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5 Signs a Low-FODMAP Diet Might Be Right for You

Katherine Brooking, RD - Blogs
By Katherine Brooking, MS, RDRegistered dietitianMay 10, 2018
From the WebMD Archives

Have digestive issues taken over your life? You’re afraid to fly, go out to dinner, or even have sex, because you don’t know when that “need-bathroom-now” moment is going to strike.

When belly aches, gas, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea are a frequent problem, it’s time to see your doctor to look for the underlying cause. Many times, these symptoms are indicators of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). According the American College of Gastroenterology, IBS is one of the most common GI disorders, afflicting about 20 percent of the population. It’s so common that is accounts for 40 percent of all appointments with gastroenterologists.

The good news is that research suggests that people with IBS may be able to reduce – or in some cases eliminate – their digestive symptoms by following a low-FODMAP diet. FODMAPs are carbohydrates that can be harder to digest for some individuals with so-called “functional gastrointestinal disorders”, like IBS. FODMAPs stands for Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. Some high FODMAP foods include wheat, onions, garlic, legumes, milk, honey, apples, dried fruit, some sugar substitutes, and added fibers.

While everyone experiences the symptoms of IBS differently, here are 5 signs that a low-FODMAP diet may be right for you:*

1. You’ve become a bathroom sleuth. No matter where you are, your first line of business is to scope out where the nearest bathroom is. You may actually plan your outdoor activities — hikes or jogs — around where you know there’s a bathroom.

2. You look five months pregnant after a meal. Some people who suffer from IBS experience major bloating and distension after eating. You may feel you’ve gone from your normal size to five-months-pregnant-size.

3. You’re in the no-fly zone. Your IBS symptoms may have you so rattled that you avoid traveling because you feel safer close to home, near your own bathroom. And if you must fly, you’ll pick your seat based on close proximity to the bathroom.

4. You skip sex! Your IBS symptoms may be so severe or embarrassing that you avoid sex out of fear that you may pass gas or need to run to the bathroom once things get going in the bedroom.

5. Eating ‘healthy’ doesn’t seem to help. You’ve tried eating more fruits and veggies, going gluten-free, and adding more fiber to your diet, but you still have symptoms. This could be because many healthy foods –  including certain fruits and vegetables – contain FODMAPS.

By eliminating high-FODMAP foods from your diet you may reduce some, or even all, of your unpleasant symptoms. Because there are many high-FODMAP foods, it does take a commitment, and there’s no room for cheating on this diet. However, this is only for the elimination phase that typically lasts from two to six weeks.

After that, you can gradually reintroduce individual high-FODMAP foods back into your diet, keeping only the ones that cause no symptoms. While this may seem hard, there are now some food brands, including FODMAPPED, FODY Foods, Rachel Pauls, and others that have created meals and/or snacks to help keeping to a low-FODMAP plan much easier.

* Check with your doctor to before starting a new diet

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About the Author
Katherine Brooking, MS, RD

Katherine Brooking is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition education from Columbia University. She is dedicated to helping people have better health and live richer lives through sound nutrition and good lifestyle choices.

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