When faced with the reintroduction stage of the low FODMAP diet - I’d rather jump out of a plane!
For me, living on a low FODMAP diet was easy…being very comfortable in the kitchen, I quickly adapted my cooking to accommodate what I could and couldn’t eat (made MUCH easier with the Monash App). While I missed certain things and hated going out for dinner, knowing I was not going to be unwell made it all pretty easy to deal with. I would almost say I enjoyed the diet…why change?
But deep down I knew I had to reintroduce…and this scared me. Thinking back on it, it was probably one of the scariest things I’ve ever done…even more than when Martine and I went skydiving and trust me that was crazy! We still recount the story of Martine at our skydiving lessons when she asked the instructor “That’s OK, if my chute doesn’t open you can just grab hold of me and open yours”, to which he replied, “If your chute doesn’t open you die”…and reintroduction was scarier than this, because I knew the odds of dying in a skydiving accident were really low, but the chances of me feeling sick during the reintroduction phase was really high. But I had to pluck up the courage to do it.
My first reintroduction was by chance.
We had been invited to a friend’s house for lunch and before I go further, I must point out that they did everything they could to accommodate my needs, but unless you are on the diet you aren’t used to checking every ingredient on every product and know the specific things to look out for.
Well, we were presented with an amazing looking beef cheek slow cooked in Guinness and I couldn’t wait to get started. I was only a few forks full in, when our good friends told us how they cooked the cheeks in Guinness AND beef stock…as you can imagine this was the point at which I had to make a decision. After retrieving the beef stock packaging from the bin, you guessed it; there were the two words I didn’t want to see; garlic and onion. I decided to use this opportunity to see how I would react…3 days in bed later (Sorry Sarah and Paul, we did enjoy the meal despite this!).
I did try garlic one more time with the same outcome, so I know my tolerance for this is very low…but there are a few things I can eat in small amounts, which I will discuss later.
So, I decided I needed to take the plunge in to reintroduction land, but how to start. The obvious thing was to make it a reward challenge, so I went through the Monash App and chose things in each category that I really wanted to be able to eat again. This way, even if it did make me sick, I at least had that one meal where I got to eat something I loved.
The things I chose from each category:
Sugar snap peas
These reintroduction “challenges” were all pretty successful – Lactose and fructose are not a big problem for me. Polyols are OK as long as I don’t go over the top. But the elephant in the room was Oligos as I knew this was a problem.
I decided to start very small…breadcrumbs. Our local café does a great Chicken Schnitzel and a wonderful seafood platter (crumbed) so I decided to give these a go with “normal” breadcrumbs…no problems. I then decided to allow myself to have a couple of wheat based biscuits…still OK. One food I really missed was beetroot, so I gave this a go…in really small amounts still OK. Fortunately I can pick my limit on these things pretty quickly and in really small amounts they only make my stomach feel “unsettled”…I know it’s not happy.
I know that Oligos are good for me (they stimulate the growth and/or activity of certain ‘good’ bacteria in the large intestine), but are a real trigger for my IBS. What I have learnt is that I need to be prepared to feel only 60-70% well sometimes…but I can live with this. I almost never feel REALLY unwell any more, so, if occasionally I need to be running at 60%, that’s all right, I can still function, go to work, socialize with friends or go for a surf…and most of the time I feel fantastic.
I really encourage you to take the next step to reintroduction and if possible use the skills of a dietitian. There will be some pain, but eventually you will reach the point where you truly understand your limits.