Do I need to follow a low FODMAP diet?

Your priority is to be symptom free in the simplest and quickest time possible.

Managing your problem will depend on your symptoms.

The low FODMAP diet is most effective for the management of painful wind and bloating, with or without diarrhoea or constipation.

Diarrhoea or constipation, without wind and bloating, may respond to simple dietary measures without the need for the low FODMAP diet.  Check your symptoms below, and try simple diet changes before considering the more complex and restrictive low FODMAP diet.

SYMPTOM: Wind and/or bloating

TRY: (as applicable)

  • Reduce intake of fizzy drinks
  • Eat slowly
  • Chew well
  • Don’t overeat
  • Limit intake of common ‘gassy’ foods like beans, pulses and some vegetables
  • Reduce use of ready prepared meals or reheated food (these contain a substance called ‘resistant starch’ which can cause bloating in some people)
  • Reduce use of chewing gum

If no symptom improvement, progress to low FODMAP diet trial.

SYMPTOM: Diarrhoea

TRY: (as applicable)

  • Limit your intake of caffeine containing drinks to no more than 3 / day (includes tea, green tea, coffee, cola drinks, ‘energy drinks’).
  • Reduce / omit alcohol
  • Reduce fibre
  • Limit fruit to no more than 3 portions a day
  • Cut out sorbitol (found in some sugar free products eg chewing gum)
  • Cut down on spicy foods
  • Cut down on fat intake

If no symptom improvement, progress to low FODMAP diet trial.

SYMPTOM: Constipation

TRY: (if applicable)

  • Increase fluid
  • Increase soluble fibre (but avoid wheat bran)
  • Include linseed (up to 2 tablespoons a day. This make take several weeks to show improvement)
  • Add ispaghula fibre (also known as psyllium)
  • Increase physical activity

If you have constipation without painful wind or bloating and get no symptom improvement with the above measures, speak to your GP regarding laxatives. The low FODMAP diet is unlikely to help.

If you have constipation with painful wind and bloating, and no symptom improvement with the above measures, progress to low FODMAP diet.

Contact me if you need clarification on any of the above points, or if you are unsure what approach is best for you.