What To Expect at Each Stage of the FODMAP Diet (and common pitfalls to avoid!)

What To Expect at Each Stage of the FODMAP Diet (and common pitfalls to avoid!)

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You wouldn't set out on a road trip without a map (or more likely, GPS on your phone).

That's because knowing what to expect and how to navigate along the way can save you from veering off track. 

Same's true for the FODMAP Diet. When you know the common challenges others have faced AND how they've overcome them, you won't get stuck or be tempted to quit.

That's what I shared in this recent edition of Calm Belly TV...

Watch the video, or if you prefer to read there's a detailed summary of the key points below.

I'd love to know what you think of this topic. Is there something I missed?

What To Expect at Each Stage of the FODMAP Diet (and common pitfalls to avoid)

Here's a detailed summary of what's covered in the video...

The Elimination Phase

Expect:

  • That it takes time - typically 2 to 3 weeks - for most people to get the hang of the FODMAP diet (understanding portion sizes; spotting sneaky FODMAPs, planning ahead)
  • To learn what non-FODMAP factors play a major role in your digestion

Common Pitfalls:

  • Giving up too soon
  • Expecting your IBS to go away completely
  • Staying in the elimination phase indefinitely

TIP: Move onto the reintroduction phase when you have consistent symptom improvement (50-80% improvement most of the time)

The Reintroduction phase

Expect:

  • To adapt the testing process to your life, not the other way around (You can take breaks and test at your own pace; this should NOT be a one-size-fits-all process)
  • Example: One member of my Free To Eat program had a stressful job and didn’t want to test during the week so she timed it to only test larger servings over the weekend
  • To quickly learn when to expect symptoms

Common Pitfalls:

  • Worrying about causing yourself major symptoms (strategic testing is the answer)
  • Expecting symptoms to happen right after eating a high-FODMAP food
  • Bringing back high-FODMAP foods before you finish testing (eat a low-FODMAP diet so you get the clearest results from the testing process)

AFTER the Reintroduction Phase

Expect:

  • To feel proud and excited for learning your IBS triggers
  • To continue doing experiments to discover your best lifetime eating style (For my program I created a workbook full of simple experiments you can do to learn how often you can eat different FODMAPs, how to best combine them, etc.)

Common Pitfalls:

  • Not adding well-tolerated high-FODMAP foods back to your diet
  • Forgetting that this is a long-term lifestyle change (it's okay if it happens gradually)

On October 16th, I'm doing a free online workshop to help you get started with the reintroduction phase so you can find your personal IBS triggers and eat without stress.

Click here to sign up for the free workshop!

Ancho-Orange Roast Chicken and Spaghetti Squash (low FODMAP recipe)

Ancho-Orange Roast Chicken and Spaghetti Squash (low FODMAP recipe)

Sweet, smoky ancho chile powder and orange zest give this chicken a pop of flavor. It's low FODMAP and perfect with roasted spaghetti squash topped with goat cheese. The perfect spiced-up twist on your classic roast chicken! #fodmap #IBS

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Ancho chile powder is easily the most-used spice in my kitchen, so of course I had to include it in the Low-FODMAP Spices Series.

First let’s clear something up real quick: Ancho chile powder is made from dried and ground ancho chiles, nothing else. The same goes for chipotle chile powder or ground cayenne. 

On the other hand, when you see a spice labelled “chili powder” or chili seasoning, it’s usually a blend of many ingredients like cayenne, paprika, pepper, salt, AND ground onion and garlic powders. Since you’re aiming to avoid onion and garlic in the FODMAP elimination phase, chili powders like this are a no-go.

Instead, look for those pure ground chile powders like ancho. The big spice brands like McCormick sell it, so it’s easy to find in large supermarkets these days. If you want to buy it online (along with just about any spice), check out The Spice House.

Catch up on other recipes in the Low-FODMAP Spices Series:

Grilled Chicken with Curry-Lime Marinade

Maple-Soy Chicken Drumsticks with 5 Spice

Easy Coconut-Shrimp Curry with Chickpeas

What does ancho chile powder taste like and how do you use it?

