FODMAP Life Blog

How to Start the Low-FODMAP Diet

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GoogleImageIt all seems a bit confusing right?  Learning about FODMAPs, what they stand for, what they potentially do to our digestive system, which foods you can have, need to limit or completely avoid.  There’s also conflicting information from Australia, the U.K. and the U.S.  At the end of the day, it’s your body and you need to take control and carefully monitor what works and what does not work for you.  Have patience because decoding the intricacies of your digestive system might take some time. The exact cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is still unknown, and there is no medical cure for Celiac Disease, Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis.  However, if you have any of these issues you may be able to benefit greatly from the Low FODMAP diet.  It’s a natural approach to easing symptoms and during the process, you will also learn more about your body and how to treat physical and mental symptoms.  Here are some basic tips to How to Start the Low-FODMAP Diet:


1. Once you start your journey, keep a food diary.  Write down everything you eat and drink.  Make note if you were eating fast, watching TV, using the computer or playing with your phone at the same time. Make note of any exercise and any stressful situations you had each day.  You’ll want to keep your food diary going for the entire length of the Low Fodmap Diet (at least two months).  The food diary will help you to keep an accurate account and get you closer to knowing your “triggers.”

2. Eliminate all FODMAPs for two months – fructans, GOS, lactose, excess fructose and polyols.  According to Dr. Sue Shepherd, if you know you can completely absorb fructose or lactose “you need not restrict your intake.”

3. Know your portions –

  • a) Do not eat more than one serving of fruit per meal or sitting (1 serving = 1 C or one whole piece of fruit).
  • b) Avoid eating these wheat products in large quantities -wheat, rye, barley (breads, cereals, pasta and cookies).  You can still enjoy small amounts like pieces of cookies in low fodmap ice cream or bread crumb coatings.
  • c) Soft cheeses are allowed but only up to 2 ounces
  • d) If you have fructose malabsorption you do not need to avoid fructose completely, just as long as there is more glucose than fructose, you can then eat moderate amounts.  If you have IBS, foods can be considered a problem if they contain more than 0.2 grams fructose in excess of glucose per serving –some fruits have the most amount of excess fructose over other foods.
  • e) Use low fructose sweeteners, but in moderation like: maple syrup, molasses, rice syrup, brown sugar.
  • f) Watch out for anything listed as “sugar-free” or having sugar alcohols (these ingredients often end in “ol”).  These Polyols can cause symptoms for people with digestive disorders if they contain more than 0.5 grams total polyols per serving.

Check out my Low Fodmap Grocery List for more foods and portions

4. Timing is everything so get testing done as soon as possible.  I had to wait weeks for mine to be scheduled.  So as you’ve begun to avoid all FODMAPs, go and see a gastroenterologist and ask for blood and breath tests.  Hydrogen breath tests can help you to determine if you are fructose and/or lactose intolerant (malabsorption), have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth syndrome (SIBO) or rapid passage of food through the small intestine.  Blood tests can help you determine if you need to avoid gluten.  These types of tests though have not all been extremely efficient, so in some cases, by keeping an ongoing food and activity journal you might get a better sense of the real food and stress triggers.  If you are used to getting your Vitamin D from milk products, you may want to introduce Vitamin D2 and D3 vitamins into your diet.  Consult with your doctor to ensure you are not or do not become Vitamin D deficient.  Learn more about the 3 Essential Vitamins for Digestion.

5. Whenever possible, put together FODMAP-free snacks so you will always have something on hand to enjoy. Vegetables, fruit, wheat-free bread and crackers (gluten-free for Celiac and Hashimoto’s disease), rice cakes, nuts (no pistachios or cashews), decaf green tea.  Stay hydrated!

6. Read food labels – make sure to always read a food label to see if the food is Low in FODMAPs.  Ingredients are listed in order of quantity, so the first couple of ingredients will make up most of the food product.  If a food product contains high FODMAPS, but they are in small amounts and listed towards the end of the list of ingredients, it should not cause you symptoms or be of concern.

7. Exercise – I have found that exercise always helps me with IBS symptoms (except running, that can make it worse).   Even if you do not have a regular workout routine, try to at least walk everyday for 30 minutes.  You might get rid of a lot of gas and cramps that way.


