This week I had a question about the low FODMAP diet. Since it’s not had any airtime on my website for a while, I thought it was time for a refresh.
So, if you're considering a trial of the low FODMAP diet, or just want to learn more about it, here's 10 things I think you should know.
1️⃣ It’s designed to improve symptoms of IBS by reducing a group of short chain sugars known as FODMAPs, which can trigger symptoms like pain & bloating
2️⃣ It’s only intended for people with medically diagnosed IBS. If you think you have IBS, speak to your GP. Other conditions cause similar symptoms + getting the right diagnosis is important.
3️⃣ It’s not for the long term. The elimination stage (where high FODMAP foods are restricted) lasts for 2-6 weeks. If it’s beneficial, you transition to reintroductions, where foods are gradually re-introduced to work out tolerance & sensitivities.
4️⃣ It should be followed with the help of a FODMAP trained dietitian. The diet is restrictive, tricky to understand & can be unbalanced if not followed correctly. A dietitian can help you decide if it’s right for you & ensure a healthy balance
5️⃣ FODMAPs are found in a wide range of foods, including some fruits, veg, breads, nuts & pulses. It’s impossible to guess the FODMAP content of foods, which is why a trained dietitian can help
6️⃣ It’s not right for everyone with IBS, & isn’t the first thing to try. If you have a history of eating disorders, a restricted diet or find stress is a key trigger, this isn’t the best route for you.
7️⃣ It doesn’t always help. Research from Monash Uni found 3 in 4 people feel some benefit, but that means 1 in 4 don’t. But there are other good tools for symptom management!
8️⃣ It doesn’t cure IBS - but can help those with IBS to live more comfortably with the condition.
9️⃣ It’s not a gluten free or dairy free diet - this is a common misconception. Remember gluten is a protein, and FODMAPs are carbohydrates.
🔟 There’s no evidence it treats SIBO (or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth). This is a condition in which there’s an excess of bacteria in the small intestine which can lead to symptoms which overlap with IBS.
I hope this helps and gives you some more insight into this approach to managing IBS. If you want to try a low FODMAP diet, ask your G.P. for a referral to a FODMAP trained dietitian or search the BDA freelance group for private FODMAP trained dietitians. My podcast (The Gut Loving Podcast) also covers the diet in detail, which you can find on iTunes or Spotify.