Just what is the Low FODMAP diet?
Welcome! If you’re reading this it’s likely that you’ve recently been diagnosed with IBS, and your GP has mentioned this diet. Perhaps you’ve been a print out of the high and low FODMAP food list, and been told to have a Google. Well, hopefully this beginners guide to the FODMAP diet will help ease you along.
So, what is it?
FODMAP stands for “Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols" …which we can all agree is a giant mouthful. Essentially they’re types of carbohydrates/sugars that our bodies can sometimes find difficult to break down, and they can be found in unexpected places.
Ever wonder why you’re eating pretty ‘healthy’ (lots of veggies, legumes, cauliflower everything!) but still getting stomach aches, bloating, painful wind and other digestive distress?
It could be because those things are all high in FODMAPs and eating them in large quantities can have you running for the loo at inopportune times. The Low-FODMAP diet is intended to be a short-term exclusion diet with a reintroduction phase, which allows you to figure out what foods (if any) are triggers for your IBS symptoms. It was created by excellent people at the Monash University in Australia.
What is not?
As far as I’m aware – and again, please check this with a medical expert – it’s not meant to be a long-term diet, but rather a phase which allows you to personalize your diet and find your specific food triggers.
How could the Low-FODMAP diet help me?
Many IBS sufferers who go through the Low-FODMAP diet report a reduction in symptoms (such as bloating, excessive wind/gas, stomach aches, constipation/diarrheoa etc), and for some it can get rid of them altogether. Hopefully, by the end of the diet, you would know exactly which foods to avoid completely, which you can eat in moderation, and which are completely fine for you.
Everyone’s digestion is different, and this is why going through a diet like this can be incredibly helpful in tailoring your knowledge of exactly what your gut likes and dislikes. Better understanding these things about yourself can help you go through life pain-free and happy!
How do I do it?
The Low-FODMAP diet consists of an exclusion phase, where you eat entirely low-FODMAP to see if this reduces the severity of your symptoms. I believe this can last anywhere from two weeks to a month and a half. The next phase is reintroduction of High FODMAP foods. This should be done systematically, and one at a time, so that you can easily pinpoint a trigger food if symptoms start flaring again. I would heartily recommend working with a dietitian to ensure you go through the diet properly, and are reintroducing foods in the right quantities and at the right times for you. If dietitians are in short supply where you live, I have linked to an online course below with a registered dietitian, who will take you through the process.
What resources are there to help me?
What a time to be alive: the internet is rich in resources, and I have some of our favourites here for you today!
Firstly: get yourself a diary. It’s going to become your best friend, and an invaluable tool in your quest to find out what your triggers are on this diet, especially during the reintroduction phase. - Secondly, the Monash App (https://www.monashfodmap.com/i-have-ibs/get-the-app/) will help you figure out what foods are high and low FODMAP, and is handy to have in your phone and in your pocket when you’re on supermarket trips
If you’re based in the UK, here is the NHS’s page on finding a registered dietitian. Or, if you have a private healthcare provider, contact their helpline to ask how you can be put in touch with a dietitian to help you.
Turning to helpful internet information, Kate Scarlata’s website has some excellent FODMAP resources, including Low FODMAP grocery lists and FODMAP menu planning help.
If you can’t find a dietitan near you, or want to start right now today, The FODMAP Challenge is an online course taking you through the diet with two Sydney-based accredited dietitians.
Emma Hatcher’s She Can’t Eat What? site is a treasure trove of information, recipes, and interviews with gut health experts and business leaders. Her recipe book is a must-have if you’re going through the diet.
For a dose of cheery IBS chat, definitely check out Lottie’s blog The Tummy Diaries. She’s open and optimistic and a wonderful presence in our Instagram timeline! Her tips and chat are about life with IBS and she both lives it to the full and doesn’t shy away from the uncomfortable stuff. Have a read!
Instagrammers we love include…
We hope that helps you set forward on your Low-FODMAP journey! If you think this diet sounds like it could help you sort out tummy troubles, talk to your GP or doctor about a dietitian referral to go through it with a professional.
Don’t forget to join us on Instagram, where we regularly do a #followfriday of our three fave instagrammers that week – often they’re FODMAP folks! The community is strong with these ones…