Getting Started on the Low FODMAP Diet

Don’t know where to start? I know that feeling all too well. I was very overwhelmed by the low FODMAP diet and where to start. It was scary knowing that most of the foods I was eating were doing the damage to my system. So how do you completely change your thinking about food?

How to Get Started on the Low FODMAP Diet

First, get rid of anything that is high in FODMAPs. Check every product in your house and know if it’s a safe food or not. Once you have identified the high FODMAP foods, donate them, throw them out, whatever you need to do, because if you know its available, its easy to eat. I spent an evening cleaning out the pantry, reading every label and what I couldn’t eat, I put on my husband’s shelf (which is out of my normal reach and view). Anything that he didn’t want, we gave to our neighbors who have kids. By far, this was the toughest part because some of my favorite go-to foods ended up on my husband’s shelf.

Next, stock up on some low FODMAP basics. Print out the low FODMAP food list and the high FODMAP food list and spend a long evening at the grocery store inspecting the labels on products. You can get a peek at my favorite low FODMAP items to see what my grocery list looks like. I can save you a lot of time and heart-ache and tell you just to pass on the following products: salad dressings, marinara sauces, marinades, and sauces (like BBQ and steak sauce). I have inspected numerous ingredient labels and almost all of these products contain garlic, onion, honey, high fructose corn syrup or molasses. Here’s a great list of low FODMAP garlic and onion replacements so you can still get great flavor into your food.

Take a look at my low FODMAP recipes that includes some basics like salad dressing, marinara sauce, salsa and mashed potatoes. I am not the best cook in the world, so please don’t be intimidated if you aren’t either. Ensure you pick up some of those ingredients while you’re at the store. Also, as a go-to and a good transition into the diet, pick up some of the low FODMAP brand name packaged foods that I have compiled. Some are winners and some aren’t, but it’s a good base to have some foods you can eat right out of the package.

I have compiled a list of low FODMAP sample meals so you can visualize a my meal plan for yourself. Ensure you have a good base of the ingredients that go into those meals available.

Once you have all your basics in house, an important step is to discuss your new diet with your entire household. Ensure that they understand why you’re eating differently and to please allow you to eat your safe foods (since chances are they’re a little more expensive) while they can enjoy other, less expensive foods. My husband has been very good to incorporate my eating habits into most of our meals, and if he’s eating something I can’t have (that he knows I miss), he will eat in another room. He made the mistake on day 1 of my new diet to comment on how delicious his meal (of all my discarded food) was. I broke down in tears and had a little melt-down because of the limitations I was now faced with. I  explained to him how his comment hurt me because it’s difficult to know all the things I am missing out on. He has been much more sensitive since that incident… especially now with how much happier I am.

Next, find your routine. I do a lot of my big cooking once a week and plan my schedule based on what I have. I utilize the freezer a lot to have food on hand in a pinch. I eat a lot of salads and with my quick low FODMAP balsamic dressing, it’s a quick, low calorie meal.

Also, I tend to eat much smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. Because the low FODMAP diet is it not only what you eat, but in what quantities. I can always tell when I ate too much, even with all safe foods. My system just can’t take a large quantity of food, so I eat 200-300 calorie meals about 6 times a day. Even if I dine out, I usually save half and take it home. For example, if I take a sandwich, a banana and baby carrots for lunch, I will eat the banana around 10:30am, have the sandwich at 12:30pm and then snack on the carrots around 3:00pm.

For me, it took about 2 weeks to fully immerse myself in the diet as I got more comfortable with preparing some of the foods that I used to buy out of the package. Just assume that convenience foods are out and you have to be prepared for each upcoming meal or snack. When laziness strikes, that’s what you have tortilla chips on hand!

I’m not going to sugar coat it… it’s a tough transition. I felt it was maybe a little easier for me since I was already happily gluten free. Also the hope is that you don’t have to eat this way forever. You should eat FODMAP free for about 6-8 weeks and then reintroduce FODMAPs back into your diet. For me, I can handle galactans at almost all quantities (welcome back hummus!), and a little bit of lactose, fructose and polyols later in the day. Unfortunately, fructans and I do not get along.

If you’re starting on the diet, I am happy to help in any way possible. I’ve been there and you shouldn’t have to do this alone. Please feel free to reach out to me with questions or comments at livinghappywithibs@gmail.com, on Twitter at @LivingHappywIBS or on Pinterest.

Getting Started on the Low FODMAP Diet

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53 thoughts on “Getting Started on the Low FODMAP Diet

  1. This is all so amazing! I, too, have struggled to regain my sense of adventure and love of life due to an unknown intolerance to fructose/fructans. I feel hopeful, now that the problem has been identified. I have struggled to find things to eat but your website will help me tremendously! Thank you thank you thank you!!!

