When is it time to reintroduce FODMAPs? (3 simple ways to know!)

When is it time to reintroduce FODMAPs? (3 simple ways to know!)

3 Simple ways to know it's time to reintroduce FODMAPs into your diet. If you have IBS, you may have gotten good at eliminating FODMAPs, but most people can bring many foods back to their diets and still feel great. Click through to find out when it's time to test your fodmap tolerance.

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When you start the FODMAP Diet, the goal is to hit the reset button on your body by eliminating as many high-FODMAP foods as possible.

But how do you know when it’s time move out of that restrictive phase and bring FODMAPs back into your diet? 

It’s not about a certain period of time, and it’s definitely not about being 100% symptom-free.

Instead there are 3 specific factors that let you know when to test your FODMAP tolerance so you can eventually enjoy a whole lot more variety in your diet.

To go in depth on this topic, watch this episode of Calm Belly TV. I cover the 3 factors in about the first 10 minutes, but if you’re not pressed for time there are some great Q&As from the live viewers!

You can also read the key points from the video below!

When is it time to reintroduce FODMAPs?

#1 You've seen consistent improvement in your IBS symptoms

  • You don’t have experience 100% improvement in symptoms
  • 75% improvement is awesome, 50% is still great
  • At 50-75% improvement you feel well enough to easily recognize reactions to high-FODMAP foods when you test them
  • If you do the elimination phase for 6 to 8 weeks, feeling that level of symptom relief for about a 4-week period qualifies as consistent

#2 You've identified and learned to manage other factors that affect digestion 

  • Other factors include stress in all its forms, hormonal fluctuations, exercise level, the overall volume of food you eat, the timing of meals, or how fast you eat
  • Your goal during the FODMAP testing phase is to keep your IBS symptoms as well-controlled as possible, so mastering those other factors is an important part of the elimination phase
  • Becoming more aware of your body and what it needs (NOT a common skill!) is one of the great side effects of the elimination phase

#3 You have a black belt in taking FODMAPs out of your diet

In other words, you’re really good at doing the elimination phase, and you know what your body feels like when you have maximum symptom control.

This is important so you can easily recognize reactions when you test high-FODMAP foods >>> You need to know which ones are truly triggering your symptoms AND which ones are not.

Here’s what a black belt in FODMAP looks like:

  • You know you’re not missing any hidden FODMAPs in your meals 
  • You understand how portion sizes impact FODMAP load
  • You know where sneaky FODMAPs can hide in restaurant meals
  • You’re great at checking ingredients lists
  • You’re super-comfortable using the Monash app
  • You’ve got plenty of tasty go-to meals and snacks

>>> All of the above means you’ll be able to easily test your FODMAP tolerance for those high-FODMAP foods without the stress of what to eat the rest of the time. It’s also a helpful skill because you can fall back on it during stressful times or health challenges that might come up in the future.

If you can check off the 3 items above, it’s time to move onto the reintroduction phase and test your personal tolerance to the various types of FODMAPs.

Key Takeaway

Most people with IBS can add certain high-FODMAP foods and categories back to their diets and still feel great. But the only way to know which FODMAPs are your friends is to test!

If you want personalized help and 1-1 support in the FODMAP testing process, my Find Your IBS Triggers program is the practical way to test FODMAPs and create your unique lifetime eating style that keeps your belly calm.

Learn more here!
 

Your 4-Step Plan for Life After the FODMAP Diet

You've learned your IBS triggers, but what should you actually eat for the rest of your life? Click through to get the simple 4-step plan to design a lifetime eating style that keeps your belly calm and you feeling your healthiest ever.

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Doing all the phases of the FODMAP Diet usually looks something like this:

  • You learn about the FODMAP Diet (the short-term learning diet that helps you find your unique IBS triggers and control your symptoms) and start changing the way you eat
  • You eventually get the hang of it, and your IBS symptoms improve
  • You test high-FODMAP categories to find your personal tolerance levels
  • Along the way, you learn a ton of valuable information about all the things that affect your digestion (both food and non-food factors)
  • You’re more empowered when it comes to IBS than you’ve ever been.

This is awesome. But where do you go from here?

How do you know you’ve been successful? When are you actually finished?

The end goal of the FODMAP Diet is rarely explained. If it’s not supposed to be a lifetime diet, what should you be eating for the rest of your life?

Short answer: You should bring as many high-FODMAP foods back into your diet as you can while keeping your belly happy.

