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7 Truths About the FODMAP Diet Plan (I Wish I'd Known 4 Years Ago!)

Read the 7 things I wish I'd known when I first started the FODMAP Diet because I don't want you to be the hot mess that I was when I was figuring it out on my own! #fodmap #ibs #calmbellykitchen

Like many of you, when I first heard about the FODMAP diet plan as a way to change my own IBS symptoms, I was overwhelmed. Not just with all the information out there, although that definitely was the case. Sometimes, it was overwhelming how much I didn’t know.

Four years ago, there was very little information to go on, no explanation of the nuances. Suddenly having to change my diet overnight felt very difficult and complex, with no guidance on how to make it work in a practical sense.

There's more info out there now, but I think people can still relate to what I experienced. Also, a lot of the current information is still conflicting or out-dated.

I had to forge my own path. And a huge part of why I do what I do is that I believe that you shouldn’t have to do that to change your life for the better! 

(Which is why I started Calm Belly Kitchen!) 

Looking back on it, there’s so much I wish I’d known before I started. So many tips and tricks and even affirmations that would’ve made this whole thing a lot smoother—and a lot less emotional. 

I've also asked members of the community what they wish someone had told them when they first started out with the FODMAP diet plan. Many of the answers lined up with my experience!

So today, I'm going to share the things that I wish I knew when I first started. Hopefully, you’ll find this useful, no matter where you are in your journey.

#1 Onion and garlic are not absolutely essential for flavor

It seems like such a minor thing now, but this was definitely my number one source of anxiety and fear and stress when I started to grasp what the FODMAP diet really entailed. All those recipes I relied on would have to be modified or thrown out—and at first, I had no idea how to even begin. 

(This is also one of the biggest struggles that I hear from folks who send me emails, easily in the top three questions that I receive!) 

For years, I made my living as a recipe developer. I love food, and own an embarrassing amount of cookbooks! And I can tell you that giving up onion and garlic is not the end of the world.

Sure, it’s an adjustment, but it’s not impossible. While I, personally, can tolerate a bit of onion, I don’t do great with garlic, and I don’t really keep either of them in the house. It’s worth it, to me, to see the success of following the FODMAP diet plan in my own symptoms. 

In a way, whether it’s onion, garlic, or any other food, it really won’t be as bad as you think, giving it up temporarily or even for longer periods of time. I promise. 

You can check out this ultimate guide for other ways to flavor food that won’t trigger your IBS!

#2 A major diet change is hard, and it will take you time to get in your groove

Okay, I know I just said that giving up some foods isn’t the end of the world. And it’s not! But any major lifestyle change means changing all of your patterns—even ones you might not be aware you have. It will take time. It doesn’t happen overnight. 

Doctors love to give you a little two- or three-page handout that makes it seem super easy to just completely overhaul your diet overnight, but the truth is, not many people can just turn completely change the way that they cook, shop, and eat in one day. 

You have to be patient with yourself. You have to give yourself time (and grace!) as you begin the process. 

Even though I had cooking skills and already was a healthy eater, I couldn't turn it around overnight. I needed time to get comfortable with the changes in my eating habits.

Whatever you do, don't let beginner overwhelm hold you back from starting.

Just know that it's going to take time to get comfortable, and it's okay to be to be stressed about it when you start. If you mess up, that's okay! Don't beat yourself up—keep going.

#3 Eating in a social setting is less of a big deal than you might think

A lot of people ask me this one, especially as they start to really think about how often we all eat in social settings—restaurants, work lunches, family meals.

When you can control the food, things tend to work fine. But when other people are cooking? That can be a little stressful. 

I get it. 

If you’re worried about how the changes in your diet will affect eating out at restaurants—whether it’s asking for order changes or worrying about being judged for what you put in your face—that’s normal. 

No matter how much we worry that other people are judging us, people are always more concerned about what they are doing, than what other people are thinking. It’s just our nature! We’re all a little self-centered like that. 

And if someone does give you grief or side-eye for swapping your asparagus for a side salad? Then they really need to find a hobby. 

What you eat isn’t a judgement, or critique, of anyone else’s eating. Refusing a food, making healthier choices, these are all worth it, to make your body feel better. 

Prefer to watch? Check out the video below...

