Do you ever feel like the food you eat is working against you?
I’ve been suffering from severe bloating and constipation for years. It got so bad it was significantly impacting my health and happiness.
I’ve seen an amazing amount of doctors and gastroenterologists. I’ve been put through a lot of tests and prescribed all sorts of medication without any of it truly helping. It wasn’t until recently I finally found the root cause of my problems and my symptoms (mostly) disappeared.
I tell you: it’s a brand new, happier, and more comfortable world for me!
After all the specialists I have seen, it ended up being my hubby who found the right diagnosis though Google searching my symptoms. Usually, I REALLY don’t recommend this approach, but the medical system had quite frankly failed me this time.
It turns out I have a FODMAP intolerance. By doing a 6-week elimination of specific foods and a 4-week reintroduction, I’ve been able to identify the foods my body disagrees with and eliminate or reduce them in my diet.
Now almost all of my digestive issues have been resolved (!).
What is FODMAP?
FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, And Polyols.
In simpler terms, FODMAPs are carbohydrates (sugars) found in some foods. The issue for people intolerant to FODMAPs is that these sugars can be poorly absorbed in the small intestine and start fermenting with bacteria creating gas (here comes the bloat). They can also give other symptoms like constipation or diarrhea.
The tricky part is that not all sugars are FODMAP and it’s really not intuitive which ones are. I ended up buying an app from MONASH University so I can look up foods on the go.
Also, you can have an intolerance to some but not all FODMAP foods.
Some of the worst offenders for me are onions, garlic, and mushrooms. Although those are generally healthy foods, my body simply can’t deal with them. There is no cure, so the only solution is to simply cut them out of your diet or consume very limited amounts.
FODMAPs include (source: MONASH University FODMAP app):
- Fructose in excess of glucose (some fruits, honey, high fructose corn syrup)
- Lactose (milk and milk products)
- Sugar polyols (sweeteners containing sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, maltitol, and some fruits and veggies)
- Fructans (found in wheat, rye, onions, garlic)
- Galacto-oligosaccharides (found in legumes like baked beans)
For me, cutting the biggest offenders out of my diet has made a world of difference to my gut health and overall happiness.
Knowing and feeling my digestive system is working is like rainbows, sunshine, and perfect blood sugars all together 😀
How to diagnose a FODMAP intolerance
The best way to diagnose a FODMAP intolerance is to simply cut all high-FODMAP foods out of your diet for a while and see what happens to your digestion.
If you see a significant improvement, there is a good chance you are intolerant to at least some FODMAP foods.
After about 6 weeks of elimination, you can start adding potential problem foods back into your diet one by one. Add a single food (like onions) for 3-4 days and see how your digestion reacts. If everything is still ok, then you can probably tolerate onions.
Just be aware that FODMAP foods are “accumulative”. It’s possible you can be ok with small amounts of some FODMAP foods but have problems if you eat several of them together or in larger amounts.
It definitely takes a while to figure out what you can and cannot tolerate, but it’s so worth it!
If you aren’t sure how to do an elimination diet, it is generally recommended that you do it in collaboration with a dietitian to ensure that you get all the nutrition you need.
Constipation and diabetes
FODMAP is not unique to people living with diabetes. There is no physiological connection between the two, but given that diabetes and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) often goes hand in hand, I think FODMAPs are worth paying special attention to if you have diabetes.
I lived with severe FODMAP intolerance symptoms for more than 10 years without any of the specialists I saw ever suggesting a food intolerance. That blows my mind!
FODMAP isn’t “alternative” science in any way. It’s very well researched and you can even find a department at Stanford University specializing in the FODMAP diet and how to identify triggers.
As with everything in life, I believe knowledge empowers us. Knowing how we react to certain foods can empower us to make the right choices for us a happy and healthy life. Constipation and diabetes don’t have to go hand-in-hand!
Rob Bagwell says
I’ve been so very frustrated for so many years. Even before my big weight gain concurrent with the abomination of introducing Lantus briefly into my diabetes. I gained perhaps 25 lbs in a month! No more gym. No more exercise and just feeling like crap. No more weight loss. When I some 11 years later went off all simple carbs at the recommendation of a doctor, my weight did drop, but then I got fired for lack of productivity (I felt exhausted all the time) and then CoVid. I hate looking at myself in the mirror. They all assume you need to go on a diet and doctors are useless–doctors are useless. I’m so very depressed and trying to get on to disability. Maybe then I can focus on getting a life back. Thanx
amir ali says
The same diet has different impacts on BS fro the same individual. Why this is so, Please explain if this is same with anyone?
Christel Oerum says
We’re all a little different. Our gut bacteria is going to be slightly different, our digestive enzymes as well as how fast we digest different foods can differ as well. When we look at blood sugar response how we react will also be impacted by our insulin sensitivity
My uncle is diabetic and complains about gas and constipation all the time..
It’s been 20years that he is dealing with this issue.
I will definitely ask him to try a food elimination method of yours.
Wambuzi Paul says
Similarly I have been having challenges with taking milk.Whenever I would take milk ,I would have rumbling stomach and it could be loud and irritating and so I gave up on taking milk
Hi, have you been checked for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)? Usually an imbalance of bacteria in the small intestine causes bacteria to feast on carbohydrates and the gas they produce causes bloating. SIBO causes constipation and diarrhea. The low FODMAP diet helps relieve symptoms of SIBO but SIBO can be treated too.
Christel Oerum says
I’m not sure about that specific test but the gastrologist I saw run every test she found relevant. But I’ll go back and look
The SIBO test is a breath test. You should remember if you did one, the day before prep is to eat only plain white bread, white potatoes or white rice with salt only.
Is stevia a potential problem ? also did you experience any nausea? I have been transitioning to LCHF and started to experience gas excess accompanied by mild nausea. also wondering if alcohol antagonizes
Christel Oerum says
We all digest food very differently so even though Stevia isn’t an issue for me it might be for you. I, on the other hand, can’t digest xylitol at all while others have no issues. You can find my completely guide to sweeteners here: https://diabetesstrong.com/how-natural-artificial-sweeteners-affect-blood-sugar/