Recently, I got a few questions from others using a low FODMAPs diet to manage their IBS. With their permission, I’m going to share the Q & A session(s).
I am brand-spankin’-new to FODMAPs and am 1 week into the elimination phase. And totally full-blown into the frustration phase! How long did you stay on the elimination diet and how do you start reintroducing foods? My GI doc put me on this but did not have much info at all.
I did the elimination diet for 2 weeks. It wasn’t too hard because I’m a creature of habit, so once I figured out a FODMAPs free dish that left me feeling ok, I stuck with it. When it came to finding good recipes or meal ideas, though, I didn’t have many resources. For that reason, I can definitely relate to your feelings of frustration. Being (mostly) vegan and no/low FODMAPs is difficult without serious planning.
Since I’m Type A, this is where I can help.
Elimination meal ideas <—this post has an entire menu (breakfasts, lunches, dinners, desserts, & snacks) for over a week of eliminating FODMAPs
I’m hoping to expand on the meal ideas I’ve created in that post to get a decent collection of elimination recipes for those who are no / low FODMAPs, vegan, vegetarian, or a combination of those (like me). Being on a plant-based diet and minimizing FODMAPs is something I’m still perfecting myself, but I may as well share my journey as I go. If you have requests for certain dietary considerations, let me hear them!
As for the challenge phases…
Truth be told, I didn’t have the best organization with these phases and they got really muddled, so if I were doing it all over again, I would definitely follow a more regimented and systematic plan.
1 week of each challenge group – fructose, fructans, galactans, lactose, polyols
Don’t add more than one challenge group at a time.
Return to the elimination diet (until you have returned to your baseline digestive function) in between challenge phases.
Make sure to record EVERYTHING you eat and symptoms you have throughout the process.
Record the times of eating and the times of any noted digestive issues.
Be as specific as possible (where in the gut the pain is, degree of bloating, reflux, bowel habits, etc.). The more detail, the better.
Record the exact amounts of the challenge ingredient you ingested.
After a week, you may start to detect patterns. If you feel like you have a handle on the cause and effect relationship of a FODMAP food, you can move on. Longer challenge phases can really help hone in on the nitty gritty. If you vary how much you challenge your GI tract (FODMAPs load in one meal vs. an entire day), you may start to “learn your gut” but remember IBS is a tricky beast. If you have an episode that doesn’t seem to make sense after what you’ve been experiencing, try not to get discouraged. With IBS there’s never black and white. Minimizing FODMAPs is far from perfect, but it’s at least a huge improvement. The more trial and error you do, the more you will understand. Knowledge is power, so be a GI detective.
I too am a beginner low fodmap dieter in the UK. I am finding it difficult as whatever I stop eating I still get the pain and wind. Does it take a while to get it all out of the system? Am going to the doc next week to see if I can get help there.
Unfortunately, that’s not the experience I had. Once I eliminated all FODMAPs the relief was fairly immediate. After just 2-3 days I felt like a whole new person. After a week of no FODMAPs I thought I had discovered the keys to heaven. I’m sorry I can’t offer more info, but I only have my own experience to go off of. It’s definitely a good idea visit the MD in order to rule out another (potentially serious) GI problem.
I also want to clarify another thing mentioned in this question. The elimination phase is not meant to be LOW FODMAPs. To know if you are truly affected by fermentable saccharides, you should start on a NO FODMAPs diet. As in zero sources of FODMAPs (for at least the first few weeks). As difficult as this seems, it’s crucial to determine if your GI issues are caused by the fermentation of carbohydrates in the gut.
Be honest with yourself and make sure you are 100% dedicated to eliminating every source of FODMAPs. This is especially important if you are eating processed/packaged foods with hidden ingredients (like “natural flavors”).
Now here’s my question for you guys…which challenge group is the worst for you and have you found any ways of eating foods in in these groups that doesn’t cause as many symptoms?
How do you know what’s considered “low” in a low FODMAPs diet? How have you organized your meals in the challenge phases? One FODMAP containing food per meal? Per day? As far as I can tell it’s a completely individual thing and trial and error with your own digestive system is the only way to determine what you can and can’t tolerate. But I’m curious about how others have been sorting out the tolerable quantities of an item without being completely miserable for the whole testing period. If you have advice, please share.