A few months ago, I was in the grocery store, reaching for what felt like the 100th product and realizing just how long this whole process will take, as well as how many of my former go-to foods that I can’t eat. Frustrated and tired from spending so much time in the store and still not being able to piece a few normal meals together, I came home in tears. I’m not proud of it, but I had a mini-meltdown at the supermarket.
The give and take
There’s no question in my mind: the low FODMAP diet has been life-changing for me. I used to feel digestive distress after every single meal; now, I’m maybe 60 percent less miserable, which is great news after years of living with a stomach that hurt all of the time. Now that I know better, I do better, but still, I struggle with IBS symptoms, despite adhering to a low FODMAP diet nearly 90 percent of the time.
Let’s face it: dealing with IBS is extremely tough. The mere nature of it can cause a lot of anxiety, pain, and depression, so why can’t the Universe maybe cut us a break for a change and help us out with a meal plan that’s easy to follow?
The low FODMAP diet is time-consuming and inconvenient. Shopping, chopping, and preparing foods that are low-FODMAP can feel like a full-time job. And it isn’t cheap: since I’m the only person in my household who follows it, I’ve nearly doubled our grocery bill just trying to make everyone happy. The other downside? The FODMAP-friendly foods that don’t get eaten before they spoil because I just don’t have the energy to cook.
Even the low-FODMAP experts can’t always agree on which foods are best for IBS sufferers
I recently downloaded several FODMAP-friendly apps. Most of the foods on the diet are in agreement, but there are some foods that yield very different results. For instance, 3 tablespoons of chia seeds show to be high FODMAP in one app, while 2 tablespoons are listed as low FODMAP in the other app. Rice drink is listed as low FODMAP on the FODMAP friendly app, while rice milk is listed as high FODMAP. I know that the low FODMAP diet is one of the newest kids on the dietary block and research is ongoing, but these kinds of contradiction sometimes make me want to give up grocery shopping and cooking altogether.
I’m sick of eating green beans, mashed potatoes and rice cereals with almond milk. I’m hungry. I’m cranky. And I’m not in the mood to cook separate meals for myself vs. my family.
Shopping, preparing and cooking low-FODMAP foods can be confusing and complex
Individual foods themselves are complex. And because growing conditions, additives, sourcing and manufacturing all can contribute to changes in food, I can eat the same meal twice and experience very different digestive results each time.
I’m usually a rule follower, so the ever-changing food lists, apps, and recipes have left me feeling frustrated. Why is it that I can find products that are clearly labeled as fat-free, sugar-free, low-sodium and gluten-free, but not low FODMAP?
I dream of a day when I can walk into the grocery store, select a week’s worth of low-FODMAP meals, and be in and out in less than an hour. How much time and frustration would that save?
Do you feel an increase in body heat after a flare-up?