Ok, so low FODMAP is getting really well known and it seems everyone from your doctor, your dietitian, your PT and even your hairdresser are recommending it these days. Its great that it’s becoming so well known. Certainly, raises awareness of IBS and also makes it easier for those who are following a low FODMAP diet if everyone knows what they are talking about.
It only takes a quick google though to be totally overwhelmed by low FODMAP. Information is contradictory and you don’t know what to believe. On top of this, you are feeling miserable, and you just want to feel better already.
For those who aren’t familiar, the low FODMAP diet has three phases:
- Phase 1 – restriction phase where you swap high FODMAP foods for low FODMAP alternatives
- Phase 2 – the Reintroduction phase where you reintroduce FODMAP groups 1 at a time to identify which ones you tolerate and which ones you have a threshold for.
- Phase 3 – personalization phase – where you relax you diet to your personal needs and achieve maximum variety and minimal symptoms
Today we are going to talk about what to do before starting phase 1 of a low FODMAP diet.
1. See your Doctor
So safe and effective treatment stems from knowing what you are actually treating. Symptoms of IBS can be identical to some other medical conditions, so you want to start by making sure it is IBS that causes your symptoms and not something else with a different treatment path. This means the first and most important step is to take a visit to your doctor and do this BEFORE you change your diet. Coeliac disease will need to be excluded and if you have already changed your diet, these tests become unreliable. You will also want to do a range of standard blood tests to make sure everything is healthy, and your doctor will screen you for any “red flags” which mean you may need to see a gastroenterologist and have scopes done to exclude other conditions like IBD.
2. Get Reliable Information
Once you know its IBS you’re dealing with, the next step is to get reliable information. A specialist Monash trained dietitian to discuss your symptoms history and trigger foods can confirm if FODMAP is in fact the right path for you. Or, if you need to try something else first. When it comes to IBS, we have first line treatments that in many cases can make a big difference and even avoid the need for a restrictive diet. If these don’t help, second line treatments are elimination diets, like low FODMAP. Your dietitian can tell you if and when it’s time to consider this in the context of your IBS and your living situation. In some cases, there may even be something that means low FODMAP is not appropriate for you at this time. If this is the case, your dietitian can discuss other options.
Changing your diet is tricky and it does come with risks like decreased abundance and diversity of gut microbiome, difficulty eating out and messing with your relationship with food. A dietitian can help you with food options, recipes, grocery shopping tips and more as well as ensure your diet covers all the bases for health and well-being as well. Did you know that research shows that people who do low FODMAP with a specialist dietitian get better results and restrict less food to achieve it? better results and restrict
3. Download the Monash FODMAP app
The Monash FODMAP smartphone app is your bible and the gold standard when it comes to what foods and what serves are high, moderate or low FODMAP. Monash developed the low FODMAP diet and continue to research it and test foods. In my opinion, you can’t do a low FODMAP diet without it. On a side note, the proceeds of the app go back into research, so by purchasing it not only are you helping yourself get results, but you are contributing to IBS research too. 4. Don’t underestimate the basics
The Low FODMAP diet is the most well researched and evidenced diet for managing IBS, but it doesn’t replace the basics. Our body systems are not isolated from each other and what happens in one part of your body will impact other parts of your body, especially your gut. Adding enough sleep, exercise, hydration, and a healthy and balanced diet to your IBS toolbox will go a long way towards managing your IBS. 5. Relax It’s not a game of perfect. Phase one of the low FODMAP diet is only about working out if removing the FODMAPs from your diet works to reduce your abdominal symptoms. If you make a mistake, just take care of any symptoms, regroup, and pick up where you left off. Its
phase two that you find out what your triggers are, but that’s a chat that I will come back to next time.
By Joanna Baker (APD | RN)
You are welcome to watch replay of FB live “Everything you need to know about starting a low FODMAP diet” by expert IBS Dietitian Joanna Baker for more information on the topic