Anyone who has been doing GAPS, or paleo/primal, for a while and still is having gas/burping/bloating or other digestive issues should seriously take a look at FODMAPs. I just discovered this protocol for treating IBS recently and over the past couple weeks have been eliminating the newly-found “avoid” foods from my diet, and I have seen some remarkable improvements, altho technically I’ve never been officially diagnosed with IBS … or, frankly, any other intestinal disorder, despite several doctors’ valiant (or maybe not so valiant) attempts. I just know things are pretty disorderly down there.
FODMAPs (which stands for Fermentable, Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides and Polyols – no there will not be a quiz) are a list of foods which have been clinically proven to aggravate IBS symptoms. You can find a pretty comprehensive list of the foods to avoid here. As far as I can tell, the thinking behind the FODMAPs schema is very similar to parts of the thinking behind GAPS – avoid particular foods which can be difficult to process intestinally and therefore are more susceptible to fermentation on the part of unfriendly yeasts and bacteria – thereby producing irritation, gas, and the accompanying bloat. Or bloatation, as I like to call it, ‘cuz sometimes it feels like my belly is just going to lift me up off the ground!
There’s a lot of stuff on the FODMAPs avoid list which I’ve already been avoiding – grains, unfermented milk, HFCS, “prebiotics” like inulin, fake sweeteners like xylitol, and, for the most part, brassicas like broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. The one thing that really clicked in my brain when I read this list was the avoidance of galactans (which are part of the oligosaccharides group of the acronymic name) – which can be found in almost all legumes. Something that never made sense for my body with GAPS was the allowance of a few supposedly “safe” legumes like peanuts, lentils, lima beans, navy beans, and peas. Even these beans (even fresh green peas!) my body most definitely DOES NOT LIKE, and has made this clear to me on no uncertain terms. Given those restrictions already, here’s my new list to learn of avoids / seek outs:
Peaches, apricots, nectarines, plums
Dried fruits – esp. dates and figs
Onion, leek, garlic
|Maple SyrupBerries (except blackberries)
Lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange, tangelo
Bananas (Ripe ones)
Grapes, Pineapple, Persimmons
Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplants
Carrots, Celery, Parsnips
Pumpkin, Hard Squash
Mushrooms (except button)
However, there were plenty of foods on the FODMAPs list that I hadn’t been avoiding – actually, that I’d been eating pretty abundantly. Onions, garlic, peaches, plums, coconut milk and cream, dried fruits (especially dates), beets, cherries … and HONEY. I had been eating a lot of honey. Those were all pretty standard staples in my diet, especially when I decided to just chill and eat what I wanted for a while. But a consequence of this decision ended up being a lot of bloatation, and then I started having much worse symptoms, which I won’t gross you out with. But no matter how much activated charcoal I took (and I took a lot—because that had helped slow things down, so to speak, when I had had similar past episodes) I ended up, after about 10 days of getting progressively worse, totally drained of energy and having a hard time making it up stairs without having to stop halfway from exhaustion. And I don’t have a bathroom on the first floor of my house. Which meant climbing the stairs was kind of urgent despite my exhaustion!
So I started cutting out those “avoid” foods. And I started feeling better. It’s taken a week or so, but things are finally back to normal, and my energy has skyrocketed. I’m still eating fruit—bananas, blueberries, and raspberries (yay!) mostly, just not the FODMAPs fruits. And I haven’t had any sweetener. The FODMAPs chart suggests using maple syrup for a sweetener. I haven’t tried this yet, tho, since maple syrup is supposed to be an avoid substance on GAPS, and frankly, I’m probably best off without sweetener anyway, since I can get sucked into the sweet tooth trap so easily.
I’m not entirely clear why the FODMAPs avoid list and the GAPS/SCD avoid list (a summary of which can be found at the bottom of this page, with a more complete list in the book) are so different on so many foods, because like I said before, the rationale behind what should be avoided on the two diets seems, from my non-nutritionist standpoint, to be pretty similar, yet the conclusions so dramatically different. Regardless of rationale, the results have been pretty clear for me – and a couple of other bloggers in the paleo community as well, who have very similar stories to my own (also, there’s a good overview here). And frankly, when it comes down to it, I want something that works for my body, and if I don’t fully understand why, I’m ok with that. If someone has a better understanding of the differences between these diets, I’d definitely be interested in reading it.
I definitely don’t regret taking some time off from being a slave to my diet to come to terms with my love of sweets, because it taught me some new and important lessons about my body. Issues surfaced with much more intensity than otherwise would have, and I was able to pay attention to them because I wasn’t worrying about other things that had previously been intensely occupying my thoughts–moderation being one of them! And with avoiding FODMAPs, I can have my raspberries and still eat them without bloatation too!
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