Just starting the low FODMAP diet? Here are a few tips to help you navigate this somewhat complex but very effective diet to manage your IBS symptoms. Digestive distress is a global problem, with a growing number of IBS sufferers around the world. IBS impacts up to 1 in 5 Americans and can truly impact their quality of life. The low FODMAP diet is a evidenced based diet to help manage IBS symptoms and is effective in 75% of those who suffer with IBS! (Much better odds than most drugs used for IBS!)
#1 If you are going to make a concerted effort to follow the low FODMAP diet correctly, do yourself a favor and make an appointment with a FODMAP knowledgeable dietitian. I promise you, a dietitian can truly make your low FODMAP diet experience a whole lot easier and likely, much tastier too! If you are looking for a dietitian in your area, check out my low FODMAP dietitian listing here. If you are a registered dietitian with great experience implementing the low FODMAP diet and want to be added to my registry, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
#2 Get the most up-to-date low FODMAP and high FODMAP food lists. The low FODMAP diet is evolving. Food analysis is still underway and the diet will continue to be altered as new foods are analyzed. Because there are many outdated FODMAP food lists online, it can be quite frustrating for the low FODMAP newbie. The most up to date resource is the Monash University low FODMAP diet app. The fee for the app supports ongoing food analysis so you can feel good that your purchase supports more up-to-date information for all low FODMAP diet followers. Don’t have a smart phone or would rather have condensed paper lists? Then… download my updated high and low FODMAP checklists found on my site here.
#3 Don’t (yet) grieve the loss of high FODMAP foods! The low FODMAP elimination and re-introduction phase helps you identify your personal FODMAP triggers. You may find only some of the high FODMAP food trouble your IBS symptoms or that your symptoms are only exacerbated if you eat multiple FODMAPs at one meal. While you trial the low FODMAP diet, do yourself a favor and focus on the foods you CAN eat vs. the foods excluded on the low FODMAP elimination diet. And really, don’t grieve the loss of any foods until you determine they truly trigger your IBS symptoms. Lastly, tolerance to FODMAPs can change over time, so try to re-introduce your FODMAP trigger foods periodically as guided by your health professional.
#4 Don’t stay on the full low FODMAP elimination diet long term! The low FODMAP diet was designed to help the person suffering with GI distress identify what foods contribute to their symptoms. It’s a learning diet NOT a life-long diet. The low FODMAP elimination diet is typically followed 2-6 weeks followed by the second phase of the diet, the re-introduction or re-challenge phase. During this 2nd phase, foods rich in individual FODMAPs are added back into the diet methodically to assess if they trigger your symptoms. Why are you advised NOT to follow the diet forever? Research has shown that certain health-promoting gut bacteria populations decline while on the low FODMAP diet. The long term consequences of this reduction of microbes remains unknown. The FODMAP groups most likely to benefit your gut microbe populations are the fructans (wheat, onion, garlic) and GOS (legumes), which have know prebiotic effects (they are food for our healthy gut microbes). The long term goal for the IBS sufferer is to eat the most healthy and liberal diet as tolerated.
#5 Eat a well-balanced low FODMAP diet. Don’t over- restrict your diet so much that you miss out on key nutrients for overall health while following the low FODMAP diet. Try to eat a nourishing well-balanced low FODMAP diet! White rice and chicken are low FODMAP but we all know do not provide enough nutrients for good health. A dietitian can guide you on how to eat a nutrient-rich low FODMAP diet. This handout can help guide you too: Click here for a guide to balance out your low FODMAP meals!