  1. There will be times when you might be unprepared or simply cannot find suitable foods while on the Low FODMAP diet.  You are not going to starve, so take those opportunities to drink more water or decaf green tea until your able to find nutritious food again.  If you were unprepared take note if it brought on any anxiety.  Remind yourself to have a plan of action to be prepared next time.
  2. Learn how to meditate.  Sit in a quiet place without distractions for at least ten minutes and close your eyes.  With long slow breaths, breathe in and out and think about all the reasons you are so grateful to be taking care of your body.  Visualize your body as light as a feather; your tummy no longer distended, your clothes fitting the way they should.  See yourself smiling and waking up feeling energized.  See yourself feeling better with no cramping, abdominal pain, bloating gas, diarrhea and/or constipation.  No feelings of sadness or frustrations.  Only lightness, only positivity.  Only normal bowel activity :)
  3. People are going to be nosy.  I recommend not mentioning the diet you are on.  If you are in a social setting and everyone is sharing an appetizer you cannot have, or you need to ask the server to negate some ingredients, just simply say with enthusiasm “I don’t want {insert FODMAP food here} today, I’d rather have something else” or “that looks really good, enjoy!  I’m having the xxxx instead.”  Remember, your FODMAP Life is no one’s business unless it’s someone close to you that will support you no matter what.  Anyone who is going to make a big deal out of it will only make it worse for you.

Once your symptoms have improved over the two month period, you can start by re-introducing one FODMAP sub-group at a time, one food at a time, in a normal portion size. Have a healthy day! ~Colleen subscribe-now

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  1. melissagpfight

    FODMAP also helps those with Gastroparesis. Great blog and I LOVE that you said “At the end of the day, it’s your body and you need to take control and carefully monitor what works and what does not work for you.” I can’t count the number of times I have said that in blogs and in groups regarding food, drink, supplements and Rx. Each one of us is different and no use arguing over what worked for ‘you’ if the other person at the end of the day can’t tolerate it. FODMAP is a great place to start and it is wonderful it is getting so much more attention. Thank you again!

      • melissagpfight

        Yes I am. I just ‘liked’ your page. Here is mine: I also have a wordpress blog: Very nice to meet you and I certainly look forward to your future blogs and will pass them along in my groups. I am so dedicated to gp awareness that I have set up a small online store, a few other FB Pages, twitter, pinterest and am now dabbling in instagram. Am a volunteer for a non-profit and am an admin a few other groups. My next blog will be on GP Friendly Foods (it occured to me I have not done on one that!) and will be happy to post a link to yours for the FODMAP. I’ve posted on foods to avoid for gas/bloating, but never exactly on GP items. Anyway, hope you have a great day and I look forward to reading more from you!

  2. Chris

    Thanks for the informative article. What I can never find out is what do you sat eating for the first 2 months when you are not sure what bothers you. I have fructose issues, yet even when I eliminate fructose totally including wheat (fructans) Oligos, Polyols and Lactose for a few weeks nothing changes. Everything I read is that during this initial period your gut should settle down and you should not have symptoms, but it seems no matter what I eat I always have symptoms. I also take medications which I can’t just stop. Do I just eat rice and chicken for a few weeks and nothing else to see if any symptoms go away. Not sure what to do exactly.

  3. Aimee

    Why keep the diet a secret! I tell everyone I’m following a low fodmap diet and will gladly explain why

    • Colleen

      My emphasis was on people “close to you that will support you no matter what.” From my own experience, I’ve shared in social settings and it turns out to be a big to-do and not everyone is supportive or wants to learn more. Your life on low-FODMAP is completely you’re own – and I hope it brings you GREAT health.

  4. maryann4848

    I just found your site. THANK YOU for all of the GREAT information here! :)
    Quick question: any particular DECAF GREEN TEA that is ‘best’??
    Thank you!!

    • Colleen

      Hi MaryAnn -so glad to help you, thank you! All decaf green tea should be fine as long as it does not have high amounts of polyols or chamomile or fennel added to it. Suitable teas are: Peppermint tea
      Green tea
      White tea
      Black tea
      Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter, thanks! ~ Colleen

      • maryann4848

        Thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly! And thanks for the good news! I was thinking all ‘drinks’ were out except water and it was depressing! :) This makes me feel lots better! :)

        p.s. I think I did subscribe, but I will check and make sure. Thanks again for all of your help!

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