This is “your unique lifetime eating style.” It’s unique to your FODMAP tolerance levels (based on testing those various FODMAP categories) AND what you enjoy eating. For example:

  • You may want to move toward a plant-based diet
  • You might want your diet to fuel you for a fitness goal, like running a marathon
  • You might want to get back to the family recipes and comfort foods you love, but modified to keep your belly happy

Today, I want to give you a simple framework to go from, “What’s next after to FODMAP,” to a lifetime eating style you love.

Your 4-Step Plan for Life After FODMAP

Step 1: Figure out our tolerance for all the high-FODMAP foods you’ve been missing    

Testing each FODMAP category through the reintroduction process helps you determine your tolerance level for ALL the foods in that category, but how much should you eat?

Go through the Monash app. List out the high-FODMAP foods you can bring back into your diet and an estimated serving size based on your tolerance for that food’s category.

If you had a moderate tolerance for wheat and want to eat rye bread, start with one slice. If you have no issues, you might try two slices next time. 

Do this with all the foods you love. You can take a casual approach, or add one new thing every other day. Soon, you’ll know the portion sizes that work, and you can start enjoying them regularly.

Step 2: Experiment with frequency

Now that you’ve brought back the foods that don’t trigger your IBS, it’s useful to understand how many high-FODMAP foods you can tolerate in a day or in single meal.

Do some experiments. If you have a moderate tolerance for wheat, can you eat toast at breakfast, half a sandwich at lunch, and a serving of pasta for dinner?

Step 3: Revisit other factors that impact digestion

At this point you’re regularly enjoying high-FODMAP foods in the amounts you can tolerate. If your IBS symptoms are fully in check, fabulous! If you have symptoms more than you’d like and can’t link them to a specific food, then take a look at other things that impact digestion.

For example, have you started eating larger portions? Are you skipping meals or eating late at night? Have you stopped exercising or moving as much throughout the day? Have you started a new medication or supplement that might be causing side effects?

Step 4: Take on a new health goal 

The FODMAP Diet tends to be all encompassing. Giving it your focus likely helped you succeed, but that probably forced you to put everything else on the back burner. 

The momentum you’ve built by taking control of IBS puts you in the perfect position to tackle a health goal you’ve put on hold for months, maybe even years.

Do you want to finally get to your happy weight? Kick sugar? Go vegetarian? Keep refining your lifetime eating style? Now's the time to go for it!

If you're ready to create your lifetime eating style or tackle a NEW health goal ASAP, let me save you time by creating a step-by-step plan that supports you and continues the work you've done with FODMAP. Click to learn more.

If life after FODMAP feels really far off, I can help you take control of IBS faster than doing endless google searches and sorting through conflicting information online. Learn more here.

How to Eat Out on FODMAP: Mexican Restaurants

You can still enjoy Mexican food if you're doing the low FODMAP Diet for IBS. Click through to learn the best menu options and strategies so you don't have to miss out.

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The question I get asked most about the FODMAP Diet is "How do I cook with no onion or garlic?" (answer's right here!)

The second most asked question is, "What about eating at restaurants?"

I have to agree, it can seem like a dilemma. And even though eating out is challenging, you can make it work.

> One hugely important side note: Going to restaurants is soooo different after you've learned your FODMAP triggers. 

Just think how hard it is to avoid ALL the oligos (wheat, onions, garlic, beans, etc.) at a Mexican restaurant. If you learn that your body can tolerate moderate amounts of onion and garlic, suddenly you're like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz

Your food options just went from black and white to technicolor.

But even if you’re just starting and eliminating as many high-FODMAP foods as possible, you can still go to restaurants and enjoy more than a bowl of lettuce.

That's exactly what this episode of Calm Belly TV is about (Don't want to miss future episodes of CBTV, my weekly live show on Facebook? "Like" the Calm Belly Kitchen page and set your notifications to ON!). 

What can you order at a Mexican restaurant on the low-FODMAP diet?

Below, you can read a quick summary of good menu options, but if you want to learn more about why these are your best bets and how to approach restaurant menus in general, I highly recommend watching the video! 

Like this? Check out the other posts in my Eating Out Series:

Italian Restaurants

Chinese Restaurants

How to Eat Out on FODMAP: Mexican Restaurants

In the video and in this summary, I start off with the best options if you’re eliminating as many high-FODMAP foods as possible, then I progress to options you’ll have when you learn your personal IBS triggers and have more flexibility in your food choices.

