The Low FODMAP Diet: Advice Welcome

Life is funny, isn’t it? You expect it to go one way and all of a sudden you realize you’re living a very different life than you expected. It’s been a week, ya’ll.

In my early 20s, I was diagnosed with IBS after a particularly bad day found me on the floor of my aunt and uncle’s downstairs guest room where I lived during a work internship. After dropping to the ground in pain and realizing I couldn’t straighten myself out, I crawled to my nightstand and called my aunt upstairs to help me. A quick trip to urgent care later, I had my diagnosis and a prescription for an antispasmodic to relieve intestinal spasms. Awesome.

I’ve had ups and downs since that day but it’s been generally relegated to an annoyance, flaring up when I’m stressed or eat too much fiber or happen across a dish loaded with onion. Not great but manageable. Since then, I’ve completed several rounds of Whole30 which taught me that 1) there was more than onion on that list of foods to avoid and 2) the advice to “eat more fruits and vegetables” had some caveats when it came to my body. People tell you that increasing your fiber causes upset for everyone until the body adjusts but what happens if the body doesn’t adjust?

Fast forward to 2020 when a pandemic started and the world went to shit. Unfortunately, my body went with it. Since March of 2020, I have experienced more frequent episodes of pain. I had a very short stint (one visit) with a natural doctor who maybe practices Chinese medicine (I don’t know) and paid hundreds of dollars in supplements that you can’t get anywhere else before realizing I’d not quite exhausted all other options. I called my primary care physician (PCP) and talked to her about the supplements and the pain and the things I’ve tried before. She suggested that I look into a low FODMAP diet, told me that she didn’t think it wouldn’t hurt to take the supplements, and suggested that when I was ready to look into the food approach, she could refer me to a nutritionist.

Now, listen… I’m an incredibly stubborn person. I fully own that. And I realize now that I should’ve jumped on this low FODMAP train at her first mention of it but the holidays are coming up. Halloween just passed. I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving dinner. Christmas dinner! I. love. food. I love it. I thought I would just maintain a little longer and then go all in after the holidays. The thing with chronic illness, you see, is that we’re used to being uncomfortable. Used to being at some level of pain or discomfort pretty much all of the time. It’s also one of the reasons we feel ridiculous succumbing to the pain. People see us day in and day out and we look normal. I pride myself on being able to function well with over a decade of stomach issues and chronic fatigue. I feel like a burden when concessions need to be made for me. I often convince myself that eating things I know will upset me is fine because I know what symptoms it will cause and that I can handle them.

Ha ha ha… bitch, you thought.

It came to a head this week. Monday morning, I had to go into work late after waking up with intense pain that doubled me over. An antispasmodic and some Ibuprofen later, I went into work. Uncomfortable but present. Tuesday I was scheduled for a flight to our facility in Massachusetts. I debated cancelling but decided to wait until the morning to see how I felt. I rallied and honestly, I had a blast in MA. Wednesday, I couldn’t get out of the fetal position until the evening. I spent the day with antispasmodics, a ton of water, very little food, a heating pad, my roommate (thankfully!), and several Marvel movies in release date order (which my sister tells me is the only way to watch them so I can experience it the way everyone else did). I started the low FODMAP diet. I hadn’t shopped for it and we missed our weekend shop this past weekend so pickings were slim but I ordered a food journal and some books about the diet and I downloaded an app. My husband made a quick stop at the grocery store for some basics on his way home from work and I went to bed feeling like I was starting to gain back some control.

I woke up Thursday morning with the intention of going into work until I doubled over onto the dinning room rug while my kids ate their breakfast. There’s something quite humbling about having your children stare down at you on the floor asking if you’re okay while you roly-poly your way into a defensive position and grit through pain and nausea (queue the mom guilt because why not). I called my PCP and they sent me for a rush X-ray where I assumed I’d learn what everyone already knows: I’m full of shit (*jokes*). Turns out, that wasn’t the case and honestly, I cried. Results: normal. But I didn’t feel normal. It hurt to straighten up, hurt to walk, hurt to sit down. I wanted an easy answer but, as most of my friends with GI issues will tell you, that’s not typically how this journey goes. So I spent yet another day with antispasmodics, a ton of water, a heating pad, and several Marvel movies. I also read a ton about low FODMAP foods and tried to educate myself on this new elimination diet.

