Top tips for starting the low FODMAP diet

Lottie picnic

Starting the low FODMAP diet can seem very daunting, confusing and even a little bit lonely. But I promise you it does get easier, and here’s some of my top tips to help you navigate and survive the low FODMAP life!

Please note that the low FODMAP diet should only be followed if prescribed by a medical professional such as your doctor or a registered dietician. Where possible you should work through this with that medical professional to ensure you are following it correctly. Unnecessarily eliminating food groups from your diet can cause longer term problems so it is very important you do it safely.

#1 Remember, diet isn’t everything
Before I go into my diet tips I think it’s important to note that your diet is most likely not the sole reason for your tummy problems. If suffering from IBS, other factors like stress and even sleep can play a big part. So even when you have your diet and trigger foods mastered, it is still important to look at the rest of the picture too. See point 10 for more thoughts on this.

#2 Download the Monash low FODMAP app
Honestly, it’s the best £7.99 you’ll ever spend. I’ve written a full review on the app here but it really has been my bible for the past few years. It’s the only app that is completely up-to-date and it was created by the founders of the low FODMAP diet so it’s absolutely reliable and accurate. It has loads of advice on navigating the diet plus a complete library of food and safe portion sizes. You can download the app on Apple’s app store here.

#3 Work with a dietitian
As mentioned above; if possible, I would really recommend working with a dietician when starting the low FODMAP diet. It’s not essential, and the Monash app is really helpful but with so much science behind the diet it can be a little confusing (especially when it comes to stacking!) so this will definitely make things easier for you, especially when it comes to the reintroduction phase.

#4 Make sure you reintroduce
Don’t panic too much about never being able to eat your favourite foods again as the elimination phase is not for life (I repeat; NOT for life!), and many people are able to successfully reintroduce a lot of foods back into their diet. This stage is really important, not only so you can shorten your list of unsafe food but also because research has shown that being on the low FODMAP diet, or any restrictive diet long term can actually reduce your good gut bacteria, so it would actually most likely worsen your symptoms!

#5 Get creative in the kitchen
Being on the low FODMAP diet doesn’t mean you have to just stick to plain foods. Despite the list seeming vast at first, there are loads of amazing foods you can still eat. Check out my list of low FODMAP foodie swaps, or my low FODMAP recipes and get creative in the kitchen!

#6 Watch your portion sizes and “FODMAP stacking”
FODMAP stacking is when you eat two or more servings of food from the same FODMAP group in one sitting, even if both foods are “green” on the Monash app. Doing this can then push your meal into the high FODMAP bracket and trigger your symptoms. Avoiding stacking can be quite tricky but personally I have tried not to focus on it too much as I found it stressful so instead I just try and ensure i have a good variety of foods and take note of anything that does cause me issues.

#7 Be careful of drinks
It’s not just food that can be high FODMAP, FODMAPs can also be found in lots of drinks. personally I stay away from anything that contains fruit juice, caffeine, dairy or a lot of sugar. I pretty much strictly stick to water, peppermint tea or gin and tonic so I’m happy! However do also check tonic water as some contain fructose!

#8 Adapt your favourite recipes
There’s lots of amazing low FODMAP recipe books, websites and Instagram accounts now, however it’s also pretty easy to adapt regular recipes. I absolutely love The Body Coach recipes as they’re so quick and simple, so I often follow these but just make some simple swaps to make them Lottie friendly!

#9 Plan ahead
Eating low FODMAP isn’t always the most convenient when out and about so where possible, always plan ahead. Research restaurants in the area in advance (you can find my top tips here) and pack LOTS of snacks!

#10 Try not to overthink
The link between our tummy and our brain (gut-brain axis) is extremely strong, which means they’re basically best friends and tell each other exactly how their feeling; so when one’s upset, the other often feels it too. When following any restrictive diet there can be a big amount of anxiety that comes with eating, especially overeating. But this anxiety can often lead to reactions such as bloating rather than it being the food itself. Although I don’t believe the multiple doctors that have said “it’s all in your head” when discussing IBS, I do think (and more importantly, science has proven) that often, psychological factors have a big impact on my IBS symptoms and have often ended up in a viscous cycle with this. If you find yourself overthinking when it comes to food you can practice things like meditation, mindfulness or even try hypnosis to help – I’ve tried a combination of all and found it to be really helpful.

I hope you found these tips helpful and if you have any of your own please let me know in the comments below.

Lots of love,
Lottie x

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