Making the Low FODMAP Diet Easier
The low FODMAP diet is one of the most effective strategies available for managing IBS symptoms, but it’s also one of the most difficult dietary strategies to follow. I know this from both professional and personal experience, having helped clients to follow a low FODMAP diet and also following it myself to manage my IBS.
But just because it’s difficult, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it. It simply means you need to be prepared for the challenges so that when you try it, you do it right.
Why is the low FODMAP diet so hard to follow?
FODMAPs, small fermentable carbohydrates, are found in all five of the core food groups. This means you can’t just cut out one type of food. Instead you need to remove select foods from each of the food groups that are high in FODMAPs, but can continue eating low FODMAP foods within those same food groups.
- Fruits: apples, pears, stone fruits and watermelon are high FODMAP; bananas, oranges, kiwi fruit and grapes are low FODMAP.
- Vegetables: onions, garlic, asparagus and peas are high FODMAP; potato, tomato, carrot and spinach are low FODMAP.
- Grains and cereals: wheat, rye and barley are high FODMAP; quinoa, maize, millet and sorghum are low FODMAP.
- Protein sources: silken tofu, baked beans, most legumes and processed meats seasoned with garlic or onion are high FODMAP; plain meat, chicken, fish and eggs are low FODMAP.
- Milk and non-dairy sources: milk, yogurt and soymilk made from whole soybeans are high FODMAP; lactose-free milk, almond milk, lactose-free yogurt and cheddar cheese are low FODMAP.
As you can see, it’s not easy to predict which foods need to be restricted on a low FODMAP diet and which foods are okay to eat.
The good thing though is that you don’t have to remove whole food groups on a low FODMAP diet, which means you can still have a nutritionally balanced diet and remain healthy while managing your IBS.
How can you make the low FODMAP easier to follow?
Firstly, don’t try and do it alone. Get help from a nutrition professional who specializes in FODMAPs. Note that not all nutrition professionals are up on the latest FODMAP information, so working with a specialist is always the best option.
Secondly, make sure you get accurate information about which foods are high FODMAP and low FODMAP. There’s a lot of incorrect information on the internet about the low FODMAP diet so always find a trustworthy source that’s kept up to date by qualified nutrition professionals. If you’re getting help from a FODMAP specialist, they’ll be able to point you in the right direction.
Thirdly, learn how to change your meals and substitute for the foods that you have to restrict. For instance: use low FODMAP gluten-free pasta instead of regular pasta; use chives instead of onions. Understanding these switches lets you eat as close to normal as possible, while removing FODMAPs.
Lastly, take time to plan out your meals and snacks so that you know what your next low FODMAP meal will be. When you follow a low FODMAP diet, you can’t just grab anything to eat because most pre-made foods are high FODMAP. So you need to do a lot of careful planning to make sure your meals will be safe to eat, but it does get easier as you get used to it.
Do you have a good understanding of what triggers your flares?