Learn 4 strategies to help when diarrhea is your main symptom (IBS-D). These tips go in order from adjustments to the low FODMAP diet to exploring new options like the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. You'll also learn the specific type of fiber that's most helpful for IBS-D. Click through to get the strategies!
Top 3 Mistakes When Reintroducing FODMAPs
Most of my health coaching clients are fearful of mistakes when they first get started with the FODMAP Diet and take food away (aka the Elimination Phase).
While this first part of the diet takes some getting used to, I see more mistakes happen in the crucial testing process (bringing foods back in to find out what you can eat and still keep your IBS in check).
If you've come up against any of the snafus listed below, don't feel bad! This part of the FODMAP Diet has a learning curve, but it shouldn't take a PhD in food science and the steely resolve of a navy SEAL to get your FODMAP situation sorted.
So to de-mystify this whole process, I want to dig into the biggest mistakes I've seen and how to avoid them.
>>> I also created a FREE tool to help you test FODMAPs and track results quickly and easily so can find your unique IBS triggers. Click to get the free Test Food Tracker!
Mistake #1: Getting hung up on the details
Sure, it’s okay to have questions (I guarantee you’ll have questions!) about the testing FODMAPs, but don’t spend too much time thinking about every little thing you could do wrong.
Not eating the correct amount of a test food - The amounts are guidelines, so you don’t have to measure down to the gram. If you’re testing ¼ cup of onion, yes it’s okay to use 1 cup of onion in a big ‘ol stir fry and eat about one-fourth of it.
Raw or cooked? Canned or fresh? - It depends on the food, but whatever you choose to test with, be consistent. If you’re testing lactose, don’t have yogurt one day and drink milk the next.
What if I don’t like the test food? - You’ve never eaten a mango in your life and you don’t plan to start now. That’s okay, but you’re not testing mango, you’re testing fructose. (If that just blew your mind, stick with me.) Mango is a great test food because it contains high levels of fructose and no other FODMAPs. Your reaction tells you if your belly gives fructose the thumbs up - or not so much.
Mistake #2: Giving up too soon
What happens if you test a high-FODMAP food and the results don’t make sense? There are lots of possible reasons for this (work stress, anxiety about symptoms, your period, other foods...). If this happens, you haven’t hit a brick wall - you can just retest it.
This is a part of the testing process that doesn’t get talked about much! Don’t worry, most of my clients don’t test foods multiple times. But once in awhile your symptoms go wonky - maybe your belly rumbled like crazy after a smidge of garlic, but you had no issues when you indulged in a big scoop of garlic-y marinara sauce.
If the data doesn’t add up, it’s not a danger sign that you should give up and abandon garlic forever. You either test again right away, wait till later, or even try another test food in the same FODMAP group. Easy!
Mistake #3: Expecting an instant reaction
You might have symptoms within a couple hours of eating a test food. Bloating (and pain that results from distention) can happen relatively quickly. But gas and diarrhea or constipation may not hit you until food reaches the large intestine that night or the next day.
Gut transit times are different for everyone, so that’s another thing to consider.
If you test honey and feel great the rest of the day, you’re in the clear, right? Maybe. You may have read that it’s wise to test a high-FODMAP food on consecutive days, but I've seen better results for my clients when you give it more time and keep track of how YOUR unique IBS symptoms tend to play out.
This happens BEFORE you even get started, so I'm calling it a "bonus," and this is it: Waiting until you’re symptom-free to start finding your IBS triggers. This might turn out to be the most important thing you take away:
It’s okay to test FODMAPs even if you have IBS issues occasionally. Most people do NOT have all their symptoms disappear completely even when they avoid FODMAP foods 24/7. So how do you know if the food you’re testing is causing symptoms or if it’s something else entirely?
The answer is that you’ll figure it out as you go. Just like you identified IBS culprits and learned to manage them when you first got started, you’ll see how your body reacts when high-FODMAP foods set you off.
The only way to learn to ride a bike is to hop on and pedal. Same’s true for testing FODMAPs.
The effort is worth it because of what you get in the end: You know what you CAN eat and what to avoid so you can stop policing every bite and start enjoying food again!
To get started with testing FODMAPs, click here and I'll send the FREE Test Food Tracker straight to your inbox!
7 Secrets for Healthy Low-FODMAP Cooking (even if you hate to cook)
If you want to lose weight, you need to reduce the calories you eat each day. But here's a secret: You don't need heroic willpower to do it.
Instead, you can start cooking your own healthy meals that fill you up and keep you satisfied for hours. When you do the cooking, you can banish the hidden calorie traps like an extra splash of oil or handful of cheese. It's also a lot easier to manage the FODMAPs when you're in charge.
