Although I have been searching for answers to heal my belly for a long, long time, I feel only in the past year have I really hit on what is finally working. As I wrote last spring, I discovered after embarking on a cleanse with the Whole 30 that I have a pretty terrific intolerance to a lot of different foods- aka Fructose Malabsorption. Great. After much more reading and research I came upon the FODMAP diet, and have learned quite a bit since then. I'll post some helpful links at the bottom, if you're curious to learn more.
So how am I feeling, nearly a year later? Well, I've had my ups and downs and have experimented a little, but for the most part I'm pretty strict with the FODMAP protocol. I have the protocol printed up and hanging on the fridge, and keep it bookmarked on my smarty phone so that if I have questions when I'm grocery shopping I can refer to it quickly. Mostly I have to say my diet is pretty damn boring. Being FM means you can't eat the things I love. NO broccoli, asparagus, artichokes, GARLIC, onions, all stone fruits (be still my heart!! No apple picking for me this past fall. I died a little inside.) It's a big list, a really big list of "no".
Is it worth it? YES. I no longer bloat like I'm 6 months pregnant. I no longer have to make sure I know how to exit a social situation quickly for fear I'm going to fart like a college boy and embarrass myself. In fact- fart jokes in my presence are such a common thing that people are a little confused that I'm not farting a lot anymore. I guess it was just a part of my existence. Ugh. Anyway, I feel a lot better.
In the times I've gone ahead and had a forbidden food, I'm quickly reminded why I chose this path in the first place. It sucks to bloat, to not fit into your pants because your belly won't allow it. It sucks to fart like a damn trumpet early in the morning (good morning, lover!). My hope is to test out some certain foods and see if I do actually react to them. I miss garlic, for example. I want to eat good, raw sauerkraut; probiotics are so necessary! I want to eat some cherries. I know some things may not be available to me, or that I will just suffer the consequences when I choose to eat them.
The agony is being invited over for dinner, or going to a potluck. I hate the way it feels to tell a friend who invites me over, "Well you see, there's this long list…" Thankfully most people are amenable to being emailed my favorite FODMAP list so they can see for themselves what I can and cannot have. There have been some awkward moments however when I can tell the friend is put out. That's a yucky feeling. It makes me want to avoid social situations involving food, frankly. Often I will eat before going out so that I'm safe; I can snack on something but not be starving and obligated to eat something that will make me sick.
Sometimes you get fooled, too; particularly in restaurants. All restaurants except those in EBF know about the gluten issue and have foods to cater to those folks. But, FM? Forget it. EVERYTHING has onions in it, did you know that? Everything. Particularly everything in the lunch bar at my local health food store.
It's worth it though, totally worth it. I'm happy to be feeling better, despite my limited menu. If I could afford it I'd go to a dietician or nutritionist to make sure it's all balanced appropriately, but I listen to my body. If you suspect you have FM or other issues, definitely get checked out for allergies, fructose intolerance, celiacs or gluten sensitivity and let a nutritionist guide you. It's much faster and safer than my fits and starts and experimentation.
Some helpful links:
Good FODMAP summary here
Excellent summary and list
IBS free website