  2. thank you so much for the recipes !! I’m new in this low-fodmap life and I feel better allready !! Your articles have been very usefull !!

  3. I feel your pain but I have found I’m much more adventurous in trying foods I may not have otherwise considered if I had the choice i.e. Quinoa and Kale. What surprises me though is that you say you eat a lot of salads? How? I certainly find I’m better off eating a (glutenous) sandwich when I’m ‘on the go’ (which is low in fructose high fillings to counter balance) than I am a salad. Maybe it’s just we all have different tolerances, but lettuce, spinach, chick-peas/lentils and honey etc are all high on my lists of no-goes. Spreading meals is one of the things I find hardest but find my metabolism demands it. Thanks for the suggestions.

    • I’ve never had any issues with lettuce, spinach or kale. Usually my salad toppings include carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, cheese and homemade dressing.

  4. So far I have been on the Low Fodmaps for 2 weeks and have not found a difference in gas, pain or bloating. I do not have coeliacs, chrons or any other bowel issues accept diverticulitis which is under control. What am I doing wrong? I am only eating Fodmap friendly foods and no lactose at all. Also am vegetarian.

    • Hi Wendy, if you’re not feeling better, I would think it’s one of three issues. You may be accidentally eating something high FODMAP. Verify all the foods you’re regularly eating and see if that could be the problem. If it’s not, it could be a low FODMAP item that is causing you grief. For example, I have issues with coffee and citrus fruits, even though they are “safe.” Play around with your daily routine and see where the issue could be. Lastly, watch the size of your meals. People with IBS typically can’t digest large meals, so regardless of what you eat, quantity could be an issue.

  5. I feel so over whelmed by this. I was just told yesterday about this at U of M but I had Bartix surgey 9 yrs ago and chanced my eating habits. Now after a yr of diarrhea they tell me I have to go to this diet. I looked for lactose free yogurts but I find none could you help me I do protein shakes and don’t no where to start. Feeling pretty over whelmed.

    • Hi Beverly, it’s common to be overwhelmed… I was right there with you! You’re changing lifelong habits, so it’s naturally to be upset. It gets easier, I promise! Our local supermarket has lactose-free options, however, they many not come in individual servings. Look through the larger tubs of yogurt and you may find something different. As far as protein shakes, I am not sure of the ingredients, but I am going to assume there’s one that is high FODMAP. Homemade smoothies are an alternative with unripe bananas and FODMAP safe fruit. Good luck!

  6. I just started this diet this week, and have a few questions. I haven’t been able to find much information about fruit juices. Are they ok as long as they are made with a FODMAP safe fruit? Also, is vegetable oil ok?

  7. How did you feel the first week symptom wise? I feel like my body is literally being cleansed…. Some diarrhea..sorry if tmi.

    • I was just given FODmap diet today…a little overwhelming. I’ve been eating gluten free for a year now so I know I’ll be ok. Hope I get results.

  8. Hi, are all soya produtcs high in Fodmap? Soy is a big doubt for me. In some safe liste I have seen soy milk and yougurt but in others they appear as unsafe. I´m sure aboy soy beans but what about fermented soy products as tofu or tempeh?
    Thanks a lot!

    • Soy is a tricky item. Soy beans are high in FODMAPs, but soy protein (including tofu) is low. Choose soy milk and yogurt that is made of soy protein, not soy beans.

  9. Hi. Can you have salt and pepper? Does butter have to be lactose free? Cheddar cheese sticks and mozzarella sticks are OK, correct? Thanks!

    • Salt and pepper are low FODMAP (thank goodness!), butter should be lactose free, and hard cheeses (cheddar and mozzarella) are fine in moderation.

      • One more question…would Immaculate gluten free chocolate chip dairy free cookies be Ok? One a day? I got a package of the dough at Target…is it ok? Thank you!!

  10. Are Enjoy Life (Dairy, Gluten, Soy, nut, egg and shellfish free) chocolate chips ok? The only sweetener they have listed is evaporated cane juice.

  11. I’m so glad I found your blog. I was introduced to the low fodmap diet June 2014, not knowing where to begin, I just took it one step at a time. We bought GF products, bread, baked goods, u name it. But, I didn’t stick to it. Then in May of this year I decided to leave sweets alone, eat more veggies and increase my protein. I haven’t felt that amazing in years. Those were two weeks of bliss for sure. Only now, I’ve been back on my not good for me foods. I’m sick almost daily now. I’ve been keeping record of my flare ups which has me thinking I can’t tolerate sweets, reg bread products, banana peppers and more. I just hate that GF foods are so stinking expensive. Luckily, Aldi near me has gotten tons and tons of GF products. They didn’t have nearly that amount a year ago. I know my gut was happier without sweets, and increased protein and veggies, ( I also ate non GF bread items without a problem)

    I hope I can start fresh again,
    Feeling miserable on an almost daily basis isn’t fun. I
    I’m sluggish, nauseated, tired, cranky and am so bloated it’s not funny….

