One of the biggest obstacles to effective weight loss is food sensitivity—it can be incredibly hard to eat the “right things” and have the energy to exercise when the “right things” you’ve been trying to eat leave you feeling **bleh**. And if you’ve ever felt lethargic, bloated, or uncomfortable after eating certain “healthy” foods, you know firsthand how debilitating food sensitivity can be.
Which is why in 2018, many dietitians, nutritionists, and weight loss experts are pushing their clients to explore a low-FODMAP diet. So, what is a low-FODMAP diet and how can you get started with one? As a Nutritionist at Allure Medical I’d be happy to tell you…
What is a FODMAP?FODMAP isn’t an actual “thing”, it’s an acronym for components of the different foods you eat.
F is for Fermentable (foods high in refined sugars and carbs that “ferment” in the bowel).
O is for Oligosaccharides (sugars found in wheat, leeks, artichokes, soybeans, etc.).
D is for Disaccharides (sugars found in cheese, milk, etc.).
M is for Monosaccharides (sugars found in table sugar, mangos, etc.).
(A is just for “and”).
P is for Polyols (sugar alcohols found in chewing gum, candy, ice cream, etc.).
How FODMAPs impact your health
Food allergies and sensitivities are on the rise, and while there’s no clear answer as to why they’re on the rise, many researchers believe it has to do with the high number of FODMAPs found in the modern Western diet.
When you eat a diet that’s high in FODMAPs, you increase your exposure to sugars and short-chain carbohydrates that the body struggles to process. Not only can that influx of sugars and carbs lead to the creation and storage of unwanted fat cells in the body, but it can also lead to dehydration, bloating, and abdominal swelling—three things that make it incredibly difficult to exercise and lose weight.
Existing research seems to support the idea that a low-FODMAP diet will decrease the likelihood of gastrointestinal problems and make it easier to engage in weight loss activities.
How to start a low-FODMAPs diet
Before getting started, it’s important to know that trying a low-FODMAPs diet, isn’t as easy as trying the Atkins Diet or the South Beach Diet.
In fact, the low-FODMAPs diet is kind of complex. But if you’re willing to deal with a little complexity in exchange for losing the weight, we can pretty much promise your results will be transformational.
Stage 1 – Eliminate and Purge
To be successful in the FODMAPs diet, you have to begin by purging all high-FODMAPs foods from your diet.The purge should be no less than three weeks so your body can repair any existing gastrointestinal damage tied to a high-FODMAP diet. Only when all your existing gastrointestinal problems (bloating, pain, swelling, diarrhea, etc.) subside, can Stage 1 be considered complete.
(Please note this stage may take up to eight weeks depending upon the damage to your GI-tract.)
Stage 2 – Trial and Error
In Stage 2, you will begin reintroducing high-FODMAPs foods to your diet in small quantities, paying close attention to how these foods impact your health. Noting both the types of food consumed, and the quantity consumed will help you develop a robust understanding of your FODMAPs sensitivity, and how that sensitivity has been impacting your ability to lose weight.
Remember—this is a trial and error process. You need to keep good notes and be diligent in your testing. If you can afford it, it’s best to work with a nutritionist, dietitian, or doctor for optimal results.
Stage 3 – Moving Forward
After completing Stage 1 and Stage 2, you should have a pretty good idea of what foods and FODMAPs trigger your food sensitivities. With this knowledge, you’ll need to devise a diet that complements—rather than inhibits—your weight loss objectives. Ideally, the diet will be low in FODMAPs overall, and completely free from any FODMAPs foods that create the bloating, cramping, and abdominal swelling that prevent you from working out.
(PS – If you’re looking for a sample low-FODMAPs meal plan, check out the one I found here that’s also gluten-free. If I love it, you’ll love it as well!)