Whole grains, fruits, vegetables.
We’ve been told for years now that increasing our intake of fiber is the ticket to good health and longevity. What about when whole grains, fruit and vegetables cause bloating, gas, constipation and diarrhea?
If you’ve been diagnosed with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) these symptoms aren’t an occasional inconvenience, they are a constant way of life.
Do you suffer from IBS? If your answer is yes, chances are you are familiar with the Low-FODMAP diet. This diet has become much more popular as of late, and many people follow it on their own, without the guidance of a medical professional or registered dietitian.
What many don’t realize is that this is a diagnostic diet, and foods are supposed to be reintroduced within a few weeks. Many IBS sufferers can tolerate at least one FODMAP group, if not more, so the reintroduction phase is an important way to determine what foods you can handle, and those you cannot.
Don’t restrict your diet more than necessary in order to feel well. Remember that the right serving size is the one that works for you! This will be highly individualized.
High fiber foods like whole grains, lentils, beans, cabbage, apples and pears, to name a few, are all eliminated in the initial phase of the low-FODMAP diet. Lower density foods often replace these, leaving IBS sufferers with a lower intake of fiber. So, is it possible to meet our fiber goals and still beat the bloat?
In short, yes! There is no “one size fits all” diet for any ailment, including IBS. You must look at your diet as a whole and determine what is tolerable for you. When we categorize foods as “high fiber/low fiber” or “healthy/unhealthy” we box ourselves in, missing out on a variety of foods that do in fact work for us.
Too much, too fast
So, how do you reach your fiber goals? First things first, don’t add too much too fast. Think of your gut as any other muscle. If you start lifting fifty-pound weights on day one, you probably won’t be back for day two. But start slowly, and you’ll work your way up to 25-30g of fiber in no time. Be sure to drink plenty of water (aim for 75-100oz daily) as you increase your fiber intake!
Give Yourself a Few Weeks to Reach Your Goals:
Slow, steady changes lead to lasting results. Try some of these ideas for adding a little bit of fiber each day:
- 2 Tb of chia seeds to a smoothie
- 1 Tb of flaxseed to your oatmeal
- ¼ avocado (20g) on toast
- ¼ cup (28g) of blueberries
- ¼ cup (42g) of chickpeas/garbanzo beans
- ½ cup (75g) of sweet potato
- 2 mandarin oranges (125g)
- 1 cup (155g) cooked quinoa
- 15 green beans (75g)
- 1 cup (145g) gluten free pasta
*Some of these foods are not low-FODMAP, so add them in after you have completed the elimination phase of low-FODMAP and have successfully reintroduced these foods.
Modifying foods to make them work for you is another tool to reach your fiber goals. Steel cut oats too fibrous for you? Try Cheerios. The whole grain has been ground so fine, perhaps you can handle it this way. Avocado on toast a no-go for your Sunday brunch? Try adding ½ an avocado to a smoothie. When blended with other foods and consumed as a liquid, you might tolerate it just fine.
Remember: You are in control of your diet! Customize the foods you eat to maximize symptom relief and get the most nutrition bang for your buck.