FODMAP Plan for IBS Diet

Irritable bowel syndrome is one of the most common gut disorders and affects one in seven adults. Completing all three phases of the low FODMAP for IBS diet can diagnose your food triggers. There is no other diagnostic test for IBS. Hydrogen-methane breath-testing only measures some but not all possible trigger foods.

Diagnosis is usually made on symptoms. IBS is defined as having abdominal pain or discomfort at least three days per month in the last three months alongside symptoms including a feeling of urgency, pain or cramping, bloating, altered bowel habits, excess wind, nausea and feeling of incompleteness.

IBS Diet for treating bloating and pain

The first step to to finding the right treatment for IBS is to eliminate a number of other possible medical causes or identifying simple solutions to the symptoms.  After this your doctor or dietitian may suggest a Low FODMAP IBS diet for 2-6 weeks.

One of the most common mistakes people make is they stay on the low FODMAP diet too long. A low FODMAP diet is designed to be used for a short time to identify the foods causing your symptoms. The Gastroenterological Society of Australia recommend the re-introduction of FODMAPs should be guided and assessed by an Accredited Practising Dietitian (GESA 2013). The re-introduction phase can take several weeks so don’t waste this time and effort by not doing it properly. When done correctly, the low FODMAP diet has been found to reduce the symptoms of bloating and pain in around 86% of people (Staudacher 2011).

FODMAP plan for IBS diet

What are FODMAPS?

FODMAPs is a term that is used to describe the range of carbohydrates and sugars which can cause bloating because they are poorly absorbed by the body. Undigested food sits in the intestine and is fermented by bacteria which leads to fluid secretin and gas production. For the vast majority of people, this doesn’t cause a problem but around 20% of the population who have IBS, this leads to pain, diarrhoea and/or constipation.  FODMAPS are found in everyday foods and are important for good gut and overall health.

FODMAPS are dietary sugars from the following groups:
Oligosaccharides: Fructans and galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS)
Disaccharides: Lactose
Monosaccharides: Fructose in excess of glucose
Polyols: Sorbitol, Mannitol, Maltitol, Xylitol and Isomalt

IBS diet help

Excluding high FODMAP foods from the diet can reduce the amount of poorly digested carbohydrates in the gut. This, in turn, will reduce fermentation by bacteria and then reduce the symptoms.

Once you have completed the low FODMAP diet trial we will individually ‘challenge’ your tolerance to each of the poorly absorbed carbohydrates. This enables us to determine how much of each of the FODMAPs you can tolerate before you develop symptoms.

There are three important phases to a low FODMAP diet for IBS.

  1. The exclusion phase where you remove the most likely trigger foods. A dietitian can advice which ones are most likely depending on your symptoms).
  2. The re-introduction and tolerance testing phase. A Dietitian will give you an individualised plan and guide you through the practical steps to test your tolerance to each of the FODMAP foods. Doing this phase correctly is vital for an accurate diagnosis so it is worth doing properly.
  3. Liberalising phase.  Although at this stage you are likely to be feeling a lot better, it is important to complete this phase of the diet to ensure that you are meeting your nutrient requirements. Cutting out foods or groups of foods put you at risk of nutritional deficiencies or new unwanted symptoms such as lethargy, low mood and weight gain.  This is because FODMAPs contain important nutrients for good gut health and therefore it is important you suitable foods to replace the lost nutrients. Good gut health has been linked to the function of the brain and may affect the body’s production of hormones which affect appetite, energy and weight as well as neurotransmitters that can affect mood . A Dietitian is the best professional to develop your personalised long-term eating plan so that above all else you can protect and heal the gut.

If you have no improvement in symptoms in 6 weeks while on a FODMAP diet, your dietitian will be able to explore other possible food intolerances.

Making life easier on a low FODMAP IBS diet

A low FODMAP diet can be difficult to incorporate into your everyday life. Have a dietitian on hand to give practical tips and meal plans for eating out and at home. This will make it easier to incorporate the changes into your life.

Eating out – People find it quite difficult to eat out whilst completing the trial. The best way to avoid FODMAPs is by sticking to more basic meals and restaurants. e.g. Pub meals are often more FODMAP friendly than Indian, Asian, Italian, Mexican cuisines.

Probiotics – Probiotics can also be beneficial. Check with your dietitian for the most appropriate one for your symptoms.

Laxatives and fibre supplementsOften these supplements contain sugars and sweeteners that are not recommended on the Low FODMAP diet.

Chewing gum and artificially sweetened productsMany contain sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol which are not suitable for a Low FODMAP diet.

What if the low FODMAP diet doesn’t work for me?

About 1 in 4 people will not respond to the Low FODMAP diet. Therefore, for best results, it is important to strictly follow the diet for 2-6 weeks as this will help determine whether you are responding. For people who don’t respond to the Low FODMAP diet then a more restrictive elimination diet may be considered.

If you feel there is little or no improvement after completing this process with a Dietitian, it is important that you discuss your symptoms with your GP as they will be able to conduct further testing and refer you on to a gastroenterologist for further investigation.

Some people who find that their IBS is worsened by periods of stress may benefit from psychological support to help manage the stress and anxiety.

These are our dietitians with specialist experience in IBS treatment and FODMAP diets.

Amanda Turbill, APD

Alys Lympaney, Gastointestinal Dietitian

Molly Warner, Accredited Practising Dietitian





If you or someone you know could benefit from an expert’s advice get in touch with My Nutrition Clinic today.

annaFODMAP diet plan for IBS