Just after I left university, in my party years, one of the girls I hung out with had IBS. I remember she had terrible flatulence, which was a regular source of amusement, but I knew nothing about the condition beyond the fact that it gives you terrible wind and has a very unattractive name.
Fast forward nearly 20 years, to January 2017, and strange things started happening in my tummy. It began with a quiet but annoyingly regular burbling sound immediately after eating and culminated with me going out for a rich Thai meal and lying on the sofa in agony while my partner and daughter laughed at me because my tummy had blown up to enormous proportions and was sounding like a washing machine doing its spin cycle.
This was what prompted me to go to the doctor, where I was hoping I might find a solution to this daily embarrassment (my tummy was making loud grumbling noises every time something passed my lips, which has been especially embarrassing in meetings). What I discovered is that there is no instant cure for IBS and, in the UK at least, no help offered by the NHS beyond advice to look into a low FODMAP diet.
Several days later, after reading just about everything I could get my hands on about both IBS and FODMAPs, was a low point for me. The list I had printed out of “safe” foods was short and uninspiring; the list of “danger” foods was huge and included the vast majority of what I actually like to eat. And when was I supposed to do the elimination diet, which takes five weeks in total and requires you to cut out one food group a week and keep a diary of how you feel after each meal (this is still on my to-do list – I’ve postponed it time and time again because of a summer holiday, weddings, birthdays and all those other special occasions that revolve around food).
So far I have bought one recipe book (the excellent The FODMAP Friendly Kitchen by Emma Hatcher) and have printed out numerous recipes from the internet but I am nowhere near having even a full week’s worth of healthy, nutritious, quick and, most importantly, tasty meals to rely on. I would love recommendations from others for tried and tested recipes and I will share my favourites on here.
Last month, I got made redundant and this prompted me to start this blog. I don’t want to begin a new job without feeling like I have control of the beast and by sharing the trials and tribulations of my gut I will at least feel like I’m speaking to someone about a subject that is not easy to talk about – even with your closest friends.
Step one will be getting my head fully around FODMAPs and sticking to the plan rather than dipping in and out. This weekend I had a pizza on Saturday followed by a roast with all the trimmings on Sunday and by the evening I was in lots of pain – and full of lots of gas. Tips for navigating restaurants would be very welcome, but looking on the bright side, I can still drink wine without any major side effects….