Confused about the #1 diet for IBS? 10 simple steps demystify the FODMAP diet
Your IBS is in a flare and you have no idea what to eat. It seems like everything you are eating is causing gas and excessive bloating. Not to mention your usual morning poop seems to be off kilter or not happening at all.
The easiest thing to do in this scenario is to pull up your Monash University FODMAP diet app. If you are thinking “what’s that?” Let us be the first to introduce you to a diet that has helped millions of IBS sufferers.
FODMAP foods are short chain carbohydrates that are rapidly fermented and can be poorly absorbed in your colon— think gas production. However, it is important to note these foods do serve a purpose— they feed our gut microbes! We just want them to be fed in a way that does not cause us the distress of bloating, distension, flatulence, abdominal pain and constipation. Hence the FODMAP diet or the IBS diet.
- With the aid of a FODMAP trained dietitian — do a two week 100 % elimination of all high FODMAP foods (the Monash University FODMAP diet app makes how to figure this out really easy— your dietitian can go over this with you as well).
- Make sure while you are on a low FODMAP diet you are remembering to feed your gut microbes with other plants. You are after all starving them of some of their favourite foods— those short chain carbohydrates— but remember they love colourful, polyphenol rich foods too. What are polyphenols?! Think rainbow foods that stain your white pants. Research has found that those with the most highly diverse microbiomes (this is a good thing) are eating 30 different plants per week. Your dietitian can help you put together a diet that focuses on a rainbow of low FODMAP plants.
- After two weeks you should be having considerably less gut distress. If you are not, go back and examine your diet with your dietitian— there is a diary section in the Monash FODMAP app that makes keeping track of diet, poops, stress and abdominal pain super simple. Do not and we repeat DO NOT continue on a low FODMAP diet if you are seeing zero benefit. There is no point and you are not doing yourself any favours. Now is the time to seek help to find out why you may not be feeling better. A poor execution of the diet is one reason but there are many other reasons that need to be investigated.
- Next, systematically introduce one high FODMAP food over 3 days in increasingly greater quantity— the app tells you the exact amount. Keep going until you have tested one food from each of the high FODMAP categories—- your dietitian can guide you.
- Keep a record of what happens with each reintroduction — is there a category that gave you a problem? Keep it out and just reintroduce those that are working well.
- Once you have a good idea of the high FODMAP foods that are causing your IBS distress — keep them out!
- Armed with the knowledge of those foods that cause you IBS distress think about how you can make your gut microbiome rich in diversity and lush garden. Now we are are talking about a microbiome focused diet.
- Learn what makes your gut microbes happy. Because if your gut microbes are happy, you are happy— literally! Not to get too technical— but— our gut microbes play a huge role in how we think and feel. Yes, the next time you have revenge thoughts— you can blame your microbes— to a certain extent. However, your next thought should be how well have I been feeding my gut microbes? If you don’t know— seek help from a dietitian that knows a thing or two about how to feed gut microbes.
- Next, understand that stress eating stresses out your gut! Sit down, and take some time to eat. Think a leisurely meal while listening to sounds of nature without a care in the world. And don’t forget to chew.
- Strategizing your meal time and planning ahead often relieves a lot of the stress of an IBS diet. If you want to join your friends for dinner— call ahead to the restaurant and tell them that you need to make a plan— can they help you narrow down from their on-line menu what you CAN eat? We are forever amazed at the level of service and understanding of IBS that is out there. Hey, we think upwards of 10% of the population has tummy problems so chances are there is someone at the restaurant you are going to that can relate and is willing to help.
Finally, enjoy the foods you can eat! And feel empowered by the fact that you now know a thing or two about an appropriate IBS diet for you!