I mentioned on about my blog page that I’m following the Fodmap diet for health reasons. You probably nodded and then went ‘Fodmaps? What newfangledness is this?’ and hope no one would set you a test on them.
The short answer is that they are a particular kind of poorly digested sugars found in dairy and plant based foods which are abbreviated to Fermentable Oligo, Di, Mono-Saccharides and Polyols to create the snappy term ‘Fodmap’.
The diet was researched and discovered by the Monash University in Melbourne and is used by doctors and dieticians worldwide to treat IBS and other bowel conditions. It’s not about weight loss or ‘clean eating’. It’s about preventing unpleasant and repeated digestive symptoms.
Fodmaps are a little bit complicated because unlike a protein like gluten, almost no one reacts to all the kinds of sugars involved. Usually one or two of them will cause an issue for one person even in small amounts while the others only affect them if eaten in larger quantities. This is why people on the Fodmap diet often eat very different things to each other but still describe themselves as low or no Fodmap.
Most Fodmappers seem to be affected by galactans in wheat, rye, barley or lactose. I am a special little snowflake who can eat all of those things just fine but am instantly affected by any onion or garlic and a multitude of pulses, vegetables and nuts. This side of the diet isn’t well known so people think I’m making it up to be precious and/or annoying.
For anyone affected by Fodmaps, it usually means giving up things they love and enjoy and having to be vigilant about their diet all the time. Symptoms involve constipation, bloating, diarrhoea, cramping, gas and nausea. You don’t need more information than that if you’ve got a good imagination…
Fodmaps are further complicated by the fact that some foods only become high Fodmap at certain portion sizes. For example 1/8 of an average Hass avocado is low Fodmap but a 1/4 of an avocado becomes high Fodmap. This is why sometimes people seem to still eat stuff you think is bad for them. They aren’t making it all up to pick and choose or make your life difficult.
Fodmaps are especially contradictory because they are often the foods most people consider ‘healthy’. I find a lot of vegan and ‘clean eating’ substitutions difficult as the one type of sugar a Fodmapper can safely eat is good old table sugar. Things like agave syrup, honey and apple juice are all high Fodmap so don’t be surprised if you see us reach for a bar of chocolate instead of an energy ball. What’s ‘healthy’ for you isn’t healthy for our digestive systems.
My Fodmap experience is complicated by several other things. I have the more problematic Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) instead of the more common Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and so also have to also eat low fibre to prevent flare ups of pain and diarrhoea that send me to A&E.
I am also suffering from fructose malabsorption which is the fruit sugar equivalent of lactose intolerance. Around 30% of the population could be affected by this in varying degrees but because my digestive system is basically malfunctioning in every which way, mine is severe enough that I can’t eat any fruit.
Yes, any fruit. Whole, juiced, dried, in a smoothie or out of tin. It will make me incredibly nauseous and faint while my mouth swells and my skin itches. It particularly cramps my cocktail drinking choices let me tell you.
Funnily enough I haven’t found any other blogs dealing with non galactan and lactose fodmaps while catering for low fibre and low fructose eating while you don’t have a gallbladder. So I’m writing my own version instead of waiting for someone else to do it for me.
If you’re looking for wheat and dairy free recipes, many of mine can be tweaked for that, but I’m celebrating living and eating low Fodmap, low fructose and low fibre in other less well known ways.
So if you like recipes involving potatoes, rice and meat, you’ve come to the right place.