Why should you try the Low FODMAP Diet?
Tips and advice from the IBS expert
12 Jan 2018
Have you been diagnosed with Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?
Are you suffering from cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea or constipation?
The Low FODMAP Diet might be the solution you are looking for.
If you are contemplating whether you should start following The Low FODMAP Diet – this interview is for you.
Joanna Baker (Accredited Practising Dietitian, Accredited Nutritionist and a Registered Nurse) is one of the leading Low FODMAP professionals around.
Joanna, which founded the Melbourne-based clinic “Everyday Nutrition”, is devoting her life to assist people with IBS and food intolerance.
Can you please share with us your personal experience with IBS?
I’ve had gut problems all my life. I was only 12 months old when my mum took me to the doctor, who said I was just a “gutty” baby, take me off cow’s milk & I would eventually grow out of it. Well, I grew into a “gutty” teenager and a “gutty” adult. I thought that it was just me and I would have to learn to live with it.
My gut varied a lot over the years. Sometimes I was not too bad and others I was holed up at home feeling miserable. I think the unpredictability and not knowing when it was going to happen was almost the worst part.
I had trouble committing to things with my friends and family because I never knew how I would feel when I woke up in the morning & holidays terrified me. In a nut shell, it had an immense impact on my quality of life, my relationships and my self esteem.
How did you hear about and The Low FODMAP Diet and why did you decide to embrace it?
I first heard about FODMAPs when I was studying nutrition at university, during a lecture from Dr Sue Shepherd herself. I wanted to get a better idea of what it was like for someone to follow a restricted diet, so I decided to try FODMAPs for a week to get a better understanding of the practicalities. This was a turning point for me. On day 2, for the first time in my life, I got home in the evening and didn’t need to change straight into my track suit pants because my jeans (that fit me in the morning) were too tight and uncomfortable. This was the beginning of my FODMAP journey and I’ve never looked back.
It made such a huge difference to my life, that I’ve become really passionate about helping others settle their tummy and get back to enjoying life as well. Since finishing my master’s degree in dietetics and qualifying as a dietitian, I’ve devoted my career to IBS and food intolerances. I now work with patients privately, lecture to dietitians internationally about FODMAPs and work with food manufacturers to develop low FODMAP products.
Seeing and connecting with dozens of IBSers throughout the years, what is the impact of The Low FODMAP Diet?
The biggest and most rewarding part is the change it makes to peoples lives. They suddenly have the freedom to enjoy their life, make plans and take holidays without worrying about where a toilet is every minute of every day.
Can you please share some tips for those who are just starting The Low FODMAP Diet?
Learn to adapt some of your favourite recipes & find alternatives for some of the basic foods you eat daily.
Don’t sweat the small stuff, its not a game of perfect. The main goal is to mange your symptoms. If your tummy is settled, you’re on the right path.
Get support. Join a Facebook group (Low FODMAP Australia and Low FODMAP recipes & Support are the two I’m involved with), see a dietitian or get the FODMAP Friendly Elimination Handbook. http://www.everydaynutrition.com.au/store.html
And finally, words of advice for those who are thinking about the diet but are just not sure…?
The most important first step is to see your doctor and exclude medical causes for your symptoms, then give it a go. Make some small changes or plan some low FODMAP meals. You’ve got nothing to lose except the pain & bloating. Let’s face it, that’s no great loss. If you change your mind, you can do that too. But I'm willing to almost guarantee, that the benefits you feel will make it all worthwhile.