The Low FODMAP Diet Is Not A Fad Diet
If you have heard about the low FODMAP diet, but you are not sure of what it consists of, the first thing you should know, is that it’s not a weight loss diet.
The low FODMAP diet has been gaining popularity in recent years, but unlike most types of diets, the purpose of this diet is not to help people lose weight, rather, its main objective is to help people with functional gastrointestinal disorders, like irritable bowel syndrome or IBS for short. It is a scientifically researched diet and in many parts of the world, it's now considered a front-line therapy for IBS.1 It consists of eliminating high FODMAP food for a short period, usually between two and six weeks.
FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates, which are not properly absorbed and can trigger symptoms, in IBS sufferers.
7 tips to help you follow the low FODMAP diet
If you have been diagnosed with IBS and have been recommended to follow a low FODMAP diet, here are some basic, but important guidelines that you can follow, to ensure your success with this diet.
1. Consult a specialized dietitian
The low FODMAP diet is more than a list of high and low FODMAP food. It is a very complex diet, which needs to be individualized. According to experts, successful application of this diet requires the guidance of a nutrition expert, who is trained and knowledgeable in the area.2
For this reason, before you start avoiding certain food, you should book an appointment with a specialised dietician or other qualified health professional. He or she will be able to assess if you are a good candidate for the low FODMAP diet.
2. Don't over-restrict your diet
Even though a lot of vegetables and fruits are high FODMAP, there are still plenty of healthy food that are low FODMAP. While you are following the strict elimination phase of the diet, make sure that you still eat as many healthy and nutritious food, that you can tolerate. Don't over-restrict your diet to the point that you are missing out on key nutrients that your body needs to function properly.
3. Cook your low FODMAP meals from scratch
If you cook your food from scratch, you know what’s in it. It is as simple as that. Compared to when I started my elimination phase, nowadays you can find tons of low FODMAP recipes, many of them have also been written or reviewed by dietitians or nutritionist, who are specialized on this medically-prescribed diet.
4. Make it a habit to read food labels
Do you usually buy a lot of packaged food? Then take the time to read and understand every food label, to ensure that you don't eat food that contains high FODMAP ingredients. If you are not sure about a specific ingredient, check with the experts and/or consult the Monash University low FODMAP app for smartphones!
5. Stay strong, it won’t be for long!
The elimination phase should only last a few weeks, but make sure you do it properly. Stay focused and stay strong. Most people see an improvement with their condition in just two weeks, so be sure to follow your dietician's instructions carefully. Also, you may able to re-introduce your favorite high FODMAP food, sooner than you think, once your symptoms have subsided.
6. Be prepared
Especially during the elimination phase, you want to make sure that you can easily find food that you are able to eat, when you are hungry. If you don't want to be tempted to consume food that contains high FODMAPs, when you leave home, take with you some safe snacks.
7. Don't feel ashamed. Talk about it!
When I was diagnosed with IBS and was told to follow a low FODMAP diet, I immediately told my family and several of my friends. There is nothing to be ashamed, if you are suffering from IBS.
Some people may initially struggle to understand how healthy food can be bad for you, but if you can explain to them what happens in our sensitive GI system, when we eat unsuitable food, they may eventually come to term that your dietary needs are real and it’s not because you are a fussy eater.
Does stress/anxiety trigger your IBS symptoms?