IBS and the FODMAP diet


Dear big sister,
so I have already posted two recipes in which I mention that they are “lowFODMAP”. I haven't explained what that really means though and why I follow such a weird diet. I could talk about this forever, but I will try to keep it short and concise, promise. First I will explain what it is all about, and then talk a little bit about where I'm at. 

So first things first: Why do I follow a special diet at all?
I was diagnosed with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) last summer. That basically means my gut is not very good at its job and tends to overreact to stress and such things. Also, nobody knows why. So that is fun.
Getting a diagnosis was still a relief for me though, since I have had stomach problems basically all my life. They got a lot worse during my teens and puberty and last year I finally started to systematically get tested to see what is wrong. After about a million tests, the doctors finally told me that I have IBS. While it is a difficult diagnosis in some ways, in others it is also a relief. First and foremost, IBS is not life threatening, it does not damage anything and it does not get worse over time. So those are the good news. The not so good news: It is still incredibly painful and stressful. Also, since doctors are not sure where it comes from, there is no cure. It comes in waves, sometimes better sometimes worse, and is known to be closely linked to the psyche. It is also known, that the same thing doesn’t work for everyone. For me, the biggest change is, that I now follow a low FODMAP diet.
Swiss food is surprisingly easy for the low FODMAP diet 
You keep using that word, but what are FODMAPs?
FODMAP stands for “Fermentable Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides And Polyols”. They are short chained carbohydrates, mostly sugars, which can be found in different foods we consume. They are supposed to be absorbed into the bloodstream in the small intestines. If that doesn't work properly though (like in my gut), they will continue on into the large intestines, where they get fermented by bacteria. That fermentation produces gas and messes with the water reabsorption (aka diarrhea).

FODMAPS can be found in lots of different foods. Unfortunately, these include very healthy and yummy things. Oligo-saccharides can be in the form of fructanes, which can be found in wheat, rye, onion and garlic for example. Di-saccharides include lactose, which can be found in almost all diary-products. One of the most common mono-saccharides is fructose, found in lots and lots of fruits. Polyols are also present in some fruit, like apples, blackberries and also avocados.

As you can see they can be found in many things, so it is hard to eliminate them all together. However, in many cases the portion sizes really make the difference, which is why it is called LOW FODMAP and not NO FODMAP. But even following a very low FODMAP diet for so long can have negative effects, so after a while one can reintroduce foods. For more information check out the Monash University website.
Eating low FODMAP means making lots of things from scratch - like this beef broth.
So where am I at?
For me, the lowFODMAP diet works really well (as long as I stick to it). I started following it in September 2016 and have been mostly sticking to it for the last six month. I did start trying out different foods systematically, but since the beginning of this year things have gotten a little crazy and I have not been very good with sticking to it. I do know however, that my main food-triggers are wheat, onion and garlic, so I still avoid those whenever possible.

I am also trying to get back on track and back to a fully lowFODMAP diet for a while, since I have been having lots of flare-ups lately. I just started a new internship, which is rather stressful and I am also in a new living situation. One thing is for sure though: My body does not like change! Since this situation is hopefully rather permanent though, I hope things will only get better now. 

- Henrike

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