Monday, November 7, 2011

The IBS diets (3): Choosing the diet that suits you, and my results using the Fodmaps diet

Edit: be sure to read the other parts of the series, about the low FODMAPs diet, the specific carbohydrate diet, the low-carb diet, and the results I got with it!
I updated this article and added the low carb diet.

So, we know about the three most famous diets for IBS: the low-fodmap diet, the specific carbohydrate diet and the low-carb diet Now come the big questions: Which one should I choose? Is it feasible to stick to such a diet for a long time? What results can I expect? Are there other alternatives?
Let's delve into each one of them.

Fodmaps diet vs. specific carbohydrates diet (SCD) vs. Low carb: the comparison

Of course, each one should make up his own decision, but here is a list of factors to consider:
The pros: 
  • It's the fruit of recent research, known to work well
  • Results suggest a 75% to 80% rate of people getting an improved IBS condition
  • Is becoming increasingly popular, meaning lots of IBS sufferers are satisfied by it
  • Easier to follow than the SCD 
  • Flexible: allows you to find your own limits for each type of food
The cons:
  •  Lots of research still to be made, there is no definitive list of foods
  • Does not provide a way to cure IBS, you have to stick to it
The pros:
  • Still remains popular 40 years after the book breaking the vicious cycle was published, which is pretty impressive
  • Claims to actually cure IBS (no scientific evidence)
  • Claims to work for other illnesses, that make IBS look like a season flu: Crohn's disease, Celiac disease, ulcerative colitis among others.
The cons:
  • Incredibly hard to stick through: very limited choice of foods, and you can say goodbye to eating out for the next two years.
  •  Heavily relies on fructose to replace sugar. It is now known that lots of IBS sufferers also have fructose malabsorption. So it seems to be out of date in regard to the latest discoveries
  • No research was done about this diet to my knowledge (correct me if I'm wrong!) 

I actually discovered and tried this diet after the original version of this article was published. You may want to read about the results I got with the low-carb diet.
The pros:
  • Very straightforward to follow: count every carb you eat, no list of food to remember. 
  • This also means you cannot make a lot of mistakes like with the other diets.
  • In life without bread, Dr. Lutz says he can cure 80% of common digestive diseases like IBS, Crohn's ulcerative colitis. 
  • Very flexible: you can choose how much carb you want to eat per day. Recommended values are between 50 and 72g. But if this seems to hard, you can try 130g a day for two weeks and see what happens, for example.
  • This diet is well known to reduce weight.
The cons:
As I have been under this diet for four months now, and it literally cured me, I may be partial :)
  • Some doctors claim it is a dangerous diet. 
  • You HAVE to drink lots of water, and take vitamin and mineral supplements to avoid deficiencies.
  • Hard to eat in a restaurant. You have to know the menu before you go in. 
  • The first week is hard. I experienced dizzyness and aches.

My experience with the FODMAPs diet

Considering the above facts, I decided to have a go at the low FODMAPS diet in August. Here is what I can say about it:
First of all, there is a learning curve, at the beginning you have to check every type of food. With time, it becomes quite natural.
It is hard to follow, but not impossible: using rice flour, potato flour, corn flour, it is possible to make your own bread for example. Now that I am used to it, I find it pretty easy.
Now, for the results I obtained: Very impressive! If I stick to the diet, I don't have a single symptom in everyday life. That's an incredible change. You read that right, no symptom.
So, am I cured of IBS? Well, no, because of two drawbacks:
  • In very stressful situations, the symptoms come back
  • Eventually you will have to leave your home and eat outside. There, you can't control exactly what's in your plate, even if you pay attention. Cream or onions are widely used, it's hard to avoid them.
Considering this, I decided to have another go at the IBS audio program, which should help me with the stress. It seems like doing it more than once really brings excellent results.

So, do I recommend switching to FODMAPs? You bet. It is a life changer. But judging by the google requests that lead people to this site, it seems that the most frequently asked question is: How can one apply such a restrictive diet?

The One Week low-FODMAPs challenge

It is perfectly normal to doubt: when I first saw the list of forbidden foods, I just gave up. I only decided to give it a go two months later. Read my first article about the low fodmap diet for various lists of acceptable/forbidden foods.
So, how can one start this diet? Well, don't put too much pressure on it. Don't make it sound so frightening and impossible. If you say "I will never eat any pasta for the rest of my life, although I love it", you've already lost. Unless you have an incredible willpower, and in that case I'm jealous of you.
What to do then? Switch to an easy try-out. You shall test the FODMAPs diet for one week. No more. What's one week in your life? Not that much. I am so confident in the diet's effectiveness, I know that one week is enough to convince most of you. In fact, studies suggest that 75% of the people that try the FODMAPs diet stick to it. An incredible number, judging by the amount of forbidden foods.
Remember, this is just a trick to make you act. If after one week you just can't stand the diet, that's fine. You know it exists, you know the results you've achieved testing for only a few days, you can come back to it later if you wish.
And most of you will witness something very interesting: the hardest part in any project is always to start. Once you're at it, the difficulties don't seem so impossible to overcome anymore.

Other diets you may want to check out

In this series about IBS diets, I wanted to give an explanation of the famous ones. Of course, there are a lot of them, here are a few that came to my knowledge:

I would love to hear from your experiences with various diets. What have you tried? How did it work? Simply leave a comment below!

3 commentaires:

jacob law said...

Thanks for sharing such descriptive blog ...i would love to share this blog with experiences with my known.
An alarming fact about IBS Treatment is that because some of the possible causes of the diarrhea and abdominal pain are costly to test for and numerous, IBS can be a mis-diagnosis of a treatable condition.

Gail Rush said...

I'm a diabetic. Will any of these diets allow me the foods & Carbs that I need to eat?
I've fooled around for a couple of years knowing I had IBS. I'd go for months with no flare ups and then boom I'm in trouble. Of course I never knew what the trigger was.
I cut out Lactose but then went back to drinking milk & had no problem. I do know that rice will spike my diabetes. Pasta doesn't seem to bother me.
Well I've been in the middle of an IBS crises for a couple of weeks now, the worse attack I've ever suffered & so I turned to the internet & found this site. My head is spinning. Cassandra's site said Avocado was on the NO list & yet I see here it's pushed as a good fruit??? HELP

Unknown said...

Low FODMAP Diet is an elimination diet. Not everyone needs to avoid all kinds of sugars all the time. The Low FODMAP diet restricts Oligos, Fructose, Polyols, and Lactose for a specific period of time. Then a person is supposed to reintroduce one sugar at a time over a week to see if the type of sugar is a trigger. It is not meant to be a permanent diet, but is supposed to be a way to identify the foods that should be avoided or the foods that can be tolerated in small quantities. This diet should go along with supervision from a Nutritionist and a GI. The Monash University has an app that is quite helpful in identifying which foods have what sugars in them.

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