What happens when, instead of feeling better after the low FODMAP diet … you just feel a bit worse?
I’ve been on this journey for almost two years now and this week I’ve had a bit of a revelation. Although overall the diet has helped my identify my trigger foods (which is super helpful and ensures I’m not struck down by IBS unexpectedly anymore) I’ve had a pretty annoying side effect too.
I found that after my 6 week elimination phase, which I worked through with a registered dietician, the first thing I was desperate to reintroduce was onion. Before trialling the diet, like most people, I had used onion as the base for most meals. I couldn’t wait to taste flavour in my food again!
When the happy day came to reintroduce my first food, I followed my Monash guidelines meticulously and fried up a tiny portion of white onion to have with my dinner. After eating this, I started to get the most painful, stabbing stomach cramps. These were unlike any symptom of IBS I had previously experienced, and it was crippling! I was confused and upset. Onion?
Since then, I managed to reintroduce all the food groups in turn, and found out that the FODMAP causing the symptoms I was familiar with was sorbitol. But those symptoms? They were worlds apart from the stomach cramps that onions brought on.
Since moving into eating a relatively normal diet again, I found that onions (although not garlic, also in the same fructan family as onion…) were continuing to cause me these crippling stomach cramps. Where the heck had they come from?
enough is enough
I cut onions out of my diet until this month because of the pain I was experiencing. This month, I decided to conduct a little experiment. We’ve all had disapproving FODMAP naysayers say to us ‘but you know that if you cut something out, you can become intolerant to it, right!?’ when explaining how the low FODMAP diet works. I generally ignore this comment because, a) it’s six weeks and b) what an annoying comment.
But reluctant to say, I think they’re onto something here. Over the past month, I’ve been forcing little portions of onion into my dinners to see if this is something I can overcome. And it is.
By introducing tiny portions of less potent onions such as shallots, then red onions, and finally white onion – I find that I can eat mammoth onion-filled portions and not have a single cramp. It’s a miracle – (and an end to the relatively joyless and antisocial experience of being onion-free).
SHOULD I GIVE IT A GO? ARE MY SYMPTOMS A MYTH?
Your symptoms are not a myth. If you started this long journey because of your IBS – don’t forget the symptoms that brought you here. What were you feeling when you started? What was usual for you, pre-FODMAP?
For me onions were a new trigger food. This was kind of weird, to have a new symptom crop up out of the blue that was so different to the other symptoms I had been experiencing. I would encourage anyone who has developed new, unique feeling symptoms since cutting foods out to definitely try increasing your intake of enemy foods. As always, keep your food diary close and see what you can learn.
I went through a solid three weeks of pain after eating with onion. It took a lot of persistence, but what an amazing result.
what’s your thing?
Have any of you felt a little worse off throughout the course of the low FODMAP diet, wondering if you should have started it in the first place? I’d love to hear about all of your experiences, so please feel free to share!