A Beginner's Guide To Eating A Low FODMAP Diet
Your doctor recommended that you look into low-FODMAP to help relieve your gastrointestinal symptoms, but you have exactly zero idea what it stands for. Sound familiar? If so, you’re in the right place. In this quick guide, we explain how to get started with the low-FODMAP diet for beginners.
FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols. These are technical terms for certain types of carbohydrates that can be difficult for the body to break down or absorb. Some foods contain only one type of FODMAP, while others contain several. Foods may contain small or large amounts of various FODMAPs.
Foods that are high in FODMAPs are notorious for triggering uncomfortable and even painful gastrointestinal symptoms. By eating low-FODMAP foods, you can reduce your symptoms, decrease inflammation and improve your quality of life. If you have chronic gastrointestinal problems that haven’t responded to other dietary changes or stress management, low-FODMAP is worth looking into. For more information about high-FODMAP foods, check out our guide that explains “What is FODMAP?”
It’s important to note that very few people have IBS or other symptoms triggered by every single high-FODMAP item. In some cases, you may be totally fine eating large quantities of many items on the list. In others, you may be able to tolerate them in smaller amounts. The whole point of a low-FODMAP diet is to identify the trigger foods unique to you and figure out how you can get rid of your symptoms.
What is a low FODMAP diet?
On a FODMAP Elimination Diet, you’ll remove large portions of FODMAP-rich foods for a period of time (i.e. The Elimination, or Low-FODMAP Phase) — usually, 2-6 weeks, though your doctor might recommend a different period of time. Then, you’ll slowly reintroduce FODMAPs back into your diet one at a time, waiting a few days between them and keeping a log to track your symptoms (i.e. The Reintroduction Phase). Over time, you’ll be able to notice a pattern in your symptoms, indicating which trigger foods you need to reduce or avoid.
Who can a FODMAP Elimination Diet help?
First of all, it’s important to clarify that a FODMAP Elimination Diet is not a diet intended to promote weight loss. Instead, it’s a temporary protocol designed to help people suffering from gastrointestinal ailments such as IBS identify trigger foods that set off their symptoms. Some stomach issues that might cause your doctor to recommend a low-FODMAP diet include gas, bloating, abdominal distention, stomach pains and cramps, diarrhea, or constipation.
How to get started
The first step before embarking on a FODMAP Elimination Diet is to familiarize yourself with what you can and can’t eat. Once you have a good grasp of that, review your pantry and determine what’s okay to eat and what’s not. You’ll also need to gather some low-FODMAP recipes and cross-check those against the list to make sure they meet the requirements. And of course, you’ll need to do grocery shopping and food prep, just like you would for any ordinary meal.
Before you get started, you might want to track your gastrointestinal symptoms for a week or two to establish the baseline of what your condition normally feels like. Keep a record of what kinds of symptoms you have, how severe they are and when they occur. Keep logging your symptoms as you switch to a low-FODMAP diet to see if it helps alleviate your condition or if a new pattern emerges.
Making any big dietary change, even a temporary one, takes a lot of time and effort. This is especially true if you don’t do a lot of cooking and thus aren’t used to the process of meal planning, grocery shopping and actually making the food. And you’ll have to prepare even more food at home than usual because most ready-to-eat foods aren’t suitable for a low FODMAP diet. Do your best to follow the Elimination Phase of the plan as closely as possible if you want to get the best results and to learn the most from the process. You may not experience a reduction in symptoms if you only follow part of this IBS diet plan.
A low-FODMAP meal delivery service such as ModifyHealth can help you successfully navigate the transition to this new diet and reduce your symptoms. Our meal program is the perfect option for low-FODMAP beginners and includes your choice of 14 or 21 meals per week. The program, including optional dietitian support, walks you through eliminating and then reintroducing potential trigger foods to help you figure out what’s causing your symptoms.