Hello and welcome to What the FOD!? A blog about living on a low FODMAP diet.
I’m Danielle and I’ve spent the last 3 years following the low FODMAP diet. After years of suffering with chronic symptoms of IBS, I was finally diagnosed and prescribed the low FODMAP diet. It changed my life.
If you’re reading this blog I would imagine you have heard of FODMAP and have either been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis. Or you struggle with chronic bloating, gas, diarrhoea, constipation or stomach pains on a regular basis. Or maybe all of the above?
I started this blog to help others who have been diagnosed with IBS, to share my experiences, and to hopefully help you live through the day-to-day struggles and symptoms that come with this illness. Whether you have severe IBS or struggle from bloating and digestive problems, I hope this blog gives you some insight into how you can live a more comfortable life.
I will be sharing my story with you all, focusing on how I overcame this illness, and specifically taking you through the benefits of a diet called the low FODMAP diet, which changed everything for me. This isn’t a typical food blog though – I’m not a chef and I’m not qualified to give medical advice! But what I am, is someone who now successfully lives comfortably with IBS and who is on the low FODMAP diet. I really want to focus on the solutions that will allow you to live your daily life symptom free and What the FOD!? aims to be a lifestyle blog on how you can overcome this illness.
Here on What the FOD!? you will find things like low FODMAP restaurant and product reviews and recipes you can make at home, as well as information about lifestyle choices that will affect your IBS symptoms like exercising and medicines.
So let me take to you back to where it all started! 4 years ago I was in a really happy place, I had a good job, I had just met a wonderful man and was surrounded by the best of friends and family; I really couldn’t have been happier!
One day, out of nowhere, I noticed that my stomach was bloated for no reason and the days that followed, I started to feel sick when I ate and couldn’t shake this bloated feeling. I was always really fit and healthy so when I started feeling unwell, I struggled to maintain the busy lifestyle I had. It got worse! A few months later these symptoms had worsened and it became a daily problem I was living with. I was uncomfortable, bloated, sick, and generally in constant pain.
Let’s fast forward 9 months: I had put on three stone, my BMI had gone from 19 to 27 and I had changed from a girl of a healthy weight to overweight. Not only was I unwell but my confidence had plummeted. I was constipated, constantly lethargic and I didn’t want to do anything, my stomach was solid and I was so bloated I looked pregnant. In fact I got offered a seat on the tube twice and had people constantly asking me when I was due.
My relationship with food wasn’t good! I had always been someone that loved to eat! I felt so low because something I enjoyed so much could make me feel so ill. I ate healthily, I exercised regularly so couldn’t understand what was happening to my body. As soon as I would eat, my stomach would spasm and I’d feel awful. I was miserable. I was also exhausted. I could sleep for 12 hours easily and still feel lethargic. People didn’t really understand what I was going through. Generally they thought I had put on weight, was eating badly and was unhappy with myself . They didn’t realise I was incredibly unwell and that I was actually eating less than ever!
I went to the doctors who referred me to the hospital but after running numerous tests over a number of months, all the tests came back negative. I just kept getting told I had “IBS” but no solutions were offered– there was no medicine I could take. To be honest I felt like IBS was just a term that doctors used when they couldn’t work out what was wrong with me. It didn’t feel that there was a solution for me specifically and I was expected just to live with it essentially, in the best way I could.
After about a year and a half of this I had hit rock bottom. It was my 27th birthday and I was on a fun night out with my friends. We were in a bar in London and I felt so ill I couldn’t stand up! I was so bloated my birthday dress looked ridiculous. Painkillers weren’t working and I remember thinking “Is this the way I’ll feel forever?” It just wasn’t fun any more and neither was I. I couldn’t enjoy myself, feeling sick is horrid, whatever good there is in your life, if you feel unwell it all seems pointless. Worse is that no one could tell me what was wrong. I hated complaining, my friends were bored of it and I started wondering if it was all in my head. I hated complaining but it was such a constant problem, it effected everything; my social life, my job – my friends were bored of hearing me complaining about it.
At my final hospital appointment the doctor confirmed it was definitely Irritable Bowel Syndrome, there wasn’t anything else it could be and there was nothing that could medically be done. They suggested I tried a new diet called the low FODMAP diet which had been shown as having major success in IBS patients in Australia where it had been developed. I was told to eliminate certain foods for 8 weeks, given a brochure on which food that would be and told to come back in a couple of months to discuss the next step.
I remember looking at the list of foods I had to cut out and thinking “what the f**k!?”...hence the name of this blog! It made no sense to me at all and it was almost soul destroying. The food you could eat and the food you couldn’t seemed so random. Especially not being able to eat things like fruit and vegetables – surely they are healthy? How does anyone not eat onions for 2 months for example? How am I going to do this?
So What the FOD!?
A week after being on the low FODMAP diet, I felt better and I had energy; I was going to the bathroom regularly again and the bloating was subsiding. Within a month the weight had started dropping off, the bloating had completely gone and my energy was back. By two months in I felt myself again! I hadn’t felt well in two years; the relief to have my life back was overwhelming.
The more I talk to people about this problem, the more I find that people seem to relate to it and share a similar experience. So many people tell me they have problems with IBS symptoms but all agree there is such a lack of information about how to cure your symptoms and maintain a normal lifestyle.
There is also limited information about this low FODMAP diet specifically. Everyone who tries it, agrees it works but it doesn’t make sense – there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ rule and there is a lack of information out there about it. The big problem with the diet is it makes eating out a nightmare! After three years of living on the low FODMAP diet this now comes easily to me; I know how to eat out, how to cook, how to food shop. It has become second nature. I know what to do when my IBS symptoms do flair-up and how to handle them. And that’s what this blog is all about.
I’m not going to lie, it took a long while, and a lot of tears before getting to this point, so I really do hope this blog can add some relief and advice to those of you who are just starting out on this journey. I wish there was a similar blog 3 years ago when I was starting this!
The low FODMAP diet really worked for me and recent studies have shown it can reduce IBS symptoms by 75%. It may not work for you, but I’ve learnt so much over the last 3 years about how to manage IBS, I feel like I need to share it with the growing number of people that can relate to what I’ve been through and share a similar story.