For the past few weeks we’ve been talking about the Low FODMAP Diet. Let’s do a quick recap.
The Low FODMAP Diet is…
A therapeutic protocol that is highly effective at reducing symptoms for many people with IBS.
An elimination diet — meaning you cut out or reduce specific foods in your diet. Then you use a systematic approach to add them back in. This way you know for sure which foods give you problems and which ones work fine for you.
Difficult to follow. The Low FODMAP Diet isn’t a simple formula like doing keto or cutting calories. FODMAPs hide in all sorts of foods and they aren’t listed on labels.
Complicated. This diet has different phases. And the second and third phases are highly personalized. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. The purpose of this protocol is to pinpoint your unique FODMAP sensitivities so you can tailor your diet to your own personal needs. So reading a book or blog post and then following the advice won’t help you accomplish the goal of the protocol.
Potentially harmful. I’m not trying to scare you off here. FODMAPs are healthy carbohydrates your body needs for a variety of reasons. So reducing them can cause nutritional deficiencies if you don’t do it under the supervision of a trained practitioner.
I utilize the Low FODMAP Diet with my patients every single day. It’s an incredibly effective way to manage IBS symptoms and help people with IBS to feel better. But it is a tricky protocol.
If you’re working with me or another practitioner on the low FODMAP Diet, resources are key. I’ve compiled a list of my favorite IBS resources (including some specific to the Low FODMAP Diet). You can get access to the IBS Resource Guide here.
Tips for Success on the Low FODMAP Diet
Tip #1: Plan Ahead
With any food protocol, it’s important to plan ahead. When you’re starving and start rummaging through your pantry or fridge, you’re probably not going to make the best choices.
And knowing you have satisfying, healthy food at home will cut down the temptation to hit the drive-thru after a busy day.
It’s important to plan ahead for a few days when you’re following a Low FODMAP protocol. Then when you’re hungry and tired after a long day, you’ll be able to grab something that won’t derail your progress.
And this goes for snacks as well. Stock up on easy snacks for those times when you’re too hungry to patiently scroll through your app or food list to figure out a good choice. Keeping some go-to snacks on hand can also keep you from getting hangry.
Plus, stress is a factor with IBS. And trying to do the Low FODMAP protocol on the fly is going to cause stress. Make it easy on yourself and plan ahead.
Tip #2: Find Foods You Enjoy
We don’t just eat for nourishment. We eat for pleasure. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
The biggest reason people give up on dietary protocols is because they feel deprived and get discouraged. When I work with clients on the Low FODMAP Diet — or any other dietary protocol — we don’t focus on the foods they’re giving up. We trade and upgrade.
For every favorite food a client gives up, we find something else they enjoy. This way you don’t feel deprived and you’re more likely to stick with your beneficial eating plan.
Tip #3: Ask for help
If you’re feeding more than just yourself, a dietary protocol presents significant challenges. I recommend my patients sit down with their families and discuss their eating changes. If your family understands what you’re doing and why, they’re more likely to offer their support and encouragement.
There are plenty of low FODMAP products and recipes that your family will likely enjoy. If you’re the primary cook in your home, try making some low FODMAP recipes. I’m not suggesting your family do the protocol with you. But it is possible to make it easier on yourself by making some low FODMAP dishes at mealtimes that you can all enjoy.
Tip #4: Utilize Apps and Food Lists
There are resources out there that can help you navigate the Low FODMAP Diet. My favorite ones can be found here.
The better tools you have, the easier it will be to stick to your protocol.
Tip #5: Pay Attention to Serving Sizes and Food Combining
On the Low FODMAP Diet, you reduce FODMAPs. You don’t completely eliminate them. So serving sizes matter. Some FODMAP foods may work fine for you in small quantities.
But FODMAPs add up if you have more than one FODMAP food in your meal. So while you may normally be able to handle a little bit of sour cream, having it with garlic and onions may push you over your personal FODMAP threshold and cause a reaction.
There are higher FODMAP foods that you’ll be able to eat, but you’ll have to pay close attention to the quantity you have and what you eat with them. Your practitioner will help you sort this out.
Tip #6: Keep a Food Journal
Tracking your food and symptoms is important on the Low FODMAP Diet. Your practitioner will likely give you some options on convenient ways to track what you’re eating and how you’re feeling.
This information will help you particularly as you get into the second and third phases of the diet when you’re working toward creating a long-term protocol. During this final phase, you’ll learn how to navigate your personal FODMAP tolerance so you can control your IBS symptoms while still getting the nutrients you need.
Tip #7: Be patient with yourself
Changing the way you eat isn’t easy. And the Low FODMAP Diet is complicated. It can be overwhelming, especially in the beginning. And you’ll probably slip up a few times. So cut yourself some slack.
Keep in mind that it will get easier. At first, it takes a lot of time and thought to adjust to this protocol. But you’ll get into a groove. You’ll stop having to check your food lists so often and you’ll develop favorite go-to foods that you don’t even have to think about.
Tip #8: Work with an experienced practitioner
Yes, I keep coming back to this. But it’s really important.
Your doctor may not be the right person to walk you through this protocol. They may be able to diagnose your IBS, but if they don’t consistently work with patients on implementing the Low FODMAP Diet, they may not be much help.
Find a practitioner who can work in partnership with you and your doctor to help you implement this protocol. Do a little research on the person you choose. Not all dietitians and nutritionists are trained in the Low FODMAP Diet. If you’d like to work with me, book a consultation below.