The low FODMAP diet is a science-based nutritional approach used to manage symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In fact, the low FODMAP diet helps minimize digestive distress in 3 out of 4 people living with IBS. There are 3 distinct phases of the low FODMAP diet. Let’s start with the basics of the low FODMAP diet and work our way through a brief overview of 3 phases of the diet.
What the FODMAP?
I know, the term FODMAP is a new one for many; it’s an acronym that stands for fermentable oligo-saccharides, di-saccharides, mono-saccharides and polyols (sugar alcohols). Wow, those scientific terms are a mouthful! Don’t worry there will not be a quiz at the end of this post. The term saccharide means sugar and FODMAPs are small sugars (and fibers) that are poorly absorbed in the intestine and can trigger IBS symptoms such as abdominal pain, gas, bloating or alteration in bowel habits.
FODMAP sugar and fibers can be found in everyday foods from onion, garlic, wheat to milk. Even apples, pears and watermelon are rich in FODMAPs. Good news! There are many nourishing and delicious low FODMAP foods too! All food groups are included on a low FODMAP diet so there are plenty of foods to choose from.
You can check out our beautiful Low FODMAP and Gluten-free Grocery & Stock up List to guide you.
A Word to the Wise
For starters, do not start a low FODMAP diet without proper evaluation from your doctor. This nutritional approach is not for everyone. The 3 phase low FODMAP diet is utilized to manage symptoms of IBS. And, for those with a diagnosis of IBS, you should still discuss with your doctor or registered dietitian to see if the low FODMAP diet is appropriate for you. If possible, work with a registered dietitian with expertise in the low FODMAP diet. An expert dietitian can provide individualized guidance to make grocery shopping, menu planning and label reading a whole lot easier!
The Low FODMAP Diet by Phases
Let’s get into the nitty gritty of this 3 phase nutritional approach...
Phase 1: The elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet
The initial phase of the low FODMAP diet is called the elimination phase. This phase is generally followed for about 2-6 weeks. During the elimination phase, foods rich in FODMAPs are eliminated from the diet. Check out Epicured’s grocery and pantry list for foods to enjoy during the low FODMAP elimination phase.
Did you know all of Epicured’s menu items are low FODMAP elimination phase friendly? It’s true! So peruse and enjoy the 70 plus low FODMAP menu offerings on Epicured.com. Low FODMAP + gluten free tacos, anyone?
Phase 2: The reintroduction phase of the low FODMAP diet
During this second phase of the low FODMAP diet, FODMAP-containing foods are systematically added back into the diet to learn which FODMAPs trigger your personal digestive symptoms. Once you determine which foods you tolerate and which ones you do not, you can personalize and expand your diet. The reintroduction of FODMAPs is an essential part of the 3 phase low FODMAP elimination diet. Check out our brand new Phase 2 Low FODMAP Reintroduction + Symptom Tracker handout to make this phase a whole lot easier.
Phase 3: The personalization phase of the low FODMAP diet
During this phase of the low FODMAP diet, foods that have been deemed tolerable in the reintroduction phase of the diet are slowly added back into the diet. The end goal of the low FODMAP elimination diet is to enjoy the most varied diet possible while maintaining good symptom control. Tolerance to FODMAPs can change over time, so re-doing some of the FODMAP reintroductions on occasion is a good idea. An over-restricted diet is not the goal of the low FODMAP diet! Gaining good symptom control to allow for a fuller life and delicious food IS the goal!
Epicured has a number of complimentary handouts reviewed by our in-house FODMAP expert, Kate Scarlata, MPH, RDN to help guide you through a low FODMAP diet.
Resources to guide you:
Low FODMAP Diet Reintroduction Phase + Symptom Tracker handout
Low FODMAP & Gluten-free Grocery & Stock Up List
Low FODMAP fiber guide
Low FODMAP get more (how to maximize nutrition on a low FODMAP diet)