Last week I met with Chloe for a one on one consultation to further discuss my journey on the FODMAP diet. I had been participating in her 12 week course The FODMAP Challenge but felt I needed some additional support so had asked to meet her for a consultation. The first thing we looked at was the survey that I had taken at the beginning of the challenge. Urgent bowel motions, excessive bloating, difficulty sleeping, which then impacted on relationships and daily activities… WOW. I had forgotten how bad things really were before I changed to the low FODMAP diet. It prompted me to ask Chloe if I could share an honest review on her blog to help others who are suffering like I was to see if The FODMAP Challenge is for them.
Did the FODMAP Challenge fix my IBS?
Now before I start, know that this course hasn’t been a miracle cure for my IBS, but it has helped significantly as I learn to manage the symptoms and determine my triggers (which I am still in the process of doing). It took at least 3 weeks of following a low FODMAP diet before I saw an improvement in reduced bloating and bad gas, so it doesn’t offer an instant improvement either. However, I am so happy to say I haven’t had constant bad wind for at least two months. I can go out without fear or anxiety about a flare up. I can also go to bed with abs almost visible (and some days with a stomach that looks as good as it did in the morning!) instead of looking 5 months pregnant (see the AM to PM bloating difference here).
What IBS symptoms am I still struggling with?
I still get mild bloating and the need to run to the toilet. Very occasionally I will get stomach pain.
So how was The FODMAP Challenge course?
The course was really good. It has all the resources you need, including meal plans (three types – one with different meals every meal, one with reoccurring meals for those who would rather cook a big batch or a plan your own option). I didn’t use the meal plans because I enjoy the creative process of cooking in the kitchen and found it easier to modify meals myself. I loved the Facebook group and the live Wednesday night sessions with Chloe on Facebook. It was great to be doing this difficult diet with others.
I found it difficult to do the challenges because I had such good results, I didn’t want to go back to what I was experiencing again! I was travelling for work so I put this off. I was also too busy to read Chloe’s advice and plan what I actually needed to do to test certain food groups.
Where to from here?
So now after meeting with Chloe I am starting the challenges under her guidance. This week I’m challenging one type of polyols and testing it with avocado and apricots. You don’t need to tell me twice that I can have smashed avo again! I’m pleased that so far I haven’t had a reaction!
Treating IBS beyond the FODMAP diet
I may also need to test a few other things outside of high FODMAP foods. For example I have found high fat foods like peanut butter and oils really upset my stomach. For some people, a low FODMAP diet won’t be the complete answer but it is a great place to start.
My advice to those planning to take on the FODMAP Challenge
1. Be kind to yourself and don’t give up when you fail
Be kind to yourself because you will ‘fail’ at some points. It is really hard to watch what you eat this closely. As I discovered, as hard as you try your life doesn’t go on hold for 3 months so that this can be your sole focus. Old habits will sneak in, especially if you’re an emotional eater or a mum that is constantly overtired, like me! If this happens, just get back on the horse as soon as you can. Don’t give up!
2. Make use of the support on offer
Make sure you reach out to the others in the Facebook group with concerns, struggles or questions about certain foods – Chloe and the members were more than happy to give quick advice when you’re shopping or empathetic support when you’re struggling which was really lovely. If you lose track for a time or are struggling with the challenges, remember not all hope is lost. It is HARD!
3. Consider the level of support you need based on your lifestyle to do this
I have a busy lifestyle and unfortunately this caused me to hold back on starting each of the challenges, which dragged out the time that I was eating low FODMAP, making outings more difficult for longer than they needed to be. For me, when something is difficult I find it goes to the bottom of my priority list – because I just don’t have the ‘brain space’ to work it out. If I was meeting with Chloe one on one from the start, it is more likely I would have started the challenges at their designated time because I would feel more committed to it, knowing Chloe was going to ask how I was going, or even just for me knowing I had set the time aside to make a plan and take in the information because it does take time and require some planning effort. Chloe has said she found many clients on this round of the course experienced this so she has now brought in a new package – ‘The Whole Package‘ that includes 5 one on one consultations with her. If this was on offer at the time and I had this hindsight I would definitiely choose this.
To hear more about my experiences during The FODMAP Challenge, head over to my blog, where I’ve written about 5 things that surprised me about treating IBS with the low FODMAP diet.
I wish you all the very best as you sort out your IBS symptoms and I hope this course brings you some relief as it did for me.
Start feeling better now! By signing up to The FODMAP Challenge you will receive meal plans, recipe ideas, and regular support with other resources, such as a private Facebook group, to make this as easy for you as possible.
About the author – Amy Darcy, Eat Pray Workout
Amy Darcy is a Mum, lawyer and the editor of Eat Pray Workout, an Australian based online hub for women who want to be the healthiest, happiest version of themselves. You’ll find healthy recipes; articles on wellbeing; fitness and travel – all aimed at helping women gain a generally healthy, happy and balanced lifestyle. Subscribe here for weekly inspiring emails and to receive all of Amy’s workout printables for FREE! You can also connect with Amy on instagram or Facebook.