By Erin Dwyer (Research Dietitian)
A new year is always a good time to re-evaluate your situation and develop goals that you would like to achieve within the year. One of those goals may be improving your IBS symptoms and so we want to encourage and guide you in 2017 to continue to take steps to improve your gastrointestinal symptoms as well as your overall health. The below suggestions are targeted at those with IBS, however apart from the rechallenging, all the other suggestions can be used long term by anyone to increase your health overall
Unfortunately we often see people following a very strict low FODMAP diet, that are only sticking to a small number of foods that they feel safe eating. While, this may be helping in the short term, long term the lack of variety can have a negative effect.
‘Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from the five groups every day’ – this is taken directly from our Australian Guide to Healthy Eating because choosing a wide variety of foods means we are getting a variety of minerals and nutrients (micronutrients) – just what the body needs! So by limiting your food choices you may not be getting the right amounts of micro nutrients you need, and that is one reason why it is so important to re-challenge and test your tolerance to various FODMAP containing foods to see if there are more foods you can tolerate.
Another benefit to rechallenging FODMAP foods is increasing your prebiotics intake. Many of the high FODMAP foods we avoid are naturally high in prebiotics (fibres that feed our good gut bacteria). To increase your prebiotic intake, You can challenge with amber serves of high prebiotic foods like artichoke hearts, chickpeas, snow peas, sweetcorn and savoy cabbage, using the app to guide you. You can also find a list of ‘green’ prebiotic foods on this previous blog post, aim to include these in your diet more regularly: http://fodmapmonash.blogspot.com.au/search?q=prebiotics
Remember, a Low FODMAP diet is not for life – it is imperative you test your tolerance to find your threshold. For help with rechallenging, see a dietitian.
Increase your fibre
There are many health benefits associated with including fibre in your diet. Soluble fibre helps to stabilise blood glucose levels in people with diabetes. It may also lower levels of low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), also known as bad cholesterol level. This may reduce risk of heart disease and bowel cancer. This is important for everyone. For those with constipation predominant IBS, including a variety of fibres in your daily diet can assist with maintaining regular bowel habits.
So to ensure you are eating enough fibre daily, you can use our Low FODMAP Dietary Fibre Counter, found in the ‘About’ section of the app (see image below). When you scroll down to the bottom, there you will find a list of foods and how many grams of fibre it each contains. For Australian adults we aim for 25-30g per day.
If you find you’re not eating enough fibre, make sure your carbohydrate choices are mostly wholegrain, increase your fruit and vegetable intake and read these blog posts for more IBS specific info: http://fodmapmonash.blogspot.com.au/search?q=fibre
The low FODMAP diet can be tricky if you’re not prepared, don’t avoid going out and don’t let yourself go hungry, instead try some meal planning: http://fodmapmonash.blogspot.com.au/2016/11/a-guide-to-low-fodmap-meal-planning.html
Also stock your fridge, pantry and bag with nutritious low FODMAP snacks so you know that if you may not have access to any other suitable options you won’t go hungry or instead reach for foods that aren’t as nutritious. E.g yoghurt (lactose free if necessary), appropriate amounts of nuts, vegetable sticks and wheat free crackers with homemade dips, hard cheeses and low FODMAP fruits.
Go for 2&5
This tip is for everyone, IBS or not, as less than 4% of Australians meet the recommended serves for fruit and vegetables per day. The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating advises people consume 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables per day. This is, much more than currently Australia’s average, current fruit and vegetable intake is only 2.7 serves per day.
- Aim for 2 serves of fruit per day, there are plenty of Low FODMAP options and you can also test your tolerance to seasonal moderate (amber) and high (red) fruits, add some on your breakfast or eat a piece for morning tea.
- Aim for 5 serves of vegetables, include vegetables as your mid meal snacks, and serve an extra side of salad or vegetables with your dinner. Also, give a new vegetable recipe a go to make things more interesting, try this one: http://fodmapmonash.blogspot.com.au/2016/11/zucchini-pasta-with-cabbage-and.html
For more information on serve sizes and the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating head to: https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/