Low FODMAP coaching – if only there was such thing 4 years ago!! As a new starter on the low FODMAP diet this would have been a life saver. Suzanne Perazzini from Strands of My Life is doing just that, coaching people day in day out on how to achieve a balanced lifestyle on the low FODMAP diet. Suzanne too follows the low FODMAP diet, and today, shares a little bit about herself and her journey to better health and overcoming IBS. I love Suzanne’s honesty about her battle with IBS, a story I think many of us can relate to!
|Low FODMAP & Gluten Free Lemon Curd Cookies by Strands of My Life|
Tell us a little bit about yourself, your health journey, and how you were first introduced to the low FODMAP diet?
I have had irritable bowel syndrome all my life but it ramped up a notch 8 years ago when my father died. Since then I have been to numerous doctors who told me to eat more fruit and vegetables and I have tried various different diets including the one for gluten intolerance, lactose intolerance and even the Paleo diet which cuts out all grains. Nothing worked, least of all the increase of fruit, vegetables and fibre that the doctors advised. They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I guess I was insane. For years!
Several years ago, I started my blog, Strands of My Life, as a way of exploring food and the effect it had on me. It was at this stage that I tried the Paleo diet for several months but it made me worse. I lost energy and my digestive issues increased. You have to find the diet that works for you. So I Googled the heck out of my symptoms for the zillionth time and the low FODMAP diet came onto my radar. I found an article that described the symptoms of someone who was intolerant to FODMAPs and this person was describing me, right down to how ‘healthy’ food made me worse. I knew almost immediately that I had hit the bull’s-eye.
Then began a time of intensive research and experimentation because there is very little accurate information out there on the diet, especially back then, and most of it is conflicting so I battled it out by myself and over time I refined the diet and worked out all the other bits and pieces that needed to be put into place to eliminate all my IBS symptoms. It took a while and eventually, by never giving up, I found the magic formula which worked for me. Some days I still think I can dance on water. Magic happens. I now live pain-free and the sky’s the limit for the first time in my life.
How did you get started with Strands of my Life?
I started my blog, Strands of My Life, many years ago as a simple cooking blog. It then followed my journey through various different diets as I was searching for a way to control my IBS symptoms. You can still see a section of my blog that has recipes for the Paleo diet. I then found the low Fodmap diet and, since then, my blog is dedicated to the diet and irritable bowel syndrome in general.
You also run coaching sessions to support people transitioning on to the low FODMAP diet, tell us what this involves…
Through my blog, I have reached millions of people over the years and daily I receive emails from people with IBS who tell me their stories of pain and distress. Every day I see people turn away from the low Fodmap diet thinking that it is not the right solution for them because they haven’t understood or implemented it correctly. Seeing people bypass a diet which could have saved them drives me crazy. So, a few years ago, I started up a one-on-one coaching program to help them. I have been a teacher/coach all my life so it came very naturally for me to transition into this area. The coaching immediately took off and has never slowed down. It has been my full time job for several years.
In order to teach my clients exactly how to make up their own perfectly balanced low Fodmap meal plans, for the 6 weeks of the program, I create customized meal plans for them that include the elimination and introduction stages of the diet so that, by the end of the 6 weeks, they have a perfect final diet that keeps them symptom-free and suits their individual digestive systems.
But the diet is not enough. It is the foundation stone to getting well but a balanced lifestyle is essential to solve the problem completely. To make sure their IBS symptoms never return, there’s a weekly exercise around the six areas of their lives that need to be refined and improved, like sleep, relaxation, exercise etc.
Also, in order to empower them with all the knowledge they need to integrate this diet into their everyday lives – their family, work, eating out, travelling etc. – there are weekly videos with a whole heap of tips to help them do this. Communication is through weekly one-on-one phone consultations and also unlimited email access for the full six weeks.
At the end of the six weeks, they come away from this process pain-free with the knowledge to help them make good food choices and the strength to stay the course into the future, having overcome any mental blocks which stopped them before. They also have a new plan and habits which incorporate all the necessary elements for a balanced lifestyle.
What’s your typical meal for…
- Breakfast: ¼ cup (raw measurement) of oats, 1 kiwifruit, lactose-free milk
- Lunch: protein meat (chicken, fish or red meat), a carbohydrate like rice, quinoa, sweet potato etc. and one or two permitted vegetables.
- Dinner: The same template as lunch.
- Snacks: permitted nuts, lactose-free yogurt, a piece of permitted fruit, gluten-free crackers with cottage cheese or canned fish and alfalfa sprouts or similar permitted salad vegetable.
Lastly, what is your advice for new starters to the low FODMAP diet?
The diet is very complicated and is not just a list of good foods and bad foods. That is just the beginning. It is also about amounts, combinations and accumulation. This is also a diet that you do 100% or not at all because even one wrong food will cause symptoms and you will feel bad again. It is not a diet that you dabble with and take things out gradually or you will never experience any difference. It’s all or nothing. Having said that, if you do get it right and stick to it, your life will be changed. It is truly miraculous.