Well I might as well talk about it, the reason why I cycle solo most of the time. The reason I can’t commit at a club level or even socially sometimes. I suffer from IBS. I’m not talking a grumbly tummy or feeling a little bloated. I’m talking not able to leave the house until you are ready, exhausted, dehydrated, sore, and exasperated IBS. With a high stress full time job, a house renovation, and most importantly family, any loss of energy is a killer. I had to find a solution.
It’s something I have approached my GP about before but with no luck, just being told that it’s something I’ll have to live with. At that point you kind of trust the professional and soldier on. A few years later I’ve moved house and reregistered with another surgery and mentioned it again to my new GP. He responded “have you tried the FODMAP diet?” I looked at him thinking what is he talking about? After a quick conversation I had a basic understanding of what was happening inside me and how it could more than likely be tied to things I was eating.
Essentially my bowels were being turned into a fermentation tank. And I was adding fuel to the fire every time I took a bite or sip of something. So a quick explanation of what FODMAPs are, they are fermentable short chain carbohydrates that don’t digest properly in the small intenstine. They then pass into the large intestine causing the bacteria in there to go wild, here they ferment causing gas release. This causes excess gas (Farting, I had this in spades) and bloating, the bloating causes distress to the bowel wall, distress to the bowel wall causes rushing of water to the bowel to increase bowel movements and loosen your stools (now that’s familiar). Bloating also causes a full abdomen and pressure on stomach, and for someone with a loose oesophageal sphincter (love to use that word ha ha) that means acid reflux.
So that’s a quick explanation of my IBS symptoms and causes. How does the FODMAP diet help this? Simple really it restricts the amount of FODMAPS that you eat and subsequently reduces and controls the symptoms of IBS. Most people who go onto a low FODMAP diet see an improvement in symptoms within two weeks. The diet works in two phases. Phase one is the restriction, where you cut to a very low FODMAP diet for about 8 weeks to try to eliminate the processes going on in your large intestine and allow your bowel to calm and heal. To regain some form of normal function. Phase two is to slowly reintroduce certain FODMAP food to see which are effecting you, from this you can figure out how restrictive you have to be with your diet to prevent symptoms resurfacing. For a list of high and low FODMAP foods CLICK HERE.
That’s a kind of basic overview of it, and it may not be perfect but it’s where my knowledge of it all is at the moment. And that will grow.
How has it worked for me? Without trying to be a over dramatic, it’s been life changing. I can leave for work on time, my energy levels are through the roof, my moods are better, my cycling strength is up, and I’m not waking up everyday feeling like I have a hangover because I’m dehydrated. Oh and I’m not crapping five or so times a day (sorry, but for someone who’s lived with that for the last ten years it feels cathartic).
It’s not been without its troubles this diet though. It’s been expensive, and hard work. I’m finding I’m having to cook all the time. Now that’s not all a bad thing, I can cook and enjoy it, but it’s time consuming. Trying to fit in around a full time job and being a parent is hard. Plus getting meals ready for taking to work is hard. We have had to change most of our cupboard stock, and my recipe book is a bit limited at the moment, but that will grow and costs are coming down. It’s early days.
One place I’m not finding a lot of help with though is sports nutrition. Most will be high in FODMAPS. I’ve browsed a little on the internet but there’s no definitive low FODMAP sports nutrition, it’s a case of putting together your own.
I’m going to further research, record and start to put together my own list of FODMAP friendly nutrition. Hopefully leading me to build a section on this site for pre, during, and post exercise recipes and foods that I have success with. As I hope it will give the same results for other FODMAPpers.
Maybe, just maybe, I might be able to get my symptoms under control to a point that enables me to join a club and commit to riding with others more frequently. I’m sure it’s possible.
If you got this far, thanks for reading it means a lot . If you have IBS then try the FODMAP diet. If you have any FODMAP nutrition tips then send them here.