I’m a rule follower by nature so Whole30 is easy; the rules are very defined. The low FODMAP diet is different. Food is categorized into low, medium, and high FODMAPs. Some low FODMAP items can become high based on how much you consume. Some food items that you think of as “good” like broccoli, cauliflower, and apples can be “bad” and some food items that you steer of while eating clean like jam and butter are totally acceptable. I need to relearn some things.

Today is Friday. My food journal and my books have arrived (Side note: Did you know there’s a medical chart on the consistency of shit? It’s called the Bristol Stool Chart and it is equally repulsive and fascinating. You’re welcome.) and I’ve been eating only low FODMAP foods for 2 days. I’m happy to say that I’m upright this morning which feels like a huge win. I also reached out to a friend of mine who fully revamped her diet to tackle health issues for encouragement. She gave me some good advice and helped me realize that I’ve been focusing on how my issues impact other people rather than focusing on how they’re impacting me. I’m wondering if any of you have experience with this. What resources helped you out? What recipes do you love? What words of advice do you have for something just starting out?

I’m all ears!

Whole30: Day 30

Today is my 30th day of Whole30! I cannot believe the last 30 days have gone by so quickly.

In the last 30 days, I have gone without added sugars, dairy, legumes, alcohol, or grains. I’d love to boast a perfect record but I discovered some missteps along the way, mainly after I had already eaten the offending food. I also allowed myself some cheats in the form of dried fruit and veggie chips which met the Whole30 ingredient criteria but failed in the strictest sense of Whole30 for completely eliminating foods that facilitate over consumption.

Here’s what I think:

  • It’s not impossible.
  • It does require a lot of planning.
    • Day Designer has an awesome printable for meal planning that kept me organized. Thank you, guys!
    • My husband took over planning for a bit but I couldn’t have made it without breakfasts, lunches, and dinners written out next to the grocery list for the week! If you’re not a chef, don’t try to wing recipes. Research and plan. Trust me on this.
  • You won’t miss X nearly as much as you think you will.
    • Beer on a hot summer day?
      • Yeah, it sounds good. But I’ve gotten pretty crafty with sparkling water and none of the bloat!
    • Chips and salsa?
      • This one is a game changer. I am a tortilla chip addict. I consume them at such an alarming rate that my husband started to buy two bags when he’d go shopping so he could have some (we call that behavior enabling, but that’s a story for another day!).
      • As of this evening, I have gone t-h-i-r-t-y days without tortilla chips. You know what I realized? Being addicted isn’t really that funny. If I eat one, I want one hundred and one! I have no control and, even worse, that’s by design. The food industry designs processed food to be addictive.
  • Plan some Netflix food documentary binges through the process. They’ll reinforce your decision to do what you’re doing.
  • Don’t try to force your kids to eat Whole30 with you. Introduce some new recipes but don’t make your experience miserable because you’re making your kids miserable.
  • You might just find that energy you’ve craved.
    • I’ve been staying up later and later as I’ve been going through this process. The wise voice inside says I should’ve been holding steady to my bedtime to become a morning person but the fact of the matter is, I’m getting more hours in the day regardless of what time I’m getting them!
  • You will probably lose weight.
    • I lost 9 lbs. I’ve been comfortable wearing pants that were busting at the seams. I got to pull out a pair of pants from the back of the drawer that were hopeless. I can see definition in my arms again (which is funny because while I’ve been focusing on food, I’ve been putting zero energy into exercise).

Closing thoughts?

You should do it if there isn’t a medical reason that you shouldn’t. Outside of generally being healthier and more aware of what I’m putting in my body, I feel like this huge burden has been lifted from me. Food can pull at you. It calls to you and then shames you from your changing body. Or it can, if you’ve got too much processed food in your diet. Cut it out and replace it with wholesomeness. Your body and your mind will thank you.

Whole30 Update: Day 21

I am less than ten days away from completing the Whole30 program and I’ve got to say, I’m nervous. I’m nervous because I love it and have done so well with this program. There’s something so simple about drawing hard lines about what you will and won’t put into your body.

