Is this fi­nally the an­swer to the pain of IBS?

It’s been hailed as the new “mir­a­cle diet” for suf­fer­ers of ir­ri­ta­ble bowel syn­drome, but what is the FODMAP plan – and does it re­ally work?

Closer (UK) - - Contents -

ain, bloat­ing and nau­sea are P just a few of the un­pleas­ant symp­toms as­so­ci­ated with IBS, and, un­for­tu­nately, treat­ment can be hit-and­miss. How­ever, a sim­ple but revo­lu­tion­ary diet plan, based on cut­ting out “trig­ger” carbs, is gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity among suf­fer­ers. The FODMAP diet – which avoids cer­tain foods such as bread, milk, onions, gar­lic bulbs and pears – is rec­om­mended by the NHS as a po­ten­tial way of less­en­ing some of the dis­com­fort, and is ef­fec­tive for at least 70 per cent of those who try it.

“Spe­cific types of car­bo­hy­drates – found in cer­tain fruits, veg­eta­bles and other food groups – are what peo­ple with IBS should try avoid­ing,” ex­plains Dr Laura El­liott, who fol­lows the diet her­self. “The prob­lem with th­ese carbs is that they are poorly ab­sorbed in the in­tes­tine and con­trib­ute to bloat­ing, gas, tummy pain and vari­able stools.”

Dr El­liott knows the ben­e­fits of the diet, af­ter suf­fer­ing from crip­pling symp­toms her­self. “I re­ally strug­gled with bloat­ing and go­ing to the toi­let, and it would make me anx­ious about leav­ing the house,” she says. “I heard about the FODMAP diet through my GP dur­ing my med­i­cal train­ing and de­cided to give it a go. To be­gin with, I down­loaded the Food­mae­stro app (free, itunes) and vis­ited my lo­cal su­per­mar­ket us­ing the bar­code scan­ner. At home, I pushed all my banned foods to the back of the cup­board, planned my meals for the week, and started my In­sta­gram ac­count (@the_­fodmap_medic) to keep me mo­ti­vated.”

On the plan, an­i­mal milk, wheat and rye prod­ucts, as well as foods like beans, ap­ples, cau­li­flower, mush­rooms and large amounts of tea, cof­fee and al­co­hol are off the menu for six to eight weeks. Next, you grad­u­ally rein­tro­duce cer­tain food groups – like high­fruc­tose foods – one at a time each week, to work out what your main cul­prits are, be­fore tweak­ing your diet to your spe­cific needs.

“By the end of the month, I wasn’t sure how much it had helped, but when I started rein­tro­duc­ing foods I re­alised what a dif­fer­ence it had made,” Dr El­liott ex­plains. “I was pass­ing gas a lot more and had a lot of pain in my lower ab­domen. I quickly made con­nec­tions be­tween cer­tain foods and my symp­toms. I made some ad­just­ments and haven’t looked back.”

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