If you are like me and you have IBS or stomach issues, you will want to become familiar with what FODMAPS are. If you are a cyclist with IBS like myself you will especially want to get this into check.
Before I get into what FODMAPS are, let me give you a little bit of a background story about my IBS journey. Like 70% of us suffering from IBS, I also have Anxiety (which we will talk about at a later time as IBS and Anxiety are VERY related). I started to notice what a lot of people would just classify as a "Weak Stomach" when I was 15 years old. It was not a bad case, started out with heartburn, morning nausea, and diarrhea when I ate a lot of spicy or fatty foods, drank to much pop or just had a poor diet all around, as most teenage boys do.
Well around the same time I developed some Anxiety related issues and started having random panic attacks, which I noticed made my IBS symptoms worse. The mind and the gut are connected via the vegus nerve (again, I will go into detail about this in a later post). For about 2 years, most of what I ate made me kind of sick. I was a super skinny guy at the time and was living in St. George which was really HOT and that did not help. It was not until I was about 19 and decided to move back to SLC that my symptoms would disappear. For whatever reason, the constant diarrhea, nausea, and stomach cramping had went away. I of course would still have flare ups from time to time and just figured that I had IBS as I have about 5 family members that have it as well including my Mother.
To make a long story short, I had it mostly under control for about 7 years, then all of a sudden 18 months ago when I was 29ish, I started to have debilitating symptoms. It was not just sometimes.. it was almost every night.. I would wake up at 3 or 4 in the morning, throw up, have diarrhea, severe stomach cramping, night sweats, you name it. EVERY stomach symptom you can think of. I also had my Anxiety under control for about 5 years at this point too... So what was going on with my stomach..? these are not the same off and on IBS symptoms that I had become use to coping with. After about 5-6 months of feeling like this I became very concerned. It was effecting my Job, my personal life and my hobbies.. As you can all imagine, its hard to train as a cyclist with stomach alignments of any sort, let alone severe ones. I was not even able to enjoy a movie at the theater with my wifey without having to make a bathroom trip. These IBS symptoms were also bringing back my old friend "Anxiety" and this was compounding my IBS symptoms even more. IBS & ANXIETY WERE RUINING MY LIFE!!
I made an appointment to a specialist (GI DR) to have my first colonoscopy.. At Age 29 I was not happy about this.. I hoped that I would make it into my 50's before having to do anything like this. However I had been very sick and needed answers. So I set up and appointment. If you have Anxiety.. You know that waiting for the appointment was the worst part. My mind was wondering and I was terrified of this procedure. After fasting (A medical term for starving yourself LOL), I was ready to go in for my testing.
I woke up in the waiting room saying random funny things.. (my wife thought this was hilarious BTW) I was surprised that it was actually not that bad.. The fasting and test prep was the worst part of it just like everyone had said. The Dr. comes in with the results and says "Well, you dont have Crones, UC or anything that is ruining your stomach.. Must be IBS". I thought to myself.. Ok.. thats nice.. im not going to die.. but why am I so sick? From what I know, there were not really any treatments for IBS in the United States.. Well I was right.. I was pretty much sent away with just that.. "You have IBS".. So now what?
Well surprising enough, I made a few diet changes and for the next 6 months I felt pretty good. All of a sudden after my 30th bday I started getting really sick again.. I didnt go to the doctor because I didnt want to feel like a hypochondriac any further, plus I knew that they couldn't help me.. However.. I was starting to miss a lot of work due to this awesome disorder no one seems to know much about. I had no choice but to made another appointment with a different GI that promised to find what other Doctors had missed. I figured that it was worth a shot. They put me through a battery of tests to make sure that it was not SIBO or Celiac's as well as about 15 other diseases. All tests came back negative and I was scheduled for an upper endoscopy to make sure I didn't have ulcers or anything else going on.
Well after this test, I once again talked to the Dr.. He said "Well it all looks good.. Must be IBS". I was relieved.. But then instantly frustrated.. Well if its just IBS and there is no treatment.. What do I do now? I cant live like this forever. I went to my follow up appointment where they put me on another acid blocker, which did help all the acid issues, however I was still pretty sick. Not good enough to be ok with my symptoms. Then I heard this magic word... my doctor asks me.. "Have you ever tried FODMAPS?"... FODMAPS? I replied... She says "YES... FODMAPS.. its a diet that was made by some Australian Dietitians and Doctors.". She then game me a print out that had some info regarding FODMAPS.
So what exactly are FODMAPS? That is a complex question, but one that will change your life if you have IBS or stomach issues. Stay tuned for my next post "What are FODMAPS" to learn about FODMAPS and to see if this diet can help you.
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Comment below, Do you have IBS or stomach issues? what have to tried to relieve them? Have you ever heard of FODMAPS?