How to Follow The Low-FODMAP Diet
The low FODMAPs diet for IBS is generating some strong research support for its effectiveness in reducing IBS symptoms. If you have been unsuccessful in managing your symptoms, you might want to consider giving the diet a try.
Before starting, be sure to speak with your doctor to confirm your IBS diagnosis and to get clearance for trying the diet.
Step One: Gather Your Resources
This article provides a basic overview of the diet. In order to be successful you will need additional resources. The following resources will ensure that you have necessary lists of high and low FODMAPs foods, recipes, and answers to frequently asked questions. Here are four steps you should consider taking before embarking on the diet:
Find a Dietitian
Ideally, you would want to consult with a dietitian who is trained in the diet to ensure that you are consuming adequate nutrition.
Read the Books:
The following books provide excellent advice for following the diet. Each of them offers unique features, so optimally you would read them all before starting the diet.
Download an App
Having quick information about the FODMAP load of a certain food will prove invaluable as you learn to incorporate the diet into your everyday routine.
Related: FODMAP – Diets for Someone with IBS
Step Two: Start to Keep a Food Diary
As you work through the various phases of the diet you will want to keep a record of the foods you eat and the symptoms you experience. This will help you to assess how your body reacts to the various types of FODMAPs.
Step Three: Choose Your Option
There are two ways to approach the diet so as to identify which FODMAPs may be causing you a problem. The first option is generally the preferred option so that you can quickly achieve symptom relief.
Option #1 – Elimination Diet
This option consists of three phases:
Phase One: Elimination
To start the diet, you will plan to totally eliminate known high FODMAPs foods for a period of at least two weeks up to two months. This includes foods from the following FODMAP sub-groups:
- Fructans (found in some fruits, grains, nuts and vegetables)
- Fructose (found in fruits)
- GOS (Found in beans, chickpeas and lentils)
- Lactose (found in dairy products)
- Polyols (found in some fruits, vegetables and artificial sweeteners)
Phase Two: Reintroduction
After you have, hopefully, enjoyed a significant decrease in symptoms, it is time to slowly re-introduce some foods back into your diet. It is recommended that you pick one FODMAP sub-group at a time to assess the effect of each group on your body. Plan to test each group for a week before moving onto the next group. Start with small amounts of foods so as to not cause severe symptoms.
If you experience no symptoms in response to your challenge foods, you can slowly start to increase the quantity you are eating. If you continue to tolerate the food, then you can conclude that you are not reactive to that particular sub-group and you can continue onto the next group.
If you experience symptoms, you can try to test a different food from within the same sub-group. If you continue to have a reaction, you should go back to the elimination diet for one week before moving on to the next sub-group. After you have tested all sub-groups and have been relatively symptom-free for some time, you may want to re-test small amounts of the sub-group that you were initially reactive to.
Phase Three: Maintenance
The advantage of identifying which sub-groups cause you difficulty is that you can reduce your risk of following an unnecessarily restrictive diet. Once you have a good sense of which FODMAPs you are most reactive to, you can organize your diet so as to eat predominantly low FODMAPs, with minimal consumption of high FODMAPs foods. The goal is to keep your exposure to FODMAPs in a range that does not cause you to experience symptoms. As stated above, you can re-test certain foods from time to time as your tolerance for FODMAPs may change.
Option #2 – Gradual Approach
In the second approach you will remove one FODMAP sub-group at at time, rather than a complete elimination of all groups at the same time. Eliminate foods from a sub-group for a period of one week and assess the effect on your symptoms through the use of your food diary. If you see an improvement after eliminating foods from a certain sub-group, you can try a re-challenge to see if your symptoms return.
Leave a few days of following your regular diet before moving on to the next sub-group. Once you have sequentially eliminated and challenged each sub-group, you can use this information to help you to devise a food plan that keeps your exposure to offending foods to a minimum.
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