Thursday, February 13, 2014

FODMAP Elimination

These are turkey "wraps." Deli turkey, swiss cheese,
Helman's mayo wrapped in a romaine lettuce leaf. Strawberries &
blueberries are limited to 1/2 cup per sitting. Almonds are also limited.
I still only eat eight almonds at a time. 
One night last month I was awakened from a blissful sleep by the churning of my stomach. Perhaps it was more of an intestinal churning, I'm not sure, but it was violent and rather painful. I shifted around in the hope that some position might cause whatever alien being was trying to spring forth from my abdomen to give it a rest. Then I heard myself say, "I don't want this." I was shocked to have said it out loud. I sounded quite pathetic.

The churning had been going on every night for almost two years. I'd talked to my gastroenterologist about it. He was unimpressed. "Ignore it," he said. "It's just gas."
Chicken sauteed with olive oil and Italian
seasonings. 1/2 cup sweet potato mixed with
butter and brown sugar, 1/2 cup quinoa with
butter and Parmesan cheese.

Knowing that there would be no point in visiting the same doctor with the same complaint he'd already dismissed, I turned to Google. It was there that I found the low FODMAP diet.

It wasn't the first time I'd stumbled upon this acronym. The nighttime burning gurgle had sent me googling in the wee hours of the morning before. Each time I read through the diet, I determined that I couldn't do it. You can't eat wheat. Or garlic. Or onions. You have to limit fruit. There are too many restrictions. I love to cook and eat. I'd rather gurgle.

But I'd said it out loud. I didn't want to lose sleep because of my "just gas" any more. In the morning, I printed two lengthy PDF guides and ate half a grapefruit. There's an app for the diet. I downloaded it and the Livestrong app to track my calorie intake.

Two eggs over medium and homemade
hash browns.
I consumed less than 1,000 calories that first day. It was only after two shopping trips and getting this book that I got anywhere near 2,000 calories/day during the elimination phase. There were many days that I felt like crying at meal times. These were mostly dinners where I continued to make normal food for the family. I watched them eat their soft wheat buns while I choked down a burger on a gluten free roll so crumbly I could hardly get it in my mouth.

It was not easy.

After a week of the diet, my stomach went quiet. It was odd after two years to eat and feel nothing. I hoped I might have more energy, but the washing machine sensation was the point of the diet. It was a success!

After the two week elimination, I completed three of the "challenges" (visit or get the book if you're interested in the details of elimination and challenge) and found that I don't handle fructose very well. Also, I have to be careful not to have too much fat or fiber.

I'm still keeping track of my daily FODMAPs, lest I should have a relapse into the gurgles. Wheat, though I eat it, is much more restricted than ever before. It's been several weeks since my last churning episode. Overall, I'm happy. This has helped more than the gastroenterologist, it's been cheaper and involves way less prescription medication.

It wasn't easy, but the FODMAP elimination was worth it. Also, I really don't like quinoa.

***This is not a substitute for medical advice. Though I feel like smacking my gastroenterologist, you should visit one to make sure you don't have an underlying condition causing your symptoms. The FODMAP elimination diet is to be used with the help of a dietitian. The meals shown above are things I ate while on the FODMAP elimination diet, but have not been evaluated by a dietitian and could be completely wrong. Individual results may vary.****