Read this Before Starting a Low FODMAP Diet
I used to use the low FODMAP diet as a first-line approach in managing Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. But then I stopped, and I’ll tell you why.
A temporary fix
A Low FODMAP diet does not heal the gut. It is a temporary fix…kind of like a band-aid. It may help you identify which foods cause some of your bloating and gas, but if you ever add those foods back into your diet, you will have those same symptoms again.
Let’s look a little bit deeper
What is a Low FODMAP diet? To begin, you’re probably wondering what the heck a FODMAP is.
FODMAP is an acronym for various carbohydrates which may be fermented in the gut to create IBS symptoms: Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, And Polyols.
Basically, by eliminating certain foods from your diet, your symptoms will go away. Sounds great, right?
The idea is this:
Remove all high FODMAP foods from your diet (FODMAP lists vary):
- Fruit: Apple, Mango, Pear, Watermelon, Apricot, Avocado, Blackberry, Cherry, Lychee, Nectarine, Peach, Plum/Prune. Avoid large servings of fruit, dried fruit, fruit juice, canned fruit in natural juice
- Dairy: cow/goat/sheep milk, yogurt, cheese: soft, soft cheeses
- Vegetables: Asparagus, Beets, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Eggplant, Fennel, Garlic, Leek, Okra, Onion, Shallots, Green bell pepper, mushroom, sweet corn, White Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes
- Grains: Wheat and Rye in larger amounts (e.g. bread, crackers, cookies, couscous, pasta), Corn, Oats
- Legumes: Beans, Chickpeas, Kidney beans, Lentils, Cashews, Peanuts
- Sweeteners: fructose, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, honey. Concentrated fructose: concentrated fruit juice. Sorbitol, mannitol, isomalt, maltitol, xylitol
Add back in some foods one at a time. This is also dose-specific, so 1/4 cup of one food may not bother you, whereas 1/2 cup or 1 cup of the same food will be a problem. You will notice certain foods (if not most) are tricky to reintroduce, meaning when you eat them, your symptoms will return.
The down side: a Low FODMAP diet doesn’t heal your body
- Short term: A Low FODMAP diet focuses on removing foods which cause symptoms. But then what? You will likely have to keep those foods out of your diet to continue keeping those symptoms at bay.
- Tricky to follow: Portions can be confusing, and lists of safe/unsafe foods are conflicting
- Following a Low FODMAP diet can be mentally draining. The initial stage takes a lot of planning. The reintroduction phase can be confusing and frustrating.
A low FODMAP diet can sometimes be helpful
I have found in some cases, a Low FODMAP diet can initially be helpful if you have difficulty digesting certain carbohydrates. It’s true, some people only have an intolerance to one type of carbohydrate. Take lactose intolerance for example. Avoiding lactose basically cleans up that problem.
However, a specific carbohydrate intolerance (let’s say, fructose) can very well be a symptom of something else going on. As a natural investigator, I like to take a step back and get a good picture of everything else going on. More often than not, the bloating/gas symptoms are a sign of something bigger going on.
A true IBS solution…
This reminds me of smoke from a fire. If you’re caught in a cloud of smoke, you’ll probably try to fan it away, or leave to an area where there’s fresh air. But the fire is still burning! Without addressing the root cause of the smoke, it will eventually catch up to you.
What if there were a diet that could get rid of your symptoms AND actually support your body in healing itself?