Rebecca Sue |

Gentle Approach to the FODMAP Diet

If you have recently been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), you may have been recommended to try a low FODMAP diet. 

You head home and ask Dr. Google “What is a low FODMAP diet?", and immediately are overwhelmed with all the food that you supposedly cannot eat - well that’s no way to live!

At Fodbods we are all about food freedom and helping you live your best life. That’s why we would like to introduce you to the gentle FODMAP diet approach


The 3 phases of the Standard FODMAP Diet

There are three phases of the FODMAP diet which aims to help you identify which FODMAPs are triggering your symptoms. This information is used to help you eat a variety of foods with as few symptoms as possible.

  1. Elimination Phase
    The Elimination Phase is where you remove all high and moderate FODMAP foods from your diet. The purpose of this is to determine whether a low FODMAP diet reduces the IBS symptoms you experience. This phase typically lasts around 2-6 weeks.

  2. Reintroduction Phase
    If your symptoms have significantly improved, the Reintroduction Phase is where you identify which FODMAP groups trigger your IBS symptoms by reintroducing them one at a time. This phase typically takes around 6-8 weeks. 

  3. Personalisation Phase
    Using all the information from your Reintroduction Phase, you now know what FODMAPs you poorly tolerate. You should include well-tolerated FODMAP foods back into your diet and limit the poorly tolerated ones. This allows you to have a varied diet and gives you more confidence in the foods you consume. 

What is the Gentle FODMAP Diet? 

The standard FODMAP diet and the gentle FODMAP diet follow the same three phase approach to identifying food triggers.

The gentle approach is all about keeping things simple. Rather than restricting all high and moderate FODMAP foods in the Elimination Phase, you are only restricting some very high FODMAP foods from your diet that have been shown to trigger symptoms in the majority of people with IBS. 


When should a Gentle FODMAP Diet be considered? 

You or your dietitian may consider a gentle FODMAP approach:

  • If you find the standard FODMAP diet hard to follow
  • If you struggle to meet your nutritional needs through food 
  • If the focus is to establish healthy eating habits across the lifespan (e.g. children)
  • If you have existing dietary restrictions (e.g. food allergies)
  • If you have a health condition that may be negatively impacted by dietary changes (e.g. pregnancy)

How is the Gentle FODMAP Approach implemented? 

Elimination Phase

The Gentle FODMAP approach involves restricting very high FODMAP foods from each food group for 2-6 weeks, during the Elimination Phase.

Foods that are restricted on a gentle FODMAP diet are listed in the table below as a guide. Always try to find low FODMAP alternatives to the food you’re restricting to ensure a nutritionally balanced diet. For individualised advice, speak with a dietitian.

 

Food Group

Very High FODMAP Food

Low FODMAP Alternatives

Grains

Wheat, rye and barley based products (e.g. cereals, biscuits, bread)

Oat, quinoa, corn, rice or gluten-free based products (e.g. pasta, cereals, tortillas)

Sourdough spelt bread

Vegetables

Onion, garlic, leek (white part), cauliflower and mushrooms

Garlic or onion infused olive oil

Eggplant, green beans, bok choy, green capsicum, carrot, cucumber, lettuce, potato, zucchini 

Fruit


Apple, pear, dried fruit, stone fruit (e.g. peaches,  plums), watermelon

Green kiwi fruit, mandarin, orange, pineapple, cantaloupe

Dairy

Cow’s milk and yoghurt

Lactose-free products (e.g. milk, yoghurt, hard cheese)

Plant-based products (e.g. almond milk, coconut yoghurt)

Meat & Alternatives

Meat, poultry or seafood marinated in garlic or onion

Legumes (e.g. kidney beans)

Meat, poultry or seafood marinated in other ingredients

Eggs, tofu, tempeh, edamame



Reintroduction Phase

For many people with IBS, eliminating very high FODMAP foods can bring a significant reduction in IBS symptoms. 

After 2-6 weeks of eliminating very high FODMAP foods and your IBS symptoms have significantly reduced - it’s time to move onto the Reintroduction Phase.

Similar to the traditional FODMAP diet, you then reintroduce one food over a three day period to test your tolerance. Start with a small amount on the first day and slowly increase this over the next two days, as tolerated. 

For example, if you are reintroducing milk:

  • Day 1 - ¼ cup of milk
  • Day 2 - ½ cup of milk
  • Day 3 - 1 cup of milk

For the remaining four days of the week, continue on a gentle FODMAP diet.

The Monash FODMAP app ‘Diary’ feature is a great tool to use to keep track of your reintroductions and symptoms experienced during the Reintroduction Phase.


Personalisation Phase

Now you know what high FODMAP foods you were able to tolerate, it’s time to add them back into your diet. 

For foods that were poorly tolerated, continue to limit these foods in your diet and substitute with low FODMAP alternatives from the same food group.


Summary

It’s important to remember that the Elimination Phase, whether you are doing the standard or gentle approach, is only meant to be followed for a short period of time. You should always reintroduce high FODMAP foods into your diet to identify your triggers, and then personalise your diet based on the Reintroduction Phase.  


That’s why we recommend talking to a dietitian if you are wanting to try the standard or gentle FODMAP diet. Dietitians can help you make sure you’re achieving a nutritionally balanced diet and help you find alternative low FODMAP foods, so you can have more food freedom. You can find dietitians who work with the FODMAP diet here.

Tags: FODMAP, IBS, nutrition
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