This week, I started a FODMAP elimination diet. It has been quite an adventure, not in a good way. I want to start out with a little information on how I got to this point, but if you don’t care, skip to part two, I decided to make it a separate entry. 🙂
My current weight loss journey really began in late 2008 when I had what I now call “a nervous breakdown.” I was working full time, 8-5 monday through friday, and I was a full time undergraduate student, taking classes at night. I also started volunteering so my life was beyond full, every minute was taken up by something. It became rather stressful, but I was holding it together until my parents announced that they were getting a divorce. It also is important to note that I was dating a person who was emotionally and psychologically abusive. About three weeks after my parents announced their divorce, right before Christmas, I just didn’t get out of bed one morning. I didn’t call in sick to work, I just didn’t go. I turned off my cell phone and went back to sleep and didn’t listen to my voicemails for about 4 days. I felt like I had lost the ability to function. After a day or two of not calling anyone back, I obviously couldn’t go back to my job, although I did go back to pick up my personal items from my desk and I gave the owner a card of apology. I decided that I would live on student loans and focus on school and as it turned out taking care of both of my parents. My mother was an emotional mess, since she didn’t want a divorce, and my dad was diagnosed with kidney cancer a few months after they split. Emotionally and mentally, this was the lowest low of my life, I was giving everything to my parents and had hardly any emotional energy left for myself. I spent a LOT of time lying in bed eating fried chicken. I told myself “I deserve this fried chicken because I feel so bad right now.” I made it to the heaviest I have ever been in 2009. I never weighed myself but my guess is it was around 215-225.
It was during that time, in the spring of 2009 that I started developing really upsetting GI issues. I was under a lot of stress with school and my parents, my dad started dating AND had kidney cancer. I remember distinctly a lunch with my dad and his girlfriend where I felt like my stomach was tied up in really painful knots so all I could order was a green salad with grilled chicken and I just picked at it with barely any appetite. Then, near the end of the meal, I had to run to the bathroom. I have never been a “use the bathroom for more than peeing” type of person but I had the urgent need to go. That was the beginning of my Irritable Bowel Syndrome type symptoms. I have never actually been diagnosed with IBS/IBD because 2009 was also the beginning of a long period where I had no type of health insurance, so I couldn’t afford to go to the doctor. If you have IBS/IBD, or any GI issues, you understand the hyper-vigilance that comes with never being sure when you might desperately need to use the bathroom. You have to always know where a bathroom is, anyplace that you go you are constantly making sure that you know where a restroom is. That same year I went on a trip to New Orleans with friends and I remember sitting outside, on the steps across from Jackson Square eating beignets from Cafe du Monde and saying “I am going to the bathroom, I’ll be right back” and desperately searching for a restroom in a town full of places with no public restrooms.
When I started trying to get healthier and lose the weight in 2010, I was pretty successful but I noticed that I was tired ALL THE TIME. Fatigue became a permanent part of my life. Even though I eventually lost a total of 40 pounds, my life was ruled by the fatigue – I would get up, work out, and then have to go take a nap because I was so tired. Friends that have fibromyalgia told me that this was similar to what they went through, but I’ve never had any other symptoms of fibro. I googled and read everything that I suspected it could be I didn’t meet the criteria for chronic fatigue syndrome, or anything else I could find. I was just someone with IBS who was tired all the freaking time. Weight loss and healthier eating helped some, but I have never managed to shake at least mild fatigue for the last seven years. During the last 6-7 years I have lost and gained and re-lost dozens of pounds, managing to stay under 200 (for the most part) but never getting any lower than about 182. My IBS symptoms are mostly managed by healthy living and stress reduction but they resurface when I am under severe stress, like recently when I was laid off from my job. I experienced a surge in symptoms after I was laid off, which is very frustrating because the year and a half out of the last decade that I DID have insurance, I didn’t use it to go to a GI doctor because my symptoms were pretty well managed. Frustrated, I decided now is the best time to get my symptoms under control and hopefully conquer this fatigue which it’s hard now to remember a time that I wasn’t tired all the time. I decided to try the FODMAP elimination to identify which foods cause me trouble. For more about the details of FODMAP, read part two.