Getting Started With the Low-FODMAP Diet

Butternut squash soup

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If you follow the low-FODMAP diet diligently, you may be able to relieve some of your troublesome digestive symptoms. Many people suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which can cause gas, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation. The low-FODMAP diet, however, is one treatment designed to get to the root of those problems.

By eliminating and reintroducing common food triggers, named FODMAPs by the founding team at Monash University, IBS patients may be able to alleviate their symptoms and improve the quality of their lives.

Though it’s not an easy diet to follow, here are some resources to help you get started on the low-FODMAP diet.

Your Calorie Goals

Researchers at Monash University are adamant that the low-FODMAP diet isn’t a weight-loss quick fix. However, you can still incorporate your calorie goals into the program because many of the compliant foods are low in fat and calories.

Your calorie needs depend on factors unique to you: your height, weight, activity level, and goal weight. Plus these factors into the calculator below to determine your caloric targets for weight loss, gain, or maintenance.

Just remember that getting to the root cause of your IBS symptoms is the primary goal of the low-FODMAP diet. While you may lose weight if you implement proper diet and exercise, don’t forget to keep track of your digestive health throughout the duration of the program.

Hydration Tips

The beverage options on the low-FODMAP diet are basic: coffee, herbal tea, and plain water. Ideally, water is the best option as it keeps you hydrated and has no ill effects on your digestive tract. 

Fruit juices and beverages with high fructose corn syrup are not recommended because they both are high in FODMAPs and added sugar. Similarly, if you choose to drink coffee, try to avoid adding milk or dairy creamers.

If you’re not sure how much water to drink in a day, pay attention to the signs of dehydration. If your urine is dark yellow, you may need to increase your water intake. 

Grocery Staples

Following the low-FODMAP diets requires a lot of planning, paying close attention to ingredients, and meal prepping.

The best way to get started on the right foot is to stock up on low-FODMAP groceries and plan your meals ahead of time.

Here are some compliant foods to add to your grocery list:

Watch out for some of the common non-compliant foods: Garlic, onions, cauliflower, apples, peaches, pears, wheat, rye, beans, lentils, cashews, high fructose corn syrup, yogurt, ice cream, and soy milk.

Keeping Your Kitchen FODMAP Friendly

Stock up on compliant starches

The low-FODMAP diet encourages whole foods rather than processed foods. While this is a healthier option, it can be expensive. 

Starches are some of the most affordable foods, especially when purchased in bulk. On the low-FODMAP diet, you can enjoy russet potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, oats, quinoa, and brown rice. 

These foods are cost-effective as well as great sources of fiber, protein, and other nutrients.

Always have something prepped in advance

Some diets for weight loss anticipate that there will be slip-ups. You might fall off the low-FODMAP wagon, but meal prepping sets you up for the best chances of success.

When in doubt, have low-FODMAP foods prepared in the fridge for when you’re on a time-constraint. You can make some foods in large batches — oatmeal, baked potatoes, sauteed veggies, grilled protein sources, and more.

This will encourage you to stick to the diet and reduce temptation around you.

Rotate your fruits and veggies

Fresh produce can be expensive, so shop in the frozen section or farmer’s markets for the best deals. Additionally, shopping seasonally can be a more cost-effective way of stocking up on veggies.

While limited fruit is recommended on the low-FODMAP diet, a variety of veggies are encouraged. Try to mix it up each week. If you prepared steamed carrots, bok choy, and cabbage one week, try to make eggplant, kale, and green beans the next week. 

Not only does this help you stay interested in your food, but it also helps you to get a variety of nutrients despite being on a restrictive diet.

Recipe Ideas

With a limited number of ingredients to choose from, cooking delicious meals on the low-FODMAP diet seems like a challenge. However, you can still enjoy your food while on the path to improved digestion with these FODMAP-friendly recipes. 

Breakfast

  • Oatmeal made with almond milk and topped with blueberries, banana slices, and maple syrup
  • Banana peanut butter smoothie
  • Scrambled eggs and hashbrowns
  • Low-FODMAP certified cereal with almond milk or lactose-free milk
  • Breakfast muffins made with spelt flour

Lunch/Dinner

Snacks

  • A handful of mixed nuts: Almonds, brazil nuts, peanuts, and walnuts
  • Peanut butter and banana
  • Low-FODMAP certified granola bars
  • Lactose-free yogurt topped with granola
  • Chocolate hazelnut bites

Dessert

Cooking and Meal Planning

Planning ahead is the key to success on the low-FODMAP diet. That, and a well-stocked fridge and pantry. Some food items are able to grab n’ go — like baby carrots and bananas — while others require some preparation.

Make some foods in batches

Some low-FODMAP foods can be made in large batches. Dedicate a little time at the beginning of the week and reap the benefits for days.

You prep meals ahead of time or frequently used ingredients. Prep essentials like your protein sources in large batches. Make a pot of brown rice and a vat of steamed veggies (carrots, zucchini, green beans, etc.), and you have a week of dinners waiting for you in the fridge.

Save time with frozen produce

If you’re crunched for time, don’t waste the time you do have on rinsing, peeling, and chopping veggies. Stock up on bags of frozen vegetables. If you buy vegetable medleys, just make sure there aren’t any high-FODMAP veggies in there. 

This makes it easy to bulk up your savory meals with nutrient-dense veggies without spending extra time and money on fresh produce.

Don’t be afraid of convenience foods

The low-FODMAP diet consists heavily of whole, unprocessed foods. However, there are some exceptions.

You can find low-FODMAP versions of the following convenience foods: Cereal, instant oats, granola bars, breads, crackers, and more.

While these shouldn’t make up the majority of your diet, they can help you in a pinch. When you’re having cravings, you can also make low-FODMAP comfort foods like cookies or buy lactose-free ice cream for a Friday night dessert.

Download the FODMAP app

The experts at Monash University released their own low-FODMAP app. It contains recipes, tips, and guides to help you stay on track during the program. 

A Word From Verywell

Starting a new diet can be exciting and stressful, especially one like the low-FODMAP diet that’s geared towards improving your digestive health. Though the program is only meant to last a few weeks, you can take what you’ve learned on the diet and apply it to your lifestyle. Once you’ve identified possible food triggers, you can implement some dietary restrictions to improve the quality of your life.

The low-FODMAP diet has long been regarded as the most effective treatment for IBS patients. Some experts believe it can even help patients with other digestive disorders. However, the program isn’t a cure or a quick fix. With a well-planned diet, regular exercise, and proper hydration, you should be on your way to a balanced lifestyle with minimal IBS symptoms.

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