Ancho chile powder is mild, so if you don’t like a lot of heat in your food this is the one for you. The flavor is slightly sweet and smoky. When you open a jar of fresh ancho chile powder, you’ll notice the scent of dried fruit.

You can use ancho chile powder in Mexican dishes - It’s great paired with cumin, paprika, or coriander. It’s also great as an all-purpose flavor booster for just about any protein.

But I especially like using it in unexpected ways, like in an Italian meat sauce. It won’t make your bolognese taste like Mexican; instead it adds an extra dimension of flavor with its sweet smokiness.

More Ways To Use Ancho Chile Powder:

  • Use it alone to season pork, chicken, salmon or shrimp
  • Make it the main ingredient in a rub for roasted or smoked pork (I like to include cumin, thyme, coriander, coffee, and brown sugar) 
  • Pair it with cumin to season ground meat for tacos or any Latin dish
  • Use it to add flavor and depth to Italian meat sauces, meatballs, or any tomato-based sauce
  • Use it to season roasted winter acorn squash - the sweetness of the squash is a great match for ancho chile
  • Sprinkle it on potatoes when you make baked french fries to add flavor and color
  • Pair it with paprika to season grilled chicken

Ancho-Orange Roast Chicken and Spaghetti Squash (low FODMAP)

While the chicken rests, you can use those pan juices! Transfer them to a fat separator or a bowl and remove as much fat as possible - you now have homemade broth. Use the juices as a sauce for the roast chicken or later in another dish. If you have time, allow the chicken to come to room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes before cooking - this reduces the roasting time. 

Serves 4 (spaghetti squash yields 38-42 oz. cooked)

INGREDIENTS

1 tbsp ancho chile powder
1 tsp dried thyme
1 navel orange, zested
5 to 6 lb chicken
Cooking spray or oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 ¼ to 2 ½ lb spaghetti squash
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
Lime wedges for serving
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 425F and arrange oven racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven. In a small bowl, combine ancho chile powder, thyme and the orange zest. Rinse chicken and remove giblets and any excess fat; pat dry with paper towel. Place chicken on a rack inside a large roasting pan. Coat with cooking spray or oil and season generously with salt and pepper, inside and out. 

2. Gently lift the skin covering the breasts near the cavity end of the chicken and push a generous amount of the ancho mixture under the skin, seasoning the breast meat. Rub remaining ancho mixture all over the top and sides of the chicken. Place half the orange inside the cavity, and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Add a thin layer of water (about ¼-inch) to the roasting pan and place on the lower rack of the oven. 

3. Roast for 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours (see note). After about 1 hour, cover the top of the chicken loosely with large piece of foil to prevent over browning. Chicken is done when internal temp reaches 165F on an instant read thermometer, testing chicken in the center of the breast and thickest part of the thigh, not touching the bone. Rest 10 minutes.

4. As soon as you get the chicken in the oven, prep the spaghetti squash: Trim the stem end, then cut in half lengthwise. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil (optional, but minimizes cleanup) and mist with cooking spray or oil and place squash on baking sheet cut-side-down. Roast in upper third of the oven until flesh is very tender when pierced with a fork, 40 to 45 minutes. 

5. Transfer squash to a cutting board, cut-side-up to cool. When cool enough to handle, scoop out the layer of seeds and slimy bits of squash. Then with a fork, lightly scrape the squash out of the skin in spaghetti-like strands and transfer to a medium bowl. Add extra virgin olive oil, season with salt and pepper and stir gently to combine. Transfer to serving platter and sprinkle with goat cheese. Serve with chicken and lime wedges, and garnish the whole thing with fresh cilantro.

If you want to move forward and find your unique IBS triggers, the Free To Eat program provides the support and guidance you need in Phase 2 of FODMAP.

The program begins on October 22, 2017. Click here to be notified when early bird registration opens!

