I have patients come to me every day who suffer with some combination of constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and pain. And I don’t mean just occasionally.
For people with IBS or other digestive issues, these problems become a way of life. Their entire day revolves around their symptoms:
❓ What can I eat today that won’t send me running to the bathroom?
❓ If I wear these pants, will I be so bloated in the afternoon that they don’t fit anymore?
❓ I really want to go on my child’s field trip. But will I find a bathroom when I need one?
❓ I have that huge meeting today. What if my gas or diarrhea chooses then to act up?
Does any of this sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. These symptoms are typical in IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), which is the most common gastrointestinal disorder affecting between 10 – 15% of the global population.
In my practice, I specialize in IBS and related conditions. And I’ve helped over 1,000 patients improve their symptoms and get their lives back.
One of my favorite tools to use with my IBS patients is the Low FODMAP Diet. Integrating this program into an IBS healing journey can make a HUGE difference. Research shows that this diet reduces symptoms in up to 86% of people with IBS and SIBO.
Not sure what FODMAPs or the Low FODMAP Diet are? Check out this article.
Following the Low FODMAP Diet isn’t easy. In fact, it’s one of the most challenging nutritional protocols.
Most of the time when you decide to follow a diet plan — whether it’s for therapeutic reasons, weight loss, or something else — it’s usually pretty straight-forward.
If you count calories, all the information you need is right there on the label of whatever you’re eating. And there are loads of apps to help you keep track. If you go low-carb or keto, you can do it by yourself by taking info from food labels and plugging the numbers into a calculator or app.
But with the Low FODMAP Diet, it’s different. It’s not about following a generic plan, or even about eliminating specific foods or food groups.
The Low FODMAP Diet is complicated and challenging to follow. And if you’re trying to do it on your own, it can have dangerous side-effects.
I’m not trying to talk you out of using it. The Low FODMAP Diet is an amazing therapeutic tool for IBS patients. But if you’re going to dive in, it’s important to understand and address the challenges.
If you want to try the Low FODMAP Diet, it’s critical to work with a practitioner who specializes in it so you can reap the benefits while avoiding the potentially dangerous pitfalls.
But just because something is challenging doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. Let’s dig into the difficulties of the Low FODMAP Diet and what you can do to overcome them so you can enjoy the amazing benefits it has to offer.
Challenge #1: The Low FODMAP Diet Is Hard To Learn.
Learning the Low FODMAP Diet isn’t about just getting a list of foods to avoid and going on your merry way.
The Low FODMAP Diet is a personalized approach, meaning that there are some FODMAPs that you’ll need to avoid completely, and some that will be fine for you. Everyone is different. So the FODMAPs you tolerate will be unique to you.
We call it the Low FODMAP Diet, not the No FODMAP Diet. So it isn’t about completely avoiding these foods. It’s about reducing the amount of FODMAPs you consume and monitoring your body’s response.
FODMAPs are healthy foods that benefit your body in a variety of ways. So the goal isn’t to permanently eliminate them, but to find a balance and get your body to a place where you can tolerate them.
What’s The Solution?
Work with a practitioner who specializes in the Low FODMAP Diet. This will make your life so much easier. And a good practitioner will have a variety of tools that will help you follow this challenging therapeutic diet.
Challenge #2: The Low FODMAP Diet Is Restrictive.
FODMAPs are everywhere! And there are different kinds. When you go on the Low FODMAP Diet, you’ll be removing a variety of foods from your diet.
And let’s face it. None of us like giving up what we love to eat. Restrictive diets are hard. They require thought and effort. And it’s no fun to have to pass up your favorite foods.
What’s The Solution?
Trade and upgrade! Your practitioner can help you with this. Any time you go on a restrictive diet, putting your focus on what you’re giving up is a recipe for disaster. And most people who take this approach aren’t able to stick with their plan for very long.
The key is replacing those foods with other things you enjoy. Most of us eat a very limited menu. But there are so many wonderful foods out there! When I have a patient on a restrictive diet plan, we always work together to find other foods that will help them feel satisfied and enjoy eating!
Challenge #3: The Low FODMAP Diet Changes Over Time.
Part of what makes the Low FODMAP Diet so complicated is that the foods you eat change over time — and so do the amounts you eat of them.
The Low FODMAP Diet is an elimination diet that occurs in three stages: restriction, reintroduction, and personalization. And these stages happen over a period of several weeks.
During the restriction phase, you’ll eliminate all high FODMAP foods.
Then during reintroduction, you’ll slowly add these foods back in a controlled manner over a period of several weeks. You and your practitioner will closely monitor your reactions to each food to determine your unique tolerance level.
Then once you hit the personalization phase, you’ll have an individualized diet that you can maintain over time. The goal is to incorporate as many of the beneficial FODMAP foods as your body can tolerate without negative reactions.
What’s The Solution?
This is where it’s extremely important to work with a practitioner who is trained on all three phases of the Low FODMAP Diet. It takes expertise to:
✅ Make a plan that eliminates high FODMAP foods, while still balancing in low FODMAP foods your body needs.
✅ Navigate the reintroduction phase. The timing of this phase is critical. And you need a professional who knows what to look for to determine FODMAP tolerance as you’re adding foods back into your diet.
✅ Make sure your long-term diet plan will prevent nutritional deficiencies and maintain a healthy microbiome. If you give up too many FODMAPs for too long, you can throw your body out of balance and cause additional problems.
How Do You Know If The Low FODMAP Diet Is Right For You?
If you’ve been diagnosed with IBS, the Low FODMAP Diet might be a good fit. Using this powerful, therapeutic approach in a controlled and bio-individual manner can be life-changing for people whose lives revolve around their IBS symptoms.
But again — and I can’t stress this enough — you NEED to work with a practitioner for this diet to be safe and effective.
If you’d like to chat with me about whether the Low FODMAP Diet might be a good fit for you, book a consultation below.