The low FODMAP diet is a popular diet for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Since in most of these cases food causes their digestive symptoms, such as stomach pain or bloating (Trusted Source).
The restriction of food may help to improve this condition, and is known as a temporary elimination diet. But it can be difficult to know what to eat during the low FODMAP diet.
So what is this diet to manage Irritable Bowel Syndrome all about? And more importantly, what can you eat while you're on the low FODMAP diet?
This blog post will list some of the best low FODMAP foods to help you get started. Keep reading to learn more about the low FODMAP diet and some delicious recipes and tips that will help you stick to it!
What is the low FODMAP diet and what are its benefits?
The low FODMAP diet is a temporary elimination diet that can help to manage IBS symptoms and other gastrointestinal symptoms. A FODMAP free diet helps to find food triggers in people with IBS, and ultimately improve your quality of life.
The diet consists of three phases; an elimination phase of two to four weeks, followed by the reintroduction phase and then the maintenance phase.
The diet avoids certain foods that include short chain carbohydrates called FODMAPs. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides disaccharides monosaccharides and polyols.
In people with IBS it might trigger symptoms and causes discomfort. Consuming low FODMAP food and understanding which FODMAP's trigger symptoms and cause digestive symptoms, helps to prevent IBS flare-ups and manage symptoms long-term.
The science behind the low FODMAP diet
Scientific evidence suggests that the low FODMAP diet can help to reduce IBS symptoms and improve quality of life.
In one study, participants who followed the diet reported a significant reduction in bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea compared to those who did not follow the diet.
What are some high FODMAP foods vs low FODMAP foods?
FODMAPs are found in in many common foods, such as cow's milk, table sugar, soy sauce, fruit juice and almond milk. As many foods are high FODMAP foods it might be confusing to eat low FODMAP.
Eating low FODMAP foods helps to avoid painful symptoms, but it should only be followed temporarily to avoid nutrient deficiencies and beneficial gut bacteria.
This is different from celiac disease, where you're on a gluten-free diet for the rest of your life. You can read more about the difference between a gluten-free diet and FODMAP diet here.
The low FODMAP diet consists of three-phases. The elimination phase is the strictest part of the FODMAP diet, and it involves avoiding high FODMAP foods.
This stage may lead to weight loss due to reduced caloric intake since the foods eliminated are usually high in calories. This is especially true if you eliminate dairy and processed foods that are commonly high in fat and sugar. It's therefore important to work with a dietitian who can help you during this process.
The elimination phase can be a challenge, as FODMAPs are found in many common foods like wheat, onions, and garlic. It can be frustrating to understand what you can eat, and how to find recipes that are appropriate for that stage. However, the elimination phase is essential for allowing the gut to heal.
Once the gut has healed, the reintroduction phase begins. This is when people start to slowly reintroduce foods back into their diet and test food sensitivities to FODMAPs. They do this by eating small amounts of a FODMAP-containing food one by one and monitoring their symptoms.
If they don't have any negative reactions, they can gradually increase the amount they eat until they reach a tolerable level. A dietitian can support in making adjusting the process to your symptoms and making it easy to understand.
Finally, the maintenance phase is when people find the balance of FODMAPs that works for them. This may involve eating some high-FODMAP foods, but avoiding other trigger foods.
Ultimately, the goal of the maintenance phase is to allow people to enjoy a wide variety of foods without experiencing uncomfortable symptoms. It's important to get your daily intake of vitamins and minerals to support your body in all it's body functions.
What foods are high in FODMAPs and should be avoided on the diet?
There are a few different food categories that tend to be high in FODMAPs and should therefore be avoided or limited on the diet.
Here is a list of high FODMAP food:
Fruits and fruit juices
apple, apricot, blackberry, boysenberry, cherry, fig, mango, nectarine, orange, peach, pear, plum, prune, watermelon
asparagus, artichoke, beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprout, cabbage, cauliflower, garlic, leek, onion, shallot, mushroom
milk (cow’s milk), yogurt, ice cream, cheese (especially soft cheeses), cream, custard
wheat, rye, barley, spelt
chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, soybeans, soy milk, snow peas
Nuts and seeds
Honey, agave nectar, high fructose corn syrup
Some low FODMAP food alternatives:
- Dairy products: rice milk
- Grains: sourdough spelt bread
- Legumes: bean sprouts, carrots
- Nuts and seeds: pine nuts
- Sweeteners: dark chocolate
To do this, you will need to become familiar with which foods contain high levels of FODMAPs and either avoid them altogether or limit your intake. Or use a support resource that helps you on the journey such as the Nutrive FODMAP app, that you can download for free.
While the list of high FODMAP foods may seem restrictive at first, there are still plenty of delicious and nutritious foods that you can enjoy. With a little creativity, you can make the low FODMAP diet work for you.
What recipes can you make that are low FODMAP and still taste delicious?
