In the world of digestive health, the words “FODMAP” and “Nightshades” often come into discussion. Two freaking weird-sounding words, right? As I previously mentioned, avoiding high offending foods in both categories has decreased my stomach pains.
I’m by no means the most qualified or knowledgable person to speak on either topic, but since I share my health and wellness journey I thought it would be helpful to do a little overview post (with links to sources!). I’m just a regular girl figuring stuff out as I go! This post is written in “Emily-language,” of course…very minimal sciency stuff.
One last disclaimer: Let’s be smart. Take everything with a grain of salt and consult your own doctor before implementing any change.
The term “FODMAP” is an acronym for Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. Basically, gibberish. What you need to know: FODMAPs are fermentable carbohydrates (sugars) that can be hard to digest. Most people can eat FODMAPs without an issue, but for those with weak guts or IBS, FODMAPs can cause cramping, bloating, gas and diarrhea. (FODMAPs don’t directly cause IBS/leaky gut, but they can intensify the symptoms). For a more detailed explanation see this link.
High Offending Foods
Funny thing is, most of the high offending foods are very healthy…mainly fruits and vegetables, plus dairy and legumes. The full list is long and overwhelming (here’s a link if you’re curious). What’s important is correlating your symptoms with possible offenders. Of course, it might not be as simple as that sounds because lots of things influence how we feel, not just food.
I also want to note that not all the foods are going to be triggers. For example, after months of “practice” I know that I can handle avocado, peaches and watermelon in smaller quantities. But give me garlic and I’m done. I can’t emphasize enough how much of it is trial and error! You do you.
Just to cover a few of the biggies:
-Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage)
-Added sugars (things that end in “ol”)
Again, these are all healthy food with a variety of benefits. Eliminating them for no reason is extreme. Also, I wouldn’t blindly eliminate without re-testing the food. How will you know if it’s a culprit?
If you’ve read my blog for a while you know how much I love apples and watermelon. Like I used to eat them in MASS quantities every day. Turns out I was overdoing it. Now I pick and choose what I want and spread out the love. It doesn’t have to be full-on elimination (no fun) but I like to have general knowledge of what might aggravate symptoms.
Do I always want to follow this approach? No, it feels too restrictive at times. Who knows if it’ll be forever. Do I feel better when I’m cautious? Yes.
Nightshades are a newer concept for me. Only within the last three months as I’ve been really working to reduce inflammation have I taken notice. Like FODMAPs, if you’re healthy and feel good, you most likely don’t need to care about nightshades!
Truthfully, they were never foods I ate very regularly anyway…tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and potatoes, along with “spicy” spices like cayenne pepper and paprika (more info here).
What’s their deal?
For some people, particularly those with autoimmune disorders, they can cause joint pain, inflammation and digestive distress. So if you’re eating them like crazy and not feeling great, it would be easier than FODMAPs to decipher.
Why I Care
If you’ve made it this far (whether you read or skimmed), now is the personal part. I care about these (crazy) terms and foods because I want to feel good. Pretty simple explanation. I care because I don’t want to be bent over in pain after a meal. I care because I don’t want to worry about going to the bathroom or having gas in public. TMI but it’s the truth. I’ve looked into blood tests but food elimination (like avoiding FODMAPs) is a much cheaper/practical solution at the moment.
The list of FODMAPs/nightshades won’t be a cure-all, but it could be a good starting point if you’re searching for answers. However, there very well could be things not on either list (food or non-food related) that trigger symptoms! It’s so individual. There’s no set formula for feeling great but I take the measures I can to live comfortably. Digestive enzymes help me, too.
If you struggle with digestive issues, I know it’s frustrating process. I’m right along side you on the journey to optimal health.