I started this website almost 5 years ago.
At that time, it seemed like no one had really even heard of FODMAPs. I had been in the world of nutrition for 9 years at that point and hadn’t learned of the diet through my normal channels (school, continuing education, colleagues, online). Although the research was small but growing and I found (online) that Sue Shepherd, who was involved in the early days of developing the diet, had a thriving practice in South Australia, here in Canada only a few had heard of the diet, never mind talking or writing about it.
Back up a second… how did I even get here?
I myself had been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) in 2007, handed a pamphlet on IBS (which instructed me to eat more fibre and drink more water) and sent on my way like the condition and diagnosis was not a big deal. So over the next couple of years I survived, had frequent symptoms I couldn’t manage, surprise attacks, stomach aches and other not-so-nice symptoms I won’t get into detail about here…. I know you get it.
Traditional Dietary Advice for IBS
So as a dietitian, wanting to better help my clients and hey, why not myself while I’m at it, I started to investigate dietary protocols for IBS. I started with traditional advice from the amazing leader in Digestive Nutrition Dr. Janice Joneja. This included, but wasn’t limited to:
ONE – Avoiding gut stimulants like caffeine, nicotine and alcohol
… this was super difficult and I wasn’t really good at it. But it seemed to help!
TWO – Eliminating sulphurous vegetables like onions, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, cabbage and Brussel sprouts
… ok now we’re getting somewhere.
THREE – Eat well for Digestion
… then I started changing eating behaviours – avoiding carbonated beverages, drinking out of a straw, chewing gum (I switched to Tic Tacs) and I was feeling better.
FOUR – DF and GF
Going lactose-free and gluten-free seemed like a good idea! Gluten-free was difficult back then, but there started to be more choices available and it seemed to really reduce some of those seriously awful symptoms and belly ache.
I was feeling good. But it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t 100%. I still had unexpected symptoms that I couldn’t put my finger on and these things I was doing, well they were hard! My body didn’t feel like it was healing, and I was barely managing the symptoms. They were reduced but still present.
Then another dietitian told me about FODMAPs. I looked into it and DAMN it looked difficult.
But I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. So I slowly started eliminating FODMAPs, mostly because I wasn’t convinced and there was no real information to support me in this. I found a home study course for dietitians by the amazing Kate Scarlata, read every book I could find on IBS, and every published journal article on FODMAPs to-date.
I created a plan for myself and my clients. And realized….
WHOA. This works!
My symptoms were under control. My life had changed.
My clients… their lives had changed.
And I wanted to keep helping people. I loved when a client walked through my door and explained how they were suffering with diarrhea, constipation, discomfort, bloating or gas. NO I wasn’t happy they were suffering, but ecstatic I could help!
What an honour it’s been to help hundreds of clients improve their health and take their lives back. If you are one of these amazing people and reading this, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for letting me in your life. For trusting me to guide you through the fuzzy journey and putting together recommendations as we went. To help problem solve the ups and downs of FODMAPs with you and help you relieve the hold IBS had on you. You are special to me and fuelled my passion to keep going.
The Low FODMAP Dietitian
Well, I became the first Low FODMAP focused Registered Dietitian in Canada, not really on purpose, but just because it needed to happen. My clients needed someone that focused on this complicated issue, that really got them. And that’s what I did.
This website was born.
As I mentioned earlier, that was years ago and the scope of FODMAPs was so different. This website was a hub for helping people understand what the heck FODMAPs even are… how do they work and what do I need to do to follow this diet. There wasn’t even a book on the shelf in North America when I started.
Things have changed.
We have books, websites, blogs, Instagram accounts, Facebook groups, coaching businesses, and now even food companies helping navigate the low FODMAP diet.
It’s a good thing isn’t it? Or maybe it’s a little too much. Perhaps there might be TOO much information out there making the journey confusing and complicated in a different way. There are a variety of approaches, choices, recommendations… and food lists! Who do you trust? Where do you go.
For those of you that have been a part of this website and community for years, months or even days, thank you for reading, and writing and sharing. I’m honoured you share your stories with me and trust me to provide you with credible, up-to-date information. I’m so glad you’re here. I truly do this for you. And it comes from a place of understanding what it’s like to struggle and feel alone.
You’re not. You are NOT alone.
