I've started Low FODMAP, but I have questions...
If your experience of going Low FODMAP is anything like ours was, then you’re probably thinking to yourself “this diet is hard… Is it even worth it?” Our answer is yes, it absolutely is.
Any major dietary change will feel difficult at first, but if it’s worth doing then it’s worth doing properly. You’re in exactly the right place to get the support you need! Remember also that Low FODMAP is not meant to be forever. The plan is to help identify what your trigger foods are to help you learn what to eat without getting symptoms.
Here are some common teething problems with the Low FODMAP diet. If you think of any others, be sure to let us know.
I’m following the diet but I’m still getting symptoms
Firstly, remember that the low FODMAP diet does not cure all ills. It is possible that you have an intolerance other than FODMAPs, even if you find that the low FODMAP diet helps you to some degree. Consult your doctor or a registered dietician if you need advice.
Secondly, remember that symptoms from eating FODMAPs can take several hours to set in and can stick around for up to 24 hours. Keeping a food journal can help you spot connections between what you eat and how you feel.
Thirdly, the effects of eating FODMAPs accumulate over a 24 hour period, known as stacking. This is because it takes time for FODMAPs to pass through your system. Stacking can apply to multiple FODMAP serves in a single meal, as well as to servings spread across the day.
Some certified Low FODMAP products contain high FODMAP ingredients? Are they safe to eat?
It's all about portion sizing. The smaller the quantity that is present of a high FODMAP ingredient, the less it will contribute to the overall FODMAP content of the product. The Low FODMAP testing protocol is very rigorous, and products are only certified if the total levels of fructan, lactose, sorbitol, mannitol etc. fall below what is considered safe. That said, if you know that you are highly sensitive (or allergic) to a specific ingredient then you may still wish to avoid products that contain it. Always read the label.
What ready meals can I eat?
Unfortunately there are not many convenience foods available at the moment, but here at Fodpod we are striving to change that. Ready meals are easier to manage than takeout because you can consult the list of ingredients, but be warned that between wheat, onion, garlic, soy, and dairy, many store-bought ready meals will be off limits. If you need a quick meal why not check out our recipe pages? Our “fakeaways” category is particularly good.
What takeaway / take-out can I eat?
This is perhaps one of the most difficult questions to answer since ingredients lists are difficult to get hold of, and not all establishments will have the precise information available that you will be asking for because there are so many high FODMAP ingredients and only a handful of them are officially allergens.
Common “safe” options include salads, steak, burgers (with a gluten free bun), and chips – but it’s always worth checking if it contains any onion, garlic, or celery.
We recommend having a look at the menu online, or calling ahead at a less busy time and asking to speak to the manager or a chef to see if you can work out which of their options are suitable for you, then make a note of these for future ordering.
As long as you’re not in the elimination phase, then another option is to try restricting your portion size. You might not be able to eat a whole slice of cheesecake, but if you can convince someone else to order it then you might be able to manage a spoonful. (Just don’t get carried away, trust us it’s not worth it…) The point is, find what works for you.
I really miss my favourite food… Can I have a cheat day?
That depends. Your FODMAP trained dietician would definitely say no during the elimination phase. After that, FODMAP servings are all about portion sizing, and it's different for everyone. You might find that you're able to tolerate a slice or two of apple, or even mouthful of your favourite garlic-, onion-, and mozzarella-laden stuffed-crust pizza, but just remember that once your symptoms set in they will be there for a while.
In our experience a cheat day is rarely worth it, but you do you.
If you are coeliac it is important to maintain a strict gluten free diet to avoid doing long term damage to your bowel.
Aren’t there digestive supplements that I can take to fix the problem?
Yes, there are lots of digestive supplements available, but a word to the wise - don't expect miracles. When taking supplements always read the label and never exceed the recommended dose. It's a good idea to check with a health professional first to try and find the root cause of your symptoms, as taking tablets can often simply mask the underlying problem.
Perhaps the best known and most widely available product is the enzyme lactase, which breaks down lactose. It is the same enzyme that lactose-free dairy manufacturers add to their products to be able to eliminate up to 99% of the lactose present in their products. They can achieve this degree of success because they use carefully monitored industrial processes. The supplements you take (such as drops added to milk) will not have such high efficacy rates because of factors like temperature and agitation, so while taking a tablet might help you eat a slice of cheesecake we would still advise you to exercise moderation.
Of course lactose is just one of the FODMAP carbohydrates. There are many other supplements designed to target fructose and fructan, and even broad spectrum enzymes that are touted to aid with digestion of all foods, but in our experience their effects vary greatly from person to person and can be quite limited for some people. They can also be very expensive.
Did you find your question answered here? If so we hope you found the answer helpful. Still got questions? Send them our way!