Why The Low-FODMAP Diet Might Not Be Working For You

Why The Low-FODMAP Diet Might Not Be Working For You #FODMAP

So you’ve discovered the low-FODMAP diet, and it seems like the answer to your prayers, but after several weeks of avoiding FODMAPs you’re still feeling rubbish and your IBS symptoms haven’t gone away…

Well, this is a common problem and there’s a few reasons why this might be happening. Below, I’ve outlined some of the biggest, non-FODMAP related causes of IBS and other digestive problems so you can identify the issues and make the necessary changes to your diet to improve your digestive health.

***Note: I’m not a doctor or dietician. Please seek professional help if your IBS symptoms persist after following the low-FODMAP diet and please don’t take this post as dietary or medical advice.***

Grains

The low-FODMAP diet prohibits wheat and rye with other grains, such as oats, rice, corn and buckwheat, being suggested as substitutes. However, these grains can also cause digestive problems for some. This is because, although gluten-free, they still contain a similar proteins that break down the microvilli in your small intestine over time. Not to mention the abnormal spikes in insulin that most grains cause too.

So, if you’re heavily substituting your wheaty treats with other grainy goodies, then it may be time to reconsider.

Sugar

Sweeteners such as sorbitol and xylitol are high in FODMAPs, but normal sugar isn’t. This can mean desserts, cakes, biscuits and other sweets (all wheat-free of course) can often become common treats for those on a low-FODMAP diet. This is particularly true if the low-FODMAP diet feels very restrictive and you want to treat yourself to make up for the lack of choice at meal times.

Unfortunately sugar is a big cause of digestive issues, such as bloating, gas and even more severe conditions such as leaky gut syndrome. If you’re still experiencing IBS symptoms after following the low-FODMAP diet, cutting back on sugar is a good place to start.

Dairy

Lactose is one of the big no-nos in the low-FODMAP diet, but the general advice is that some cheeses and dairy products contain such a small amount of lactose that they can be deemed safe. This includes cheeses like brie, camembert and parmesan as well as butter. However, some people (me included) find that even the tiniest amount of lactose can have disastrous effects and trigger severe IBS symptoms.

If you are still consuming cheese or butter, it may be worth removing these from your diet for a couple of weeks, to see if it makes any difference.

Not Following the Rules

If you don’t think any of the above apply to you, maybe you just haven’t been as strict as you could have been when following the elimination and reintroduction process? If you’ve forgotten the rules, or you just dived straight into the diet without ever following a plan a detailed guide to the various stages of low-FODMAP diet can be found here.

The key is to make sure your elimination phase is as clean as possible, and you only introduce high-FODMAP foods back into your diet one by one. This is to ensure you know exactly what is causing you problems. If you accidentally consume anything high in FODMAPs during either phase, you must eliminate all FODMAPs for another week before reintroducing anything.

The above are just a few of the things which could be negatively affecting the success of your low-FODMAP diet. I have personally found that grains are an issue for me as well as lactose, but everyone is different so please listen to your body and your healthcare professional above all else.

Have you struggled or are struggling with the low-FODMAP diet? Let me know in the comments.

photo credit: Muffet via photopin cc

Comments (15) Write a comment

  1. Pingback: FODMAP FUN | Elaise

  2. Hello! Thanks for this.
    It’s a real struggle not eating onions and garlic, but for 3+ weeks I’ve done it. Plus I’ve not eaten all the
    Other low fodmap recommendations I was given after a colonoscopy .. I’m still bloated. I was diagnosed IBS after the colonoscopy …

    Water is often the worst for me? Anything I eat or drink bloats me :(
    I don’t know what to do ? I do eat a lot of eggs … It seems so many foods cause problems and I feel stressed not knowing what to do there’s sooooo much information ! I’m a big foodie and I don’t eat crap, I’ve always eaten healthy and so it’s really horrible trying to sort this out and realising I’m probably eliminating foods I actually may not need to. I’m hungry now and I dont know what to eat :(

    Thanks for the opportunity to comment :)

    Reply

    • Hi,
      I just read your post from a couple of years ago, and it sounds so much like what I am experiencing, and I just wondered what progress you have made since then? I am 3 weeks into my FODMAP diet and I’m as bloated as ever, and I feel like I’m having to eat crap rather than eating well like I used to! And avoiding the onion and garlic is the worst!
      Best wishes

      Reply

  3. I’ve been on the diet for about a year and a half, and with no end in sight I’ve recently started cheating a lot. I mainly stay off FODMAPS, but will buy expensive gluten free bread, then go home and eat a regular biscuit if it’s offered to me, which is rificulous! Crash time at the moment for me anyway. Initially it was difficult of course, but the potential for an end to symptoms motivated me, as well as the idea of being challenged to such a great degree and meeting that challenge. It was dramatic, exciting, hopeful. A year and a half later, I’d never quite managed to live with the condition, only cooking four different main courses and never really managing to make it convenient.

