Have you been put on a low FODMAP diet to manage your IBS symptoms? This beginner’s guide explains FODMAPs and shows you how to get started.
FODMAP: What It Stands For
Let’s do it like an acrostic poem:
F = Fermentable
O = Oligosaccharides
D = Disaccharides
M = Monosaccharides
P = Polyols
Basically, all of these FODMAPs are naturally occurring fibres and sugars in fruits, vegetables, pulses, legumes and grains. These fibres and sugars then cause IBS symptoms such as bloating, diarrhoea, constipation and digestive pain.
How FODMAPs Influence IBS
This happens because of dysbiosis – our gut flora is meant to be able to process these fibres and grow healthily. However, in the case of IBS, the microbiota is unbalanced, leading to problems processing these fibres and sugars.
What’s Involved With the FODMAP Diet
A low FODMAP diet means eating a diet that is low in the FODMAP-containing fruits, vegetables, pulses, legumes and grains specified.
You’ll need to be strictly low FODMAP for at least 2-6 weeks before moving on to the next stage: food challenges. This stage is about re-introducing various high-FODMAP foods one at a time and seeing how you react to them.
The challenge phase is long-haul; it can take 3 or more months to complete this process of food challenges and isolating your food triggers. You’ll need to keep a food and symptom diary and note everything in detail throughout this process.
Management Of Triggers
After you have done all your FODMAP challenges, you will have a clear idea of what foods are triggers for your IBS symptoms. This is when you move on to the final stage: integrating the foods you don’t react to long-term. This stage is a lifelong process. Depending on your microbiota (which constantly changes over time) you’ll probably find that your FODMAP tolerances change throughout your life.
But Will It Help My IBS?
I’m all about recognising IBS as being so, so, so unique to the individual. But the research shows that 3 in 4 people with IBS (regardless of subtype) get symptomatic relief from a low FODMAP diet. That’s a 75% chance of success! Worth a try, I think!
Should I Be Low FODMAP Long-Term?
When that symptomatic relief kicks in, it can make some people nervous about the challenge stage. It’s a risk because those symptoms can return if you challenge something that turns out to be unfriendly to your system. This means you definitely have to pick your moment for a food-challenge day!
Challenge Stage Is Necessary
However nervous it makes you, though, this stage is totally necessary. The complete elimination phase takes out way too many nutritious foods to be healthy long-term. It’s essential to transition out of this phase onto a more varied diet. If you don’t transition, you can be at risk of nutrient deficiency and that leads to a whole host of other health and digestive issues!
How Do I Get Started?
Your first port of call is to download the Monash University low FODMAP app* and have a look through the information on there – it’s very in-depth with recipes that are made up of 100% safe foods.
It also has a full database of foods and their FODMAP content, so you can search everything up right there in the grocery aisle!
*Not an affiliate link
Alternatives and Additions to FODMAP Elimination
Doing the elimination phase can be super daunting. It also doesn’t work for everyone (there are still 25% of people in those clinical trials that low FODMAP didn’t work for!). I want you to know that the buck doesn’t stop with FODMAPs – there are still so many other things to consider when it comes to testing and getting you back to good digestive health.
It’s also important to consider this testing if low FODMAP has helped you – this information can support further progress in reducing your IBS symptoms.
Food Intolerance Testing
Food Intolerance Testing takes the guesswork out of managing your IBS symptoms. It can give you months of your life back without the complicated low-FODMAP elimination and challenge process. You get straight to the point of knowing exactly what needs to come out of your diet and speed up your healing so much faster!
Microbiome Testing gives us the data we need to help us assess the level and kind of dysbiosis you have. This gives essential guidance toward which probiotics and prebiotics you will need for microbiome restoration an reduction of IBS symptoms.
Intestinal Permeability Testing
This is a urine test which tells me how well your gut lining is working. Are the correct nutrients getting into the bloodstream? Are there things being absorbed that shouldn’t be? That’s all regulated by Intestinal Permeability and it’s essential to restore balance to that if it’s part of your IBS picture.
What I Can Do To Help
Take this opportunity now to book a FREE 15-Minute Gut Health assessment with me. Let’s discuss your digestive health further. I want to know where you’re at and where you want to be.
I can order any or all of the tests above (and more) to help us get to the nitty-gritty of what’s going on for you – no more guessing!
Nutritionist & Naturopath