Can I do this alone?

This is a diet that can definitely be attempted on your own when you have researched the details well beforehand. There are a number of books, online tools, recipes and apps that can assist you. However, working with the support of a Dietitian trained in the FODMAP approach can be more efficient, less frustrating, provides clearer outcomes and prevents nutritional gaps moving forward.

Is this diet forever?

Understandably some people are reluctant to start reintroducing foods when they feel so well and symptom free during the elimination phase. However, the low FODMAP diet is designed for the short term as a tool to identify foods that are triggering your symptoms. Once you have identified your trigger foods you would move onto a modified FODMAPs diet that is nutritionally complete and fibre rich with non-triggering foods. 

Continuing with the elimination phase indefinitely can lead to poorer nutritional intake over the longer term, as it is not a nutritionally complete diet. Knowledgeable support from a certified FODMAP Dietitian ensures your optimal nutritional and digestive health moving forward.

Will I lose weight?

While not designed as a weight loss diet, many people find that creating an environment where they are more mindful around food choices, can improve weight outcomes. Improved gut health has been shown to improve levels of anxiety and stress, which can also lead to more beneficial food choices. There is emerging evidence that the bacteria that live in our gut drive some of our food choices, and that improvements in gut health may provide a more positive influence on food choices.

Is this a gluten free diet?

The gluten containing grains, wheat, barley and rye, are implicated in contributing to IBS symptoms. However, it is not necessarily the gluten that is the cause. Gluten is a protein and it may be the sugar in those grains, namely fructans, that is creating your symptoms. Lectins and amylase trypsin inhibitors can also produce IBS symptoms.

 The good news is, that if those grains are leading to symptoms and it is not the gluten, then you can avoid the grains but do not have to avoid gluten in other foods, or worry about cross contamination with gluten.

Is this a dairy free diet?

The elimination phase will usually eliminate dairy, unless you know for certain that dairy does not cause any digestive symptoms. Some dairy products contain very little lactose and are generally well tolerated. If you do have to mostly avoid dairy over the long term, there are lots of ways to meet your protein, calcium, riboflavin and vitamin D needs through other foods.

Can my family eat the same foods as me?

There are lots of foods that do not contain FODMAPs so many of the foods you eat as a family you can continue to eat together. However, it is best to consider the elimination and reintroduction phase as a moment in time when you concentrate on your needs for a few weeks.

Focusing on yourself can be difficult, especially with family to consider. This is why the timing of when to begin is important. For example, it may not be ideal to begin the process prior to a big holiday celebration or family event.

Many parents strive to create healthy relationships with food for their families, so it can be difficult to separate yourself out and highlight food as an issue at the dinner table. However, there are tips and tricks that we can look at to make the process more streamlined, inclusive and subtle.

Moreover, once you have identified your trigger foods and are using alternatives, those foods can be integrated into the household pantry and onto the dinner table, as they will be suitable for the whole family.

What happens if I accidentally eat a trigger food in the maintenance phase?

 Your trigger foods are foods that you tolerate poorly and there is no allergy involved. Therefore, if you accidentally eat a food, say at a restaurant, that gives you symptoms you can treat it as a learning experience and make a note to avoid that food in future. The symptoms will be unpleasant but will subside. A herbal infusion containing soothing, carminative herbs is wonderful to have on hand for such occasions.

Jill Burns