Part 4: IBS Series – Tips and Tricks for Making Low FODMAP Easier
Putting it all together, getting started on a low FODMAP diet
Part 4 of a 4 part series to get to the root of your digestive woes and explore the role of a low FODMAP diet in managing Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
If you have been following our IBS series articles, you have already read about what the FODMAPs, as well as the role of the low FODMAP diet and how to do the 3- phased low FODMAP protocol.
With all of that great theory, now what do we do? How do we jump into the low FODMAP protocol and make sure we actually have something to eat?
Tips to identify low FODMAP foods
You’ve seen it in our first article of this series, the FODMAPs are present in a lot of foods. For some of them, only a very small amount is enough to trigger symptoms, such as ¼ of a garlic clove! It is then very important to get to know the products and food that are completely low FODMAP.
First and foremost, by far the most helpful tool to guide you in your journey is the Monash FODMAP App available in your app store for a one time fee of about $10 (price varies depending on the app store). The fees are used to support further research on digestive diseases at the Monash University in Australia. This app guides you through the 3 steps of the low FODMAP protocol.
At the first step, it gives you access to a food guide using 3 color codes that helps you identify foods that are ok to consume (green sign), that can be consumed in a small amount only per meal (yellow sign) and that cannot be consumed (red sign). On top of the food guide, there is also recipes and extra information on IBS and low FODMAP.
At the second step, the app is useful to help you keep track of your reintroduction by using a food and symptoms diary. There is even a way to share the information entered to your dietitian for more support. Finally, the food guide can be adjusted to help you identify which foods you can have on step 3 of the protocol.
Another very useful tool is a list of brands that offer low FODMAP foods created by The IBD Centre of British Columbia, available here. These brands may be available in some of your local stores or to order online on their website.
While shopping for your low FODMAP foods, you may want to look at their certification. There are 2 logos that certifies low FODMAP foods. In order to use these logos, the food item has to run tests in order to be considered fully low FODMAP foods. Some foods may have high FODMAP ingredients in their list, but in a small amount that would not trigger symptoms. Some examples are the FODY garlic-infused olive oil or the COBS lowFOD bread (containing wheat).
If the food you are looking at doesn’t have these certifications, you may want to consider this:
- Baking goods, breads, crackers and cereals: By using gluten free products, you make sure to eliminate traces of wheat, rye and barley which are also high in FODMAP.
- Foods containing wheat: There are lots of food items out there using wheat as thickening agent, such as sauces. If wheat is not listed in the first 5 ingredients, it is generally considered safe to use.
- Avoid using an item that lists “spices” in its ingredient list, since there may be onion or garlic in it.
Tips for cooking low FODMAP
It may not seem like it, but eating low FODMAP can be tasty. Trust me!
A rule in nutrition to prevent malnutrition and cravings is to eat a variety of foods. I often recommend to my clients to start by identifying at least 3 foods from each food groups (grains, protein, fruits/vegetables) that they like and are low FODMAP. For example:
- Grains: Gluten Free Bread, Rice, Quinoa
- Protein: Eggs, Chicken, Extra Firm Tofu
- Fruits/Vegetables: Carrots, Romaine lettuce, Mandarin
This way, it helps to have safe meals and include a minimum of variety.
Almost all the spices and herbs out there are low FODMAP. You may not be able to use onion and garlic in your cooking, but there are lots of different alternatives. Take the opportunity to discover new flavors and ways to add different tastes to your food.
Here are some very useful places to find low FODMAP recipes:
- Monash FODMAP App: Look at the recipe tab on the App. On a personal note, it is helpful but not the greatest since there are sometimes some ingredients hard to get in Canada that are being used.
- FODY Foods: This brand specializes in low FODMAP food items with all of their items being certified. Their website has a great recipe tab.
- FODMAP Everyday: This website, managed by a team of digestive health dietitians based in the United States, offers a ton of recipes with possibility to filter by sensitivity.
- Fun Without FODMAPS: This website, managed by a digestive health dietitian also based in the United States, offers lots of delicious recipes.
A quick note on probiotics for IBS
In our practice, we commonly see people using probiotics for the desire to help alleviate the symptoms. This Research Update from Monash University shows that there is too little evidence to conclude the efficiency of probiotics in IBS management. In other words, probiotics may work or may not do anything… we just don’t know!
One thing we know for sure about probiotics, is that they shouldn’t be used in the long term; there is just no benefits for it. The normal length of time is up to 12 weeks. It is very important to monitor your symptoms since in some cases, people have seen their symptoms worsen after the use of probiotics.
If you would like to start on a probiotic, you may want to consider some of these brands:
- Align Probiotics
- Bio K+ IBS Pro
- Good Belly Probiotics
Here you go! Lots of useful tips to support you better in your IBS journey!
While doing your 3-phased low FODMAP protocol, always keep in mind that often stress is a trigger that is stronger than the food itself. Don’t hesitate to reach out so one of our digestive health dietitians can offer you the support that you need and the key to success.
Ready to get to the root of your IBS symptoms and take the first steps to food freedom?
Don’t go through this journey alone, reach out to one of our Trained FODMAP Digestive Health Dietitians for support and have all the keys to success!
Find the right Digestive Health Dietitian for you to tackle your IBS symptoms by contacting us today!
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Olivier Yergeau is a Registered Dietitian in Prince George, British Columbia.