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

When & how 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? And how do you reintroduce FODMAPS?

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.

Keep reading to learn if it's time for YOU to test FODMAPs. Or watch this episode of Calm Belly TV to go even deeper. 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!

Ready to challenge and reintroduce high-FODMAP foods?

Click to get your FREE Reintroduction Checklist

(Watch the video or scroll down to read about the 3 factors!)

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 other factors that affect your 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 understanding 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 (remember, that doesn't necessarily mean being symptom-free - see #1).

This is important so you can recognize reactions when you test high-FODMAP foods in the reintroduction phase.

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 good 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.

When 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!

How To Deal with IBS-D (Try these 4 strategies in this order!)

Learn 4 strategies to help IBS-D (when diarrhea is your main symptom). 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

Top 3 Mistakes When Reintroducing FODMAPs

The Reintroduction Phase is when you test FODMAPs to learn what you can eat and what you should avoid to get IBS relief! As a health coach, I've seen all the mistakes that can happen in this crucial, phase. Click through to read the top 3 mistakes and how you can test FODMAP foods without making them!

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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 or FODMAP Challenge 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 during your elimination, don't feel bad! This FODMAP challenge phase has a learning curve, but it shouldn't take a PhD in food science and the steely resolve of a navy S.E.A.L. 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.

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. 

Common worries:

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!

Ready for FODMAP Reintroduction? Grab your free checklist and tracker!

Mistake #3: Expecting an instant reaction

You might have symptoms within a couple hours of eating a test food.

Bloating can happen relatively quickly. But diarrhea or constipation may not hit you for 24 to 48 hours, since gut transit times are different for everyone.

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. Moral of the story: Listen to your body.

BONUS Mistake!

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!

7 Secrets for Healthy Low-FODMAP Cooking (even if you hate to cook)

7 Secrets for Healthy Low-FODMAP Cooking (even if you hate to cook)

You want to eat clean healthy meals but you don't have hours to spend cooking. This is what we all struggle with, but you don't need superpowers to make low FODMAP meals that keep you satisfied and help you reach your weight loss goals. I have 7 pro-tips that will make better use of the time you have. Click through to read all the tips and become a healthy cooking superhero.

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 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.

 I hope these tips inspired you to cook healthy and delicious low-FODMAP food. Take it slow at first and you’ll be cooking up a storm in no time.