Posted on September 25, 2020 · Posted in News

A Dietitians Experience of the LOW FODMAP DIET

For my good friends and those who have worked alongside me in recent years you will be aware I have just a few little digestive issues.  I am pleased to say this is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).  For any bowel issues or change in bowel habits it is important that you don’t assume IBS but get it checked out as I did several years ago.

Over the years I have tried to support many people with similar issues with varying degrees of success.  Some would get relief from milk free, others low fibre, others wheat free.  There appeared to be little consistency as to why.  That is until I came across the low FODMAP (Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Monosaccharide And Polyol) plan.  Symptoms of IBS for many are caused by the fermentation (hence the F for Fermenation) of certain foods in the gut by our bacteria.  Our gut bacteria or microbiota is unique to us and no two individuals are the same.  It also changes over time dependent on medications, environment and diet.  When you know the issue is fermentation in the gut, then the symptoms may make sense, especially to any of you who brew their own beers or wine.  Symptoms such as bloating, tummy sounds, flatulence (the gas has to go somewhere), and for many pain (especially painful for those who do not have flatulence or burps).

The low FODMAP diet is an elimination diet where all the fermentable foods are cut out.  These include onions, garlic, wheat and diary (among many other fruits and veg).  It can be overwhelming to think of what you CANNOT eat, but conversely there are plenty of foods you can!  70% of people get symptom relief on the plan.  Fantastic results if you are in that 70%, but if not dietary wise there is not much more to offer as yet!  What we do know from studies is probiotics can help.  Also if you are in the 30% group who get little relief there may be a stress and anxiety element that needs to be managed with or without support.

Even if you get fantastic relief from your symptoms it is still important you start FODMAP reintroduction.  This is where you introduce only one food at a time in increasing amounts.  The purpose of this stage is to discover what foods you are intolerant to and how much you can have before you get symptoms.  It is a painstaking process but worth it.  There are a couple of apps that may help from Monash university Australia (great if you are looking up Kangaroo steaks!) or Food has a more UK based database of foods

For the past month I have been following the low FODMAP plan to quite a degree of success!  I am a happy bee!  I have discovered with the reintroduction that I am sensitive to too much milk, bread and garlic.  The jury is out on onions but I have some way to go!  IBS is a functional gut disorder.  It is not an allergy and there is no clinical harm done by eating foods I know I am sensitive too.  I am just more informed as to the consequences!  Given it is not an allergy involving the immune system, expensive online food allergy tests may be of limited value in diagnosing foods that pose a problem.

This whole experience has really taught me the value of planning and involving the family. It is not the easiest and many convenient choices are taken out of your hands.  Also, in this country onions are in everything!  We are fond of an onion or two!  In this regard I really struggled to be onion free completely.   Eating out is not easy as I have heard from people who have followed the plan but in this current COVID 19 environment I have not had the same opportunities or desire to venture to cafes and restaurants.

Drop me a line if you have any concerns about your own gut health, or any personal experiences relating to the low FODMAP plan!  We are all still learning!!

Happy tummies folks. X

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