IBS FODMAP Diet Plan
Treatment of IBS differs from person to person. For some people, dietary changes can go a long way in helping ease symptoms. What you eat and how you eat can affect your symptoms. While it may not be possible to completely prevent IBS symptoms, you may find that certain foods are triggers. If particular foods or types of stress appear to bring on the problem, avoid them if possible. To help identify which foods cause your symptoms, I suggest keeping a food diary and working with an IBS expert. Because the symptoms of IBS vary, approaches to dietary modifications need to be customized to the unique needs of an individual with the help and supervision of a certified IBS dietitian.
Up to 75% of people find relief from IBS symptoms by restricting their intake of foods that are high in certain carbohydrates collectively called FODMAPs, or, in other words, by following a Low FODMAP diet. The Low FODMAP diet is an evidence-based diet and research has demonstrated that it is one of the most effective ways of managing IBS.
What Does FODMAP Stand For?
FODMAP is an abbreviation for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, And Polyols.
FODMAPs are a group of short-chain carbohydrates that are poorly digested and absorbed in the small intestine. These carbs then travel into the large intestine where they are fermented by the resident bacteria. The production of gas by these bacteria combined with the hypersensitivity in people with IBS is a major contributor to symptoms. Following the Low FODMAP approach does not cure IBS, but it allows for the successful management of symptoms for many patients.
What Are FODMAP Foods?
Examples of foods that contain FODMAPs:
What is a Low FODMAP Diet?
A Low FODMAP diet involves three phases:
- Elimination: In this phase, which can last from 3–8 weeks depending on your response to the diet, you eliminate all high FODMAP foods from your diet.
- Reintroduction: Once the elimination phase is over and your symptoms have returned to baseline or are significantly improved, you can start reintroducing FODMAP foods into your diet one at a time, about every 3–7 days. This can help you identify which foods trigger symptoms.
- Personalization: The Personalization phase involves returning to a regular diet as far as possible, limiting only the FODMAP foods that cause IBS symptoms. Eventually, you may be able to incorporate all or most FODMAPs back into your diet without symptoms.
FODMAPs are in many foods and deciding what is "safe" to eat on a Low FODMAP diet can be a difficult task. Getting help from an expert can help you with this journey. Also, it is important to note that Low FODMAP diets are restrictive and should be temporary. Removing FODMAPs from your diet long-term can increase your risk of nutritional deficiencies. This is why a certified IBS dietitian’s supervision is important. We are here to ensure the safe implementation of the diet and to avoid nutrient deficiency.
A word of caution: If you suspect that you may have IBS, consult your doctor first. Some other gastrointestinal diseases or medical conditions such as bowel cancer, Celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease or endometriosis cause symptoms that are similar to IBS. Your doctor may refer you to a gastroenterologist for further investigation before deciding if the Low FODMAP diet is right for you.