NOTE: Information in this post is based on my personal experience negotiating IBS, which is a very individual thing and different for everyone. For professional advice, try some of sites listed on my resources page.
I guess I’m an advocate for the low-FODMAP diet. At least, I’m an advocate in the sense that it’s helped me manage severe IBS, which, in turn, helped me to recover from anorexia.
But I don’t necessarily recommend doing low-FODMAP for everyone–or honestly, for most people.
Going low-FODMAP is a pretty extreme option. You have to cut a lot out of your diet. And although, yes, it’s been found to be a pretty effective way to manage IBS, it’s not by any means the only way to manage IBS.
I’ve said this in the past, but one advantage of writing a blog as a hobby, rather than as a source of income, is that I can say what I think–even if what I think is not necessarily conducive to marketing myself. So yes, even though I want to help people manage IBS, including figuring out the confusing the low-FODMAP diet and providing some low-FODMAP recipes that actually taste good and don’t make you feel like you’re missing out on life…if you can manage your IBS without cutting out a bunch of random, ubiquitous stuff like onions and garlic and apples and artichokes and cashews and beans and watermelon and and and…heck yeah you should.
I decided to go low-FODMAP for two main reasons:
- My IBS was severe. It was so severe that cutting out all of these things, even though it’s a huge hassle, has honestly increased my quality of life significantly.
- I felt like I’d tried all the things you were “supposed” to do to manage IBS, and I didn’t feel any friggin better.
That said, if you’re experiencing GI issues on the regular (bloating, cramping, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, etc.), here are a few things I’d recommend trying before you take the pretty extreme step of going through the extensive low-FODMAP elimination and re-introduction phases.
Above I said that I tried all the things that I was “supposed” to to manage IBS, and that they didn’t help. That’s true–I tried probiotics, and they didn’t seem to help. However, that was almost two years ago, and I now realize that the probiotic I was taking was not that strong. This summer, I started taking a very high daily dosage (three capsules per day) of one of the refrigerated brands (Garden of Life). I’m not necessarily an advocate for this particular brand, but I do think that choosing a high-quality brand and taking a high daily dosage has made an enormous difference.
Get tested for celiac
I think these days, doctors pretty well know to test someone who’s having GI issues for celiac, but if you haven’t had this done yet, do it. If you have celiac, you want to know, not only because it’s causing you GI issues, but also because celiac causes much more serious long-term health problems.
Make healthy choices
This one’s basic, but generally, living healthfully makes a big difference for IBS. Things that might help a lot include:
- Eating regularly
- Following the 80-20 rule of eating mostly healthy foods
- Getting enough sleep
- Managing stress
Although it’s tempting to fast when I have an IBS flare-up, eating regularly helps keep my symptoms more manageable in the long run. Exercising also makes an especially big difference for me, and even though it feels crummy to exercise while my tummy is crampy or I’m…uh…backed up…I feel a lot better afterward.
A lot of dietitians and physicians recommend adding fiber in if you’re experiencing IBS. However, books I’ve read by experts on IBS more often recommend cutting back on fiber, especially insoluble fiber. Big sources of insoluble fiber in our diets are potato peels, the skins and fruits and veggies, and beans. (This is why beans bother me so much–not the GOS so much as the fiber!) Depending on how much fiber you regularly eat, either gradually adding more in or cutting some out could help with IBS flare-ups.
If you’ve tried all these things and still you feel crummy…yeah, at that point, I’d advocate giving the low-FODMAP diet a whirl.
Wanna learn more about the low-FODMAP diet? FAQs here.
Linking up with Amanda for Thinking Out Loud Thursday.
Do you ever have GI issues? How do you manage them?
Ever tried taking a probiotic supplement?