In the course of working as a dietitian I have found that there are a number of common mistakes people make when following the low FODMAP diet. So, to help you avoid making them yourself I’ll share them with you here.
Staying in the elimination phase for too long:
When people first start the low FODMAP diet they begin by eliminating all high FODMAP foods from their diet in order to reset their gut back to its baseline. In doing so, this enables us to test the body’s tolerance levels to high FODMAP foods when the time comes to reintroduce them.
However, a common mistake on the low FODMAP diet is that people find symptom relief in the elimination phase and then don’t bother reintroducing high FODMAP foods back into their diet.
Although I completely understand that it is a massive relief to finally have our symptoms quieten down, it’s really important to go through the reintroduction phase for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it allows us to identify exactly what foods are our IBS triggers which gives us control over our symptoms. For instance, if you don’t test each FODMAP group properly you’ll never know whether it was the wheat bread or the sliced avocado which caused you problems after lunch.
Secondly, it can allow us to reintroduce some high FODMAP foods back into our diet that we previously believed we couldn’t tolerate. For a long time prior to going through the low FODMAP process I was convinced that I couldn’t tolerate apples or dairy, but in actual fact, after fully testing them it turns out I’m absolutely fine with them! Also, many high FODMAP foods are very healthy and help to maintain good digestive health.
Thirdly, over-restricting too many foods from our diets in the long-term can lead to serious nutritional deficiencies. Therefore, it’s really important to find out exactly what we’re intolerant to and what we’re not intolerant to, so we can bring things back into our diet.
Lastly, and probably most importantly, testing our tolerance to high FODMAP foods and then reintroducing some of them back into our diet enables us to eat a much more diverse diet. This is massively beneficial to our gut health as well as our overall health. It also makes for a much tastier eating experience! After all, very few of us want to eat the same boring foods day in, day out.
Limiting fibre intake
Another common mistake often made on the low FODMAP diet is cutting down the amount of fibre eaten. Many people find that their IBS symptoms lessen when they reduce their fibre intake, but fibre is a really crucial component of our diet.
Fibre is a type of carbohydrate which the body can’t break down and digest. Fibre keeps our digestive system moving and it’s this movement which helps to clear toxins and waste from our digestive system. Without adequate fibre we’re at risk of becoming constipated and sluggish.
Fibre also plays an important role in regulating our body’s use of sugars which helps to keep our blood sugar and hunger on an even keel.
It’s recommended that adults try to eat at least 30g of dietary fibre a day because it’s been shown to lower the risk of strokes, heart disease, bowel cancer and type 2 diabetes.
Not being prepared
Another common mistake made by people who start the low FODMAP diet is that they’re not properly prepared before they begin and this is one of the main reasons that it is recommended that you consult a dietitian to help guide you through the three stages of the diet.
The low FODMAP diet is a long process. If you follow the three stages properly it can take anywhere from 2 months to 6 months to complete.
However, it’s worth it because by completing the FODMAP diet process properly you can find out exactly which FODMAP groups are causing your symptoms and take back control to help you manage your IBS.
This knowledge, along with helpful apps, such as the Monash FODMAP app, puts you in the driver’s seat and can help you to manage your condition long-term.
I hope you’ve found this article useful and please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like my help in going through the FODMAP diet process. I’m always happy to talk!