Starting a low FODMAP diet can seem overwhelming at the beginning with lots of different factors to consider and a variety of foods you need to temporarily exclude.
Without proper guidance, it can be easy to make simple mistakes. This can leave you wondering why your symptoms aren’t getting better.
Today we give you an insight into some common mistakes people make on a low FODMAP diet. Watching out for these common mistakes may help to manage your symptoms. Plus, you can ensure you are still looking after your general health and well-being at the same time.
1. Not controlling portion sizes
With lots of different foods to consider it can be easy to see low FODMAP food and think you can consume as much as you like. However, for some foods, this is not the case.
It is important to check the serving (or amount of a food) that is still low FODMAP. Often there are low, moderate and high serve sizes for common foods. It is important to use the resources available to you such as our low FODMAP food list, and the Monash low FODMAP app to keep up to date with low FODMAP portion sizes.
To watch your portion sizes it may help to measure some foods initially to get an idea of how much you are eating. The good news is, that adhering to the low FODMAP portion sizes can help you keep your IBS symptoms at bay.
2. Failing to challenge FODMAPs and maintaining a low FODMAP diet long term
If you’ve been following the elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet for a while you may find your symptoms have been alleviated. Whilst this is great news, it does not mean the problem is completely solved yet. Despite being symptom-free it is important not to maintain a low FODMAP diet, eliminating all FODMAPs, the long term.
The elimination phase is only designed to last 2-6 weeks, before commencing challenges. This tight restriction on what you can eat adds unnecessary stress to your day to day life. Plus, it could also result in nutrient deficiencies if continued without proper guidance.
It is important that you challenge all the FODMAPs to determine your triggers. The long-term goal is to only exclude FODMAPs that are known triggers for your symptoms. This is beneficial for both your physical and mental well-being. Besides, who wants to exclude foods you enjoy if you don’t need to!
3. Not reading the ingredients of packaged foods
One of the common mistakes is to assume that packaged food contains only the ingredients you would expect. Many packaged foods may have high FODMAP ingredients that you may not expect such as garlic and onion.
For this reason, it is important to always read the ingredients list. That way you can be sure the foods you purchase really are low FODMAP. This allows you to be aware of what you are eating, ensuring there are no hidden FODMAPs that could trigger your symptoms.
You can also lookout for the low FODMAP certified foods that you know are safe to consume.
4. Forgetting that portions can add up
It is important to consider how the amount of FODMAPs you are consuming can add up. This includes how many foods you are consuming that contain moderate amounts of FODMAPs.
Just like large portion sizes, consuming multiple foods with moderate amounts of FODMAPs can push you over your threshold. This is a common mistake called FODMAP stacking that can trigger your IBS symptoms and may be difficult to pinpoint. You may know that individual foods are low FODMAP serve sizes, but it is important to consider the additive effect of multiple foods with moderate/high amounts of FODMAPs. Check out our article on FODMAP stacking for more information on this.
5. Being too hard on yourself
Following a low FODMAP diet can be challenging at times, but it is important not to be too hard on yourself. One of the common mistakes people make is becoming too focused on their diet they forget about their own mental health.
Whilst following the diet can be beneficial in controlling your IBS symptoms, if you are stressed at the same time, the stress itself may worsen your symptoms. It is important to remember that we all make mistakes and if you experience IBS symptoms you can resume your stage in the challenge when you are feeling better.
Try our tips for managing symptoms after high FODMAP foods and allow yourself some time to de-stress and relax while continuing your low FODMAP diet.
Need help with the low FODMAP diet? Our FREE dietitian developed program will guide you through it, step-by-step. Includes a low FODMAP food guide. Sign up now.
If you are experiencing gut symptoms and have not been recommended a low FODMAP diet by a health professional, get started with the manage your gut symptoms program.
Reviewed by the healthylife Advisory Board March 2022