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Practical Tips for Starting a Low FODMAP Diet

November 2,2018

By Joanna Baker APD & RN

Starting out on a low FODMAP meal plan can be overwhelming. Suddenly you have to think twice every time you eat. This guide has some practical tips to get you going and on the initial phase of the low FODMAP diet and get your symptoms settled faster.

Before you start:

Before switching to a low FODMAP meal plan it is important to see your doctor and exclude serious medical conditions that can cause similar gut symptoms. We also recommend seeing a FODMAP trained Registered or Accredited Practising Dietitian to help you navigate the complexity of the FODMAP diet and make sure you are meeting your nutritional needs while on the low FODMAP diet. Following the initial exclusion phase for longer than 4-8 weeks can lead to alterations in gut microbiome and nutritional deficiencies, so it is important to move to phase two (link to blog on challenging – I might write one on this) after this time.

When to start:

There is no rule about when is the right time to start eating low FODMAP. But, since it involves making changes to your diet and restricting certain healthy foods, you need to be able to do this without compromising your health. Although it’s not a game of perfect, you also need to be able to physically provide yourself with low FODMAP meals and snacks for the duration of the Elimination phase. If you are stuck for ideas, our meal plans can help. J

Do you need to restrict all high FODMAP foods?

Since FODMAPs can take several hours to cause problems, it can be confusing and difficult to identify your triggers. I’ve seen many people get surprised by what is actually triggering them and what isn’t when they do a structured Elimination and Challenge. To keep results clear and consistent, we generally recommend limiting all high FODMAP foods or portions sizes during the initial phase of the low FODMAP diet.

What can I eat?

The low FODMAP diet is only just over 10 years old, so research is moving very quickly. Save yourself some stress, download the Monash smartphone app and see a FODMAP trained dietitian to get up to date information about what food is low FIODMAP and can be included in your low FODMAP meal plan.

Is the low FODMAP diet gluten free?

FODMAPs are the carbohydrate in wheat, barley and rye. Gluten is the protein in wheat, barley and rye. These are different molecules that often occur in the same food. Read more about the difference between FODMAPs & Gluten here. A FODMAP meal plan is also not an all or nothing, and it allows certain serves of wheat products.

Low FODMAP bread, pasta & grains include:

  • 1 slice of white or whole meal wheat bread
  • 2 slices of wheat or spelt sourdough bread or FODMAP certified bread
  • 2 slices of gluten free bread (check for high fodmap ingredients e.g. honey, inulin/chicory)
  • ½ cup serve of wheat pasta
  • Oats, rice, rice noodles, quinoa, corn, buckwheat all have low FODMAP serves
  • Gluten free pasta
  • Low FODMAP cereals e.g. Food for health, Fody, Cornflakes, Rice bubbles

Is the low FODMAP diet dairy free?

Lactose is the carbohydrate in milk and milk products. Lactose free dairy products are suitable for all phases of a low FODMAP meal plan. These include:

  • Lactose free cow’s milk, yoghurt, ice cream (check for high FODMAP fruit flavours or inulin)
  • Hard cheese & butter only contain trace amounts of carbohydrates and are naturally low FODMAP.

If you prefer non-dairy choices, you will need to look out for other FODMAP e.g. GOS found in some soy milks. Low FODMAP options include:

  • Soy milk made from soy protein
  • Calcium fortified almond or rice milk
  • Pea protein milk

​Read more about the low FODMAP diet and dairy here

How do I add flavours without garlic & onion?

It’s true that garlic and onion are high FODMAP and don’t have a low FODMAP serve. This doesn’t mean that your meal plans will be lacking in flavour though. You can use:

  • Onion or garlic infused oils
  • Herbs & spices, green part of leek, spring onion or chives
  • Low FODMAP stocks and gravy’s e.g. FODMAPPED for You, Massel or Gravox
  • Mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar & fish sauce
  • BBQ sauce, tomato sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, worcestershire sauce all have low FODMAP serve sizes

Is Sugar low FODMAP?

Yes, sugar is low FODMAP. While honey and certain fruits are limited. Low FODMAP sweeteners that can be used are:

  • Regular sugar – white, caster, brown, raw or icing sugar
  • Brown rice syrup, pure maple syrup
  • Molasses or golden syrup in small amounts
  • Check your app for low FODMAP fruits e.g. berries, citrus, bananas

Final Thoughts

Keep in mind that a low FODMAP meal plan is not a forever, while the first few days or week can be challenging it does get easier when you get to know your own personal thresholds and find new yummy foods. Switching the focus to what you can eat is mentally and emotionally kinder. You can also download 5-day dietitian developed meal plans here to get you started and settle your gut faster.

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