If you are experiencing bloating, diarrhea, cramping, or any other gastrointestinal condition, a low-FODMAP diet can be your best friend. This diet eliminates the symptoms and offers quick relief. However, following up with a low-FODMAP diet can be repetitive and lead to food fatigue. Consequently, you end up eating high-FODMAP food that can retrigger the symptoms and worsen the condition. For this reason, you need to develop a low fodmap meal plan that can help you stay on track.
What exactly is a low-FODMAP diet, and how could you plan your meals and not get bored of them? Today, we’ll find the answer to these. We will tell you about the low-FODMAP diet, the effective ways to draft a low fodmap meal plan, its benefits, and much more.
What is FODMAP?
The acronym FODMAP translates to “fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols.” These are short-chain carbohydrates (sugars) that the small intestine fails to process correctly.
Consequently, the poorly digested sugars can bring water into our small intestine while the microbes feed on these sugars. This results in gas in the stomach that leads to cramping, bloating, and other conditions.
Therefore, doctors often recommend a low fodmap meal planto tackle such gastrointestinal conditions. A low FODMAP diet contains a lesser number of short-chain carbohydrates that cause digestive problems. Furthermore, a low fodmap meal planalso targets to help people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) by figuring out the foods causing the symptoms and how frequently to avoid them.
Dietary Sources of FODMAP
A low FODMAP diet can prevent many gastrointestinal problems, but the question is what foods can cause these conditions. Let’s take a look at the sources of the FODMAP:
We mostly find them in fruits and vegetables, such as onion and garlic. Moreover, wheat, legumes, and rye also contain rich doses.
Lactose is the main carbohydrate that sources Disaccharides. It is found commonly in dairy products such as cheese, milk, and yogurt.
Found primarily on sweet food such as honey and various fruits such as mangoes. The main carbohydrate that sources it is Fructose.
Low-calorie sweet foods such as sugar-free gum and some vegetables and fruits like lychee and blackberries are the primary source.
FODMAP Food to Eat and Avoid
Now that we’re familiar with what a low-FODMAP diet is and the dietary sources of the four groups, it’s time to discuss the specific foods to eat and avoid. When developing your low fodmap meal plan, a key factor is to consider the food that should never become a part of your diet.
Let’s go over ten foods to eat and avoid when making your low fodmap meal plan.
Low-FODMAP Food to Eat
The following foods should be a part of your low fodmap meal plan:
High-FODMAP Food to Avoid
You should avoid the following foods in your low fodmap meal plan:
Stages to Follow a Low-FODMAP Diet
Following a low fodmap meal plancan be repetitive, stressful, and challenging. The fact that you only limit yourself to certain low FODMAP foods can have you crave other foods with high-FODMAP dose. Following a low fodmap meal planinvolves these three stages.
This stage focuses on putting a stop to consuming high-FODMAP food items. It means the items listed above under the high-FODMAP food to avoid should not become a part of your meal plan.
People beginning with a low fodmap meal planbelieve this stage would last for a long time. Contrary, this period does not continue forever and only lasts up to 8 weeks. It is because the inclusion of FODMAP in our diet is necessary for the health and optimum performance of our stomach.
The results differ from person to person. Some people witness an improvement in digestive problems within one week, while others go up to full eight weeks. When you feel confident that the symptoms have subdued, you can move on to the next stage.
In this stage, you would reintroduce high-FODMAP food into your diet. There are multiple reasons behind this. The reintroduction can help identify the types of FODMAP foods you do not tolerate. Rarely people are sensitive to all of them. Another reason is to establish a limit to the amount of FODMAP you can tolerate in the identified food.
During this period, you can test each food separately for several days. However, it’s crucial to note that you must continue to restrict the usage of high-FODMAP foods until you reach stage 3. The purpose of this stage is to identify the food and their amount that you can tolerate, but that should remain as restricted as possible. Therefore, we suggest seeking the advice of a professional dietitian who can guide you about the high-FODMAP foods you can tolerate and their amount. They will advise how frequently to consume them to maintain your low fodmap meal plan.
In this phase, you will begin personalizing your low-FODMAP diet. Also known as the “modified low-FODMAP diet”, this period will focus on bringing in some high-FODMAP food into your diet, depending on the tolerance identified in the second stage.
Reaching this point is vital for many reasons. To start, you get more variety in your low fodmap meal plan, meaning there’s a lesser chance of deviating from the diet. Furthermore, your stomach needs a specific dose of FODMAP. Including high-FODMAP food in your plan can help achieve good gut health.
Questions to Consider Before you Get Started
Before you begin drafting a low fodmap meal plan, make sure you need one. The following questions can help you identify whether you require a low-FODMAP diet.
Do You Have IBS?
The first question you should answer is whether you have IBS. There is a wide range of digestive problems, and some are severe than others. Therefore, we recommend having an appointment with a doctor. They will rule out the possibility of having harsh conditions that a low-FODMAP diet cannot tackle, such as colon cancer.
Once your doctor ensures you don’t have any severe conditions, you must fulfill the following criteria to confirm you have IBS:
2. Experiencing stool symptoms in the form of defecation and change in the frequency and appearance of stool.
3. Existing stomach pain at least once a week for the last three months.
4. Feeling persistent digestive condition symptoms, such as cramping, for the last three months.
Have you Followed First-Line Diet Strategies?
