FODMAPs - why go it alone?

by Anne Myers-Wright RD/APD

Posted on Sep 18, 10:55 AM in and . No comments.

You may have heard of the low FODMAP diet, which has a reported 75% success rate in significantly reducing IBS symptoms.

Lately I’ve been quite concerned to hear that a lot of people have been trying to “go it alone” on the low FODMAP diet. I’ve even been hearing from clients that their GPs have diagnosed them with IBS and then suggested they google FODMAPs in order to follow the diet. While following the diet can give some great results, it can also be a confusing and difficult process without the help of a Dietitian. It may also be that the diet isn’t for you. Following the diet “incorrectly” can cause it’s own set of problems.

It’s important to chat to a Dietitian before trying the diet.

FODMAPs?

A large number of dietary triggers have been associated with IBS symptoms.
It has been discovered that there is a group of carbohydrates (FODMAPs) which are particularly problematic for sufferers of IBS.

FODMAPs is an acronym for these troublesome carbohydrates:
 * Fermentable
 * Oligosaccharides
 * Disaccharides
 * Monosaccharides
 * and Polyols

These carbohydrates, or foods containing them, are poorly absorbed in the small intestine and are rapidly fermented by bacteria when they reach the large intestine. The result? Triggering the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome in some people – including abdominal bloating, excess wind (flatulence), abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhoea and/or constipation.

The low FODMAP Diet

Ok, sounds pretty easy, huh? Just find out which foods have these FODMAPs and avoid them? Well it isn’t quite as simple as that. In fact, the trick to following the low FODMAP diet is that different people will be affected by different FODMAPs and at different levels in the diet. It is also important to only follow the Low FODMAP diet for the recommended (short) period of time.

This is where the help of a Dietitian comes in. The diet isn’t about finding a list and leaving out all the foods which are high in FODMAPS. In fact, the diet is a more complex 4 weeks elimination trial followed by a series of challenges to determine which of the FODMAPs you may be sensitive to.

Your Dietitian will do the following:

 * First assess to see if the low FODMAPs approach is the right one for you. This is important!

 * In your initial appointment, describe the diet in detail- including offering information booklets, product guides, shopping lists and recipes to help you on your way. (I offer email support during this period.)

 * After your elimination trial, assess your symptoms and progress and guide you through the series of reintroduction challenges to find out your personal FODMAP triggers.

 * After these trials are completed, work with you to adapt your low FODMAPs diet to be something you can manage long term. This includes making sure your diet is balanced, ensuring important prebiotic foods are added to your diet, and tips for everyday life and living “low FODMAPs” and considering other lifestyle factors that might be triggering IBS symptoms.

The low FODMAP diet is a promising dietary treatment which can give some people results but needs to be done with care. It is an absolute shame to hear there are so many people struggling to follow the diet without any help. It’s even worse to hear that many are just finding a list of FODMAPs in foods and cutting them out long term. This is unnecessary and usually means the diet will be lacking in nutrients due to the restrictions. Why make life harder than you need to? There are so many foods that people can enjoy as part of the diet without even realizing!

Image courtesy of Ohmega1982, at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tags: Bloating, Challenges, Elimination Diet, Fodmaps, Ibs

About the author

Anne Myers-Wright RD/APD

Anne is a Health Professions Council (HPC) registered dietitian (RD), an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD- Australia), a fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA), a member of the British Dietetic Association, The Nutrition Society and of The Dietetics Association of Australia.

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