There might be a reason why (other than the “nocebo effect“) most people say they feel better after jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon even though 98 percent of them don’t actually have any kind of gluten allergy.
I’ll admit it, I read Wheat Belly when it first came out and went gluten-free for a period of time. I already didn’t eat refined carbs, so I only felt moderately better when I gave up whole wheat bread. I didn’t get the whole holy crap this has changed my life experience that other people had, so I started eating it again. I actually decided to try going gluten-free in hopes that it might clear up my skin, but it didn’t, so I said to hell with it.
Fast forward three years and several allergy tests later and I still haven’t figured out why some foods just don’t agree with me. But then I came across this article the other day and decided look into what foods contain these elusive FODMAPs — Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols.
FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates commonly found in the western diet. Basically, foods containing FODMAPs (like cashews, garlic, onions, cauliflower, milk, cheese, wheat bread, etc.) don’t get broken down completely and absorbed into the small intestine, so they travel to the large intestine where bacteria ferments them. This fermenting is where the bloating/uncomfortableness comes in.
I’ve noticed after eating certain foods like cashews, apples, onions and cauliflower — especially when eaten on their own and not mixed in with other foods — I get extremely bloated and uncomfortable. If I don’t take an antacid, I start getting sharp pains in my abdomen within a few hours after eating. Though I’m in good shape and have a moderate-to-low level of body fat, it looks like I have a bit of a belly because my abdomen is distended pretty much from breakfast onwards. Having “a belly” doesn’t bug me, but feeling like crap all the time does.
Once I read through all of the foods containing FODMAPs, I knew I had to look into this further. I could recall having an intense pain episode after almost everything listed, including most recently when I bought a bag of raw cashews to snack on at work and could barely make it home by the end of the day as I was doubled-over in pain. I thought, cashews, really? Yet I can eat peanut butter by the spoonful and feel just fine.
Though I was sad to see Greek yogurt on the “bad” list, I was excited to see that peanut butter, dark chocolate, berries, kale, and other things I love were on the “safe” list.
Since I just bought a tub of Greek yogurt and a package of whole wheat pitas, I’m going to start cutting out high FODMAP foods next week to see how I feel. Though I don’t recommend eliminating any food group unless your physician tells you to do so, my GP hasn’t been of much help so far and would probably just tell me to do it anyway to see how I feel (that’s usually what happens every time I visit him). So I’m going to try it out and will report back about what happens!
Do you feel bloated/uncomfortable after certain foods? Have you tried eliminating FODMAPs?