Although it’s not something I’ve mentioned before on the blog, I’ve suffered from IBS for about the last 10 years. For most of that time, I put it down to stress and did my best to ignore it. More recently, as the stresses in my life have stabilized and I don’t have a stressful job anymore, I’ve begun to realize that stress can’t be the whole picture.
About 2 years ago I discovered (via 23andme) that I’m genetically likely to be lactose intolerant. It seemed like I finally had an answer! I stopped eating milk & cream, cut out fresh cheeses, and invested in some lactase pills for those special-occasion desserts. Unfortunately, my symptoms still didn’t go away. Eventually I gave up on the lactose-free diet altogether and resigned myself to suffering.
However, as I’ve started cooking more and more, with a complete knowledge of what I’m eating when, I’ve slowly been able to identify another suspect – certain vegetables! It sounds crazy. We’re always told vegetables are the best thing for our bodies to eat, that we don’t consume enough fiber in today’s Western society, and that vegetables are pretty much the only food that doesn’t have a downside.
But vegetables are actually a known cause of IBS, being part of a group of foods known as FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols). The problem with these food compounds is that our bodies don’t digest them very well, allowing the bacteria in our gut to digest them instead, and produce gas in the process, leading to all the symptoms of IBS.
Anyway, the “why” is interesting but not nearly as important as what can be done about it. Although there is a huge list of foods which have the potential to cause problems, for most people only a few of them are actually the culprit. This is where the limited diet comes in.
For the next week or 2 I’m going to cut out practically everything from my diet, so I’m only eating things which are extremely unlikely to be the cause of my problems. Hopefully my symptoms will disappear completely, at which point I can start adding in foods one by one and keeping a note of which ones cause my symptoms to reoccur.
My limited diet will consist of:
- Cooked carrots
- Raspberries, strawberries & melon
- Fish & eggs
- Nuts (not peanuts)
- Greek yogurt (there is much debate over this one but I’m going to try eating it every day for breakfast and see how it goes)
- Rice & potatoes
- Fennel tea (I hate fennel but it’s supposed to be wonderful for soothing the digestive tract so I figured it was worth a shot)
It’s not a very exciting prospect but I think there is enough variety on there to keep me alive and healthy, if perhaps quite bored! I’m hoping that writing about my experience will help others in a similar situation, so I’ll do a weekly update on my progress. If you’ve tried a limited diet before I’d love to hear about it (success or failure)! Please share your story in the comments.