Finally, A Plan for IBS

Book Report: The IBS Elimination Diet and Cookbook, Patsy Catsos, 2107, Harmony Books

I never thought I would be recommending a diet book - those of you that know me would be shocked that I even need one. I am six-foot, two inches tall, and weigh about 159 pounds! That said, I think the book is mistitled - it is not a diet book - it is a plan to address a prevalent issue that affects millions of people (11% of the population); Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). So, yes, it requires a temporary ‘diet’ till you figure out what foods trigger the symptoms you are suffering with.

I am writing this unusual report due to having this embarrassing issue myself for the last three years and getting very successful results following it (a Miracle, in my book). My problems were masked by multiple other health issues, including kidney and liver disease, and an infection. These issues finally got improved enough that Mayo Clinic started addressing the leftover problems, and the FODMAP process was recommended after I failed a fructose breath test.

IBS symptoms include; Abdominal pain/cramping, Bloating, Distention of girth, excess gas, an urgency to use the toilet, Diarrhea or Constipation or a mix of both, and fatigue.

This food grouping is called FODMAP and was initially developed in Australia at Monash University. These foods (FODMAP’s) all contain fermentable components (sugars and fibers) that can trigger IBS by:

  • by being poorly absorbed in the small intestine

  • by being the favorite foods of the bacteria that live in the gut. The bacteria eat the FODMAP’s and produce gas.

  • finally, they can act like a sponge and retain fluid in the intestines.

The ‘PLAN’ is straightforward:

  1. Eliminate high-FODMAP foods from your diet - every one of them. An iPhone app called FODMAP (Monash) lists food by categories - I think it costs around $7. This was very useful when I was out and about, and it includes little green (OK) and red (Exclude) circles to quickly alert you to foods you must exclude in the elimination period.

  2. Wait a few days/weeks to see if IBS symptoms are relieved (mine were gone in three days).

  3. Reintroduce FODMAP’s in an organized method (by grouping) and monitor results.

  4. From now on, your resulting diet may be missing a few foods that are causing all or most of your issues.

  5. The book listed above walks you through this process easily. Mayo assigned a dietician to me, but she only provided me a one-hour class on the process which the book covers.

The exclusion list of foods is not easy, but I kept telling myself that it was temporary. The most significant difficulty was removing sugar and garlic/onion (an ingredient in every salad dressing, soup, and ketchup)!

This plan does not work in every case of IBS, but it does in three out of four - this is worth it to try.

I still am working foods back into my diet and have not yet determined what my ‘verboten’ foods are. I suspect that fructose was consumed by me in excess and will be my issue - if true, this will be great in that I can control the quantity while still enjoying all of my favorite foods. I have eaten everything I wanted for seventy years; if I now have to cut back a bit to have a better quality of life, it is okay! I will update back here when the offender is determined - even if the primary cause is Lee.

I hope you find this interesting as we begin the new year, Lee

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