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Low FODMAP Diet 101

Healthy Food in a Jar

What is a Low FODMAP Diet? What Does Low FODMAP Mean?

A low FODMAP diet temporarily eliminates certain carbohydrate containing foods that are high in FODMAPs {Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols}, that can contribute to painful IBS symptoms. That’s quite a mouthful, right?

In a nutshell, FODMAPs are short chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols that are poorly digested, and may lead to IBS symptoms including gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.

The low FODMAP diet, developed and studied by researchers at Monash University in Australia, has been shown to provide relief from IBS symptoms in up to 75% of people who try it.

Should I Try a Low FODMAP Diet?

If you have been diagnosed with IBS, and your physician has suggested you try a low FODMAP diet, then, yes, you absolutely should! Most of my clients with IBS feel significantly better after following a low FODMAP diet.

What Can You Eat on a Low FODMAP Diet?

Although a Low FODMAP diet may seem restrictive at first, there are still MANY foods you can still eat.

Here’s just a small sample of low FODMAP friendly foods….

  • Fruit: Most berries, citrus fruit & melon, grapes, kiwi, & more.
  • Vegetables: Bell peppers, cabbage, carrots, cucumber, leafy greens, lettuce, potatoes, tomatoes, & more.
  • Grains: Corn, oats, quinoa, rice, & more.
  • Nuts/Seeds: Almonds, chia seeds, pecans, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, & more.
  • Legumes: Garbanzo beans, lentils, & peanuts.
  • Dairy: Hard cheeses, lactose free dairy, & more.
  • Herbs & Spices: Almost all.
  • Eggs/Fish/Meat/Oils: Almost all.

If you’ve visited other websites, and have noticed a discrepancy between high/low FODMAP food lists, this is likely because foods are continuously being tested and updated for FODMAP content. For the most complete & up-to-date list, I highly recommend The Monash University Low FODMAP Diet App.

Is a Low FODMAP Diet Gluten Free?

This is a common question I get, and the answer is, no. Although wheat is to be avoided during the elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet, it is because it is high in fructans, a carbohydrate, as opposed to gluten, which is a protein.

If you haven’t been diagnosed with celiac disease, or don’t have gluten sensitivity, you may still be able consume other gluten containing foods during the elimination phase, including soy sauce, and regular (not labeled gluten-free or certified gluten-free) oats.

Additionally, when you start the reintroduction/challenge phase of the diet, you may find you are able to tolerate wheat or small amounts of wheat, barley, rye, and other grains with fructans in them, but only if you do not need to be on a strict, life long, gluten-free diet.

How Soon Should I Expect To Feel Better After Following a Low FODMAP Diet?

Most of my clients start feeling a little better on a low FODMAP diet within 2 weeks, but some take longer. In general, you should expect to see significant symptom relief on a low FODMAP diet within 4-6 weeks.

If your GI symptoms haven’t improved, or have gotten worse, after 1+ month following a low FODMAP diet, you should work with your physician or dietitian to explore further options for treating your IBS.

Do I Have to Stay on The Low FODMAP Diet Forever?

A strict Low FODMAP Diet is NOT meant to be followed forever. In general, you should start re-introducing higher FODMAP foods after 4-6 weeks on the elimination phase of the Low FODMAP Diet.

This is especially important, because many high FODMAP foods may be of benefit for a healthy gut microbiome in the long term, so the goal should be to add in as many higher FODMAP foods as tolerated.

Because the reintroduction or “challenge” phase of the Low FODMAP Diet can be more challenging to follow, I highly recommend you consult with a registered dietitian nutritionist or other qualified health professional to help you with this phase. I would LOVE to work with you!

How Do I Start a Low FODMAP Diet?

The first step is to follow a low FODMAP diet for ~ 4 weeks. If you are interested in a customized low FODMAP plan, I am available to work with you at my office in Del Mar, or virtually through my private practice portal. In addition, I also offer a Low FODMAP meal plan subscription service you can try out for free.

Also, if you’re not in San Diego and prefer to work with someone close to home, I am happy to refer you to a dietitian who specializes in the low FODMAP diet.

After you’ve been on a low FODMAP diet for 4 weeks, and are (hopefully!) starting to feel better, it’s important to try and start reintroducing higher FODMAP foods into your diet, so you can develop a long term plan than keeps you healthy, energized, and nourished.

If you’ve had success with a low FODMAP diet, but don’t know how to proceed with the reintroduction and customization phases, please get in contact with me. I’d love to work with you!

I’ve Tried a Low FODMAP Diet But It Hasn’t Helped. What Should I Do Next?

If you’ve tried following a strict low FODMAP diet for at least 4-6 weeks, and haven’t noticed any improvement, there are other steps you can take to getting better!

First, make sure you have implemented these general IBS Diet and Nutrition Tips.

Next, while this post is not meant to serve as medical advice, just a few of the reasons you might not be getting better on a strict low FODMAP diet include: celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, sucrase isomaltase deficiency, endometriosis, other food sensitivities, and more.

If you are still experiencing GI symptoms after following a low FODMAP diet for 4-6 weeks, please consult with your general physician, a gastroenterologist, or a GI dietitian to help guide you towards the next steps to getting healthy.

I would LOVE to work with you!

Learn more about my digestive health coaching services, sign up for my Low FODMAP meal plans, and check out the additional low FODMAP resources below.

And, please check out the additional low FODMAP resources.

Let’s Chat!

Do you have any questions about the low FODMAP diet I didn’t cover in this post? Leave a comment with your question, or click here to get in touch with me. I’m happy to help!

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