#4 You really do need to listen to your body

If you’ve spent any time on this site, then I know you’ve heard this one before. But it’s absolutely true. Listen to what your body is saying—not just with the food, but with all of it. 

The great thing about making this kind of diet change is that you have this really excellent opportunity to learn about all the other factors that affect your digestion, besides just the FODMAPs. When you take those away, you start to listen to the other little messages your body is sending. 

For example, stress is a big deal for me. It messes with my stomach. Now I can hear that message more clearly, and adjust my lifestyle accordingly. 

Another thing I learned was that adjusting the overall volume of food I was eating helped with my symptoms. I was just giving it too much to do! Eating smaller meals, letting them digest well, allowed my body to tell me, hey, you’ll feel less bloated and heavy and gross. 

For many of my clients, I often hear that their period sends them a huge message, thanks to fluctuating hormones! As you can see, all of these non-food factors can affect your gut.

Listen to them. 

Every body is different. What’s yours telling you? 

#5 Sourdough bread is your best friend

For those of you who love bread, this one is really exciting. 

(What? Bread is exciting! Especially bread that’s safe and delicious!)

This wasn’t even established when I was first beginning my FODMAP diet journey, but within the last two years, Monash has tested sourdough bread and found that, because of the slow fermentation process, sourdough bread has an extremely low FODMAP content. 

The only catch is that it MUST be made using a traditional slow rise process.

Luckily, it’s easy to tell if sourdough is indeed slow rise: Check the ingredients. If the sourdough bread contains yeast or enzymes, then it was not made with the slow rise method.

Traditional slow-rise sourdough requires just three main ingredients: flour, water, and salt. Instead of yeast, a “starter” causes the bread to rise. This happens when natural bacteria occurring in the air slowly ferments by consuming the FODMAPs and other carbohydrates in the flour. This produces gas, which creates the rise in the bread. 

Great news if you’ve been missing bread!

#6 You really do need to reintroduce FODMAPs by category

Like most of us, I spent a long time on the elimination phase of the FODMAP diet. Because I was feeling better, and seeing a reduction in my own symptoms, it felt really comfortable just to stay in that highly restricted zone. 

And yet it’s really important to test foods and reintroduce them—not just because it’s healthier to have more variety in your diet, but also because that’s the only way you’re going to know your personal FODMAP tolerance levels.

One thing I learned when I did finally reintroduce FODMAPs is that I have a pretty high tolerance for wheat. I can still eat my homemade pizza and croissants, and for me, that’s amazing. 

On the other hand, I used to love making sweet potato fries, but now I can only have a few bites. A bigger serving of sweet potato makes my stomach feel heavy and creates unpleasant symptoms the next day. And there’s no way I would’ve known that without reintroducing FODMAP categories one by one. 

You might be taking a risk with a certain food during this phase, but the knowledge you will gain will be priceless. 

#7 You won’t always feel deprived!

When we talk about diet changes, there is always this lingering worry, this fear of deprivation. 

And it makes sense: We’re taking away a lot of common foods that are in favorite dishes, at home and out in the world. It’s a huge adjustment, looking at food in this new way. 

Yes, it will absolutely feel like an adjustment. You’re definitely going to hate taking away some foods—but eventually, the feelings of being so healthy and feeling so much better and feeling empowered will begin to outweigh the difficulties. 

You may still experience IBS symptoms. That’s totally normal. But overall, you will feel so much better, because you’ll finally have control over how your body feels. 

And those are my top seven items I wish I’d known before starting the FODMAP diet!

They’re definitely truths for me, and ones I hear from my clients as well. I hope that they can empower you to begin your FODMAP journey.

If you're in that place of overwhelm...

sign up for our Free 7-Day Calm Belly Challenge. This mini course helps you set the foundation you need to succeed on FODMAP.

Because you deserve to have a calm belly too!

5 Surprising Ways to Improve Digestive Health (Right now!) on the FODMAP Diet

5 Surprising Ways to Improve Digestive Health (Right now!) on the FODMAP Diet

You might know about taking high-FODMAP foods out of your diet, but did you know there are strategies you can use to improve digestive health even MORE? Learn the top 5 surprising ways you can calm your belly FAST and feel better than before.

