After numerous doctor’s appointments and various tests over the past few months, it is more than likely that I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Although it may sound strange, I was disappointed each time a different test result came back negative. I was hoping for a clear solution like taking an antibiotic or having some type of one-time procedure. Nonetheless, there is a diet that supposedly works for most people with IBS called the FODMAP diet. The letters stand for really long scientific words, but stand for foods that are highly fermentable and poorly digested. The FODMAP diet is a diet that reduces high FODMAP foods. The first phase of the diet is the elimination phase, which lasts about 6-8 weeks or until symptom-free. After that phase, foods high in FODMAPS are gradually introduced to determine which foods are trigger foods. The naughty list (high FODMAP) includes certain fruits and vegetables, dairy that is high in lactose, soy, beans, gluten, sugar free gum, and certain types of sugars. The diet also limits any sweetener to very small quantities. For the past few days I have been struggling to find a substitute for soymilk. No other non-dairy milks have any where near as much protein as soymilk so I opted for mixing a hemp-based protein powder into almond milk – NASTY. The hemp powder mixed into the almond milk at first, but as I was eating my infamous bowl of Cheerios, it started to get all clumpy and I was eating chunks of hemp (and hemp powder is green by the way – DOUBLE GROSS). Then I tried fortified almond milk that has a little bit more protein – EVEN NASTIER. I didn’t realize that it has added sugar in it so it tasted like I was eating Cheerios with watery corn syrup – YUCK. So, I thought I might try another non-dairy milk that was higher in fat content, praying that the milk would be a little thicker and absorb the hemp powder better. No such luck, coconut milk has higher fat content, but that is on the naughty list. Then, I did some research and realized that I could drink lactaid milk. It is dairy milk, but does not have lactose and has even more protein than soymilk. Success! It will take me a while to get used to the flavor, but by far the best substitute to complement by precious Cheerios. I was also instructed to give up tea. I haven’t found a substitute for that yet, hot water and hot water with lemon added are both quite unpleasant. I also had to give up dried apricots, which I ate for potassium since I read that potassium is important for those who run. I’m trying cantaloupe, which is not as high in potassium, but it’ll do the trick for now. The sugar will be tough too. I usually eat pretty healthy during the week, but I love having cake on the weekend (especially chocolate cake and chocolate is on the naughty list too, ugh). So far, corn bread will be my substitute since it does not call for much sugar. I don’t think the gluten elimination will be a big deal and I can finally put my gluten free cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen to good use. Overall, I am just glad I don’t have to give up Cheerios and waffles. I do have to alter my waffle recipe slightly, but I’m having fun experimenting with different ingredients.
This is quite a long post and if you’ve made it this far, pat yourself on the back! As you can see above, this new FODMAP diet is now my main priority. Because of this, I have decided to alter my goal of running to Nana’s house in Southie. Instead of focusing my energy on increasing my mileage, I need to focus it on eating according to these new guidelines and possibly adding other exercises like yoga and pilates. I still need to do more research on this FODMAP diet and other techniques that people with IBS have found helpful. There are quite a few Facebook pages dedicated to this diet, which is great. I’m looking forward to reading about other people’s experiences with both the FODMAP diet and IBS in general. I still plan to keep running, but not at the intensity of training for a half marathon. I did reach a speed goal last week by breaking 8 min/mile last week! I may still run to my Nana’s house someday, but for now its FODMAP, FODMAP, FODMAP 🙂