FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyol…these are molecules in foods which can give some people digestive upsets.
I tried the diet after my colonoscopy surgeon suggested it. I found an app of low FODMAP and high FODMAP foods to download onto my phone, which was great. I avoided all of the offenders and my digestion did improve. But I didn’t like going without some of my favorite foods, like apples and watermelon which are high in the offensive molecules.
I began to work with a nutritionist shortly after I started on the FODMAP plan. She insisted that the reason why I experienced bloating and stomach pains after eating an apple, for instance, was not because I couldn’t digest the molecules in apples but because when I was combining things like apple slices and peanut butter or eating apples too close to other meat or protein foods; my digestion was revolting from trying to digest fruit sugars alongside proteins.
Fruit digests very quickly. Meat proteins can take hours to digest, especially if you have other health conditions or low acid or bile. In people who already have compromised digestion, if you put a fast digesting food on top of a sluggish digesting food, it causes bloating. (That is the theory). Anxiety disorders can also cause compromised digestion. Low stomach acid and slow digestion are common as the body goes into flight or fight frequently, shunting blood to the limbs and stalling digestion.
And so my nutritionist suggested I try eating a plain apple with nothing else, several hours before or after eating a meal, to prove that I would be better off doing a food combining rather than FODMAP diet.
My digestion was fine but I was shaky. Because in addition to poor digestion I also had hypoglycemia. I had struggled for years with it and so I always ate protein with any fruit or sugar. Which was now a no-no on the food combining diet. (Hypoglycemia can also be a common condition in anxiety sufferers).
Turns out that food combining works well for most everyone, except diabetics and those with hypoglycemia. So I made a few exceptions to the food combing principles in order to minimize blood sugar crashes. For instance, until my body healed (eventually the hypoglycemia disappeared) I only ate fruit in the morning. And I added hemp or chia seeds for protein, as well as some coconut oil and hymalayan sea salt, to my morning fruit smoothie. Even at that, as soon as an hour or two had passed I quickly fried an egg to avoid getting too shaky from all the fruit sugars.
Food combining basically is just eating your bread, pasta, or legumes, with vegetables as a meal, or just eating meat and vegetables together for a meal. And then waiting several hours after eating meat until you eat fruit or have pasta (legumes, grains, and alternative sources of protein). Vegetables are neutral and can be combined with anything. So basically some meals were vegetarian and other meals were paleo.
My nutritionist said the reason people do well switching to a paleo diet or a vegetarian diet has to do with food combining principles more than anything else. I wasn’t sure I agreed at first. It all seemed silly, like doesn’t it get combined in the stomach anyway? But I had tried crazier things, so I was game to give it a few months. And by keeping to the food combining principles it really did help me clear up a lot of digestion struggles. Here are some more of the food combining strategies that I practiced:
Fruit is best eaten before a meal (preferably at least an hour) or first thing in the morning- not as dessert and not mixed in with a meal. And melons (watermelon, honeydew, etc) always should be eaten completely separate from anything else at all, giving yourself a few hours before and after eating melons to eat anything else whatsoever. Finally, I knew why I was always getting bloating or stomach cramps at summer barbecues. I adore watermelon and if it was at a picnic, it was on my plate next to the burger.
And so I began to eat melon only in the middle of the afternoon. I avoided it at picnics alongside other foods.
Even if you do no other principle, keeping to the ‘eat melons by themselves’ rule is a good idea as they tend to bother everyone, regardless of how great their digestion works.
It made a huge difference for me! I ate a lot of watermelon this past summer and wasn’t bothered once. Eventually, after using the principals for about six months, I felt my digestion had improved a great deal. I was able to eat meat and bread and pasta together again.
When traveling, though, I often still follow the principles of food combining as the added stress of travel as well as eating strange food, are known triggers for me.
The other things which I still do from these two diets are being mindful to eat melons all by themselves and avoiding garlic and raw onions. Cooked onions are fine, but raw onions are not. And too much garlic still doesn’t agree with me. One FODMAP favorite is garlic infused olive oil, which I, and most everyone sensitive to garlic, does really well using.
In summation I felt I healed some issues and I also picked up some great tips from trying both of these diets. I hope this can help someone else!