How to Manage Holiday Eating (& beat stress) on the FODMAP Diet

Learn 5 tips for holiday eating on the fodmap diet, and 3 ways to manage stress. Keeping your IBS in check while enjoying Christmas and Hanukah celebrations is possible! Click through to read more! #fodmap #IBS

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The holidays are right around the corner. That often means busy schedules, travel, long to-do lists, and plenty of festive food. 

This is all GOOD stuff, but it can also make sticking to the low-FODMAP Diet harder. Luckily, there’s a way to set yourself up for success, even if there’s a house full of Christmas candy calling your name.

To avoid having IBS get in the way of your holiday fun, you just need to plan ahead.

There are two key areas to focus on if you want to feel great throughout the holidays: Smart eating and stress management. 

I talked about each key area in its own edition of Calm Belly TV, my live show I stream on the Calm Belly Kitchen Facebook page. You can also read the tips and strategies below.

You don’t need to use every single tip! Cherry pick the ones that speak to you and your situation. If you want to learn more about any of these tips, be sure to watch the video.

You also don’t need to spend much time creating your plan. Here's what I recommend:

  • Write down the strategies you’ll use (be specific about how and when you’ll put them to work)
  • Include any of your OWN strategies and stress-busting techniques that have helped you in the past
  • Look over your list in the coming days--especially before any big events--so you put your planning into action

By the way, these tips work ANY time of year when you need a little extra help, not just in December!

Top 5 Tips for Holiday Eating on FODMAP

  1. Take a break - If you’re doing the reintroduction phase, pause your testing over the holidays; if you’re doing the elimination phase it’s okay to take a short break to enjoy some of your favorites. Remember moderation and then get right back to eating low FODMAP.
  2. Be selective - Choose the one or two high-FODMAP foods you love most at parties or special occasions and eat a small serving without feeling guilty. 
  3. Eat strategically in your downtime - Eat low-FODMAP day before, the day of, and day after a holiday event. Taking a little extra care makes room to enjoy those higher FODMAP favorites in moderation.
  4. Eat turkey (or whatever protein is being served as the main course) - Any type of large roast is a smart choice. Eat an “inside piece” if you think it’s been seasoned with high-FODMAP ingredients.
  5. Bring dessert - You’ll likely have some options to choose from in the main meal (see #4), but dessert can be tough and missing out isn’t fun. Search Pinterest for low-FODMAP or gluten-free versions of things like pumpkin bars, cranberry crisp or bars, brownies, and cookies. Note that gluten free desserts are not always low-FODMAP; however, they will not contain wheat which is the main high-FODMAP ingredient found in many desserts. If you love to cook, bring a side dish too! 

Watch the video to learn more!


Top 3 Tips for Managing Holiday Stress

Tip #1 - Remind yourself that the people who love you want you to feel good.

This small mindset shift takes care of the stress that can come up around social meals. If you find yourself fielding questions about your food choices, remember that it's coming from a place of concern and curiosity, not disapproval or anger. 

Still awkward? Memorize a go-to response to explain FODMAP: For example, “Certain types of carbs cause digestive problems for sensitive people, so I’m cutting them out of my diet for now.”

Tip #1 also helps when feelings of guilt come up because you’re not following a certain food tradition, or you fear disappointing people by changing the holiday menu.

Tip #2 - Organize a non-food activity to have fun and spend time with loved ones.

For example, build a snowman with your kids or go hiking instead of baking 5 batches of cookies.

When food does play a part in social events, shift the focus to something else like a game or a craft project everyone can participate in.

Tip #3 - Lean on your go-to meals more than ever.

When you’re busy or stressed, don’t make meal planning yet another item on your to-do list. Instead, rely on the handful of meals that are familiar and friendly to your digestive system to keep IBS symptoms in check. Give priority to meals that provide leftovers to help you save time. No need to test drive new recipes or make something from scratch every night.

Watch the video to learn more!

These are my top tips that I've seen work for clients who I'm coaching through the FODMAP Diet. But I bet you have more tips of your own, so use them all! 

The specific strategies don't matter as much as staying consistent, taking a few minutes to plan ahead, and remembering what works for YOU so you can repeat it.

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!

Ready For the Next Step?

If you're ready to create your lifetime eating style or tackle a NEW health goal ASAP, save time and get valuable support in Calm Belly Club, our members-only online community. As a member, you get access to Free To Eat, my comprehensive guide to the reintroduction phase!

5 Signs You're Ready to Reintroduce FODMAPs

5 Signs You're Ready to Reintroduce FODMAPs

If you aren't sure whether it's time to do the reintroduction phase, of the FODMAP diet, look for these 5 signs! Testing FODMAPs is can be an overwhelming process but you don't need to go through it alone. Find out how I did and still traveled, ate and restaurants and enjoyed great food. Learning your FODMAP triggers is so worth it. Click through to see if you should take the leap!

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Last week, I busted myths about reintroducing FODMAPs, and now it's time go deeper on this topic.

The only way to find out what foods trigger your IBS is careful reintroduction. But how do you REALLY know you're ready?

It’s essential to figure this out so you’ll know when to take the leap.

The most important sign you're ready to reintroduce FODMAPs is that you've experienced consistent improvement in your symptoms by doing the elimination phase.

But sometimes you need a little more info to go on! So I came up with 5 signs that show it's time to test FODMAPs. 

Eating croissants in Paris when I was there celebrating my 10-year anniversary in May made one thing crystal clear about reintroducing FODMAPs, and it’s why I’m writing this post:

Knowing what foods trigger your IBS and which ones don't makes life so much more delicious.

5 Signs That You’re Ready to Reintroduce FODMAPs

  1. Your belly feels good, but you’re not happy (spending 8 months in the elimination phase has officially sucked the joy out of your life).

  2. You’re mad at yourself for spending a small fortune on low-FODMAP crackers and bars again because you suspect that a little bit of wheat (or milk/honey/onion powder) will NOT actually turn your belly into an angry, raging fire.

  3. You went to a new restaurant with a really creative menu and spent $24 on a plain grilled chicken salad (special request, of course).

  4. You just booked a week in Mexico and feel stuck between A) Totally depriving yourself on the elimination phase, and B) Eating ALL THE THINGS and getting diarrhea at the beach.

  5. You really miss fresh figs or [insert food of YOUR dreams here].

You owe it to yourself to find out if you and your dream food can kiss and make up.

If these signs sound oddly specific, that’s because I experienced them all myself.  The biggest thing I found? Traveling and eating low-FODMAP can be excruciatingly hard, especially if you're a foodie.

Luckily, I’ve got something that will help you put pizza and pad thai and tapas back on your radar, not banished for all time.

Introducing the Free To Eat Program

Trying to piece together your own reintroduction plan feels like swinging at a piñata blindfolded-- you're just stumbling around in the dark.

Different websites have different rules...Which ones are actually important?

If you want to do this phase at your own pace and a done-for-you plan to find your IBS triggers, Free To Eat is the solution you've been looking for.

Our Free To Eat program, plus monthly trainings, Q&A calls, and community support are available to all members of Calm Belly Club. Join today for only $12.99 per month, cancel anytime.

Click to learn more about Calm Belly Club!

 

 

How to Calculate Nutrition Facts for Any Low-FODMAP Recipe (& Free Live Workshop!)

Click through to learn how to instantly calculate the nutrition information for any FODMAP recipe using a free online tool. It's so cool and easy, you'll want to do a nutrition analysis for every dish you cook! Watch the video tutorial in the blog post and start creating your own nutrition labels. Knowing how many calories and nutrients are in your meals will empower you to eat healthier and lose weight.

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Today, I'm going to show you how to use the recipe analysis feature on caloriecount.com to get the Nutrition Facts for just about any recipe.

Whether you're trying to lose weight, maintain your weight or just figure out how your meals stack up nutritionally, you will love this free tool. You'll be able create a nutrition label for any low-FODMAP recipe you find online, and this is a key piece in the weight loss puzzle.

Psst>>>Click the image below to grab your free cheat sheet!

Why Nutrition Facts are Important

If you want to lose weight, you need to know what you're eating. Specifically, how many calories.

The essential fact when it comes is weight loss is this: If you eat fewer calories than you burn over time, you will lose weight.

So counting those calories is the first step.

Thanks to the FODMAP diet, you're probably used to reading labels and ingredient lists already. But how do you figure out the nutrition stats for recipes you find on blogs and websites, or in cookbooks?

