Articles: Sage & Celery

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. 

What is low-FODMAP?

FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols. These are technical terms for certain types of carbohydrates that are more difficult for the body to break down. 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 a comprehensive list of 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.

Why is low-FODMAP necessary?

First of all, it’s important to clarify that low-FODMAP is not a diet intended to promote weight loss. Instead, it’s a temporary elimination diet 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, stomach pains and cramps, abdominal distention and diarrhea.

On a low-FODMAP diet, you’ll remove all trigger foods for a period of time (i.e. The Elimination Phase) — usually 2-6 weeks, though your doctor might recommend a different period of time. Then, you’ll slowly reintroduce  potential trigger foods 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 eliminate. 

a plate of chicken alfredo with spinach

a plate of stew

How to get started with low-FODMAP for beginners

The first step to embarking on a low-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 research 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 meals.

Before you get started on the low-FODMAP  diet, you might want to track your gastrointestinal symptoms for a week or two so you have a 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, can be 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. Unfortunately, you do need to eat a diet that’s completely low-FODMAP in order to reap the full benefits. 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.

We also offer a weekly meal delivery service where you can select a weekly amount of low-FODMAP breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Both options ship straight to your home with free expedited delivery. It’s never been so easy to go low-FODMAP!