I started this particular “Year of 30” challenge at the best possible time too. My CFO and HR Manager just finished the program so the office is somewhat familiar with the gig. The two have been incredibly supportive and everyone else doesn’t care, is afraid to mention anything and get trapped in a 30 minute dialogue about it with me, or has some pretty encouraging things to say.

Oh, and one of my best girlfriends just taught me how to make Whole30 compliant ranch. Yum. It’s so right and it feels so wrong…

I’m 9 days out and I’m afraid of losing those hard do-and-don’t lines. I’m worried that I won’t really know if something is causing inflammation and it will become part of my life again. I’m worried because it’s so easy to make concessions here and there until they’re everywhere.

Right now, I feel good.

I was starting to drag this weekend and I was feeling pretty down about getting this far into the program and not having reliable energy until I happened to look at the clock one night.

My bedtime has been 9:00pm for a long time; 9:30pm at the latest. I was exhausted. If I pushed myself, I woke up sick without fail. A late night? A sore throat. Last year, after 6 years of being tired, I finally went in for allergy tests but they all came back negative. I could not stand the thought of spending my 30s as tired as I had spent my mid-to-late twenties.

But this past week I’ve been shutting off around 11:00pm. I’m tired in the mornings but I’m not delirious and even if I was, I’m going to bed two hours after my usual bedtime. (I agree with you if you’re thinking that’s probably not the best way to manage my new found energy but you need to realize that this is new to me!)

Anyway, if anyone has experience with reintroduction or holding tight to some rules after Whole30, I would be so appreciative to hear from you. What worked? What didn’t? What setbacks did you not see coming? How are you succeeding today?

A Mile A Day: Day 25-28

I always say that anyone can do anything* for 30 days but 30 days really is a long time to do the same thing and continue finding interest in it. Or at least continue to find interest writing about it. I imagine it’s the same for reading so I’m going to start condensing the last bit of this 30 journey.

Day 25, Thursday:

I told my husband that I wasn’t going to walk and he told me I was. He’s chosen to be very supportive of my mile-a-day challenge where he could have been passive or irritated. And there were days that a passive or irritated husband would be entirely enough to dissuade me from walking. Today was one of them. So thank you, Freddy! Your insistence has refueled my persistence.

Day 26, Friday:

This is a total cop out but I promise you I got well over a mile today! In a throw-care-to-the-wind decision, I went left when I should’ve gone right after my haircut. Out of nowhere appeared Tanger Outlet mall! It’s not that it jumped right out at me, of course, but that the developers chose a more remote location. I completely meant to be there.

I spent about three hours walking the outdoor mall. I bought things. Things I needed. Things my daughter needed. Things I wanted. It was delightful! It’s been a while since I have been able to walk in and out of clothing stores with the sole question “Do I like this?” between me and an item of clothing.

I’m not trying to provide any false advertising but after over seven days of Whole30, I’m feeling good. My body is feeling good. Which meant I didn’t have to judge myself for the sizes I tried on and I was surprised to see an old size come back into play for certain cuts at certain stores. And most importantly, I did not ask “Do I like myself in this?”

The physical distance of a mile today feels like a cop out but the emotional mile was incredible!

Day 27, Saturday:

Today was my perfect day.

I was adamant that we head to a park to bike though I didn’t say why. After biking our mile, I ran to the truck to grab a tote filled with apples, carrots, cucumbers, nuts, almond butter, dried fruits, and waters. In the bag next to to the tote was a zipped up picnic blanket, perfect for a spot on the grass.

After our picnic lunch, Freddy and I watched our three year old athlete scale the side of a climbing structure in the park. She climbed robes with arms and legs and crawled across rocks and walked 90-some steps up to the top of a corn crib and back.


Look at her face! She is so happy. I love these kind of memories. These are the same ones I hold onto from my youth. Family together outdoors. It’s so right.

Day 28, Sunday:

The whole family walked together tonight and while Freddy and I may regret naively stretching Emma’s bedtime (We do. We definitely do regret that), the walk was so nice. Freddy and I even found ourselves holding hands, swinging them back and forth. *sigh*




*anything in this particular case is anything that a person has chosen to do that may cause discomfort associated with a positive outcome