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Easy Coconut-Shrimp Curry with Chickpeas (low FODMAP, dairy free)

Easy Coconut-Shrimp Curry with Chickpeas (low FODMAP, dairy free)

You don't 20 ingredients or 3 hours to make a DELICIOUS low fodmap curry with coconut milk, chickpeas, and potatoes. Vegetarian or vegan option is easy too! With cooking techniques and spices that maximize flavor, you will love this weeknight meal! #fodmap #IBS

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This low-FODMAP curry has a satisfying creamy texture thanks to coconut milk. But it’s also packed with flavor from a few carefully chosen spices. 

If you think high-FODMAP ingredients like garlic, onion, or store-bought broth are necessary for a tasty curry, you’re going to like this recipe.

This post is part of the Low-FODMAP Spices Series, and I chose to highlight coriander with an easy weeknight curry. 

Check out the other posts in the Low-FODMAP Spices Series:

Grilled Chicken with Curry-Lime Marinade

Maple-Soy Chicken Drumsticks with 5 Spice

What does coriander taste like and how do you use it?

You’ve likely tasted coriander, but you may not know it - It’s frequently paired and blended with other spices, but sometimes I like making it the star of the show.

It’s a common mate for cumin and chile powder in Mexican cooking. It also makes frequent appearances in Indian recipes, as well as their signature spice blends like garam masala and curry seasoning.

Coriander has a warm, earthy, slightly citrusy flavor with a sour edge in the background (It comes from the same plant as fresh cilantro leaves, but they taste completely different.). Some people taste lemon, but I get a hint of orange, and I love pairing coriander and orange zest. 

It’s fun to select your own curry spices rather than buying the standard yellow “curry powder,” because you can highlight your favorite flavors. And you don’t need to fuss with 10 different spices (exhausting!).

Along with the mellow, earthy coriander, I used cumin for smokiness and depth plus turmeric for that bright yellow color and tangy flavor. As with all spices, make sure they’re fresh so you get the full flavor. 

Here a few more ways you can use coriander:

  • Pair with thyme and orange zest as a rub for roast turkey, chicken or pork
  • Pair with cumin and ancho chile powder, and use Mexican dishes
  • Season vegetables for roasting - Try potatoes, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, carrots, eggplant, or rutabaga
  • Try it in creamy parsnip-potato or carrot soup
  • Spice up rice pilaf

The trio of spices in this curry is definitely a major flavor factor, but cooking technique also makes a HUGE difference.

Here’s how I built flavor during the cooking process:

  1. I sauteed the leek until lightly browned to bring out its sweetness, then added the jalapeno, ginger and some of the spices just until combined. I took this mixture OUT of the pan and added it back at the very end so the flavors stayed fresh and bold. 
  2. I seasoned at every stage of the cooking process.
  3. I sauteed the potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, and spices BEFORE adding any liquid so the spices would have a chance to toast and the vegetables would develop more flavor. The picture below is exactly what that looks like - YUM right?

You can use these techniques in all sorts of recipes!

Easy Coconut-Shrimp Curry with Chickpeas (low FODMAP, dairy free)

You can omit the shrimp and add an extra potato to make this dish vegan, or substitute chicken for the shrimp. To prep the leek, cut off the white part and discard the tough outer layers. Here’s the best leek washing technique. In a pinch, you can sub scallion tops for the leek, but cook them for 30 seconds at most. 

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp oil or ghee, divided
1 leek top (green part only), chopped (see note)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 jalapeno, chopped (optional, see note)
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp ground coriander, divided
2 tsp ground cumin, divided
1 medium Russet potato (about 8 oz), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks (about 2 cups)
2 medium carrots, sliced (about 1 cup)
1 large tomato (about 8 oz), chopped (about 1 cup)
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 cups water
1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk, regular or light
1 slightly heaping cup canned and rinsed chickpeas (168 g)
3/4 pound medium shrimp
1/2 lime
Chopped fresh cilantro for serving

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large sauce pan or Dutch oven on medium heat. Add leek, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add jalapeno, ginger, and ½ tsp EACH of the coriander and cumin. Cook until jalapeno softens, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

2. Add remaining oil to pan and raise heat to medium high. Add potato and carrots, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until carrots softens slightly, about 5 minutes. Add tomato, remaining coriander, remaining cumin, and turmeric; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until tomato breaks down and becomes saucy, 5 to 6 minutes.

