Phases of the FODMAP Diet Explained
First things first, it’s important to remember that a FODMAP diet isn’t a lifetime diet. Once you understand your IBS trigger foods and food intolerances, you can adapt your diet to ensure you are living comfortably!
However, nothing in life comes easy.. to get there, there is a little bit of work on your end. Although the low FODMAP diet can seem hard it can be life-changing for you. With a little education and commitment, you can be on your way to living a healthier and happier IBS symptom-free life.
The three phases of the low FODMAP diet are elimination, reintroduction, and integration. We simplify these steps below:
*NOTE: The FODMAP diet is best implemented under the supervision of qualified health are professionals, such as a registered dietician.
Step 1. FODMAP Elimination (Usually 2-6 weeks)
OBJECTIVE: Identify the high FODMAP foods from your current diet that are aggravating IBS symptoms.
Check out the high FODMAP food list for foods that are high FODMAP and swap them out for low FODMAP alternatives. Many people start to feel better as early as two days into the elimination phase, but for some, it can take a few weeks. So don’t be discouraged! Keep in mind that you should not have any cheat days on this diet. The better you stick to it, the more effective and accurate the results, so stay strong and low FODMAP on! For example, switch your daily high FODMAP apple for a low FODMAP orange! It’s that easy. Your time spent in this phase should be determined in consultation with your healthcare professional, but it typically lasts from 2-6 weeks.
Step 2. FODMAP Reintroduction (Usually 6-8 weeks)
OBJECTIVE: Determine which foods and FODMAPs trigger symptoms and which do not.
As the name suggests, the reintroduction phase is where you gradually reintroduce individual high-FODMAP foods back into your diet. If a certain food causes no symptoms then include that food into your regular diet going forward. If it does cause symptoms you’ll want to cut it out of your diet permanently.
Go down the list of foods in each of the F-O-D-M-A-P subgroup categories.
Each FODMAP subgroup should be reintroduced separately while your background diet remains low in FODMAPs. 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.
Consult your dietician if you need help with this step, as it can be the most tricky for people! They will help you with when to reintroduce and which foods to reintroduce with. You should take a break of a few days between the reintroduction of foods to avoid any crossover effects.
Step 3: FODMAP Integration (lifelong!)
OBJECTIVE: establish your longer-term, personalized FODMAP diet.
Once you and your dietician interpret your food triggers and tolerances, you can begin reintroducing foods and FODMAPs that were tolerated well and avoiding only those that trigger your symptoms.
Healthy doesn’t always equal low FODMAP. Things like apples, asparagus, and agave are good for your health but not for your gut if you suffer from IBS or IBS like symptoms. Gluten is not a FODMAP, it’s a protein. So be careful, gluten-free doesn’t necessarily equal low FODMAP.
It’s important to note that although following strictly a low FODMAP diet may leave you feeling well, but it is neither healthy nor practical, so do not totally avoid certain FODMAP groups forever if they aren’t triggering symptoms.
REMEMBER everyone’s food intolerances are different! Once your plan is in motion, this is the start of a stress-free life. Embrace your new lifestyle and live your life – your way!
It is estimated that 50% of people with IBS may benefit from a low FODMAPs diet, however, the quality of scientific evidence is very low. Of those people, there is a possible benefit for overall symptoms such as abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, excess gas, constipation and /or diarrhea.
If all else fails, there are over the counter options for symptom management of IBS. Talk to your doctor or dietitian about some of these options.