How The Low FODMAP Diet Changed My Life

After being diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), my GP referred me to a dietician. I had never been to a dietician before and ignorantly I had always associated the need for this profession, mainly for people who were trying to lose a lot of weight.

I knew I could have benefited from losing a bit of weight, that I had put on after my pregnancies and which continued to increase after my forties, but I still did not connect the relationship between IBS and diet.

I was fortunate enough to be seen by a dietician specialized on a diet that had been recently developed right here in Australia and that could help my symptoms.

‘Excuse me, can you please repeat… lowfo what?’

Showing me some literature, the dietician told me about the low FODMAP diet and how this was found to be helpful for IBS sufferers in the majority of the cases.1

Eager to find out more about this, I looked at the papers she had just handed me and straight away I checked the section that said something like: ‘Do NOT eat these high FODMAP food during the elimination phase.’

My look in between disbelief and sadness must have been so obvious that the dietician worryingly, asked me what was wrong. Before answering to her, I thought to myself: ‘What’s wrong? This list of forbidden food is what’s wrong, this is pretty much all the food I eat everyday.’

Instead I politely answered: “Do I really have to give up all the food in this list?”

She carried on explaining that I had to eliminate high FODMAP food for about six weeks (although since then it is recommended to stay on this diet only between two and six weeks depending on individual cases and as recommended by a specialized health professional) and that after this period I was supposed to reintroduce back into my diet, as much healthy high FODMAP food as I could tolerate, without triggering my IBS symptoms.2

Six weeks? Sure, I can do that, if this means I can feel better.

She suggested to download a smartphone app created by Monash University, which had a long list of food that had already been tested for their FODMAP content and displayed if that particular food was low, medium or high FODMAP, it also indicated the safe portion size. The app seemed a good tool to have and very convenient to carry around while shopping, therefore I immediately purchase it and downloaded on my phone.

The dietician asked me to get back to her if I had any issues or questions, but that at the latest I had to report back towards the end of the elimination phase and before starting the re-introduction phase, so that she could help me with that.

There was only one problem, I was just about to go on a long, five months trip to my motherland ‘Italy,’ possibly the highest FODMAP capital of the world, where high FODMAP food such as wheat, onion and garlic (just to mention a few) are literally in every traditional Italian dish.

Good luck to me, I thought, how am I going to resist all those wonderful food? How’s my Italian family going to cope with my dietary restriction?

I did end up completing my elimination phase and survive the beautiful, but unfortunately very high FODMAP Italian cuisine. You can read about my Italian food adventure, in another article.

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