To reduce my irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms I have been living the low fodmap diet.
I started with discussing my issues with my GP and had a coeliac disease blood test before I stopped eating wheat. He approved my trial of the low fodmap diet since I didn't have coeliac disease. If you are not eating wheat you can't be tested for coeliac disease.
A diagnosis of coeliac disease means a strict gluten free diet for life. A wheat intolerance like the low fodmap diet means eating small amounts of wheat may be OK- these diets are very different and so the coeliac blood test is essential before starting the low fodmap diet.
Fodmaps are sugars in foods which cause bowel problems in sensitive people. High fodmap foods include milk, yoghurt, wheat (bread, wraps, rolls, pasta), onion, garlic, stone fruits, legumes, pears and apples.
Eating less of these foods reduces IBS symptoms (diarrhoea, bloating, constipation) in 75% of people with IBS. The second phase of the low fodmap diet is to challenge what reactions people get to high fodmap foods one by one.
It is important to record everything eaten and drunk and bowel symptoms each day. I have been using the Monash low fodmap app to do this.
Even I made mistakes by not knowing I was eating high fodmap foods. But remember that mistakes are not failures. If you write down your reactions to food you can treat these mistakes as challenges. For example, someone bought me a cappaccino one day and I drank it despite it not being on lactose free milk. I had wind that night and knew the cause! I treated it like a lactose challenge.
It can be overwhelming when first starting the diet. At first I saw all the foods I couldn't eat but after a few weeks I made use of the foods I could eat.
There are two low fodmap labelling programs which are pictured below which is a help.
Below are some foods that I have been eating on the low fodmap diet. In my next blog I will go through how my challenges went.
Leanne is an experienced dietitian who is passionate about helping people eat well.