Hello my friends. We’ve been getting a lot of emails from you lately, which we love! However, we’ve been seeing a common theme. Lots of you want to know if you have to restart the low FODMAP diet (aka the elimination phase / first phase) if you eat a high FODMAP food.
That is a great question so we’ve decided to write a dedicated help article on the topic.
Before we give you the answer to the question we want to give you a quick 101 on how FODMAPs trigger symptoms.
How do FODMAPs trigger symptoms?
When you eat a high FODMAP food it goes down your throat, through your stomach and into your small intestine where your body starts absorbing the nutrients from your food. However, the FODMAPs aren’t broken down and absorbed here, instead they continue through the digestive tract and begin pulling water into the small bowel (this can lead to diarrhoea).
Next the FODMAPs pass onto our large bowel. Here they become food for our gut bugs. As our gut bugs eat the FODMAPs, they ferment them and this creates gas which can lead to bloating, wind, distension, abdominal pain as well as constipation or diarrhoea.
The FODMAPs usually move through our intestines within a three-day period. Once you’ve pooped out the high FODMAP food, it can no longer trigger symptoms, and you should feel back to normal after a couple more days.
Do high FODMAP foods cause damage to our bowel?
Nope. High FODMAP foods don’t cause damage to our bowel even though they can trigger unpleasant symptoms. The gut symptoms are caused by our gut bugs fermenting the FODMAPs.
Do you need to restart the low FODMAP diet if you eat a high FODMAP food?
No, you don’t. The whole goal of the low FODMAP diet is to find out if cutting down the number of high FODMAP foods you eat, significantly reduces your gut-based symptoms.
As we’ve just learned that the high FODMAP food will normally pass through your system within a three day period. Then any symptoms you’ve experienced should start to settle.
This means you don’t need to restart the low FODMAP phase (elimination phase) of the diet, instead focus on eating low FODMAP foods and let your symptoms settle. Once your symptoms have been settled for 1 to 2 weeks, you can start the reintroduction phase and begin your FODMAP challenges. Just remember you don’t want to stay in the first phase of the low FODMAP diet any longer than you need to.
Does that mean you can have a high FODMAP cheat meal each week?
We understand that every now and then you’ll accidentally eat a high FODMAP food and that’s okay. However, we don’t recommend that you regularly eat high FODMAP foods during the first phase. If you do eat ‘cheat meals’ on a regular basis then you won’t know if the low FODMAP diet is working and it will take longer to identify your food triggers.
Do you want to radically improve your gut symptoms?
No thanks, my gut is perfect.
If you feel like you need to eat ‘cheat’ food all the time, then look for low FODMAP swaps for those foods and take time to plan out some really tasty meals to eat each day. If you find your meals satisfying and tasty then you will be less likely to intentionally eat high FODMAP foods. If you need some recipe inspiration then check out our Recipe Club for 600+ low FODMAP recipes and meal ideas.
So, there you have it! You don’t need to restart the low FODMAP diet if you eat a high FODMAP food. Instead focus on removing the high FODMAP food and choosing low FODMAP options instead. Once your symptoms have been settled for 1 to 2 weeks you can start the reintroduction phase of the low FODMAP diet.
Do you have questions about the low FODMAP diet? Let us know by emailing [email protected]