FODMAPs week eight: the diet is done!

Apologies for not posting last week, but unfortunately I have just moved house and my new house has no internet! I am typing this from my iPad and really hoping it will work…

So, the diet is done. Eight weeks of abnegation and being “awkward food lady” are finally up and what have I learned?

Well, to start with: the diet works. I haven’t had a single one of the crippling stomach aches which were plaguing me before I started the diet in the last eight weeks. This is obviously good news, although sticking to the diet religiously in the long term is considered by dieticians to be too unhealthy to contemplate, something for all budding orthorexics out there to consider carefully.

When I began the diet, I’d never heard of it, but in the last eight weeks I’ve read two think pieces about modern dieting crazes which both mentione it.  It seems that people are taking up the FODMAP plan without seeing a registered dietician (a nutritionist who talks a lot about toxins does NOT count!) and are continuing it relatively long term.  As someone who has gone through the plan, this shows me the sad state of our eating habits today. It’s true that far too many people are unhealthy, obese, and miserable in their eating habits. But the flip side of this is that far too many people are unhealthy, obsessed, and miserable in their pursuit of healthy eating, cutting out gluten, sugar, dairy, whatever the latest thing is.  One of the other things I’ve learned from this diet is that you can’t be “everything in moderation” combined with a moderately active lifestyle.

Another thing I’ve learned is that we’re all little miss special diet these days – even the men. The number of people I heard explaining that they were allergic to non organic wine, or that they had to eat paleo beggared belief.  In a way, it’s helpful, because it raises awareness that not everyone can just eat anything, and I think people are more aware of genuine digestive problems like IBS or coeliac disease, but it also makes it harder.  People faking it don’t get sick when they eat traces of gluten because they’re not really sensitive to gluten, they’re sensitive to stuffing their faces with carbs all day (seriously, I’ve halved the carbs in my diet and they don’t bother me now). This makes it harder for people with coeliac disease to be taken seriously, because waiters mistake them for attention seekers. Hopefully in time the attention seekers will move on, leaving a better range of gluten free products, and coeliac sufferers will be able to reap the benefits. M

The other big thing I learned was not to be so afraid. A couple of times during the diet I did have to ask if we could switch restaurant because I couldn’t eat anything at the proposed restaurant but you know what? No one said no!  I was so convinced I would miss out entirely on seeing my friends, or even that I might lose friends who couldn’t understand. That absolutely wasn’t the case. My mum may have had difficulty understanding the diet but all my friends were extremely supportive.

The final thing I learned was of course which foods were troublesome to me, and it’s a surprising list: beans, lentils, chickpeas, mushrooms, red onions, diet coke and regular coke, rum, and cider. I’ve also really lost my taste for sweet things, which was happening anyway.  I also learned that you won’t lose weight on this diet, unless you exclude dairy and alcohol as well. Since I finished the diet I’ve been eating more healthily than when I was on it, and I’ve lost the weight that I gained on the diet. But this diet is a diet for health, not for weight loss.

So so there we have it! If you thi you have IBS I would strongly urge you to go to your doctor and discuss it with them.  Cutting out large food groups can leave you vitamin deficient, and can be a sign of compulsive behaviour and eating disorders.

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