functional nutrition

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Alyssa Simpson RD, CDE, CLT
Alyssa Simpson

(602) 422-9800

Sibo Doctor Approved
certified gastrointestinal nutritionist
Sibo Doctor Approved
certified gastrointestinal nutritionist

Do You Have IBS and Want to Lose Weight? Here’s What You Need to Know

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We are a society of multitaskers. We watch tv and scroll on our phones. We eat at our desks while we work. We fold the laundry while listening to a podcast.

With the hurry-up-and-get-everything-done-yesterday vibe and the growth of what some are calling “hustle culture”, we all tend to want to accomplish more than one thing at a time.

And while this approach works in a lot of areas — I definitely don’t want to fold laundry in silence — there are times when trying to do too much at once can end in frustration.

Sometimes I see this with my patients. Someone will come to me with IBS or stomach issues wanting to fix their symptoms. But they also want to lose weight. And while it is possible to do both of these things at once, it can be a challenge.

When you have IBS or other stomach issues, dietary changes can be a life saver. So I often utilize therapeutic approaches like the MRT Food Sensitivity Test where we adjust diet based on how your body reacts to specific foods.

For many of my IBS patients, I recommend the low FODMAP diet. This therapeutic diet is a three-stage approach to addressing troublesome carbohydrates that don’t play nice with IBS.

While it’s possible to lose weight while on a therapeutic diet, it is a little tricky. So today I’m sharing my best tips to navigate weight loss on a therapeutic diet like low FODMAP.

Losing Weight on a Low FODMAP Diet Tip #1: Be Patient

The low FODMAP diet is done in phases. The first phase (elimination phase) is the most restrictive and challenging to navigate. During this phase, you focus on dramatically reducing your FODMAP intake.

This first phase is also where the low FODMAP diet learning curve happens. And it’s pretty steep. Reducing your FODMAPS is a complex process. There are a lot of different FODMAPs out there, and they hide everywhere. So it takes a while to adjust.

I recommend waiting until phase 2 (reintroduction) of the low FODMAP diet before you start trying to add in a weight loss component. By the time you reach the reintroduction phase, you’ve gotten the hang of this eating style and the restrictions are being systematically lessened.

Losing Weight on a Low FODMAP Diet Tip #2: Skip the Fad Diets

There’s always a diet trend. In a culture obsessed with weight loss, new diets are never in short supply. But by their very nature, diets are restrictive. Either you’re reducing calories or eliminating the types of foods you can eat.

The low FODMAP diet is already restrictive. Adding more restrictions on top can be both frustrating and unhealthy. Not convinced? Here are some reasons to avoid some of the trendy diets from the past few years:

Ketogenic (Keto) Diet

If you’re on keto, you eliminate most of your carbs and eat a lot of fat. And while fat in moderation is an important component of a healthy diet, large amounts of it can also trigger IBS symptoms.

Both keto and the low FODMAP diet can be low in fiber. And fiber is an important component in keeping your bowel movements regular. So I don’t recommend the keto diet for my IBS patients.

Celery Juice

For a while the social media influencers were all about the benefits of celery juice. And yes, celery (like many vegetables) contains valuable vitamins and minerals. But it also contains mannitol — which is a FODMAP.

When you juice veggies you tend to consume a lot more than you do eating them in whole food form. So you can get a lot of mannitol without realizing it.

Plus, celery juice is similar to grapefruit juice in that it can interfere with certain medications.

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is the practice of limiting your food intake to a window of time each day. Commonly, people will eat during an 8 hour window (often two meals) and then go without food (fast) for 16 hours.

Intermittent fasting doesn’t necessarily restrict the types of foods you can eat. But it can lead to digestive issues. When you wait until you feel starving to eat, you’re likely to eat too fast and eat too much. And that is a recipe for IBS disaster.

Losing Weight on a Low FODMAP Diet Tip #3: Avoid the Junk

This is probably a no-brainer. But junk food doesn’t help with weight loss or stomach issues. So whether you are working on your IBS symptoms, trying to lose weight (or both), it’s best to stay away from junk food.

When I say junk food, I’m talking about highly processed foods that are mostly devoid of nutrients. Think drive thru food, high sugar snacks, and foods that have a loooooong list of unpronounceable ingredients on the label.

I know avoiding this stuff is sometimes easier said than done. It’s everywhere. It’s cheap. And it tastes good. So here are a few of my best tips on avoiding junk food:

? Plan ahead — Having healthy meals and snacks at-the-ready can help you make better choices when the hangry monster rears its ugly head.

? Focus on fueling — The food we eat provides us with both calories and nutrients. You get plenty of calories with processed food. But it’s almost entirely devoid of nutrients. I encourage my clients to make a mindset shift here. Eating is not just about getting full or eating something that tastes good. It’s about fueling your body with the nutrients it needs. If you get in the habit of this type of strategic thinking, you can up your nutrients and lower your weight.

? Clean out the pantry — You can only eat the food that’s in front of you. And if your home is devoid of low-nutrient, processed foods, you’re much less likely to eat them. But don’t just get rid of the junk food. Bring in healthy foods that sound good to you to fill those empty shelves.

Losing Weight on a Low FODMAP Diet Tip #4: Eat Regularly

Eating consistently throughout the day can help with both stomach issues and weight loss.

When you have digestive problems, it can be scary to eat. But as you work with your practitioner, you’ll start to get a handle on which foods work for you — and which foods don’t. And you’ll get to where you can eat without fear again.

But when you wait too long to eat — whether it’s to lose weight or avoid stomach issues — it can cause problems.

Having an unpredictable eating schedule can make your IBS symptoms (or other stomach problems) worse. So I recommend my clients eat regular meals and snacks during the day.

And for weight loss, eating extremely low calorie or irregular meals can make your body think it’s starving. And that can tank your metabolism, making it even harder to lose weight.

Losing Weight on a Low FODMAP Diet Tip #5: Work with a Practitioner

I’ll give it to you straight. You can really mess up your system if you try to do all this on your own.

If you have IBS or digestive issues, a therapeutic diet may well be in order. But deciding which one and then navigating it by yourself can have long-term consequences.

The low FODMAP diet in particular is very complex. And it’s not safe to do long-term. That’s why when you work through it with a practitioner, you do it in phases. FODMAPs contain nutrients your body needs. And while it can be safely done for short periods of time, doing the low FODMAP diet on your own or for longer than recommended can cause nutritional deficiencies.

And then if you’re adding weight-loss goals on top of that… well, you can end up with a mess.

When I work with my clients, I take them seriously — their symptoms, their goals, their lifestyles. And I use science-based, research-backed protocols to help them feel their best. I’m always there to support my patients and to answer their questions.

If you’re ready to look and feel your best, let’s chat.

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