The FODMAP diet hasn’t been around as long as others in the family of Therapeutic Diets we have in our toolbag. Nutrition Science as a field has been around since the 1920s. FODMAPs, at the time of this writing, are only a wee 6-year-old on the block. And just like all children, if not properly paid attention to and cared for, can wreak havoc and make your life miserable. The analogy weakens beyond this point, so I’ll get on with it.

Simply put, if you don’t have a proper foundation, a FODMAP diet will lead to misleading results. I have met many that didn’t even make it to the reintroduction phase because they didn’t feel any better when off the FODMAPs completely. Others may have felt better, but reintroduction results led to severely restricted outcomes.

1. Sleep

Yes, you’ve heard it a thousand times, but until you address it- properly address it with all the intentionality of a professional athlete in training, I will say it again. People with IBS can’t get away with the same things our friends with footloose and fancy-free functioning intestines can.

No less than 8 hours. High quality.

This may mean your phone goes to sleep 1 hour before you do (horror!) You can do this in your iPhone settings. TVs are off. You have a decent mattress and dark room. Sleep mask a la Holly Golightly, perhaps? (I adore these.) Earplugs can be helpful if you can bear the feeling (they drive me mad).

More sleep articles to come soon. (You can sign up to the newsletter via the sidebar if you’d like to know when).

2. Stress

It seems many GPs think this is the cure-all for IBS. “You need to relax. Have you tired meditation?” Whilst it is maddening to have your life-altering situation reduced to a 10-minute bout with a Headspace app, and it will not “fix” your IBS, managing stress does play a huge foundational role.

Life can be hard. Prayer and meditation will not take you out of your current situation or have you floating through life like the ever-optimistic and exuberant snowman Olaf of Frozen-fame. The key is being skilled and proactive with stress when it comes your way. This takes practice. It takes intentionality. For trauma-based stress, it will take some counselling.

3. Other Non-FODMAP food triggers

In other articles I’ll go further in depth, but this is a general list.

  • Caffeine (too much or too little!)
  • Carbonation
  • Alcohol (irritates and can cause dysbiosis)
  • Highly processed foods (fiber stripped away or loads of additives)
  • Cruciferous vegetables (also amazing for the gut)
  • Resistant Starches
  • Spicy food
  • Water (too little/too hot/to cold- it’s very individual)
  • Artificial Sweeteners
  • Gum
  • High fruit intake
  • Meal sizing, timing, and spacing
  • Intermittant Fasting Diets and Other Restrictive Diets
  • Fiber

It’s a lot, I know. The wonderful thing, is these strategies are extremely individual. You may find only a couple are triggers and that you can enjoy many more foods than you previously thought.

Only once you’ve laid groundwork for the FODMAP diet will you see have the potential to gain any real information. My program provides guidance and confidence to help you navigate all these triggers and get to the point of informed freedom with food. Even if you don’t use me, do seek out a qualified dietitian who specialises in IBS. You can find a list here.