Lately, I've been hearing a lot about FODMAPs. What the heck is a FODMAP anyway? To learn more, I visited nutritionist Kathie Madonna Swift's website. Kathie lives and works right here in Lenox, Massachusetts as a registered dietitian nutritionist in the field of integrative and holistic nutrition. She is one of the many trusted health and wellness super-stars that "we locals" are lucky to know.
Kathie is the Education Director for Food as Medicine, a professional nutrition training program for physicians and other healthcare givers and a lead teacher in the Healthy Living programs at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Lenox, Massachusetts. Her message is clear and simple: Whole Foods. Whole Person. Whole Life. If anyone could explain FODMAPs in a clear and concise way, then it would be Kathie. Sure enough, Kathie offered up a straight-forward explanation and my eyes didn't glaze over once. Here's a snippet...
Developed in 2005 by researchers at Monash University in Australia, “FODMAPS” is an acronym for Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols -- types of carbohydrates that are difficult to digest and become fermented by bacteria, causing bloating and discomfort.
FODMAPs is an elimination diet plan for digestive distress specifically designed to identify food triggers that cause digestive symptoms such as bloating, gas, and abdominal pain. If you're suffering from any of those things, check out the really helpful FODMAPs diet & meal plan and download it from Kathie's site. It's a concise, informative print out that provides lots of great recipes, too. As with any diet, make sure you check with your doctor or nutritionist to make sure it's right for you.
FODMAP refers to certain foods that exacerbate bowel symptoms. A low-FODMAP diet eliminates or minimizes these foods and can be particularly effective in healing and alleviating symptoms while the autoimmune component of a disease is brought under control. While I am enjoying greatly improved health and sustained pain management as a result of all the changes I have made to my life and to my diet, I still suffer debilitating flare ups of fibromyalgia. They are random episodes and I don't yet know what sets them off. My journey to wellness is not over yet. As part of effective self-care, it's critical to keep exploring the clues my body sends out in order to find answers. FODMAPs presents a new perspective when translating dietary choices and patterns.
The FODMAPs food list is divided into three columns - AVOID, LIMIT and ENJOY. I've spent years reducing-eliminating most of the foods in the 'avoid' column so it was not a scary list to me, but I can see how it could be daunting for some one starting at square one. The reassuring news for anyone starting out is that self-care has to start somewhere. With the help of a good doctor or a nutritionist, the first step can be less scary. The first step is always the biggest, scariest step [leap], but it's that first healthy choice that leads to more and more healthy choices and ultimately, to your good health.
You will be surprised by what you can and cannot eat on the FODMAPs Diet. Good Girl is no stranger to taking things out of her diet, but was completely surprised to learn what could be added back into it - Brie, Camembert and Cheddar cheeses!! but I didn't dive back into cheese. Instead, I set my focus on some new food "suspects." I admit, it was a little heartbreaking to see some really healthy things on the FODMAPs list of foods to avoid. Asparagus, celery, garlic, leek, and onions are all in the HIGH FODMAPs foods to avoid. Yikes, I eat these foods ALL the time.
Broccoli and Brussels sprouts are on the list of items to limit and I've always gobbled them up, too. Yet, for the past month, I have successfully managed to avoid them all. How I managed to do that in January - the height of soup season in New England - I will never know, but has my bloating gone down? YES. Absolutely. I've also added two sixty-minute cardio TK-Fit classes each week for the past month so I can't say for sure if it's all down to FODMAPs. I reckon it's a combination of the two in addition to all the previous life changes I have made over the years. As always, I will keep an eye on this and discuss it with my doctor, but for the moment it looks like a Cardio + FODMAPs is a step in the right direction.
Sometimes, you've just got to keep chipping away at things so that you can build them up. Go on, Good Girl, build yourself UP!