, very sick. I just wanted to stay inside & hide under my blanket. Luckily, I had asked a friend to join me for yoga, so I couldn’t really cancel last minute. I took some medication & off I went. The first 15-20 minutes were exhausting, but after that, I got better by the minute during the class and I was so happy I decided to go. I got home and had a salad (gosh, I really DO NOT LIKE SALADS!!!) and a hot chocolate. I had the remaining rice & veggie one pan dish for dinner.
A recap on the first week
What’s important when dealing with IBS (or any other life impacting disease / struggle /…)? Well, healthy eating – of course. But it’s not enough. A healthy body also needs exercise & most importantly, a healthy mind.
I am “lucky” right now, really. Because I am off sick & I live in a country, where sick days are paid. So, although I’m feeling like shit and I am struggling a lot and barely manage to get out of bed right now and I completely ignore my friends or any other interactions on social media, I am lucky. I am lucky in the sense, that I can deal with my issues, that I have the freedom to force myself to go to yoga classes, do a 6 week meal plan & deal with my issues.
I mean, at the end of the day, the question is: “How can I lead a happy & healthy life, while working full time, living in a society with certain expectations, that I might not be able to fulfil (and do I event want to?) & at the same time being completely true to myself and therefore living a fulfilled & stress-free life?” That’s it for me, anyways… I figured out how my ideal life is supposed to look like. That’s the first (maybe the most important) step. Now it’s time to find a way to actually combine, what I need with real life and create a new reality for myself.
And here’s my final note:
This first week was tough and on so many levels as well… Nevertheless:
I managed to finish the first week. I did not give up, I am facing my shit & I am quite proud of myself. Also, I couldn’t have done this without my boyfriend, who decided to do those 6 weeks with me (although, he doesn’t need it). Thank you for the support! And thanks to my friends, for being patient again. For not pressuring me into leaving the house. And for your kind words.