    I can’t have eggs either, you see. Or nuts, or seeds. Meats and fish make me ill too, as to random foods at random times. Sometimes I can eat the same mean twice in one week, be ill one time and ok the other. Very frustrating.

    My symptoms are 90% improved, however, and I’ve basically gotten my life back after 2 years of chronic illness. So it’s a great diet. For anyone considering it, I’d advise taking action at the beginning in terms of creating a good list of meal plans, and going whole heartedly at it straight away. There’s a drive there at the beginning, in the first month or two especially. If you build yourself a good programme of meals, you can fall back onto that groundwork if your motivation is lacking. Don’t expect to do the work later!

    Thanks for the article, much appreciated!

    Reply

  4. Thanks for writing this. The problem for me is that I’m already vegan, so grains are a staple for me. I make sure to sprout or soak them before cooking but I don’t know if they are still causing some damage. I have also been using xylitol for dental issues, maybe that is contributing also.

    Reply

  5. Hello,

    I’m 27 and I’ve been suffering from gastritis and severe acid reflux disease for almost two years now. It’s been so bad at times I couldn’t swallow food and got full without barely finishing half of my meal. I’ve lost a dramatic amount of weight, something like 60 pounds. All doctors just told me to take higher doses of PPIs. I started the low FODMAP diet about 4 weeks ago thinking it would help my GERD despite not presenting any other IBS symptoms. I’ve followed it as closely as I can but still need about a cup of coffee a day to make it through work. I’m so frustrated and tired of living with the pain and discomfort from GERD I just don’t know what to do . Any advice would be very much appreciated. Thank you!

    -Dan Interdonati

    Reply

  6. If your still having problems after eliminating Fodmaps, try a lactulose breath test. That test is checking to see if you have SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). Not only do i have malabsorption of all fodmaps but i also have SIBO. It was so bad I couldn’t eat anything without severe, crimpling bloating. Even water made me bloat!?! I still have FODMAP sensitivities after being treated for SIBO and have to avoid high FODMAP foods. But the misery and bloating has gone from a 10 (the worst ever) down to a 4 if i get an offending food.

    *SIBO has an underlying cause of a neurological disorder that halts the normal motility of the intestines;its called the “migrating motor complex” that sweeps good bacteria out of the small intestine into the large. This halted movement causes an over growth of good bacteria in the small intestine where it shouldn’t be*

    Reply

    • Hey! I’ve been having the same problems that you did for quite a few months now after taking a course of antibiotics that messed up my gut.

      Water also gives me bloating! I suspect I have SIBO and will try and get the test asap.

      What did you use to treat your SIBO?

      Reply

  7. I am 65 years old and three weeks go I suddenly had cramps and nausea. I was semi-controlling the pain by eAting only soft food. Doc put me on Fodmap and everything I eat hurts. I was living on yogurt, canned fruits, soft foods which did not hurt. Very discouraged that everything I eat hurts now!

    Reply

  8. I am really missing chewing gum and the chewing gum with sugar in it is not an option. Does anybody have any alternatives that they use during the day?

    Reply

  9. Pingback: Kvifor låg-FODMAP kanskje ikkje fungerar for deg – IBS skulen | Mage i balanse

  10. I am waiting for my results and the next gastro visit is in september 2016 which I find a joke! I waited 13 weeks to see him had some tests and now have to wait 6 more months. Anyway the fodmap diet does not work for me, no matter what I eat causes my colon to feel I need a bowel movement, sometimes a pea size lump comes out, sometimes just a little bit of jelly or it might actually be a proper bm. So I have to say the fodmap diet is not for everyone. It definitely is not for me. But I am still trying to figure out what I can eat and this is 8 months on since I started losing weight and having abdominal pain!

    Reply

  11. I have malabsorption and intestinal inflammation and scarring and thickening in my small intestine when I eat any grains or even the pseudo grains. Quinoa was very bad for me. I am gluten free, on the low fodmap diet, and no grains. I also have histamine intolerance. All caused by medical injury. Thanks for this helpful article.

    Reply

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