    Thanks so much for this blog, it’s been an amazing read so far

  12. I’m giving this fodmap thing a second take; I relapse after 4 weeks of controlled eating last time. It’s hard to do it, especially when I leave around trigger food: Loaves of wheat-made bread (I’m allergic to wheat); Cereals (Lucky Charms flirts at me the most!); Spaghetti, cookies, seasonings, etc. It’s really hard not breaking in tears when passing by the kitchen.
    I hope I can do this thing more effectively now that I have really tried to be mindful of my thoughts around eating.

  13. Hi,
    I’m just barely 2 wks into my Low FODMAP diet. I felt better after 2 days (!), which inspired me to keep coming up with ideas for meals, especially ones my husband would also enjoy.
    I made Vietnamese Shrimp Noodle Soup (pho) with bok Choy, cilantro, bean sprouts, chicken stock, and it was delicious! Next meal was slow cooked country pork ribs, baked yams, baked butternut with nutmeg, brown sugar and butter. (Butter s approved on my Stanford Low FODMAP list) and it too was tasty. As I’m learning, it’s going to be more home made and fewer convenience foods, and sometimes I make mistakes or experiment with something that’s not on a hi or a lo FODMAP list, and then my digestive system sends out distress signals (symptoms).
    My Q’s are:
    (1.) Do I have to be symptom free for 6-8 wks prior to entering the add in phase? Or if I’ve only had a few bumps in the road, can I move on to the add in phase after 6-8 wks?

    (2.) if I do have symptoms, are there things I can do to get my system back on track? For instance, my Stanford instructions say try oatmeal if you are on the C side. If that doesn’t do the trick, what about psyllium? What about OTC stool softeners?
    If on the D side, eat a banana? How about plain rice? Are medicines you buy in the drug store to be avoided ?

    Thank you so very much for having all the information you have provided, and thank goodness for you blog!
    Jeannie

    • 1. It’s a loose guideline. I would give it a month minimum and then begin reintroducing foods as you wish.
      2. When something doesn’t sit right, I’m never found a miracle cure, but peppermint tea seems to help ease the pain for me. In a pinch I’ll take Imodium since I swing to the D side.

  14. Hi

    Is processed ham (packaged or from a deli) and bacon low FODMAP?

    My mayonnaise contains soybean oil and sorbic acid, are these items safe?

    Thanks

    • You should be OK with the ham and bacon, just be careful if they’re seasoned or honey-cooked. Soybean oil hasn’t been tested, but soybeans are high FODMAP, so I would be careful.

  15. It’s been 3 days since I found out all of my tummy troubles had a title. When my GI said IBS, at first I was relieved, and then I got really scared. She wanted me to start immediately on the low fodmap diet. My dreams of ever eating a REAL cheeseburger were slowly fading away. However, I had already rid myself of dairy and gluten, I naively thought, ‘How could this be any more restrictive, this will be easy!’ I don’t think I have ever been more wrong in my life.

    I love food. I went to culinary school, and have always been a very creative cook. I love grocery shopping, and I already eat very consciously. What a difference 3 days can make. Right now, I hate food, I have no creativity, and no energy to meal plan. So many of my staples are on that big ugly list, in the DO NOT EAT column.

    I guess what I’m trying to say with my sob story, is thank you. When I found your website, I was so relieved, and grateful that someone had decided to share their success in living with IBS. I have already printed, and emailed your lists of highs and lows to my loved ones so I will stop getting phone calls and texts like “So what can you eat?”

    Garlic and onions are making me cry for a whole new reason now.

  16. Oh my goodness, thank you for this website. I was told to start a FODMAP diet last week and I have been so overwhelmed by it, I still haven’t started (but still feel terrible!) This site gives me the courage to give this thing a go… thank you!!

  17. How long before an IBS symptom attack to you look for culprit foods? I tend to have episodes right after meals. Can I expect that it’s something from that meal, or should I be looking at the meal before? I have been on low fodmap for 1 week, just experienced a pretty severe attack, and am trying to figure out what the trigger could have been. I have had this my whole life and still clueless about triggers.