If you'd rather get a cavity filled than spend extra time in the kitchen everyday, you need smart strategies. These tips are all about making better use of the time you have, while still giving you healthy, delicious food that makes your belly happy. I think that's pretty heroic!
Psst>>>Click the image below to grab your free cheat sheet!
#1 Make Friends with Seafood
Most of my clients tell me they don’t cook a lot of seafood even though they like it. Here’s why I suspect this is: No one really enjoys handling fish, and prepping it feels like a big hassle.
That’s unfortunate because fish can add so much variety to a low-FODMAP routine (there’s only one kind of chicken, but endless types of fish after all!), and it can provide just as much protein as meat for fewer calories.
Luckily, you can eat more fish without doing more work. Shop at your favorite market’s fish counter, and ask them to do the prep for you. It’s part of the job! From taking the skin off a salmon fillet, to gutting a trout, to shucking oysters, it can all be done before you get back home.
#2 Focus on One Big Flavor
If seeing an endless ingredient list makes you reach for the takeout menus instead of cooking a healthy meal, look for short and simple recipes with one ingredient that packs a punch. Yes, this even works on the FODMAP diet when you’re avoiding certain flavor boosters like garlic.
Here are some examples of low-FODMAP, low-calorie ingredients that can add tons of flavor to a dish all by themselves:
- Smoked paprika
- Tamari or soy sauce
- Feta cheese
- Dijon mustard
- Kalamata olives
- Curry powder
#3 Get Cute with Mason Jars
Mason jars are the sneaky gateway drug to prepping your meals in batches. Use them for building salads, rice or quinoa “bowls,” or overnight oats.
Here’s your game plan:
- For salads, you can prep 3 days worth before you run into veggie wilt. Combine low-FODMAP ingredients like carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, sunflower seeds, a single-serve pouch of tuna, canned chickpeas and any lettuce. Make a batch of vinaigrette and add it each day before you leave the house (be sure to put lettuce at the bottom of the jar).
- For a rice or quinoa-based meal, combine your grain in the jar with roasted or fresh veggies, grilled chicken and an extra flavor booster like cheese, pesto or tomato sauce.
- For overnight oats (quinoa flakes or chia work too), you can prep 5 days worth of mason jars at once. Each night add your lactose-free milk of choice to one of them and breakfast is ready.
#4 Don’t Prep Your Veggies
I love to cook. I don’t even mind doing dishes. But I hate standing over the sink getting sprayed with water as I clean a pile of veggies. Instead of doing all the washing, slicing and dicing yourself, buy those greens pre-prepped.
Some of my favorites:
- Baby carrots
- Spinach leaves
- Arugula and spring mix
- Sliced or chopped bell peppers
- Matchstick carrots
- French-style green beans
- Baby kale
- Chopped collard, mustard or turnip greens
- Shredded cabbage (coleslaw mix)
- Frozen veggies like green beans, hash brown potatoes and bell peppers
#5 Cook Chicken in Batches
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are the heroes of the diet world and fit seamlessly into low-FODMAP meals too. But don’t buy that puny 1-lb pack of chicken. Most stores offer big packs, or buy as much as you want straight from the butcher. Grill, bake or broil enough to get you through a week or beyond, if you use your freezer.
But what if you have a stir fry recipe that only calls for a pound of meat? Pop the extra chicken into the oven while you cook. You can turn it into a week of lunches, or add it to a quick pasta for dinner the following night.
#6 Bake and Freeze
Don’t let those moist and tender gluten-free muffins turn into hockey pucks on your kitchen counter. Freeze items like mini frittatas, protein bites, muffins and scones as soon as they’re cool. Double wrap them individually to avoid freezer burn. It’s also super easy to grab just one on your way to work in the morning (and a clever way to practice portion control).
#7 Use a Kitchen Scale
A scale is essential for FODMAPers, and even more so if weight loss is your goal. A kitchen scale lets you:
- Accurately measure the serving size of fruit, veggies, nuts or any other food where monitoring portions is essential for keeping your belly happy.
- Reduce the number of dirty dishes by eliminating measuring cups and extra bowls (this makes baking soooo much faster).
- Weigh out your portions so you KNOW you’re sticking to your daily calorie budget. It’s a lot easier to follow a weight loss plan when you’re not just guessing.
If you have an idea of how many calories you should be eating, but don’t know how to make this work in terms of real food, I can help you with that.
Even with the tips above, it’s easier to commit to healthy cooking when you have a clear goal and the support and accountability to get you there. I have 2 one-on-one coaching spots available this month. Click here to grab yours!