There are plenty of delicious low FODMAP recipes out there. Important to keep in mind is that proteins such as plain cooked meats are always a good idea while being low FODMAP, and you can flavor these with over 70 spices that are low in FODMAPs.
Here are a few low FODMAP recipes to get you started:
-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar: This recipe is simple and flavorful. Roasting the Brussels sprouts brings out their natural sweetness, and the balsamic vinegar adds a touch of acidity.
-Garlic-Infused Olive Oil: This recipe is perfect for those who miss being able to use garlic in their cooking. The garlic flavor is infused into the olive oil, so it can be used in any recipe that calls for olive oil.
-Zucchini Noodles with Tomato Sauce: This dish is a great alternative to pasta. The zucchini noodles are a low-carb option and the tomato sauce is packed with flavor.
-Cauliflower Rice: This recipe is a great way to get your rice fix without all the carbs. Cauliflower rice is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes.
How long should you follow a low FODMAP diet for maximum results?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the length of time required to see results from a low FODMAP diet can vary depending on the individual. Your symptoms can be gone in just a few days but it might also take a bit longer.
However, most experts recommend following the diet for at least two to six weeks in order to experience the full range of benefits.
Some people may find that they need to stick to the diet for longer periods of time in order to maintain symptom relief, while others may be able to successfully reintroduce certain high-FODMAP foods back into their diets after a period of avoidance.
Ultimately, it is important to work with a Registered Dietitian (RD) to create a plan that is tailored to your specific needs and goals. They can help you create a personalized diet plan that is right for you, and gives optimal results.
Will I experience any weight gain while following a low FODMAP diet?
There is no need to worry about weight gain while following a low FODMAP diet. In fact, many people find that they experience weight loss due to the elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet.
This is likely because they are no longer consuming foods that contain high amounts of FODMAPs, which can contribute to water retention and bloating. Additionally, you might lose weight because stool that leaves your body when your digestive symptoms such constipation improves.
If weight gain is a concern, be sure to speak with a registered dietitian who can help you create a healthy and balanced meal plan.
Tips for living a low FODMAP lifestyle successfully
The low FODMAP diet has been shown to be extremely effective in reducing symptoms for people with IBS, and many people find that it helps them to feel better overall.
However, following a low FODMAP diet can be challenging, and it's important to be prepared before you start.
Here are some tips for living a low FODMAP lifestyle successfully:
1. Plan ahead
Meal planning is key when following a low FODMAP diet. You'll need to take into account what foods you can and cannot eat, and make sure you have easy-to-prepare meals and snacks on hand.
2. Be prepared to make substitutions
There are many low FODMAP diet substitutes for high FODMAP foods. For example, you can use lactose-free milk, gluten-free bread, and sugar-free sweeteners.
3. Learn to cook low FODMAP meals
The Nutrive FODMAP recipe app is a great resources for cooking low FODMAP meals.
4. Stay hydrated
Drinking plenty of fluids is important for everyone, but it's especially important when you're following a low FODMAP diet. This will help to keep your bowel movements regular and prevent constipation.
5. Avoid trigger foods
Everyone's triggers are different, but there are some common triggers for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, such as caffeine, alcohol, and fatty foods. If you're not sure what your triggers are, keep a food diary to help you identify them.
6. Take your time
Making a big change to your diet can be overwhelming, so take your time and make sure you're prepared before you start. Start with one or two meals per day, and gradually add more as you feel comfortable.
7. Get support
Making sure you are following a well-rounded and balanced diet is also key to managing IBS symptoms. This means including plenty of high-fiber foods, staying hydrated, and getting enough exercise. A dietitian can advice you beyond finding your irritable bowel syndrome trigger foods.
Living a low FODMAP lifestyle takes some effort, but it's worth it if it means you can feel your best. With a little planning and preparation, you can successfully follow this diet and improve your symptoms.
Should I try the low FODMAP diet?
If you think the low FODMAP diet could help you with your IBS symptoms, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor first. They can help you to determine if this diet is right for you.
It's also important to be prepared before you start the diet. Working with a Registered Dietitian (RD) can be helpful in creating a plan that is tailored to your specific needs and goals. They can help you create a personalized diet plan that is right for you, and gives optimal results.
If you choose to start the low FODMAP diet, it's important to remember to take your time and adjust gradually. You may need to experiment with different foods to find what works best for you, and it's important to stay motivated as it can be a challenging process.
Ultimately, the low FODMAP diet plan has been proven to help reduce symptoms of IBS and other gastrointestinal disorders.
If you're feeling overwhelmed, remember that you don't have to do this alone. There is help available and it starts with understanding your condition and actively managing your symptoms.
Don’t let IBS control your life – take back the reins and start managing your symptoms today.
With the right tools and resources, you can successfully manage your chronic disorder and live a healthier life. Get started by finding the right dietitian in our network.