3. Add water. Raise heat to high and bring to a boil. Add coconut milk and bring to a boil. Add chickpeas. Reduce heat to medium/medium-high and cook, uncovered, at a steady simmer until potatoes and carrots are tender, about 10 minutes. 

4. Add shrimp and simmer, stirring occasionally, until opaque in the thickest part, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in reserved leek mixture and remove from heat. Stir in juice of half a lime. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if desired. Serve over Perfect Basmati Rice (recipe below) and garnish with cilantro.

Perfect Basmati Rice

You can use brown basmati if you prefer; follow cooking instructions on the package.

Serves 4 to 6

1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup white basmati rice
2 cups water
½ tsp salt

In a medium saucepan, melt butter on medium heat. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until grains become partially opaque, about 2 minutes. Add water and salt. Raise heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to lowest setting, cover, and cook for 17 minutes. With cover still in place, rest 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.
 

If you want to move forward and find your unique IBS triggers, the Free To Eat program provides the support and guidance you need in Phase 2 of FODMAP.

The program begins on October 22, 2017. Click here to be notified when early bird registration opens!

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Maple-Soy Chicken Drumsticks with 5-Spice (Low-FODMAP, dairy free)

Maple-Soy Chicken Drumsticks with 5-Spice (Low-FODMAP, dairy free)

With a simple 3-ingredient sauce, this low fodmap recipe couldn't be easier! The sweet and savory drumsticks are perfect as an entree, appetizer, or potluck dish. Eating for IBS can be delish! #fodmap #IBS

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The easy sauce for these chicken drumsticks has just THREE ingredients, but a huge flavor payoff. If you’re bored with the same old chicken dishes, this will wake up your taste buds!

The key ingredient here is Chinese 5-Spice.

Like the name suggests, it’s a blend of 5 spices: typically fennel, cinnamon, star anise, Szechuan pepper, and cloves. But this combination isn’t set in stone - sometimes ginger, cardamom, anise (different from fennel and star anise) nutmeg, or orange peel are substituted or added to the mix.

Overall, 5-spice comes off as sweet with slightly bitter undertones and a zip of licorice from the fennel. With so much going on, a little bit goes a long way.

You can find Chinese 5-Spice in most supermarkets or online. Naturally, it’s great in Asian stir frys, braised dishes, and soups. It’s a perfect match for pork, lamb, and duck, as well as dark meat chicken and turkey. But there are plenty of unexpected ways to use it...

How To Use Chinese 5-Spice:

  • To flavor roasted nuts (toss with butter and 5-spice)
  • For glazed carrots (like these
  • On stir fried green beans
  • In Vietnamese pho
  • Add to muffins or quick bread
  • Spice up oatmeal, sweet grits, or other hot cereal
  • Add to spice cookies or Chinese almond cookies
  • In sauce for stir fried rice noodles
  • Add to ground lamb and rice stir fry
  • In lamb or beef stew
  • Season roast or braised duck
  • On roasted vegetables like parsnips, squash, rutabaga, and celery root

This post is part of a series on low-FODMAP spices. Check out the other posts below:

Grilled Chicken with Curry-Lime Marinade

Maple-Soy Chicken Drumsticks with 5-Spice (Low-FODMAP, dairy free)

You can change up this recipe by using chicken wings or thighs; adjust baking time accordingly. Finishing the chicken under the broiler crisps the skin and helps thicken the sauce. If you prefer, you can remove the skin before baking; bake until temp reaches 165F, do not broil.

