Ongoing digestive problems are actually really common. For most people they are caused by irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Cutting down on FODMAPs is often the go-to treatment, followed by strategically reintroducing them. However, it's not the only solution. Nine past sufferers have kindly shared what one change helped them to overcome digestive problems, other than the low FODMAP diet. Let's hear from them now...
#1. Amy N
Gut-directed hypnotherapy (GDH) was the most helpful thing for me other than the FODMAP diet. My symptoms are probably equally triggered by stress and anxiety as food, so this has helped me greatly. I have even been able to reduce IBS medication.
How did you access the gut directed hypnotherapy?
I used the award-winning Audio 100 program by Michael Mahoney. It was very helpful. I believe it has reduced my medication and symptoms by at least 50%. I had really good results with the program and I highly recommend it to others-especially those who suffer from anxiety like I do.
It may sound "hippy-dippy", but gut-directed hypnotherapy is well-studied in IBS patients. Research convincingly shows mind-body therapies are very effective, including other types such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness mediation. It makes sense considering that IBS is can be triggered by anxiety and stress (not just FODMAPs). [sc name="Google Adsense - in text"]
#2. Lisa L
We gave up going out to eat (which we did a lot) and now prepare our meals at home so we know exactly what's in the food. I realize it has affected our social life to some degree. It's disappointing but my husband's symptoms have significantly improved.
The reality is that many on the low FODMAP diet slip up when they eat out at restaurants or a friend's place. It's bound to happen if you do not have full control of the ingredients. For this reason it's recommended to eat at home during the diet. But of course that's not always possible, so here are some tips before you go to the restaurant:
- Check the menu online ahead of time.
- Call the manager ahead of time to see if they can accommodate your dietary needs.
- Keep things like rice cakes, cheese and peanut butter handy and eat before you go to a restaurant.
- Bring your own salad dressing.
- Bring your own pasta sauce or stir fry sauce. They should be able to stir fry something acceptable for you.
#3. Goze A
Skipping breakfasts helped me the most! For a long time my diet has been free from dairy products, grains and beans... I was mainly eating some fruits and nuts. I think skipping the breakfast is giving me enough time to digest, but I'm not sure why else it is helping.
Breakfast tends to be a carb-heavy meal, so skipping it will likely greatly cut your FODMAP intake automatically. The idea that skipping breakfast allows your body more time to digest is true. Goze is essentially fasting for at least 14 hours since dinner the night before, allowing her body enough time to digest and process any problem FODMAPs from the day before. Remember it's the amount of FODMAPs that a food contains that determines whether it's high or low in FODMAPs. Eating a lot of food regularly may cause you to exceed your FODMAP threshold.
#4. Lauren R
Aside from FODMAPs the biggest difference for me was cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for anxiety management. It made a huge difference for my gut and overall health.
Likewise with Amy's story above, considering a form of mind-body treatment is sometimes necessary to overcome IBS.
#5. Carly D
I'm currently trialling a low FODMAP ketogenic diet and am seeing improvement. The ketogenic diet ('keto' for short) is a very low-carb, high-fat eating pattern.
How does your tummy handle the extra fat?
High fat is also a trigger for me but I am being selective with what fats I'm eating and how much at a time. It was definitely an adjustment initially, but I decided to trial keto due to increasing anxiety and hormonal issues. I still can't tolerate large amounts of fats in the morning but there isn't actually much that I can tolerate early in the day. I have had a couple of off days with my tummy and I just cut back on the fat or fast for a bit. I tend not to be hungry on keto so fasting isn't an issue. Still not perfect but seeing better results than just low FODMAP alone. I'll keep trying different things until I find the solution! I also think the lower overall volume of food in my digestive system is helping.
While the ketogenic diet is extremely difficult to stick with, any diet that reduces carbs will reduce total FODMAP intake. This is because FODMAPs are a type of short-chain carbohydrate. Equally important is that Carly has found an eating pattern that helps her reduce the total of volume of food she eats (without starving herself), which will benefit digestive symptoms as well. [sc name="Google Adsense - in text"]
#6. Beverley C
After being diagnosed with Crohn's disease last year I did the Autoimmune Protocol diet (AIP) and had amazing results. Remaining gluten, dairy, sugar, coffee, and alcohol free kept me symptom free and off medications for almost a year. Reintroducing some of the foods (nuts and seeds mostly) has seen a recent flare up I am going back to the beginning and starting the diet all over again.
It is still unclear what is the best long-term diet for managing inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. There is some evidence the FODMAP diet can help alongside medication and probiotics, but many patients swear by alternative eating patterns. These include the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), the Anti-Inflammatory Diet for IBD (IBD-AID), or the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP).
#7. Julie O
Eating low carb has helped me tremendously. I haven't had pain or bloating since eating this way. I hadn't thought about it before but with this eating pattern I'm definitely eating a smaller volume of food overall, which is likely helping.
Likewise with Carly mentioned above, lowering carbohydrate intake has automatically reduced the FODMAPs in Julie's diet.
#8. Kym A
I was having at least 2 litres of sparkling water per day. It wasn't until I cut it out I noticed a huge amount of relief in my gut.
This is an interesting one. Usually carbonated beverages can cause bloating or reflux but not other digestive issues. The carbonation does directly add more gas to the digestive tract though.
#9. Lynne P
I gave up processed foods, except for cereal and cheese curls. Basically if it went through a machine, I don't eat it. I recently realized that my system has been very steady lately, and I think it's because I cook more and try to balance good carbs and protein.
Refined and processed foods will almost always have high FODMAP ingredients added. Simply cutting down on these foods will greatly reduce your symptoms, help with weight management, and improve your health in general.
A Low FODMAP Diet Is Only One Piece of the Digestive Problem Puzzle
Treating IBS and associated long-term digestive problems involves diet changes, that's obvious. But the low FODMAP diet is not the only solution. It's just one piece of a bigger puzzle. In other words, plan to take a holistic approach to treatment that addresses not only diet, but stress, anxiety and even physical activity.