Corn Tortillas

Order anything with corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas - They’re low-FODMAP and gluten-free
Example: Quesadilla with cheese and/or chicken

Avocado - Ask for sliced avocado in place of guacamole (about 20g is a low-FODMAP serving)

Salsa - If they have pico de gallo, which is a fresh tomato salsa with onion, you can ask for plain chopped tomatoes and even cilantro on the side

Nachos

  • Like tortillas, plain corn chips are a great choice
  • Order nachos without beans (add chicken or other meat) and get chopped tomatoes and sliced avocado with it

Mexican Rice  

  • Ask how they make it; it may have onions or not
  • It’s likely made with sofrito or adobo which are seasoning pastes with onion, but that will be a very small amount
  • Does the restaurant have a kids menu? That might include plain rice...or just ask

Most cheeses are low in lactose, which means low-FODMAP

  • Typically queso fresco has zero grams of sugar so it’s lactose free or virtually lactose free
  • Hard cheeses like monterey jack and cheddar which are often used together in Mexican dishes are also typically low-FODMAP
  • Chile con queso (cheese dip) is usually just cheese and chiles, so ask about ingredients, but this could be a good appetizer option to share

Taco Salad

  • Even if it’s not on the menu, they’re likely used to people who want to eat healthy/low-carb
  • Get lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, bell peppers, tortilla chips, chicken, shrimp, or steak; use oil and lime juice as your dressing

Flautas (or taquitos) - Fried corn tortillas filled with shredded meat; fried foods are okay in moderation AND if you keep your overall amount of food moderate  - Eating large quantities in general, low-FODMAP or not, is one of the biggest causeses of symptoms

Fish Tacos - Get grilled fish if possible; but even if it’s breaded with white flour that’s okay because a small amount of wheat is okay on the low-FODMAP diet

Slow-Cooked and Marinated Meats

  • Carnitas, Barbacoa, Cochinita Pibil are all slow cooked with aromatics like onions
  • Carnitas are your best bet because the meat is slow cooked in fat rather than water (FODMAPs are not soluble in fat) and the aromatics are removed
  • Smoked or roasted meats are great choices because they’re not cooked in a liquid
  • Fajita meat like chicken and steak are likely seasoned or marinated, but they’re cooked to order so ask for unseasoned meat

Tamales - Depending on the filling, these are a good option

Want to make fabulous low-FODMAP Mexican food at home?

Check these recipes on Calm Belly Kitchen:

Huevos Rancheros with low-FODMAP refried beans

Low-FODMAP Salsa and Mexican Rice

One-Pan Cheesy Mexican Rice with Ground Beef

FODMAP Tips for Vegetarians and Vegans

You know the FODMAP diet can relieve your IBS, but what the heck will you eat as a vegan or vegetarian?! Click through to get my plan for getting started and creating meals you'll enjoy (you won't be stuck eating the same 3 things forever, I promise!).

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If you're a vegetarian or vegan who just learned about the FODMAP Diet (the diet that shows you how to manage IBS symptoms), you might be freaking out right about now.

Why? The FODMAP Diet requires that you eliminate most legumes, a huge variety of fruit and vegetables, not to mention wheat and certain nuts. So what's left for you if eating meat isn't really your style?

Never fear, veggie lovers, this post is your getting started guide. You'll learn:

  1. What to do first
  2. How to create delicious meals with variety so you don't die of boredom
  3. The best (meatless) protein options

Watch the video get all the tasty details, or keep reading for the key points (and a bunch of great resources!)...

 

Getting Started with FODMAP as a Vegetarian or Vegan

What To Do First

Here's my general advice for approaching the FODMAP diet as a vegan or vegetarian: Instead of diving right in, spend a week or two learning the ins and outs of the diet. Get the Monash app (the most reliable, up-to-date reference) so you know the foods and serving sizes you should be eating.

>>> IF YOU DO JUST ONE THING: Go through the app and make a list of all the foods you CAN eat and then start building your meals around those. 

Meal Planning Without Boredom

When you're coming up with meal ideas, focus on meals you can play around with. That way, you can have a handful of different meals made with the same core ingredients.

For example, if you eat quinoa or brown rice, you can combine that with your choice of low-FODMAP veggies like zucchini, tomatoes, salad greens, bell peppers, carrots, etc. You can roast, saute, or steam them.

Then you can add olives, cheese, nuts, seeds, sun-dried tomatoes, tempeh, avocado, canned lentils, canned chickpeas, hot sauce if that's your thing. Just check your serving sizes, and you'll discover more variety than you think!

>>> TIP: Small amounts of canned lentils and chickpeas, as well as red lentils, are low-FODMAP. Check the Monash app so you're sticking to the correct serving size (too large a serving and you cross over into the high-FODMAP range). You can eat these legumes more than once a day - just space them about 3 to 4 hours apart.

Use different herbs and spices to create different flavor profiles. For example, you can have a curry bowl one day and a Mexican-style bowl (avocado, ancho chile powder, cilantro) the next day.

Think about soups you can create with this method. Gluten free pasta and risotto are two more foods that can be prepared with different ingredients every time.

