5 Surprising Ways to Improve Digestive Health (Right now!) on the FODMAP Diet
No matter what stage you’re at on the FODMAP diet, it can be oh-so tempting to just wish for a quick fix, to make your body feel better. Believe me, I know exactly what that’s like.
The FODMAP diet can do a lot - but if you’re like me, you want to feel as good as you can possibly feel, now that you’re putting in all of this effort!
Here are five additional digestive health strategies that you can try right now to tweak your own diet:
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#1 Look for sneaky FODMAPs in unexpected places
No, not hiding under the couch. I’m talking sneaky FODMAPs that might be in your medications, supplements, and even prebiotics.
Recently, a student of mine had me look at the label of her prebiotic. The first active ingredient was inulin. I even got some heavy-duty probiotics from my doctor once that listed galacto-oligosaccharides.
See, they’re sneaky.
If you’ve been doing the FODMAP diet for a while, you’re probably used to checking the tail end of the ingredient list, but be sure to check the full list and be aware of where they can be hiding.
Remember to always look at both the active AND the inactive ingredients. No one wants their probiotic to make their symptoms worse!
FODMAPs to watch out for: Mannitol, Sorbitol, Inulin, and Galacto-oligosaccharides, also known as oligogalactosyllactose, oligogalactose, oligolactose or transgalactooligosaccharides.
#2 Consider connections between activities with symptoms
Aside from obvious stressors like having a big fight with your best friend or partner, certain activities in your day might be negatively impacting your gut. Stress, anxiety, and tension that happens over time can just sit in our gut like a brick.
Are there any situations in your life which might be tied to digestive symptoms? Things like:
That weekly meeting with a certain manager
A long commute, stuck in your car or on the train
Even grocery shopping, after a long day, or when you’re hungry
Once you see a connection, you need to either change your routine, or try stress-management techniques, until you find something that works for you.
Finding this article helpful, but prefer video? Check out the episode of Calm Belly TV that accompanies this blog post:
#3 Tweak your eating habits + Tune into your hunger cues
Starting on the FODMAP diet, there’s a lot of focus about what foods are the best to be fueling and healing your body. For many people, it’s a significant change, even if it’s one that ultimately makes them feel so much better.
There’s power in the little changes, too.
One of the tweaks I mention the most is trying smaller, more frequent meals. A CBK community member told me this was her biggest lightbulb moment: As she paid more attention to her body, she suddenly noticed she felt better when she didn't eat so much in one sitting.
Overeating—even if all the food is low FODMAP—can still cause bloating, gas and other symptoms. Aim to eat until you’re satisfied, but not stuffed. It’s not about depriving yourself, or feeling hungry, but really listening to what your body is telling you.
More small tweaks that can improve digestive wellness...
What about eating dinner earlier to reduce symptoms at night?
How about eating fruit and/or raw veggies early in the day when your stomach is "fresh"?
How about changing your go-to snack, or when you snack during the day?
Tiny changes. Totally attainable, right?
#4 Eat more variety, not less
A common tendency during the elimination phase is to eat fewer and fewer different foods. This makes sense, in a way—fewer foods, smaller chance of symptoms. And nobody wants symptoms popping back up when they’ve worked so hard to eliminate them.
But what if one of the foods in your limited rotation is messing with your belly?
For some people, even low-FODMAP foods, in larger serving sizes, can cause trouble. Green beans, for example are low-FODMAP at a moderate serving size, but what if you’re eating them at every meal? The FODMAPs may add up if you’re sensitive.
The FODMAP diet is just one piece in the larger digestive health puzzle. Even people without IBS report that broccoli causes gas. It and all of the cruciferous vegetables are known to do this.
Here's the thing: When you do the FODMAP Diet, you get very aware of your body very quickly. This is a GOOD thing.
Instead of repeating the same foods over and over, feel empowered to incorporate a wide variety of foods. Use that amazing body awareness to understand what works for YOU.
In other words, spread the love around! You’ll be eating better, AND you'll avoid the motivation-killing boredom of repeating the same 10 foods.
#5 Add another digestive support strategy
The FODMAP diet can make a big impact on symptoms, but many people need to mix in other strategies to feel their absolute best.
Everybody is different. Every body is different. What does yours need, in addition to your eating strategies, to help target your specific symptoms?
Constipation is one of the most common problem to troubleshoot because it's such a stubborn symptom. Does eating more fiber or taking a fiber supplement help regulate your bowels even more? Try it, and see what you think.
To learn more strategies for managing constipation, check out our post on 3 Ways To Deal with Constipation from IBS (and 1 thing not to do.)
Does it help to be more vigilant with FODMAP intake around your period? Remember that everything in our body is connected. Our hormones ebb and flow throughout the month. For some people, being more specific about their dietary choices can lead to a decrease of symptoms.
What about exercise? Moving your body can do wonders to keep your gut humming along happily. Whether it’s easy and gentle, or upbeat and made for dancing, you can try a new exercise and see how your body responds. Yoga, zumba, tai chi… try something new!
As you can see, getting the best results out of the FODMAP diet depends on much more than taking away a list of "bad" foods.
Luckily our private online community, Calm Belly Club, helps you with all aspects of the FODMAP Diet. We’ll help you use the FODMAP Diet, as well as creating new habits that keep your belly calm for the long-term!
And if you’re totally overwhelmed, or just beginning down the journey to health, then you’re in the right place! Just know that you’re not alone, and there are answers, and you can feel better. Quicker than you think!