The best way to start your low FODMAP diet journey is to approach it as a diagnostic tool to identify your food intolerances and IBS trigger foods.
The ultimate goal of the diet is to help you understand your personal IBS triggers, and help control your symptoms. It isn’t intended to cure IBS, but help you live comfortably, freely, and with peace of mind.
A FODMAP diet isn’t a lifetime one. Once you’ve gathered all the information on your food intolerance and IBS trigger foods, you can adapt your diet to a gut-friendly, worry-free one.
In order to get to that point, you’ll need to work through your low FODMAP diet, which consists of three phases: Elimination, Reintroduction, and Integration.
Here’s how each phase can help you pinpoint your IBS trigger foods, helping you make better informed eating choices for IBS-free living:
The first stop in your low FODMAP journey is the elimination phase. This phase’s purpose, which usually spans between two-to-six weeks, is to identify the high FODMAP foods from your current diet that are aggravating IBS symptoms.
You can consult a high FODMAP food list and compare to your diet, or reference your Monash University Low FODMAP Diet App for foods that are high FODMAP (get the most out of the app with our complete Monash University Low FODMAP app guide!). The app is especially useful, allowing you to track every meal with its integrated low FODMAP food diary.
Once you’ve picked out the problematic foods in your diet, you can start swapping those high FODMAPs for low FODMAP alternatives. Document your symptoms for a few weeks with your new low FODMAP foods, and see if there’s a noticeable improvement in your IBS symptoms. If there is, you’re ready to move onto Step 2. If there isn’t any change after four-to-six weeks, you may need to get in touch with your dietitian to gauge whether a low FODMAP diet or another strategy is right for you.
Step 2 is where things start to get tricky for people.
The reintroduction phase, as the name suggests, is where you start bringing back the high FODMAP foods into your diet that you identified as IBS trigger foods in the Elimination phase.
This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s a necessary step to determine the FODMAP groups that you’re intolerant to. FODMAP groups are unalike food groups, and this is why it’s essential to start reintroducing foods that are from the same group of FODMAPs.
For example, when testing for Oligosaccharides – or the ‘O’ in FODMAPs – the rest of your diet should not contain any of the other FODMAP groups. This approach will allow you to see which FODMAP groups you may have food intolerances to, otherwise it will be impossible to tell what’s responsible for your IBS symptoms.
Besides consulting your dietitian, the simplest way to organize your diet into FODMAP groups is through the handy Monash University Low FODMAP Diet App.
Now that you’re empowered with all that food data and have highlighted the FODMAP groups that trigger your IBS symptoms, you can now begin developing your own diet and long term strategy.
You know your biggest triggers, and the foods you’re capable of stomaching. This will help you bring back certain high FODMAP foods into your diet in a controlled manner, introducing nutritional variety in your diet while limiting stomach aggravation. Total avoidance of certain FODMAP groups is neither healthy nor practical, and as we always say at Fody, you should be eating life to its fullest!
And while this is the best part of the low FODMAP diet – you get to eat freely! – it’s sometimes the hardest for FODMAPers to follow, seeing as there’s no defined roadmap. Everyone’s food intolerances are different, but thankfully, there are more low FODMAP recipes and low FODMAP products than ever before to guide you on your low FODMAP journey!