    • I would look to the previous meal to find your trigger unless you are eating extremely large meals or portions. Typically, something wouldn’t be an issue immediately after you eat it, it takes a few hours to absorb.

    • Hi Lynne,
      If the Low FODMAP Elimination diet has little or no effect on your food intolerance symptoms (bloating, excessive gas, diarrhea) then I think it ‘s best to go back to your doctor. Most people on this site have echoed my own experience of having relief in 2-3 days. You may have an additional problem you might want a doctor to evaluate. Your PCP will likely refer you to a gastroenterologist for further investigation. Many people have an additional problem such as an intestinal bacterial imbalance, which may need to be treated of it’s own. I have that, as has been determined by a breath test ordered by my GE. . It is generally treated with an antibiotic, which also risks upsetting the apple cart, but I’m confident there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Best wishes, good luck. Hope we hear back from you!

  18. Love love love your blog!!! Thank you!!! I have lived with ibs-c for many years and have tried it all… Most recent was paleo and I still found myself constipated. I found the fodmaps diet and have been reading a lot about it, I think this maybe my next try and I am hopeful!!

  19. Hi,
    I’ve had IBS for a few years but I’m now in the final year of uni and have been really struggling for a few months now. The low FODMAP diet was suggested to me, but it is all so daunting! when reading labels, do I just look for the ingredients you have put on your list, or are there other things that contain those ingredients?
    Sorry if this is confusing, I’m just so confused myself!
    This blog has been really helpful though and it’s so nice to know that I’m not the only one feeling incredibly overwhelmed by the notion of cutting so much out of my diet.

  20. Thank you so much for sharing everything you know about being on this special diet. I am just reading about it now and realizing I need to do this. I dislike to cook but am feeling hopeful bc you gave some great ideas! Since I take a medication that makes it hard for my liver to process sugars – I can’t do white bread – is there another kind of Udi’s bread that would be safe? Thank you:)

  21. Kia ora! I have found your website incredibly useful! Just moved country and moved out of home for the first time so this has been incredibly useful! I’m finding it hard to avoid chocolate and am glad to know about the soy milk bean vs protein difference!
    I love food from Asia and I found a place that does gluten free Pad Thai, any tips on eating that or should I avoid Asian food all together due to the spicy seasoning and glutinous sauces?
    Secondly, I’m a big fan of jams and marmalades, apart from the fruit that it’s made of, do you have any reservations towards preserves? (lol) Particularly for orange marmalade and strawberry jam.
    I’ve loved learning your story and can’t wait to use your recipes and shopping list ideas!

  22. Question ! I am about to start the Elimination weeks. It says Keep avoiding the other FODMAPS. Does that mean avoid the items that are on the challenge weeks or do i eat regular food and during the elimination weeks ?
    I do start eating low fodmap items during the elimination weeks right ?
    Thats the only thing that’s confusing to me.

  23. Hi, My doctor has recommend that I try this diet due to what he thinks is IBS, so how would you suggest I get started?

  24. Thank you thank you thank you! I feel so overwhelmed right now, so sick of digestive issues but determined to start the low fodmap diet with high hopes this is the answer, and this article alone already has me feeling more confident 🙂

  25. I know you probably get this a lot, but I have to tell you how grateful I am to have found this site! All of your pain and suffering are serving to help so many others, including myself, who are suffering with not only IBS, but also the confusion and frustration of figuring out how and what to eat. This process and journey for me has been particularly exhausting and the fact that you have now made it that much easier, well it’s a blessing and a gift! So thank you. Thank you for sharing the benefits of your knowledge and experience with the rest of the world, it is making a difference one IBS – and fodmaps – sufferer at a time 😉

  26. Hi thank you for this blog! I think you must consider bentilia pasta on your list it is made of 100% lentil and beans because aside from it is delicious it has the capacity to remove unnecessary fats. And it is low in carbohydtares since it is only made of beans. I liked it and I know you will like it too.

  27. thank you so much for this info! I have been feeling so helpless and hopeless, but having a solid plan like this gives me a sense of power over my body’s issues. Thanks!!!

  28. Thanks much appreciated, one quick question, I’ve got the basics down and have made a start with fodmap diet, but do you fade old foods out or just go for it???

  29. I have been doing the low fodmap diet for three weeks to try and determine if I have IBS. I started feeling ten times better on day 2, and have continued to improve. I have honestly never felt better. I am about to go back to my doctor to give him my results, and hopefully see a dietician to get some advice. This blog is fantastic. I have spent all night reading your tips and recipes and advice. I really just wanted to say thank you. I’m sure I will be referring to your site a lot through my journey. Being in New Zealand, we have far less pre packaged options available to us in our grocery stores. I might have to investigate buying online.

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