If you’ve recently started experiencing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you might be confused about which foods are inducing flare-ups since they tend to vary from person to person. While challenging, identifying your trigger foods is key to managing IBS and reducing symptoms. For many people with gastrointestinal issues, trigger foods often contain FODMAPs. This stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. These are types of carbohydrate that are difficult to digest because they pull water into the intestine and result in fermentation in the intestinal tract – i.e., they cause gas.
The good news is that there’s a way to pinpoint which foods are causing gastrointestinal distress. You should work with your doctor to determine a tailored plan for you, in the meantime here are a few general guidelines for the FODMAP elimination diet:
Know Which Foods Contain FODMAPs
FODMAPs are sugars, including fructose, lactose, frucans, galacans, and polyols. These are present in a number of foods at varying levels, but some of the more common high-FODMAP foods include:
- High-lactose dairy
- Canned fruit
- Stone fruits
- Artificial sweeteners
- High-fructose corn syrup
Here’s a more comprehensive list of foods high in FODMAPs, as well as those that should be safe to eat. As with any diet, be sure to keep track of what you eat each day and how much. Cutting out foods you commonly eat, particularly fruits and vegetables, may result in malnutrition, which is another reason it’s important to consult with your doctor when developing a plan.
Eliminate FODMAPs From Your Diet
It may not be easy for you, but it’s essential to cut out all of these foods if you want to pinpoint your triggers. There are some tips and tricks you can use to stick to a low FODMAP diet, though. These are just a couple: - Print out a list of foods that are both high and low in FODMAPs and put it on your fridge for easy reference. It may help to highlight foods that you eat regularly to remind yourself to stay away from them for the time being.
- Always look on the bright side of life, and in this case, that means focusing on foods you’re allowed, rather than the ones you can’t eat. You may even find that you’ve developed a taste for foods you tend to avoid, or even discover a new favorite.
Gradually Reintroduce FODMAPs Into Your Diet
After two weeks of avoiding FODMAP foods, you can start to reintroduce the carbohydrate into your diet one at a time. It’s important that you pay attention to how you feel after eating, and keeping a food journal may be the most reliable way to track your diet and symptoms. Again, speak to your doctor about which foods you should reintroduce first, as certain proteins may be difficult to digest after abstaining for a while.
Give us a call today to talk to a gastroenterologist about whether a low-FODMAP diet can be effective for you, and how you should approach it.