Re-challenging and Reintroducing High FODMAP Food Into Your Diet

As an IBS sufferer I know only too well, that this condition is chronic, meaning that to keep my symptoms at bay, I need to be careful about what I eat, possibly for the rest of my life. The most successful diet for IBS is the low FODMAP diet, which consists of eliminating high FODMAP food for a certain period. The characteristic of this diet is that it can help us identify the foods that can trigger our IBS symptoms.

Fortunately, I no longer need to follow a restrictive low FODMAP diet. I was able to re-introduce a lot of high FODMAP food and nowadays my diet is fairly varied, as long as I watch the portion sizes of certain food.

The diet consists of three phases. The first phase restricts your diet to low FODMAP food for a period of 2-6 weeks. The second phase is where you can reintroduce certain food groups back into your diet. The third phase is about working out in the long term which food you can tolerate and which food to avoid; although it should be noticed that your intolerance can change over time and therefore it is ok to try again a food that was previously re-challenged unsuccessfully. This is sometimes called a modified low FODMAP diet.

In this article, I would like to focus on the re-challenge phase.

The re-challenge and reintroduction phase

We always hear that while following this diet, it is important to be assisted by a dietitian, who is specialized on the low FODMAP diet, and this is even more important during the re-challenge phase of the diet.

Once you have started eliminating high FODMAP food, hopefully, you should start to feel better after 2 to 6 weeks, and your symptoms should be drastically reduced. When you are feeling better, you can start the exciting re-challenge phase that will help you to identify which food you can reintroduce into your diet, without flaring up. Below are some tips that I found very useful during this phase and I hope they will be just as useful to all of you.

Tips for a successful FODMAP re-challenge

  • The first question you need to ask yourself is, am I mostly symptom-free? Hopefully, following the strict elimination phase, you should feel much better. If you are not, consult your dietician or other specialized health professional.
  • You should start the reintroduction process by slowly challenging each high FODMAP food group separately. Your dietician will discuss with you which high FODMAP group to start you with and its portion size.
  • After you have re-challenged a high FODMAP group, you will need to wait for at least three days before re-challenging a new group. In those three days, you need to be symptom free.
  • Only consume the high FODMAP food that you are re-challenging, don’t consume other high FODMAP food, even if you have successfully re-challenged it before.
  • Some people find that keeping a symptom diary in this phase can help to keep track of the foods that cause their IBS to flare up.
  • If you get IBS symptoms after re-challenging a certain food group, wait until you are symptoms free, before starting with another group.
  • If the food group you have reacted to, is one of your favorite and you do not want to give it up forever, you can give it another try later on.

You may not be able to reintroduce all the food that you love, but the aim of the re-challenge is to be able to consume as many high FODMAP food that you are able to tolerate, without causing any IBS symptoms.

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