It may not be what you want to hear but following a low FODMAP diet will vary from person to person. What worked for Roger may not work for Mary! Here are some factors that are regularly reported to affect the level of difficulty:
Food restrictions: Now this one often hurts the most. Unfortunately, the low FODMAP diet requires avoiding or limiting certain high-FODMAP foods. This can be challenging and very frustrating as many commonly consumed foods contain FODMAPs. Onion and garlic for example are widely used in recipes and restaurant and found in almost everything.
Removing or reducing certain foods from your diet means can be challenging as you may need to do things differently. Let's face it most of us are not great with change. Going forward you may need to:
- carefully read food labels (yes boring but important)
- cook meals from scratch (yes, can be tough but there are some other options)
- avoid certain ingredients or dishes when eating out. You'll get better at this with time or be willing to suffer the side affects.
Dietary changes: Adapting to a new way of eating, introducing new foods or making different food choices can be very challenging. Please don't under estimate how tough this can be. This is especially the case if you have been accustomed to consuming high-FODMAP foods in your regular diet. See tips further below.
Meal planning and preparation: The planning and preparation of creating low FODMAP meals can often require more time and effort. This is especially during the initial phase of the diet where you are trying to get your head around it. It involves identifying suitable low FODMAP ingredients, finding new recipes, and ensuring balanced nutrition. This can be complex and stressful.
Social and practical considerations: Following a restricted diet can sometimes present challenges in a wide range of situations. Eating out with friends or attending social events where you don't have much say in the food can be difficult.
Many restaurants and catering venues are making an effort to improve their ability to cater for people with special dietary needs. However, many also still have a long way to go. Please be proactive and communicate with the venue in advance. You'll find most are willing to help and they appreciate knowing in advance.
Individual response and tolerance:
The low FODMAP diet can be very effective for many people with IBS. Each person can have unique trigger foods and tolerances which means the reintroduction phase requires careful monitoring and individual adjustments.
Working with a suitably qualified dietitian or healthcare professional with experience in the low FODMAP diet is highly recommended. It can greatly assist you in navigating the challenges and ensuring a balanced approach to your diet. They can provide practical strategies to make the transition and adherence to the low FODMAP diet more manageable. They should help you develop sustainable eating habits that suit your unique lifestyle and health.
What are some dietary changes that need to be made?
There are changes that need to be made to your eating when following the low FODMAP diet. Here are some general guidelines for dietary changes on the low FODMAP diet:
1. Identify high-FODMAP foods: Familiarise yourself with high-FODMAP foods by downloading the Monash University FODMAP app. It's a super helpful resource. Common high-FODMAP foods are wide and varied. They include certain fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products, and sweeteners.
2. Replace high-FODMAP foods: Find suitable low-FODMAP alternatives for high-FODMAP foods. For example, replace wheat-based products with alternatives like rice, quinoa, or oats. Swap out high-FODMAP fruits with low-FODMAP options such as berries, oranges, or grapes. Use garlic-infused oils instead of garlic cloves for flavour or the green portion of spring onions.
3. Be mindful of portion sizes: The low FODMAP diet is not a completely FODMAP-free diet. Rather the diet aims to limit FODMAP intake. Portion size is really important. Consuming large amounts of even low-FODMAP foods can increase the overall FODMAP load and potentially trigger symptoms.
4. Read food labels: Become proficient in reading food labels to identify ingredients that may contain high-FODMAP components. Common ingredients to watch for include wheat, high-fructose corn syrup, inulin, and some artificial sweeteners like sorbitol and mannitol.
5. Consider cooking from scratch: Preparing meals from whole ingredients allows for better control over the FODMAP content. Cooking from scratch enables you to use low-FODMAP ingredients and avoid high-FODMAP additives or hidden sources of FODMAPs.
6. Have a back up supply of low FODMAP meals in the freezer for those nights it all feels too hard.
This is a great way to keep you on track and stay motivated. It's also a great way to get variety in your diet and reduce stress. We Feed You has over 30 low FODMAP meals to choose from. Check out the range here >https://www.wefeedyou.com.au/collections/low-fodmap-meals