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FODMAPS

I have chronic and sometimes severe stomach pain. I've gone through a few different dietary and other experiments, and I'm now looking at the FODMAPS diet. I have a good feeling about it, just from seeing its advocates talk. So many non-mainstream diets start with a rant about how we're being systematically poisoned by eating bad, impure, gross foods, and instead we should eat clean, good, healthy foods. The rhetoric is intriguingly similar regardless of whether the Bad food is meat: that heavy, charnel filth that rots in your bowels, or wheat: that dwarfed, genetically manipulated abomination that tears up your guts and contaminates your blood with alien proteins. Basically, they're trying to sell their diet (and their books) by hijacking universal human intuitions about purity and contamination. (Of course, every diet community also has writers who focus on health and enjoyment without wasting time trashing how other people eat).

The FODMAPS diet is based on avoiding fermentable sugars, which can be present in foods that don't have much sugar at all from a nutritional perspective. Advocates don't start by trying to make you scared of these lurking poisons. Nor do they blame an agribusiness conspiracy for convincing people that the restricted foods are healthy; they generally agree with mainstream perceptions and argue that there's a subset of people who react differently. They're also poorly positioned to pick up on any particular restriction fad, because the diet restricts some foods from almost every category and allows others. So you can eat blueberries but not blackberries; hard cheeses but not soft ones; and oats but not wheat. I've seen confusing lists like this before, but they're usually based on religio-philosophical systems of imaginary elemental correspondences. FODMAPS are real, objectively measurable things: fermentable sugars including oligosaccharides -- the things in beans that make you fart; disaccharides -- primarily lactose; Monosaccharides -- really just fructose; and polyols -- xylitol and so forth. So at least it has internal validity.

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