When you fail a FODMAP challenge you might feel like banishing those FODMAP foods forever… But do you really need to? The good news is that FODMAP intolerances change over time.
Our bodies are complex and many of our bodies’ reactions still remain a mystery. We don’t know the exact cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, but we do know that multiple factors can influence our ability to tolerate FODMAPs:
- Type and diversity of gut flora (1)
- Stress and anxiety levels
- Damage to the small intestine (most common in coeliac disease or IBD) (1)
- Visceral hypersensitivity (how sensitive the nerve endings in our gut are) (1)
- Overall health and wellbeing
This means the type and amount of FODMAPs you can tolerate can change over time depending on what else is going on in your world.
Stress and anxiety is a good example. You might find that when you travel and enjoy a relaxing holiday you can tolerate more high FODMAP foods. The opposite is also true and if you are going through a stressful time, you might find you need to go back on the low FODMAP diet for a couple of weeks until your GI symptoms settle.
Revisiting FODMAP Testing
A long term restrictive FODMAP diet is not recommended and we want you to enjoy as much food freedom as possible. This means we encourage you to regularly retest FODMAP challenges you failed , to see if your FODMAP thresholds have changed.
If you are feeling concerned or overwhelmed by the thought of retesting, don’t forget that you can challenge with a smaller amount of the FODMAP, so if you react it shouldn’t be as strong.
When I was initially diagnosed with IBS and coeliac disease I was a severe fructose malabsorber. I failed my fructose breath test miserably and then the follow up fructose food challenge. After both tests I spent several days glued to the toilet and suffered from crippling cramps. Needless to say as I moved onto a modified low FODMAP diet, foods containing excess fructose were not included. However, as I’ve been experimenting with my food I’ve noticed I can now get away with a larger serve of canned tomatoes or honey cured bacon without any ill effects. It certainly seems like my fructose tolerance is on the rise.
I took the plunge and re-challenged excess fructose using honey. I started with 1 teaspoon of honey and then increased to 2 tablespoons over the course of 3 days. Apart from a very minor amount of wind and bloating after day 3 the test was a success! I am super excited that I can now freely enjoy honey, mango, boysenberries, and asparagus again.
My dietitian’s theory is that I initially wasn’t absorbing fructose due to damage caused by my coeliac disease. Now that my coeliac disease is under control I can process fructose more efficiently and I am also absorbing iron again.
Over the next few months I will slowly be testing the other FODMAP groups to see if any of my other threshold levels have changed.