Yes. That is a super long blog post title, but hey, I make the rules around here (ha!) and I wanted to make sure it was super clear what this article was going to be about before you clicked it and decided to read on.
Listen friend. I know you’re real goal in life is to eat pizza again, despite the diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, despite the Low FODMAP diet principles that keep you and your true love – pizza – apart, and despite the groaning, aching and symptoms that hit you after you eat a couple slices.
I’m here to tell you, PIZZA IS POSSIBLE!
Years ago when I was diagnosed with IBS, I remember not knowing what to eat and definitely feeling really really awful after eating pizza or eating out at any restaurant really. From 2007 when I was diagnosed to about 2010/2011 I was sorting out what to eat, trying all kinds of advice, reading journal articles, research, books, talking to “experts”, and nothing really helped me.
I went off wheat and gluten for quite a while and gluten-free pizza just isn’t the same. I ate gluten-free pizza for years… have you ever had gluten-free pizza? It’s…. ok…. Unless you have celiac disease and have to eat 100% no gluten, then I want to believe you can include other foods in your diet. For most of us with IBS, and many of those with IBD and other digestive issues, getting clear on your food triggers can help you include more and more foods.
So personally after eating gluten-free pizza and avoiding most wheat foods for more than three years, it was once I made some other changes to my diet and my life that had me able to eat pizza again. In addition to being able to eat at a restaurant without running to the washroom within the hour.
The thing about any kind of elimination diet, including the Low FODMAP Diet, is that it. is. temporary! It’s not forever! It has a purpose, to get you relief, to heal your gut, to get you feeling well again – and then – you move on.
But moving on can be really, really difficult.
The information about FODMAP challenge and reintroduction is a mess, the advice and systems to expand your diet and reintroduce foods WITHOUT getting all your symptoms back is really really lacking. That’s really why I built the Clairity program in the first place – was to put a step-by-step plan together for my clients to follow. Those who want to stop piecing together blog posts and getting symptoms as they add foods back.
And in the Clairity program, I’ll tell you one of the biggest secrets we’ve discovered about reintroducing potential trigger foods. After 7+ years working with clients and teaching them exactly how to live the rest of their live symptom-free, I know the best way to reintroduce any kind of FODMAP or potential trigger food.
It involves additional digestive strategies. Eating really really well for digestion (or the best you can), while bringing foods back into your diet.
So when my clients in the program start expanding their diets, eating new foods, foods they thought might cause them symptoms like gas, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea and/or constipation, they are following some other guidelines to keep them well.
And when they follow these other guidelines they can expand their diet, bring more FODMAP foods and potential trigger foods back into their diet and yes… even…. eat pizza again!
You my dear are a unique person. There is no one like you on the planet, no one with your body, your mind, your combination of gut bacteria … so you are different from others. That means when you hear a very general recommendation for dietary health, for gut health, for foods you can or can’t eat, it doesn’t really apply to you. It just doesn’t. I know first hand going through this myself as someone diagnosed with IBS, and in working with hundreds and hundreds of clients. Everyone is different.
So if you want to eat pizza or other foods you miss, I think it’s very possible!
Here are my top eating for good digestion strategies that I teach clients to do when they are reintroducing foods and expanding their diets:
Top 5 Tips for FODMAP Re-Introduction and Diet Expansion
FODMAP Re-introduction Tip 1: Choose foods that are easy to digest
What I mean is, don’t make it even harder on your system to digest foods. If you’re already adding foods that are easily fermented in the gut (FODMAPs) and other foods that can trigger your IBS symptoms, give your gut a break, help it digest and work more easily. This includes choosing more cooked vegetables rather than raw vegetables. It also means chewing food very thoroughly, especially foods like nuts and seeds, really mash those guys up in your teeth before you swallow. Eating really good for digestion and can help you include more foods that aren’t the best for digstion.
FODMAP Re-introduction Tip 2: Stop behaviours that put air in your stomach
This sounds simple, but for one of my clients, it really changed their life! She always chewed gum, every day, multiple pieces a day and was dealing with a lot of gas and bloating. Cutting out foods only helped reduce her symptoms slightly, but it was when she switched from gum to mints she found a huge different in how her tummy felt each day. I highly recommend you eat slowly, avoid chewing gum and drinking out of a straw when doing a re-introduction diet.
FODMAP Re-introduction Tip 3: Keep a Food Journal
Tip number 2, leads me to this tip. That client of mine, she never would have realized it was all that gum chewing causing her digestive issues if she didn’t write things down. This is an important part of the work I’ve done with clients over the years, because we all need an outside expert to be able to look inside into our lives and see what we can’t see. So often you’re too close to the way you live and eat, you can’t find the little patterns. Keeping a good food and symptom journal so you can write down what you eat, when you eat, and when you experience symptoms along with other things, can help you find patterns. Alternatively, if you work with me in the Clairity program or with another expert, this journal helps me to be able to find these little things that are leading to ongoing symptoms. I recommend you start writing it down today!!! On your phone, in an app, in a journal, doesn’t matter. Just write it down! It’s a great start.
FODMAP Re-introduction Tip 4: Avoid Gut Stimulants
This is a toughy! Foods that stimulate the gut to cause movement can contribute to gas, bloating, pain and diarrhea. Most of us with IBS deal with at least one of these symptoms. So for most of my clients, avoiding or at the very least, minimizing gut stimulants can make a world of difference. In addition to helping improve digestion, by minimizing these, you can expand your diet and include more foods. Gut stimulants include anything with caffeine, nicotine or alcohol. How much you change – whether you cut it out or reduce it – is completely up to you and the dietitian coach you are working with to get those symptoms gone! Remember, we are all different – so some of us may be able to have one glass of wine or one cup of coffee without any symptoms, while others may need less (or can have more!).
FODMAP Re-introduction Tip 5: Drink Plenty of Water
In every single client I see, if you don’t drink enough water, your bowels just won’t work properly. It’s a digestive fact. Simply, if you’re not getting enough, start getting enough now. And if you’re trying to bring foods back into your diet, pay special attention to how much fluid you get. How much is enough? Well, it depends on you and your body. Usually between 2 to 3 L of fluid, mostly water, each day will get you there.
Ok so are you ready? Ready to eat pizza again?
Maybe you’re not quite there yet, but I hope you know it’s completely possible to bring back the foods you love and enjoy eating out with friends and family. You can feel more like yourself again, just keep in mind that it takes more than just cutting out FODMAPs or other foods. That’s not where you stop in this process of getting digestive relief. If that’s what you’ve done, you’re only 15% of the way there!
If you want some help with Challenge and Re-introduction, please let me know. I’ve spent years perfecting this plan that has helped so many people feel normal again and I’d love to talk more with you about Clairity and if it can help. CLICK HERE TO CONTACT ME & let’s talk.
Wishing you much love & good eating,
Stephanie Clairmont, MHSc, RD
Your Digestive Dietitian