That's where this video tutorial comes in! When I first started working as a freelance writer, I specialized in developing healthy recipes for magazines. At the time, there weren't any free online tools to use. You had to purchase expensive software designed for medical pros. 

I would look up the nutrition data for each individual ingredient in my recipes, tally them up based on amounts and divide by the number of servings. This took forever! 

Now, anyone can calculate nutrition facts instantly. Watch the tutorial to see how easy it is. Here's the link the recipe analysis tool on caloriecount.com.

So How Much Should You Eat Each Day?

You've seen how easy it is get the calorie count for your meals, but that's only the first step. To determine how many calories you should eat each day to reach your individual weight loss goal, you need to factor in your physical stats (weight, age, height), daily activity level, and extra exercise sessions.

Luckily, the internet is here to help! There are plenty of daily calorie calculators to choose from. Try this one, and use your number as a starting point.

 

FODMAP Diet FAQs Part 3: How long until I'm symptom-free?

FODMAP Diet FAQs Part 3: How long until I'm symptom-free?

In part 3 of the FODMAP Diet Frequently Asked Questions series, I'll answer the common concern, "When will I start feeling better on the FODMAP diet?" If you're in the elimination phase, this can be a real struggle, and the answer might surprise you. I'll also explain the related problem of feeling even worse when you first begin doing the FODMAP elimination diet. Click through to watch the video or read the key points now!

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Welcome to Part 3 of the FODMAP Diet Frequently Asked Questions Series!

Here are the other parts of the FODMAP FAQ series:

Part One: Eating at Restaurants and No-FODMAP vs. Low-FODMAP

Part Two: Easy Workday Lunches

Today in Part Three, I'm answering a two-part question that comes up a lot, especially when you're just getting started with the FODMAP diet:

  • How long does it take until I'm symptom free?

  • I feel worse on the low-FODMAP diet...what is going on?

You can hear my thoughts in the 5.5-minute video, or read the key points below.

FAQ Part 1: How long does it take until I'm symptom free?

Short answer: It takes as long as it takes (to put it bluntly!). But what I hear most often is that it takes 2 to 4 weeks before people see a noticeable improvement.

I often hear that people with IBS-D (diarrhea) get symptom relief faster than those with IBS-C (constipation), so that may be a factor in how long it takes for you.

If you've done the elimination phase for 2 to 4 weeks, with no changes, here are some possible explanations:

  • You're overlooking high-FODMAP foods and/or serving sizes in your diet. I recommend using the Monash app as the easiest, most reliable source for keeping track of this stuff.

  • I often say that one restaurant meal won't ruin everything, but when you're doing the elimination phase you want to minimize FODMAPs in your diet as much as possible. So, if you're "cheating," or going out to eat, or having cake for dinner (It's been quite a few years, but I have definitely done this.) every 3 or 4 days, your body won't have a chance to experience life without FODMAPs. This is important because your goal is to find out if eating low-FODMAP truly improves our symptoms or not.

  • It might take a few weeks to get into the groove. The FODMAP diet is really complicated and for a lot of us, me included, it's going to take some time to change our whole way of eating, cooking and shopping for food. You might need to spend a couple weeks learning what to buy at the supermarket and coming up with those go-to meals (My Free 7-Day FODMAP Challenge is great for that!). So, if the elimination phase takes you 8 weeks instead of 4 because you eased into it, that's more than okay.

If you've done the elimination phase as efficiently as possible for at least 4 weeks and you're not seeing improvements, you might have an issue that's not related to FODMAPs.

FAQ Part 2: I feel worse on the low-FODMAP diet...what is going on?

Some people feel worse in the beginning, and there could be a lot of different reasons for this. All the things mentioned above could be factors.

Another big one is stress. You might be stressed about whether or not you're eating the right foods. It doesn't matter where the stress comes from; it can have a real effect on our digestion.

It could be a small thing like drinking a diet soda everyday. It might not contain FODMAPs, but the carbonation can cause bloating and mess with your gut.

People often ask if fiber is a factor--it might be. The low-FODMAP diet is very healthy, so you might be getting more fiber than your system is used to. Whether you're getting too much or not enough, try to add it in slowly so your body doesn't get overwhelmed.

Whatever you're experiencing, don't hesitate to talk to your doctor or the medical pro advising you. If something doesn't seem right, it's better to figure it out sooner rather than later!

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