The Challenge of FODMAPs
Ok so here is the damn challenge of FODMAPs. Well… let’s be honest. There are a couple challenges with this diet. It’s confusing, it’s complicated, there are loads of different sources of information on it. The diet is meant to be temporary but how the hell do you move forward with your life… ok let’s break this down a little.
ONE – What foods do I avoid and include?
The best answer to this, forget the lists. Download the Monash University Low FODMAP app for your device and get the up-to-date information from what foods they have tested.
TWO – How much can I eat?
Right. Good question. Now even though it’s low on your App (green light), if it’s yellow or red in a higher amount, you will have to be aware that consuming several servings may add up and trigger symptoms.
THREE – Pardon me?
Yes, you heard me. Serving size matters. Eat a variety of foods in a day and do the best you can.
FOUR – What’s next?
Totally. What happens after you eliminate these foods. it’s a good question my friend. Here are the three steps to the Low FODMAP diet:
- Elimination Phase – avoid all high FODMAP foods
- Challenge Phase – isolate one FODMAP sub-group at a time and challenge them at different amounts to see if you can or can’t tolerate
- Re-Introduction Phase – bring those FODMAPs back into your daily eating, being mindful of symptoms
So… once you’ve eliminated the FODMAP foods for anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks (Monash says 2 to 6, but I say everyone is unique and different so listen to your body first), you’ll need to bring those foods back in. This is important, but it’s where it can get a little more difficult.
The Ups and Downs of the Low FODMAP Diet
So here’s where we go back to the beginning of this post… I started talking about the Low FODMAP diet over 5 years ago. And over the years I’ve seen that this it’s not just about cutting out FODMAP foods.
- It’s actually about eating well for your health, despite your dietary restrictions.
- It’s about being to eat out with your friends, your loved ones, your people.
- It’s about enjoying food and not being afraid of it.
- It’s about incorporating other strategies for wellness within.
- It’s about being mindful of ALL the triggers in your life, not just food.
The Low FODMAP Diet … it’s not just a 12-week process of Elimination phase, Challenge phase and Re-Introduction phase.
- It’s not just about avoid certain foods temporarily.
- It’s about bringing high FODMAP foods back to expand your diet.
- It’s about figuring out which FODMAP groups trigger your symptoms and should be avoiding to be well.
- It’s about trying those trigger FODMAPs again in the future to see if your tolerance has changed.
This journey you are about to embark on or you’re in the middle of, it’s a journey. And it’s probably a life-long journey. You’ll be getting real close and personal to these sugars known as FODMAPs.
There are resources to get you started, there are amazing dietitians who can help you get symptom free with one-to-one coaching, and there are books to help you understand each phase.
BUT… is that enough?
What if you get stuck?
What if you feel good for a while but symptoms come back?
What if you can’t figure out how to challenge FODMAPs?
What if it seems all FODMAPs are triggers?
There are so many questions with the Low FODMAP diet. In my one-to-one practice it always saddened my heart a little when a client was done their one-to-one coaching sessions. I knew they didn’t need a one hour appointment with me anymore, but I knew they still needed me. I knew they would have questions, need recipes, wonder about certain therapies or tests, but I didn’t know how to help. I didn’t have the right service to offer.
So I created this website. To stay connected and to help others. I hired a team to help me provide valuable research articles, recipes and advice. But I think there is more I can do…
If you’re looking for support and more information to help you with the Low FODMAP diet, read more about the CLAIRITY Program. This is the best way to work with me in the program I offer to meet you where you are, provide you with credible, up-to-date advice and information to get you feeling better and get back to enjoying your life. I’d love to have you join us as a member.
Your core community for ongoing support with IBS, IBD, digestive health issues and the Low FODMAP Diet. Where you can have advocates for your health when you’re trying to decide what the next step is and how to take it. When you need a partner to help you understand the science, the diagnosis or how to advocate for your own health in the medical system.
I’m so excited to offer you this one-stop-shop for FODMAPs where I’ve put all my classes, guides, advice, eBook, recipes and so much more. Where in addition to resources you will also get coaching and support from myself along with other guest experts.
This is where you can get help throughout all phases of the Low FODMAP diet, plus other dietary and lifestyle strategies to help you truly get well from the inside out.
Wishing you much love & wellness on your journey,