There is so much misinformation out there about the low FODMAP diet. If you think the low FODMAP diet is for life, then we have good news. The low FODMAP diet is a learning journey and you don’t need to follow it strictly forever. In this article, we will guide you through the three phases of the low FODMAP diet and give you lots of helpful tips.
This article will cover the following:
- FODMAP Chat Session with Lyndal Collins from the Monash University FODMAP Team
- An overview of the three phases
- How long should the elimination/restriction phase last?
- Where do you go to get up-to-date low and high FODMAP food lists?
- Quick tips for starting the first phase
- How does the reintroduction phase work? What foods do you focus on during this phase?
- Quick tips for starting the reintroduction phase and overcoming anxiety
- Does the personalisation phase look the same for everyone?
- Can your food intolerances change over time?
Watch The Video
Three Phases of the Low FODMAP Diet Chat Notes
Host: Alana Scott from A Little Bit Yummy
Monash University FODMAP Dietitian: Lyndal Collins
Overview of The Three Phases
The low FODMAP diet is a learning journey that helps you identify what foods trigger your gut symptoms.
The first phase is called the elimination or restriction phase. In this phase, you reduce the amount of FODMAPs you eat to see if that helps improve your Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms.
Phase two is the FODMAP Reintroduction Phase which involves a series of food challenges using high FODMAP foods to help you identify which FODMAP groups are triggering your symptoms.
The third phase is the personalisation phase. This phase is about developing a long-term diet that only restricts the FODMAP groups you are personally sensitive to. During this phase, you bring high FODMAP foods you tolerate well back into your diet.
First Phase: FODMAP Elimination or Restriction
How long should the elimination/restriction phase last?
The first phase of the low FODMAP diet is short and people typically see an improvement in their symptoms in 2 to 6 weeks. This phase should only be followed until you can tell if the low FODMAP diet is or isn’t working for you. After 6 weeks, you should move to phase two, the Reintroduction Phase.
Where do you go to get up-to-date low FODMAP food lists for the first phase?
Don’t use Google! There is a lot of misinformation about high and low FODMAP foods on the internet due to outdated information. Instead, we’d recommend you download the Monash University FODMAP Diet App, which contains the most up-to-date information and extensive food lists. The money you pay for this app goes back into low FODMAP research, so you are helping yourself by downloading the app and helping your low FODMAP community.
Quick Tips for Starting the Low FODMAP Phase
Be prepared to do the diet. Once you’ve downloaded the Monash University FODMAP Diet App read the ‘Start The Diet’ section. Next, you need to find a good time to start the diet. Ideally, this is when you aren’t too busy and don’t have too many social engagements that require you to eat out. You need enough time to change what you are eating and find low FODMAP products that suit your lifestyle.
Create a low FODMAP shopping list. Go through your pantry and stock up on low FODMAP options for foods that you would commonly eat.
Get help from a FODMAP trained dietitian who can make personalised suggestions based on your current diet. Their advice can make transitioning onto the low FODMAP diet easier.
If you need more help starting the low FODMAP diet, then here are some more resources:
Phase Two: FODMAP Reintroduction Phase
How does the reintroduction phase work? What foods do you focus on during this phase?
In the FODMAP Reintroduction Phase we want to figure out how you tolerate foods that were reduced or removed from your diet during the first phase of the diet. Working with a dietitian can make this process easier as they can personalise the reintroduction process to your needs.
Whether you do this phase with the help of a dietitian, or by yourself, you will need to complete a series of food challenges. A food challenge is where you focus on eating a food that contains only one of the FODMAP groups. You eat the challenge food in a small amount on day one and then gradually increase the amount you eat over three days to see how your body responds. The food challenge will show you if you tolerate a FODMAP group and how much you can eat before triggering symptoms.
In the diary section of the Monash University FODMAP Diet App, you can find suggested challenge foods and quantities to help you move through this phase.
Quick Tips for Starting the Reintroduction Phase and Overcoming Anxiety
It’s normal to feel anxious about starting the reintroduction phase, especially if you’ve been experiencing symptom relief during the first phase of the low FODMAP diet. However, consider the reintroduction phase an opportunity to expand your diet and bring back some of the foods you love. Usually people find that only a small number of foods or FODMAP groups are problematic and that they only need to adjust or avoid those foods.
The reintroduction phase makes it easier to go to social events and gives you a lot more flexibility when eating out. You’ll have the confidence to customise your meals to avoid your main triggers while enjoying more variety.
Knowing your specific trigger foods also helps you manage gut-based anxiety in the long term. For example, if you know garlic is a big trigger for you and you choose to go out and eat it, then you can also be prepared to manage your symptoms later. In addition, the knowledge you gain during the reintroduction phase is empowering and helps you understand your body better.
Phase Three: FODMAP Personalisation Phase
Does the personalisation phase look the same for everyone?
No, it doesn’t. We want to personalise the FODMAP diet for you, which means this phase looks different for everyone. All the information you learn during the FODMAP reintroduction phase gets put into practice. You bring the high FODMAP groups and foods you tolerate well back into your diet and leave the high FODMAP foods that trigger your symptoms out.
For example, if you know small amounts of garlic don’t trigger symptoms but larger serves do, then you only bring back the small servings. We want you to bring back as many foods as possible and personalise the diet to you. This process will help you enjoy a wider variety of foods long term.
Can your FODMAP tolerances change over time? How often should you retest FODMAP groups you’ve reacted to?
Our gut microbiome is constantly changing according to our diet and lifestyle. Because of the dynamic nature of our gut and life, your tolerance levels to FODMAP groups can change over time too.
You can go back and do a FODMAP reintroduction challenge whenever you feel like it. At a minimum, we’d suggest retesting your tolerance to problematic FODMAP groups/foods every 3-6 months. Don’t get trapped in the thinking pattern that you’ll never be able to eat something again, as tolerance levels can change and you might get a pleasant surprise when you re-challenge a FODMAP group.
Got a question?
Feel free to leave us a comment and we’ll reply to you as soon as we can.
Extra Resources & Final Thoughts
If you want to support the FODMAP work that Monash University is doing, then please download the Monash University FODMAP Diet App from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
We hope you’ve found this FODMAP chat session on the three phases of the low FODMAP Diet useful and we look forward to chatting with you again soon.
Image credit: A Little Bit Yummy