Your Top Protein Options:

You could probably guess this one: tofu and tempeh. Soft, firm and extra firm tofu are low-FODMAP.

Silken tofu is processed differently and retains some of the liquid from the pressed soybeans where those FODMAPs are found, so avoid the silken variety.

With tempeh you're in the clear. Although it's made from whole soybeans, the fermentation process reduces FODMAP content. Just be sure to check the ingredients if you're buying tempeh that's already seasoned. The best bet is to buy it plain and dress it up yourself. Tempeh contains even more protein than tofu.

Cooking tempeh and tofu:

  • Tempeh has great earthy flavor on it's own, but you can dress it up any way you like. I usually cut it into cubes and sear it in a pan with with a little stir fry sauce made with tamari, lime and sugar.
  • When it comes to tofu, try baking it. It gives it a satisfying texture, and you can do a big batch to use for several days. Here are some recipe ideas and cooking instructions for both:

Get to Know Tempeh

Recipe: Tempeh with Charred Peppers and Kale
-Omit onion; add more bell pepper or carrot if desired; add scallion tops

Calm Belly Kitchen: Brown Rice Noodle and Veggie Stir Fry
-Replace Shrimp with Tempeh

Monash Blog: Tofu Scramble Recipe

How to Make Baked Tofu

Remember This, Veggie Lovers!

Finally, remember that it's temporary. You do the elimination phase to confirm your FODMAP sensitivity. Then if it does improve your symptoms, you slowly bring back high-FODMAP foods. You'll learn your tolerance levels so you can have a lot more variety and flexibility in your diet.

More FODMAP Resources for Vegetarians and Vegans

http://thefodmapfriendlyvegan.com/product/fodmap-friendly-vegan-ebook/

https://www.amazon.com/Low-Fodmap-Vegan-What-When-Anything/dp/1570673373/

A very helpful resource for vegan menu planning I found through Kate Scarlata's website: http://blog.katescarlata.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Vegan-Menu-Planning-Low-FODMAP.pdf

I do have one vegan recipe on my website, and I love it. It's great as leftovers too: https://calmbellykitchen.com/blog/vegan-nut-loaf-low-fodmap-gluten-free

More meal and recipe ideas:

Monash Blog: Eating Vegan on a Low-FODMAP Diet

Meat Free Meals the Low-FODMAP Way by Stephanie Clairmont, RD

 

What is the end goal of the FODMAP Diet?

The goal of the FODMAP Diet is not to eliminate certain foods forever. Learn how to use the diet as a tool to have more variety and more control over how your body feels. Click through to read the full post (or watch the video!).

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The FODMAP diet is sometimes called a journey, yet the end goal of this "journey" is a vague and shadowy place. 

It's a lot easier to explain things that are black and white, like taking FODMAPs away. But since life AFTER the FODMAP Diet looks different for everyone, it's a lot less clear cut.

You wouldn't start off on a journey without a destination (or at the very least, a certain transformation) in mind. So today we're looking at the big picture of the FODMAP Diet, or the true end goal.

Knowing what you get in the end makes it a whole lot easier to work hard and persevere.

Hint: the end goal is NOT to give up all high FODMAP foods forever.

Watch the video to go deep on this topic, or read the key points below!

KEY POINTS:

The FODMAP diet is not a lifetime diet.

You shouldn't stay on it indefinitely because:

  • It's nutritionally restrictive
  • It's socially restrictive
  • And (most importantly) it's not necessary

So what's the end goal?

To put it simply, it's to have control over your symptoms, NOT to eat as few FODMAPs as possible.

Less FODMAP = less symptoms isn't the whole story.

If you're taking away food with no specific purpose, you're causing yourself more work and more deprivation.

The goal of the elimination phase is to:

  1. Confirm you're sensitive to FODMAPs
  2. Hit the reset button on your body
  3. Learn what other factors play a role in your digestive symptoms

Once you've done that it's time to move to the next phase which to test your personal tolerance to specific FODMAP categories. From there you take all the awesome knowledge you've gained and create a lifetime eating style.

Still not convinced? At this point you've taken away all FODMAPs and felt better but until you test each category, you don't really know why you felt better - wouldn't that be great to know!?

What does a lifetime eating style look like?

  • You're confident about your food choices because they're based on real knowledge about your body
  • You don't feel "sick" or like you have to police every bite because you have some flexibility - For example, there's no need to avoid every possible instance of garlic in your chicken broth 

>>> If you want support and guidance to do the FODMAP Diet, consider working with me 1-on-1. I can customize a coaching package to fit your needs wherever you are along this journey.

Click here to learn how to work with me!