A low fodmap meal plan can be both time and resource-consuming. Consequently, medical professionals first recommend first-line diet strategies for people diagnosed with IBS. Therefore, the second question you should ask yourself is whether you’ve followed first-line diet strategies before implementing a low fodmap meal plan. If you had tried a process and it failed for you, then you may continue with the low-FODMAP diet.
Can you Follow the Plan?
While it may look easy at first, a low fodmap meal plancan be challenging to follow. You start to crave food with high carbs within the first few weeks of the diet. Therefore, the next question to ask is whether you’re up to the challenge of maintaining your low-FODMAP diet throughout its course.
Following are a few steps you can take to help you ensure you stay on the right track throughout the diet.
- Figure out what you need to buy and make a shopping list of items with low carbs that you like the most.
- Get rid of the high-FODMAP food. Having these in your storage means more chances of including them in your food. Clear your fridge of these items.
- Familiarize yourself with a few low fodmap snacksand foods in the menu of your favorite restaurants, so you know what to offer when you dine out next time.
What Should Your Low-FODMAP Shopping List Include?
Speaking of remaining on track with the low fodmap meal plan, it starts with making the proper shopping list. Your whole low-carb diet would be fruitless if you pick up the wrong items. Before heading to the grocery store, you should have a shopping list prepared. It should include the following items:
- Vegetables such as tomatoes, spinach, bean sprouts, and carrots.
- Fruits including strawberries, blueberries, bananas, and pineapples.
- Chicken, egg, beef, and other items that contain protein.
- Cooking oil such as olive and coconut oil.
- Millet, oats, maize, and other whole grains, and seeds such as sunflower and linseeds.
- Peanuts, walnuts, almonds, and other nuts.
- Green tea, white tea, black tea, peppermint tea, and coffee for beverages.
- Condiments such as salt, pepper, ginger, and chili.
However, these items may include FODMAP because manufacturers add them as a low-calorie alternative for sugar and fat and prebiotics. Therefore, always check the food packaging to see if FODMAP is there on the ingredients list.
A Sample Low FODMAP Meal
Now that you have the shopping list prepared and have purchased the items from the grocery store, what’s next? To proceed further, you must make a low fodmap meal plan. Some people do not plan and instead eat whatever they feel like at the time of the meal. However, we suggest having a plan for at least the week ahead.
This way, you can keep a balance between several items in your low-FODMAP inventory. Imagine consuming all the things you love in your low-FODMAP shopping list within the first week. And then having to eat the items you least like for the remaining course. To give you an idea, we have drafted a two-day sample low fodmap meal plan below.
- Breakfast: Omelet accompanied with spinach
- Lunch: Margherita Pizza (gluten-free)
- Snack: Peanut Butter
- Dinner: Beef Stew
- Dessert: Chopped Strawberries
- Breakfast: Boiled Eggs and Cheddar Cheese
- Lunch: Vegetable Soup accompanied with crackers (gluten-free)
- Snack: Carrot sticks or walnuts
- Dinner: Chicken fried rice
- Dessert: Chocolate sorbet
What if you’re a Vegetarian?
Various vegetables are a good fit for a low fodmap meal plan since they contain low carbohydrates and are rich in protein. Therefore, you can follow a low-FODMAP diet even if you’re a vegetarian.
However, a low fodmap meal plancan be relatively more challenging to follow for a vegetarian. It is because high-FODMAP exists in most vegetarian diets due to the inclusion of high-protein and carb vegetables such as asparagus and legumes.
It requires more consideration when switching to a low fodmap meal plan. Because you may now only include a small portion of these high-carb vegetables in your diet. Nonetheless, many high-protein and low-carb alternatives exist for vegetarians, such as eggs, nuts, and seeds that make the diet doable.
No Improvement after Low-FODMAP diet?
The time the low-FODMAP diet takes to show improvement in symptoms depends from person to person. Some people may notice relief in their condition within the first few weeks, and others after completing the course. However, you may not witness any improvement in your condition even when the whole diet ends. When this happens, you must consider the following steps before giving up on the low fodmap meal plan.
Recheck the items
Check the food items once again to see if they have FODMAP. Even when you’ve purchased low-FODMAP items, read their packaging to ensure they don’t include FODMAP.
Reassess the FODMAP Information
Maybe you’ve included some food items in your diet that you are not tolerant with, or the quantity of these items is too much to retrigger the symptoms. Retest this information to be sure you do not include food items you’re intolerant with.
Consider Exposure to Other Factors
Diet is not the only factor that can cause IBS. Other factors that can trigger it include stress, emotional problems, medication, and many others. Ensure your mind and body are free from the influence of these factors to get relief from digestive issues.
To conclude, a low fodmap meal plan can offer relief from different digestive and gastrointestinal problems, including the IBS. However, following a low-FODMAP diet can be repetitive. It can cause food fatigue since it goes on for as long as six months if the digestive condition is severe. On the other hand, you need to maintain the carbohydrate level for better stomach health; hence, FODMAP inclusion in your diet is necessary. Therefore, we propose seeking professional advice before beginning your low fodmap meal plan. It will assist your body in meeting the carbohydrate requirement and reducing digestive problems at the same time.