3 most common FODMAP Challenge mistakes

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3 most common FODMAP Challenge mistakes

Me: Eats well, drinks 8 glasses of water, meditates, gets 8 hours sleep.

My intestines: Wanna fight?

If you can relate to this, it’s likely you’ve come across a low FODMAP diet. You may have even started a low FODMAP elimination and found yourself feeling MUCH better. Did you know that elimination is only the first step of the FODMAP diet? To really identify what your intestines are fighting with, you really need to move on to phase two, the Reintroduction phase. This is where you really find out what your triggers are and where your thresholds sit.

Reintroduction looks pretty straight forward on the surface. But, there are mistakes that you can make that will cloud things rather than give clarity. Today I want to share with you the 3 most common mistakes I see people making with their FODMAP Reintroduction.

  1. Using the wrong food to challenge with. 

Most foods are a combination of different FODMAPs. Since during the Challenge phase we want to find out your tolerance for each individual FODMAP group, we want to choose foods that only contain ONE FODMAP and use that to challenge with e.g. mango only contains excess fructose, so if you challenge with mango you can be sure of your tolerance to excess fructose. On the other hand, if you are challenged with cherries (which contain excess fructose and sorbitol) and have a reaction, you wouldn’t know which FODMAP is the problem.

Once you know how you tolerate each individual FODMAP group, you can apply this knowledge to any food that contains this FODMAP group.

  1. Not using appropriate challenge serve sizes.

The great news is that FODMAP cut offs are fairly conservative and we find that most people do tolerate a larger serves. The best way to challenge is to start with a small serve and increase the serve size over a few days to a larger serve. This will not only tell you if it causes you to bloat or not, it will also tell you where your threshold is for that FODMAP.

  • Starting with a serve that is too large may not help you find that smaller threshold that you do tolerate. 
  • Not going large enough with your large serve may not push you enough to find your threshold. 

Using appropriate serve sizes will give you confidence in smaller serves and give you the info you need about where your threshold actually is.

  1. Being unrealistic with Challenge results. 

FODMAP isn’t about having no symptoms at any time. In fact, some mild fluctuations day to day are actually very normal and reflective of a healthy balanced diet. It’s quite normal to have softer bowel movements after sorbitol or a bit of gas after onion or garlic. What we want to avoid is the more painful symptoms that impact on your quality of life. So I encourage people to think about symptoms as mild, moderate or severe and consider where the scales tip in terms of food variety and symptom management when analysing challenge results.


Final thoughts:

Ultimately, in terms of mental and physical health, wellbeing and longevity, the research is strong that food variety is an important part of a healthy diet and a healthy gut microbiome. The FODMAP diet has three phases with the goal of achieving maximum variety and minimal symptoms.