What is a Low FODMAP Diet and how can a Dietitian help?
A low FODMAP diet is a type of elimination diet that is scientifically proven to help 75% of people gain relief from symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). FODMAP is an acronym that stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols. These are types of short-chain carbohydrates found naturally in a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and dairy products that either draw water into the gut or are fermented by gut bacteria. FODMAPs can trigger symptoms such as abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, gas, diarrhoea, and/or constipation which can significantly impact your quality of life.
The low FODMAP diet involves 3 phases.
Phase 1- removing high FODMAP foods from the diet for a period of time (usually 2-6 weeks)
Phase 2- starting challenges with individual FODMAP groups to work out level of sensitivity
Phase 3- reintroduction phase to find a balance of FODMAPs that can be tolerated. This step is the most important and is often skipped. It helps find the balance between managing symptoms whilst still eating a varied, nutritious and enjoyable diet
A dietitian can play a crucial role in helping people with IBS to follow a low FODMAP diet. A dietitian can help by:
Assessing your specific needs
A dietitian can conduct a thorough nutritional assessment to determine if commencing a low FODMAP diet is safe. There are many other conditions that cause similar symptoms to IBS, including Coeliac Disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn’s and Colitis) and even some cancers such as ovarian cancer which require further medical investigation. In addition, following a restrictive low FODMAP diet may be contraindicated in people with disordered eating or an eating disorder.
Providing education on the low FODMAP diet
A dietitian can educate individuals on the science behind the low FODMAP diet and how it works to manage IBS symptoms. They can also explain which foods are high and low in FODMAPs and provide tips on how to shop, cook, eat out and travel whilst following a low FODMAP diet.
A dietitian can closely monitor an individual’s progress on the low FODMAP diet and adjust the plan as needed to overcome any practical difficulties of following the diet. They can also help provide additional strategies alongside the low FODMAP diet to help manage troublesome symptoms.
Addressing nutrient deficiencies
The low FODMAP diet can lead to nutrient deficiencies if not properly managed. A dietitian can help identify any nutrient deficiencies and provide recommendations for supplements or fortified foods to ensure nutritional needs are met.
Optimising the gut microbiome
Following a low FODMAP diet can negatively impact the gut microbiome- the complex community of bacteria and other microorganisms that live in the digestive tract and play an important role in our health. A dietitian can provide recommendations for foods and supplements that can support the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, such as probiotics and prebiotics that are FODMAP friendly. By working with a dietitian to follow a balanced low FODMAP diet, individuals can not only find relief from their IBS symptoms, but also support the health of their gut microbiome.
In conclusion, a low FODMAP diet can be an effective way to manage symptoms of IBS, but it can be challenging to follow properly without the help of an experienced gut health dietitian. A dietitian can provide education, guidance, and support and develop a personalized 3 phase low FODMAP diet. Our team of dietitians at Dietwise have a wealth of experience and are Monash University trained in the delivery of the low FODMAP diet and treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. You can see us virtually from the comfort of your own home using telehealth (phone or video) or face-to-face in our clinic. If you’re struggling with the rollercoaster of IBS symptoms and want to rediscover the joy of food and eating, get in touch with us today by contacting us on – 08 9388 2423 Call button or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can even contact us through our website here.