Friday, January 4, 2013

Low carb diet for IBS: One year!

Happy new year, every one! It has now been a year since I started the low carb diet. To start off this year gently, I wanted to make a very small post on the progress I've seen, my joys and disappointments with it.

For those who read the blog regularly, you may remember that I tried the SCD intro diet  in november. But I consider it as a very low carb diet, in a way. After a month under a very very strict SCD, I had lost so much weight (and I am REALLY thin) that I had to go back on my old diet. It is still very close to the SCD, I only allow myself some canned foods that contain very small amounts of sugar, and a few chocolate.
One year under low-carb is not so hard as it may sound. After a few weeks, you will know almost every food that you may of may not eat, and how much.

The plus side

Well, I've written about this one quite often. On an everyday basis, provided I stay away from my typical trigger foods (lactose, fructose, gluten) I don't have any symptom. I was able to do much more last year than I could in the last three! I also noticed a small improvement with some foods, like beans, or wheat (of course I could eat only small portions of it, it's high carb). 

The disappointments

First of all, after several months I understood that low-carb is not enough to become 100% symptom free: I need to work on my stress related issues (more on that in another post!). If very high stress is involved, low-carb will lessen the probability of an IBS flare, but won't necessarily make it zero. 

Another thing that bothers me quite a lot is that I don't have the impression that I am getting better any more. The first three months were incredible, and then I think I plateaued. Dr Lutz, an austrian doctor who specialized in low-carb for Crohn's, says it can take up to three years. Elaine Gottshall, very well known for introducing the specific carbohydrate diet, claims you must follow it for one year once every symptom disappeared. So I guess one year is not enough. But the feeling that I do not make progress makes me wonder. It could be that after three or four months, one could go back to a low-fodmaps diet, which is way easier to follow.

Finally, the real problem with low-carb, and every diet I could try, is that I can still make mistakes after so much time on it! Eating out is always an adventure, unless I want to bully the waiter asking for every ingredient in every dish. My latest discovery was that artichokes contain quite an amount of fructose. I unfortunately found about that a bit too late...

So, what to do?

This may sound rather harsh after everything I have written regarding low-carb. But it is not: I still consider it is the best decision I have ever made for my IBS. But now it is time to go beyond, and work on stress, maybe try a few other methods. I will probably try eating more rice in a few months time, since I never had problems with it, thus ending my low-carb attempt, and coming back to the low-fodmaps diet.

6 commentaires:

Katie Brind'Amour said...

Hello Guillaume,
Thanks for your excellent blog! I was wondering if you would be interested in a guest post for your site? I am a Certified Health Education Specialist, with a Masters in Biology and an in-progress PhD in Health Services Management. I do a lot of freelance health and wellness writing, and I would love to contribute a piece to your site. If you're interested, I would be happy to write about elimination diets for people with different primary IBS symptoms, or a bit of a literature review on special diets for IBS. Let me know what you think!

Katie Brind'Amour

Guillaume said...

Hello Katie,

This sounds really interesting. How can I join you in a more private manner? Just leave a comment, I will be able to read it and will not publish it.


Emily said...

Did you end up going back on the low fodmaps?

Guillaume said...

I now eat rice on a regular basis. So I guess I would be under a low-mid carb diet (probably 110g carbs a day)

Anonymous said...


I suffer from IBS too. It seems like I have a ton of food allergies. In fact, all that I can eat without having any symptoms are meats (beef, pork, chicken), white rice, potatoes, grits (a form of corn), and tomatoes (sauces, etc.) I cannot tolerate caffeine, teas, coffee, or cocoa/chocolate either.

My worst trigger foods are eggs, wheats (all forms), and coffee. In the past, I went a long time removing those foods, and my symptoms disappeared -- even to the point that I could eat a small amount of bread each day. But I got lax with my ultra-stringent diet, and now I have a severe flareup of my symptoms. Gone back to my meat + rice + potatoes diet, but healing has been much slower this time. Approx 3 to 4 weeks and still having problems.

I had not heard about L-glutamine power, so I started trying that today.

My question is -- 1g seems very very small amount. I purchased this product in the "body building" isle of the store, and it says "one heaping teaspoon 5g L-Glutamine" -- well, 20% of a teaspoon is a VERY small amount. Does this seem right to you? It's not much more than a pinch of your fingers.

Anyway, as you say, it is IMPOSSIBLE to eat out.

Your symptoms do not seems as bad as mine, but when I heal and I stick to meat + white rice + potatoes + tomatoes, I honestly feel incredible -- lots of energy and zero symptoms. But I find it obviously very hard to stick to that -- social pressures to eat out with friends, desire to eat other foods, etc.

But I would suggest that rice will be perfectly fine for you. That no-carb diet would literally kill me, because rice & potatoes work EXCELLENT for me and I feel immediately better when I eat either of them, but especially rice. I personally feel that the no-carb diet is totally misguided. The issue (at least for me) is not carbs, but trigger foods -- which may or may not be carbs.

I also started taking a top quality probiotic a few days ago. I am hopeful that the probiotic and L-glutamine will be helpful.

thanks for your blog,

Guillaume said...

Hello Bobby,
I suggest that you start with 1g, but three times a day. Afterwards you can go up to 2g three times a day. If you feel fine with this amount, you may want to go higher, but I found out it can have side-effects like irritability and insomnia. As for the no-carb diet, I NEVER suggested one should try this out. I am talking about low-carb this blog (72g carbs a day to be precise, which allows a good amount of vegetables). As for rice, you are right, I can eat it without problems. Potatoes, are not that perfect, although the symptoms associated to it are very mild.

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