The elimination diet is a critical phase to your success with the low-FODMAP diet
I can tell you from personal experience that without some serious pre-planning, the elimination diet with the Low-FODMAP diet can be quite intimidating. But, with proper planning, there can be great benefits. According to the American College of Gastroenterology, the Low-FODMAP diet is the elimination diet that is considered to be the most effective for treating IBS symptoms.
For the first phase of the Low-FODMAP diet there is an elimination process for the first 2-6 weeks where you do not eat foods that are high in FODMAPs. This sets a baseline for your body to reintroduce foods back into your diet, allowing you to identify any potential triggers for your IBS.
Here is a breakdown of the different FODMAPs and why they are eliminated
Many people feel immediate relief during the elimination period, namely because of the elimination of fructans and galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS).
We do not have the ability to digest fructans and GOS molecules, because we do not have the enzymes in our body to break them down, thus we do not have the ability to absorb them either. And these molecules are in several foods that are commonly consumed such as wheat-based food products and beans.
Foods that contain excess fructose are eliminated while on the first phase of the Low-FODMAP diet. Fructose is monosaccharide commonly known as the “fruit sugar”, although it is found in other plant foods.
Fructose is slowly absorbed in the body through the small intestine and is optimally absorbed when glucose is at hand at the same time. GI distress can occur when the excess fructose is consumed (fructose content is greater than the glucose content), as well poor intestinal capability to utilize a lot of fructose at once. Consuming foods such as Low-FODMAP fruits in moderation can help alleviate symptoms.
Polyols are sugar alcohols and commonly found as sweeteners in sugar-free items such as gums, mints, and cough drops.
You will see these listed as mannitol and sorbitol (these are naturally found in foods), isomalt, maltitol, and xylitol (these are manufactured). You will see sugar alcohols listed on the food label and an additional warning if mannitol and sorbitol is used as that “excess consumption may have a laxative effect”.
Some people may feel relief from the elimination of lactose. Lactose is found in animal milks, such as cow and goat milk. Lactose is broken down by the enzyme lactase, which is something that declines naturally as we age, but is also produced less in some ethnicities such as Asians and African Americans.
Some dairy-containing foods contain low to scarce amounts of lactose, making it possible to consume some foods such as hard cheeses and butter without issues.
Resources if you are considering starting the first phase of the low-FODMAP diet
To ensure the success of the first phase of the low-FODMAP diet, the elimination phase, it is strongly-recommended that you consult with a Registered Dietitian. In fact, there are even Monash FODMAP trained Registered Dietitians. The low-FODMAP diet was first developed at Monash University in Australia and they have lists of Low- and High-FODMAP foods, amongst other resources available.
- One of the most renowned experts in Low-FODMAP living is Kate Scarlata, RDN, LDN, who has several resources such as Low-FODMAP lists and menu ideas.
- The American College of Gastroenterology list of Low- and High-FODMAP foods
Here are some tasty Low-FODMAP food products to check out: