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Managing symptoms after eating high FODMAP foods

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11 August 2022|3 min read

Slipped up over the weekend and indulged in a few too many high FODMAP foods? Ate something which was high FODMAP without realising? Unknowingly ate a high FODMAP serve of what is considered to be a low FODMAP food?

Regardless of the reason, sometimes we slip up on a low FODMAP diet. Is it the end of the world? No. Can your symptoms consequently flare up and make it feel like the end of the world? Yes – but where there’s a will, there’s a way to feel better. Here’s what to do after eating high FODMAP foods.

The high FODMAP damage has been done…now what?

Firstly, don’t beat yourself up! After slipping up a little on a low FODMAP diet, many clients feel down on themselves.  You are human. None of us is perfect with our eating 100% of the time, even dietitians!

Now… try to reduce the severity of your IBS symptoms. Different things work for different people, so this may require some trial and error. The biggest influence on deciding which management strategy is best for you is the type of symptoms you experience.

First of all, resume a low FODMAP diet

This one may be obvious, but it is your best bet for preventing further symptom flare-ups. If you are still in the early stages of a low FODMAP diet, resume a complete low FODMAP diet as per usual. If you have already identified your triggers and only avoid certain FODMAPs, follow a strict low FODMAP diet for 2-3 days. This will allow time for symptoms to resolve.

Try to avoid the ‘all-or-nothing’ mindset. This means having the attitude that you have to either be strictly low FODMAP, or not bother. For example, say you’re at a gathering on the weekend and simply cannot resist the french onion dip you’ve been eyeing.

Avoid listening to that voice saying “ahh well you’ve ruined it now, may as well go all out and start again Monday”.  This will likely leave your tummy feeling WAY worse come Monday.  On the other hand, if you stick to mostly low FODMAP food choices for the remainder of the night, you may only experience some mild symptoms – if at all.

Symptoms are in full-force… how can I save myself!?

As mentioned earlier, the most suitable remedy to manage symptoms depends on the type of symptoms you experience.  Below outlines four common IBS symptoms, and some tips to help with managing them.

Diarrhoea

  • Slowly sip plenty of water. Consider an electrolyte replacement for dehydration such as hydrolyte, if severe/prolonged.
  • Stick to light, plain foods such as dry toast and crackers.  Avoid anything that is heavy, high-fat or spicy.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and carbonated drinks.
  • Consider an over-the-counter (OTC) anti-diarrhoeal, such as immodium.  Consult with your Pharmacist first.

Constipation

  • Drink plenty of water and avoid caffeine
  • Eat plenty of high fibre low FODMAP foods such as vegetables, fruit, whole grains, seeds and nuts.
  • Drink warm water or herbal tea
  • o for a walk/do some light exercise
  • Consider an OTC medication if severe and prolonged. Consult with your Pharmacist first.

Stomach pain and cramping

  • Use a hot water bottle/wheat bag to assist with pain
  • Eat small, light meals/snacks every 2-3 hours rather than 3 large meals.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, high-fat foods and spicy foods.
  • Try a light walk if able.
  • Consider an OTC medication such as antispasmodics such as Flordis Iberogast.  Consult with your Pharmacist first.

Bloating and flatulence

  • Use a hot water bottle/wheat bag to assist with pain
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks, high-fat foods, spicy foods and high salt foods.
  • Sip warm peppermint tea, or try a peppermint oil capsule.
  • Consider an OTC medication such as Iberogast. Consult with your Pharmacist first.

Remember to rest and relax

Stress is a well-known trigger for IBS, and is a sure-fire way to set off symptoms.  It is common to stress or worry after eating something high FODMAP, due to fear of the symptoms. It is much easier said than done, but try not to worry in this situation.  

Worrying is likely to increase the chance or severity of symptom onset, and won’t help with the emotional side of things. Instead, try accepting that what’s done is done, and move forward with a symptom management plan in place.

We all unwind in different ways, so when symptoms worsen, do whatever it is that helps you unwind and relax.  Prioritise sleep as well.  Lack of sleep can worsen IBS symptoms, so try to aim for 7-8 hours each night.

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

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This article is for informational purposes only and does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. If you have any concerns or questions about your health you should consult with a health professional.