As promised, here's my IBS update after my first appointment with the Dietitian. If you weren't already aware recently I was diagnosed with IBS - you can read my story here.
Luckily the wait for an initial appointment with the dietitian wasn't too bad. It took just over a month which I didn't think was bad at all.
When seeing a dietitian was first mentioned so much went through my head - Would they know what i'm on about? Will they think i'm over reacting? Would they have any suggestions at all? Will they even be able to help? Would they understand? Honestly the list is endless and as the medication I was on wasn't helping I didn't have much hope at all.
My appointment was with a lovely dietican called Emilie, who despite all my negative thoughts pre appointment was super understanding and helpful.
The appointment itself was really interesting, she started off going through a number of things that we could try to help me. The first suggestion being a Low FODMAP diet. Don't worry if your not 100% sure on what that means, I know I definitely wasn't when she mentioned it- I'll be going more into that in a minute!
We then went through all of my symptoms, how they effect me on a daily basis, what I was eating, drinking and the medication I was currently trying. She really got all the details from me that she could and actually listened which was lovely. It was nice to have a conversation with a medical professional who actually seemed to want to help me get better rather than just prescribe me some more medication.
Low FODMAP Diet
Honestly when the dietitian mentioned low FODMAP's I didn't have the slightest clue what she was on about. But after a long conversation and ALOT of explaining I got the gist of it.
So what is the Low FODMAP Diet?
Low FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. These are different types of foods that are poorly absorbed and hard for the body to digest. It includes a variety of fruit, vegetables, dairy and wheat.
During the diet you cut out these foods for 4-8 weeks and then reintroduce them one by one for 3 days each to identify trigger foods.
My initial thoughts were that doesn't sound too hard. I can definitely give that a go, but boy was I WRONG. Sticking to the low FODMAP diet is easily one of the hardest diets I've done. Saying that i'm not much of a dieter anyway. I tend to just try (and sometimes fail) to eat kinda healthy, so sticking to a strict diet was incredibly challenging.
The diet required me to make pretty much everything from scratch, no processed foods, no jars of sauce, no bread or pasta other than gluten free alternatives and the hardest of them all no cheese!!
So how did I remember what I could and couldn't eat on such a restrictive diet? Easy the dietitian provided me with 3 booklets which included -
- The first explained what the food groups were and what were low FODMAP and high FODMAP - more simply what I could and couldn't eat.
- The second included suggestions including what I could eat and where to buy them from.
- And last but not least a booklet of what foods to add back in, serving sizes and when.
This diet should not be attempted unless you are under the supervision of a registered dietitian.
As I mentioned above the low FODMAP was so much more challenging than I expected. It took roughly a week to get my head around the foods I could and couldn't have and to plan out my meals. Once I'd done that I went food shopping. Which took so much longer than usual - you have to check the packets of everything you buy. You even have to be careful with the gluten and dairy free alternatives as some of them are off limits too.
The first 2-3 weeks were actually the easiest. I was determined to stick to the diet because I'd been told that it would help. And for those first few weeks it seemed like it did. It seemed like my symptoms had cleared up slightly - hallelujah!
Unfortunately my joy was short lived as my symptoms soon returned. I assumed it was the gluten free alternatives, so I cut those out too after seeking advice. No such luck, my symptoms were back and no matter what I ate it flared up.
'I tried my best I stuck to the diet for 7 weeks in total before stopping following a phone appointment with my dietitian.'
I stuck to it in the hopes that the diet would miraculously help with my symptoms again. After recommending I end the diet my dietitian made me aware that it doesn't work for everyone with IBS. Not all of us with IBS will have food triggers. Which is really frustrating as its back to square one for me.
Luckily she did have some advice on what I could try next.
- Stress management.
- Be referred back to Gastroenterology.
- Give Probiotics a try.
It goes without saying that the next thing on my list to try is Probiotics and obviously I'll be back with an update on those!
As usual, my inbox is always open and I'm always here for anyone who is suffering with IBS or similar conditions to talk to, nobody should suffer in silence!
I'd love to hear from anyone who has tried the Low FODMAP diet, or anyone who has any tips on managing IBS!