1. Are you eating too much at one sitting?
Eating well on a low FODMAP diet means controlling the amount of FODMAPs we put into our bodies in between toilet sessions. We can’t not eat FODMAPs or we would die of malnutrition because they are in all fruits and vegetables. It’s about balance. If we space them out, they will have less effect on us. For example, if we eat a large piece of cake, even though we have used table sugar to make it (and the glucose equals the fructose), the body simply can’t process that amount at once. So eat a small piece now and have another small piece later in the day.
This applies to all meals. Eat small amounts more often but always be aware of the accumulation of those FODMAPs. A big portion of stir-fried vegetables, even with only low FODMAP ones, could cause some issues so go easy and be judicious at all times.
2. Are you eating processed foods?
Processed food is our enemy!! We must never touch them again! Look at the ingredients on a packet and if there is even one ingredient you don’t recognise, then reject it – as if it was poison. But what if you do recognise all the ingredients? Still reject it if you have irritable bowel syndrome or, I would even go out on a limb and say, any kind of digestive issue. Many ingredients are not listed depending on your country’s laws governing food labelling. For example, there is no need to declare ingredients that are under a certain amount and those could be the very substances that slay you.
That doesn’t mean avoid all foods in packets because, for example, rice flour comes in a packet but the only ingredient is rice. Now we could go into the process that turns the rice into flour and the possible chemicals that are used to achieve this. But I choose not to for the basics I use all the time. Others of you might need to eliminate all kind of foods that have been through a process but fortunately that doesn’t seem to be me. However, you can certainly take that extra step and only eat food in its natural state. And I would applaud you for that.
3. Do not hold on!
So you have made a mistake, knowingly or unknowingly, and now you are suffering. Get thee to a toilet as soon as humanly possible. And stay there until the problem passes or you have “passed” the problem. Often circumstances make it difficult to excuse oneself and to disappear for what could be a prolonged period of time to the bathroom. For many years at work, I suffered in silence rather than shame myself by going yet again to the toilet. But in those days, I didn’t understand what was happening in my body and so didn’t understand the importance of zeroing out the FODMAPs to re-establish an equilibrium. I don’t think it is necessary to spell out the issue to those around you when an attack comes on, but I do think you can say that you don’t feel well and need to retreat for a bit. Now that I know exactly what my problem is, I am, surprisingly, much more willing to tell the truth. Having a name put to it with an effective solution has given me power. And I won’t let other people or my issue take that away from me ever again.
Read more about the low FODMAP diet:
8 Signs of FODMAP Malabsorption
The 8 Symptoms of FODMAP Malabsorption explained
So what foods can I eat on a low FODMAP diet?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome and the Missed Moments of my Life
Chocolate and Stress? Contributors to Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Thank you so much for posting this. I have trouble with #1 and have found on my own the increasing the amount I eat and frequency has made a huge difference. More food more often, rather then being restrictive and infrequent. My body is happier with this and shows it by responding in healthier manners. I do have difficulty fitting water in though. It’s silly but I often don’t think about it until I eat and I find that I drink to much when I eat which causes issues. I am learning to be more mindful of drinking water through out the day and not always when I’m eating.
The third point is very important for me to read. It isn’t something that I have come across yet in my IBS/FODMAP journey. Starting a new job at a bigger company not only added stress to my life but I also didn’t feel comfortable so when my symptoms would act up I would panic, trying so hard not get up and use the washroom. I started having panic attacks and obsessing and my mental state wasn’t healthy at all and I knew I had to get over it. Getting a handle on my symptoms helped by starting the FODMAP diet but also just forcing myself to get up and get the business done. I am starting to feel a little more comfortable dealing with my symptoms at work. I appreciate reading notes comments because they resonate so much for me.
The purhacses I make are entirely based on these articles.
I keep a glass of water on my desk at work at all times. When it is empty, that is a cue to get up and go get another, which creates an enforced break from sitting at a computer.
Stress is the worst thing for IBS and all the diets in the world won’t stop you having problems if you are really stressed. I hear you about the vicious cycle of not wanting to publicly be going often to the bathroom and so sitting still and making things worse. We have to take control over IBS and not let it control us. The low FODMAP diet has been a godsend for me and I hope it is for you too. I feel your pain and hope you resolve that level of stress soon. Good luck with the diet.
John@Kitchen Riffs says
Interesting post. I’m learning so much about low FODMAP diets and IBS! Regarding your response above, I think it’s a great idea for all of us to have a glass of water at our desks, and to replenish when empty. As you say, it creates an enforced break – a really good thing!
Those enforced breaks are fundamental when you work in a stressful job behind a computer. It’s hard to tear oneself away when there are deadlines, as I know well – to my detriment.
Hotly Spiced says
It sounds like you have to live like a diabetic does with everything in strict portion control. I went to a Christmas party on Sunday and there was a 10-year old girl following the FODMAP diet – very difficult for her mother with other children in the family being able to eat normally. Such a challenge but they’ve seen really good results since they started her on the diet xx
At least, the consequences of going off the diet are not as bad as for a diabetic. I can’t really think poor ten-year-old. I actually think she is so lucky that her mother has found the problem for her and so her life will be so much easier. What a great mother to do the research!
You are such a resource for those with IBS! Great tips, Suzanne.
Thanks, Liz. It sure has been a steep learning curve.
I have tried sticking with the low fodmap diet but it’s so hard because I have to go to school. Brought my cooked food to school but had diarrhea after eating it. Food poisoning I reckon. How do you keep your food to ensure that it would not go bad?
Suzanne Perazzini says
Can you use a small chiller bag which keeps the food chilled? You should be able to find a small portable one.
You talk about getting tested. What is the test we need to ask for?
Suzanne Perazzini says
The test is the Hydrogen Breath Test. I have made a short video on it here: https://youtu.be/7BzkhwGzpXQ