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS

3 lbs chicken drumsticks (about 12)
½ cup pure maple syrup
2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
1 tsp Chinese 5-Spice
Sesame seeds for garnish
Chopped scallion tops for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Place chicken in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish or similar size that fits chicken in a single layer.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the syrup, soy sauce, and Chinese 5-Spice. Pour over chicken. Bake until chicken is no longer pink in the thickest part or temperature reaches 160F on an instant-read thermometer, 35 to 40 minutes, basting chicken with maple sauce 2 to 3 times during baking.

3. Turn on broiler to high and place an oven rack in the upper third position (8 to 10 inches from broiler). Broil until chicken is lightly browned and internal temp reaches 165F, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish and pour remaining sauce over chicken. Garnish with sesame seeds and scallions and serve.
 

If you want to move forward and find your unique IBS triggers, the Free To Eat program provides the support and guidance you need in Phase 2 of FODMAP.

The program begins on October 22, 2017. Click here to be notified when early bird registration opens!

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Grilled Chicken with Curry-Lime Marinade (Low-FODMAP, Dairy-Free)

Grilled Chicken with Curry-Lime Marinade (Low-FODMAP, Dairy-Free)

Everyone needs an easy low fodmap marinade, and this one has only 6 ingredients! Great with thighs but you can sub chicken breasts if you prefer. It's a quick, flavor-packed dinner for the grill that keeps your belly calm if you have IBS.

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Adding curry seasoning to an otherwise simple marinade gives it a whole new twist, and that’s how today’s recipe was born. 

Having a few great spices and marinades up your sleeve is essential for tasty low-FODMAP cooking. Since sweet curry powder is a blend of spices typically used in Indian cooking, it packs a lot of flavor into a dish without much effort--this marinade only has 6 ingredients (plus salt)!

You can find sweet curry powder in most supermarkets, and of course online. It has little to no heat and is highly versatile. 

Other ways to use sweet curry powder:

  • Season roast vegetables
  • Season grilled or baked fish
  • Add to dips or yogurt sauce
  • Spice up chicken or tuna salad
  • Add to rice

 

I served this chicken with basmati rice seasoned with cumin and allspice. I love to make sauces like this on the fly with whatever I have on hand so that’s what you see here.

I used lactose-free plain yogurt, lemon juice, parsley, chopped tomatoes, and a couple dashes of curry powder.

 

Grilled Chicken with Curry-Lime Marinade (low-FODMAP, dairy-free)

You can substitute any other chicken pieces (boneless or bone-in), but cooking times will vary. Sweet curry powder (also called “yellow” or “mild”) is a blend of spices that typically does not include onion or garlic, but always check the ingredient list to avoid any FODMAPs.

Serves 4 to 6 

INGREDIENTS

1 ¼ cup (lightly packed) cilantro (leaves and thin stems), plus additional for garnish
⅔ cup chopped scallions (7 to 8)
7 tbsp lime juice (3 to 4)
7 tbsp oil (olive, grapeseed, or vegetable oil)
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
3 tsp sweet curry powder (see note above)
1/2 tsp salt
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 8)

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Add cilantro and scallions to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulsing in 5-second bursts, process until chopped, scraping down bowl as needed. Add lime juice. With processor running, slowly pour in the oil through the feed tube.

2. Add mustard, curry powder, and salt. Process until combined, scraping down bowl as needed.

3. Place chicken thighs in a heavy duty zip top plastic bag. Add marinade and seal. Shake the bag a bit to coat chicken. Refrigerate 4 to 24 hours, turning back once or twice. When ready to grill, transfer chicken to a plate (discard marinade) and bring to room temperature.

4. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill (high for gas) and brush grate with oil. Grill chicken over direct heat, turning once or twice, until internal temperature reaches 165F on an instant-read thermometer or center is no longer pink, 7 to 9 minutes. Rest 5 minutes, garnish with cilantro, and serve.
 

Click to Sign up for the Free Workshop!