My experience with the FODMAP challenges

Having just finished my FODMAP challenges, I wanted to share my experience with you guys so you knew what to expect.

Seeing a nutritionist for guidance and advice is vital in this period so you know you’re doing it correctly. They will guide you every step of the way. But here’s a run-down of what I did. There are eight challenges that you trial over an eight week period: one challenge per week. Each challenge consists of you eating a specific amount of a specific food that has been identified to contain only one FODMAP (the FODMAP being tested) so that you can determine which groups you can or cannot tolerate, and at what quantity. The order is not important but there are a few rules you need to abide by:

  • You need to repeat the challenge at least twice to determine if your symptoms are consistent. You should also spread your trial days across the week. This allows you to get the most accurate picture of what that food will do to you.
  • Keep everything else the same: continue restricting all other FODMAP groups and generally try not to change any other part of your diet too much: you don’t want to be wondering if your symptoms are due to your challenge or something else altogether.
  • Meticulously keep details of when you trialled the food and exactly how you felt. I use a rating scale to track my bloating, pain and anything else that happens (I feel like you know what I mean). Do not rely on your memory, because it will fail you and then you will regret it later – your nutritionist can give you much better advice when they have specific and accurate information to go off.

Okay so here we go, the order I did the challenges in and my results!

FODMAP Challenge 1: Lactose – 125-250mL of milk

Around half an hour after the consumption of each glass of milk, I was bloated, in pain and nauseous. This lasted until the following morning. Unfortunately this means foods with a particular level of lactose in them could not be re-introduced.

Source: giphy.com, Anchorman

FODMAP Challenge 2: Fructose – two teaspoons of honey

This one was a little confusing for me. The first time I had honey, I got bloating and a stomach ache. However, the second time (and the third, as I thought it was worth testing again) I had no reaction. My nutritionist advised that my intolerance to fructose was probably “medium” instead of “high”. I will be trying to reintroduce some of the following foods: apples, asparagus, artichoke hearts and balsamic vinegar in appropriate serving sizes.

FODMAP Challenge 3: Sorbitol – four dried apricot halves

This was one of the worst challenges for me. I had significant pain and distention until the following day on both trials.

FODMAP Challenge 4: Mannitol – ½ cup mushrooms

This challenge was a pleasant surprise. I was expecting poor results, but I had no symptoms after the mushroom trials. Hooray! I will be attempting to reintroduce butternut pumpkin, cauliflower and sweet potato in appropriate serving sizes (yes! yes!)

FODMAP Challenge 5: Fructans group 1 (Wheat) – two slices of wheat bread

Having been diagnosed with gluten intolerance in Year 8 of high school, I was not expecting this to be good. But surprisingly, while I did have pain and bloating, it wasn’t nearly as significant as I expected. I will continue to steer away from gluten, as I know it does not agree with me.

FODMAP Challenge 6: Fructans group 2 (Garlic) – one clove of garlic

Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. This was by far the worst of the FODMAP challenges. 20 minutes following each trial I was in incredible pain. There was no bloating but the pain was so bad I had to lie down. This lasted until the following day. Disappointing, but good to know.

FODMAP Challenge 7: Fructans group 3 (Onion) – ½ onion

Another bad challenge. Pain and bloating around 30 minutes following a mean containing ½ an onion.

FODMAP Challenge 8: GOS – ½ cup of chickpeas

The final challenge was a success! I mean, chickpeas have always made me a little gassy (as they do with most people) but I had no other symptoms. This means I can attempt to reintroduce beetroot, green peas, lentils, tempeh, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts and pistachios in appropriate serving sizes.

Do you have any questions about the FODMAP challenges, or want to share with me your own experiences? Please leave a comment below!

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