When I started the low FODMAP diet, my doctor gave me a short run-down, handed me three pieces of paper, and sent me on my way. While I understood that the low FODMAP diet could change my life, I had absolutely no idea how to get started!
If you also need a little more direction, check out the tips below to get your low FODMAP diet started today!
How to create a low FODMAP pantry
Because the elimination phase is so limited, most FODMAPers find it easier to make their meals at home. I know first hand that getting your home ready to support your new diet can be complicated; so here are some ideas to get you started.
- Purge your perishables – During the elimination phase, all high FODMAP foods are removed from your diet. Since this phase can last up to 6 weeks, you should pitch any high FODMAP perishables. A budget-friendly alternative to throwing them away is to swap with friends for things you can eat. An apple for a cucumber anyone?
- Pack up your non-perishables – Non-perishable foods are a different story. These normally outlast the elimination and re-challenge phases. I recommend boxing up items like high FODMAP pasta and sauces and placing them out of sight. You'll know by the end of the program if you can use them or not. In the meantime, if they are out of your kitchen, you won't use them by accident. Make sure to get FODMAP friendly alternatives if you pack up something you use regularly.
- Remove cheat foods – If there is a food you can't say no to, get rid of it now. In the elimination phase especially, you need to stick to the program. Removing foods we can't resist is part of planning for a successful elimination phase. Remember, this isn't a weight loss program, so you can still eat whatever you'd like. Just make sure you find some FODMAP friendly treats before you begin. No ideas? Check out my recipe section for some FODMAP-friendly inspiration.
Prepare your low FODMAP schedule
Sometimes, preparing for the Low FODMAP Diet calls for a little fortune-telling. Here are some of my favourite tips to help set yourself up for success.
- Know your schedule – Knowing your schedule means more than just remembering where you need to be. While you get the hang of the low FODMAP diet, you'll need to think about where you'll be throughout the day, so you have low FODMAP snacks and meals available, even if you're bouncing around town.
- Know yourself – I love fitness classes and I always have the best intentions when it comes to dinner when I get home. But after a long workout I've often sweat out my willpower. So by the time I get home I'm often on the prowl for anything that will fill me up, low FODMAP or not. Because I know this about myself, I know to pack a low FODMAP snack, call ahead and ask my husband to start dinner, or to make sure there are low FODMAP leftovers sitting in the fridge when I get home. The moral of the story is that working with your natural habits will help you stay on track, no willpower required!
- Know your limits – There comes a point in my schedule where work commitments, activities, and hobbies start to rack up and I get overwhelmed. For me, this looks like a poor night's sleep, irritability, and feeling like my brain is misfiring. When I feel this way my days tend to be a cascade of poor food choices. So when I notice these cues, I start to scale back at work and in my social life to make space for myself. Listening to my body set boundaries helps me make better food choices. This helps me manage my IBS symptoms long-term.
Create a low FODMAP back-up plan
There are a ton of reasons you might need a low FODMAP backup plan in your daily life. Sometimes work will run late, a key ingredient will mysteriously disappear from your pantry, or the recipe you try will be gross. Whatever the reason you can't eat what you wanted, you're going to need a backup plan. Here are some tricks to keep your low FODMAP diet running smoothly.
- Pantry meals – Keeping a meal or two in your pantry is an easy way to make sure you always have low FODMAP options on hand. It can be something simple like gluten-free pasta and low FODMAP tomato sauce, or something more involved like a gluten-free pizza mix. Whatever you pick, make a schedule to double-check you have all the ingredients and check expiry dates regularly. (You can find a list of easy low FODMAP pantry meals here)
- Freezer meals – Keeping a few FODMAP friendly meals in your freezer is also a handy idea. I normally have few servings of my low FODMAP salsa chicken and my low FODMAP no bean chilli in my freezer at all times. These are the perfect solution when I need something FODMAP friendly and fast.
- Eating out – Eating out can be tricky when you're just starting the low FODMAP diet because you don't have control over the ingredients used. If you have a local haunt or two, try looking up their menu online. Go through each item with your Monash app and pick a few dishes that could be modified for you. If you're comfortable, you can also call and make an appointment with the manager. In my experience, most staff are happy to double-check seasonings and sauces to make sure they're safe for you. Using this system I've found a ton of dishes at our favourite restaurants that range from healthy to artery-clogging.
Hearing about the Low FODMAP Diet for the first time can be both exciting and exhausting. Even though you may be eager to jump right into the program, you'll get the best results if you take some time to prepare.
While you're getting ready to launch your low FODMAP program: 1) take an afternoon and prepare your pantry, so it isn't full of temptation and rotting produce, 2) review your schedule so you know how to prepare for the day ahead, and 3) remember to plan for the days when everything falls apart.
You might also like one of these:
- Can I follow a plant-based low FODMAP diet? Wondering if you can combine a plant-based diet with the low FODMAP diet? Yes, you can! Here's what you need to know!
- Understanding Exercise and IBS Think having IBS means you can't exercise? Think again, friend! Here's what you need to know about incorporating physical activities into your life.
- When Should You Start the Low FODMAP Diet Wondering if you should start the Low FODMAP Diet? Check out this article to find out if the low FODMAP program is right for you and a few things you should try first. x
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Been reading your site all night. Was just told to start fodmap and this has been invaluable in getting any idea of where to start or what I can eat!! Thanks so much.
Hi, Jenifer! I’m thrilled to hear you’ve found the information on the site helpful! Remember to check back every Thursday for new recipes and articles.
I’m having to follow the AIP diet now, but I still don’t tolerate onion or garlic are there any other foods that fall in this category that I might need to be aware of.
Unfortunately, I don’t know much about the AIP diet, so I can’t comment on any foods that may cross over. A FODMAP-trained dietitian can make more informed suggestions about which foods you may want to be cautious about.
Hope that helps!