Mmmm… burgers. Ok before we talk about how to enjoy delicious burgers… Let’s review…
- You heard of the Low FODMAP diet from your doctor, dietitian, or internet …. CHECK
- You looked it up, read about it and downloaded the app… CHECK
- You cut out foods high in FODMAPs… CHECK
- You (mostly) stuck to eating foods low in FODMAPs… CHECK
… and here we are.
It’s been a few weeks, maybe a few months, or perhaps even longer (years?) than that you’ve been following the Low FODMAP Diet. You’ve changed your recipes, avoided eating out, and done your best to avoid those evil FODMAPs (ok, they aren’t evil, but sometimes the world makes them seem that way).
Let’s talk about Life After FODMAPs.
Stage One: Live without the FODMAP foods
If you want to better manage symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis or other digestive disorders following the Low FODMAP Diet is a great strategy to include.
So now you have to figure out what life is like after FODMAPs, meaning now you can’t eat them! Geesh!
This means changing the way you eat, your recipes and how you eat out. So if you are in this stage of Life After FODMAPs, I have a few resources for you to help you along the way.
- Watch the cooking videos from the series Food That Feels Good to learn how to cook Low FODMAP
- Browse Low FODMAP recipes to choose some delicious dishes to enjoy
- Learn how to navigate a restaurant menu when eating out and plan for date night
- Feel more in control by being prepared for travel and while on vacation
- Learn the TOP 3 Strategies for Sticking to the Low FODMAP Diet
Stage Two: Add the FODMAP Foods Back
Oh dear… I said it. It’s time to actually start eating FODMAPs again. Part of the whole idea of Life After FODMAPs, is life after the Low FODMAP Diet – Elimination Phase.
This first phase of the diet is when you eliminate ALL foods that are high in FODMAPs. But this is a short term thing. You need to actually bring FODMAPs back into your diet. Monash University, who is the world expert on this diet, says “FODMAPs is not a Lifetime Diet” and recommends sticking to the elimination phase for just 2-6 weeks. In my experience some clients may benefit from a few more weeks on the strict elimination phase, but I would highly recommend to not go past 12 weeks without starting to add FODMAPs back in.
So how do you bring FODMAPs back?
Well there are a few different schools of thought on this. Let me provide you with some options so you can choose what’s best for you.
Re-Introduce FODMAPs: The STRICT Challenge Phase
Some say that going through a very strict protocol is the best way to re-introduce FODMAPs back into the diet. There are a couple benefits.
- You can identify which FODMAP foods trigger symptoms
- You can identify a dose response – how much of a particular FODMAP will trigger symptoms
- You can identify which FODMAPs (and at what amount) are “safe” to eat and do not trigger symptoms.
Following a strict protocol will help you get some clarity on food triggers, but it’s not for everyone.
To do this, you would add one food from one FODMAP category in a small amount. Wait 48 hours and consume only “safe” low FODMAP foods”. Then increase the amount of the same food from the same FODMAP category.
Some say, keep adding larger serving sizes until you get symptoms so you can identify the highest amount you can tolerate. Others say, try 2-3 different serving sizes and then move on to the next FODMAP category.
You can do this strict “challenge” of FODMAPs for each of the categories. Once you know which FODMAPs do not triggers symptoms you can add them back in on a daily basis.
It’s also recommended you not try any foods that have multiple FODMAP categories in them. Use your app or an up-to-date list of foods to make an informed decision.
Re-Introduce FODMAPs: The CASUAL Approach
There is another way to bring FODMAPs back into your diet… you can casually add one back at a time, in no particular order, in a serving size that feels “normal” to you.
For example, you could try 1/2 an apple. That’s right, not a whole apple, maybe you don’t want a whole apple.
You could try 1/2 cup of yogurt.
How do you decide what to try first? It’s completely up to you! What do you miss the most in your life. Add this food first…. and then try something else you miss.
Remember, food can affect you for up to 48 hours. So you may want to try a food every other day. Or just keep this in mind. And I highly recommend keeping a food & symptom journal as you do this to track new foods and your symptoms!
If you experience any symptoms, this may mean that the food in that amount is a trigger for you. So it may be best to avoid this food and/or category of FODMAPs for a few months.
Over time your tolerance to FODMAPs can change, so don’t keep this food or category out forever. Try it again down the road.
Stage Three: I’m Eating FODMAPs and Feeling Fine!
Once you complete a challenge or re-introduction of FODMAPs, you can enjoy them every day. Perhaps it’s a small amount at one meal, or perhaps you have some at every meal. Maybe it’s every other day. You’ll have to identify your own tolerance to FODMAPs and how much is best to keep you symptom-free.
So this is where our delicious burger comes in! Can you enjoy every kind of food? Can you go back to eating whatever you want…. weeeeeeell….. I have a few suggestions.
This is where you may be asking “Now What?”
It can be beneficial to continue to eat modified Low FODMAP, meaning you may never go back to eating pounds of deep fried chicken wings and loaves of garlic bread.
FODMAP foods are not well digested. So if you are someone who is extra sensitive to FODMAPs, it’s important to be mindful of your intake for the long term.
What does this mean?
- Limit the amount of FODMAPs in a day or at a meal
- If you want a burger, maybe don’t get the fries and bacon and cheese, make good choices for your gut, eat well for digestion and have a little balance.
- Continue to cook with delicious low FODMAP foods
- Use garlic infused olive oil or small amounts of garlic and onion during cooking
- Do you best to eat well for digestion when eating out and away from home
- Choose Low FODMAP packaged foods like tomato sauce and soups to keep your FODMAPs under control
- Be aware of the impact stress and anxiety have on your digestive symptoms
- Join a community and get supported
I am sending you a big virtual hug today and wishing you so much wellness. If you’re still struggling with symptoms after following the Low FODMAP diet, I highly recommend a chat with your doctor and learn a little more about Why You are Not Feeling Better Yet.
Ps. What do you think the best approach is for you to add FODMAPs back? Where are you in the Life After FODMAPs journey? Let me know if the comments below.