The low FODMAP diet is a well-established first-line therapy for IBS management. Approximately 75% of individuals experience symptom improvements during the elimination stage of the low fodmap diet. Whilst the diet has gained popularity in recent years due to its efficacy, it should not be done without dietetic provision. There are many reasons why dietetic input is critical for individuals during the low FODMAP diet process. Let’s look at some of the key reasons.
Ensure the low FODMAP diet duration is correct
The low FODMAP diet is not a long-term diet . Unfortunately, many individuals aren’t aware of this and end up following the diet long-term. The elimination stage of the diet should last 2-6 weeks, with the aim of getting symptoms as minimal as possible. Individuals then progress to the challenge phase, where one specific FODMAP challenge is undertaken each week to identify individual triggers and thresholds. At the completion of the challenge phase, individuals should progress to the reintroduction phase. The reintroduction phase is where FODMAPs that did not trigger symptoms are reintroduced back into the diet. The supervision of a dietitian will help ensure correct duration. A dietitian can also help overcome any barriers that come up during the low FODMAP diet process, that may otherwise lead individuals to give up and just follow the diet for life.
Ensure nutritional adequacy
Given the low FODMAP diet is restrictive, there are several important nutrients at risk of inadequacy. A dietitian can develop an individualised dietary regime which is both low FODMAP and nutritionally adequate, ensuring nutritionally quality is not compromised. For more information, check out our article on nutrients to be mindful of on a low FODMAP diet.
Recent research has shown that even with dietetic involvement, it is common for the diet to not be nutritionally adequate. It is for this reason we include meal plans and recipes as a part of The FODMAP Challenge, to help ensure dietary requirements are being met.
Minimise disruption to gut microbiota
Research has shown that the low FODMAP diet does alter the gut microbiota (for on an overview on microbiota, check out our article here. Dietetic guidance can help minimise disruption to gut microbiota few various strategies such as including low FODMAP prebiotic and probiotic foods, recommendations of a suitable probiotic supplement, ensure adequate fibre and diversity of fibre, and variety of nutrients.
Ensure accuracy of diet
Many individuals will be following the low FODMAP incorrectly, especially when dietetic supervision is not in place. Working with a dietitian will ensure accuracy of the low fodmap diet, particularly with regards to portion sizes (SO important) and FODMAP stacking. For more information, check out our recent articles on portion sizes and FODMAP stacking.
Education on label reading and product recommendations
Label reading can be confusing when following a low FODMAP diet. A dietitian can provide education on label reading including what to look for and what to avoid and recommend a variety of suitable low FODMAP products.
FODMAPs aren’t always the problem/only problem
There are many non-FODMAP IBS triggers that exist which are important to be aware of. A dietitian can help you identify non-FODMAP triggers and adjust your diet to correctly manage them. Common non-FODMAP dietary IBS triggers include fat, spicy food, alcohol and fibre (excess or lack of). For some individuals, FODMAPs may not be all they are intolerant to. Another common food intolerance is food chemicals, that can exhibit similar symptoms to IBS. It is particularly important for these individuals to work with a dietitian to ensure correct dietary management.
Where to seek help
The FODMAP Challenge is a Dietitian-created and run online program designed to guide individuals through the low FODMAP diet elimination and challenge stages. Participants can undertake the program solo, or in conjunction with an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) for additional support. To find a local APD, go to www.daa.asn.au
Start feeling better now! By signing up to The FODMAP Challenge you will receive meal plans, recipe ideas, and regular support with other resources, to make this as easy for you as possible.