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Digestive Wellness: Navigating IBS with the Low FODMAP Diet



What is IBS?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a condition in which the gastrointestinal tract is affected,

characterized by abdominal pain, cramping, irregular bowel movements, diarrhea, and

constipation.1 Other symptoms can include urgency and the feeling of incomplete evacuation,

and diagnosis of IBS is based on the Rome IV Criteria.1


IBS may severely impact an individual’s daily activities, social life, work life, and overall quality

of life. Ensuring there is a restroom nearby is usually a constant concern for someone with IBS.


What are FODMAPS?

FODMAPs are a group of short-chain carbohydrates that ferment in the gut and can cause

abdominal pain, bloating, gas, cramping, diarrhea, and constipation.2 FODMAP stands for

Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, And Polyols.


The main FODMAPs are fructans, galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), lactose, fructose, sorbitol, and

mannitol.2 Each group consists of different kinds of foods that contain high amounts of that

carbohydrate. These foods include fruit, vegetables, dairy, grains, and sugar alcohols.


How are FODMAPs and IBS Related?

Because FODMAP foods can increase abdominal discomfort and alter stool, those with IBS must

be very cautious about consuming these kinds of foods.1,2 High FODMAP foods can trigger IBS

symptoms or make present symptoms worse.1,2


Everyone is unique and may have different tolerances or triggers than you; therefore, identifying

your personal triggers is significant for improving your IBS symptoms and relief. Implementing

the low FODMAP diet is a useful process to learn what foods you can tolerate.

The low FODMAP diet is broken down into 3 phases: the elimination phase, the challenge

phase, and the re-introduction phase. With guidance from your registered dietitian, following this

process can help you recognize what foods you can tolerate in respective serving sizes.


Tips for Successful Implementation


Keep a journal. Log the foods and beverages you eat into a daily journal,

including the FODMAP group, the portion size, and the timing of the meal as well

as any symptoms you encounter. Tracking your symptoms can help narrow down

what foods you can or cannot tolerate in certain portion sizes.


Read food labels. Many packaged foods or supplements contain ingredients that

are high FODMAP. Always make sure to read the food label and ingredient list to

identify any hidden FODMAP foods. Remember that the first ingredient listed is

the highest amount present in the product, but the last ingredient may be present

in high amounts also.


Plan out your meals. Organizing your meals into a schedule can mitigate the

challenge of implementing a low FODMAP diet. This reduces the error of

mistakenly consuming high FODMAP foods as well as the stress around

scrambling to make an adequate meal.


Create grocery lists. Along with planning your meals, creating a grocery list is

beneficial to this process by purchasing exactly what is appropriate to consume

for the week. This will also decrease the amount of time you need to spend in a

grocery store.


Manage your stress. Stress is a trigger for IBS. Find methods to reduce your

stress that work for you. These may include going on a walk, reading a book,

taking a shower, calling a friend, or talking to a therapist.


Implement exercise. Exercise is a helpful way to manage your IBS symptoms in

conjunction with diet. Non-jarring exercise including walking, swimming, yoga,

or biking is beneficial for your gut as well as reducing stress. Exercise can also

help with constipation.


Get adequate sleep. Achieving sufficient sleep every night can lower your

abdominal discomfort, stress, and improve your quality of life.


Bring all questions and concerns to your dietitian! Your dietitian is there to

support you and help you navigate your way to normalcy.


Talk to your dietitian for more information regarding the low FODMAP diet and IBS. Your

dietitian can help you in identifying your triggers and working towards IBS symptom relief in

order to improve your quality of life.


References

1 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Nutrition Care Manual. Irritable Bowel Syndrome,

Overview. Accessed January 17, 2024.

v1=5522&lv2=275334&lv3=275335&ncm_toc_id=275335&ncm_heading=Nutrition%20Care

2. Morariu ID, Avasilcai L, Vieriu M, et al. Effects of a Low-FODMAP Diet on Irritable Bowel

Syndrome in Both Children and Adults-A Narrative Review. Nutrients. 2023;15(10):2295.

Published 2023 May 13. doi:10.3390/nu15102295

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