Illustration Reintroduction

Reintroducing FODMAPs

Trying the low FODMAP diet is a significant step that requires a change in diet. Initially, many foods are removed to “reset” the stomach. However, many people miss the point that the treatment involves reintroducing FODMAPs to identify what specifically triggers reactions.

The low FODMAP diet is a scientifically proven dietary treatment that, when done correctly, helps more than 75% of those with IBS. The treatment begins the same way for everyone, with an elimination phase where intake is restricted to carbohydrates that do not ferment in the stomach. Many people experience significant improvement in their stomachs during the first weeks and may be satisfied with that. Some feel relief from finally feeling well in their stomachs and hesitate to reintroduce foods for fear of symptoms returning. Others miss or do not receive sufficient information about reintroduction and believe that the treatment is complete after the elimination phase.

Do I have to reintroduce FODMAPs?

For those of us working with the low FODMAP diet, reintroduction is crucial; it is the essence of it. Otherwise, there will be a long elimination period with restricted intake and a risk of unnecessarily excluding foods. Additionally, confirmation of what one reacts to and what foods one can tolerate is missing. The reward for the effort is somehow lost.

Without reintroduction, you have not completed the entire treatment and risk having a severely restricted intake, unnecessarily avoiding certain foods. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to seek help with reintroduction, which should ideally be done in a specific order.

When can I start the reintroduction?

Most people can start reintroducing yellow-labeled foods no earlier than two to four weeks into the elimination phase and red-labeled ones after 4-6 weeks. However, this does not apply to everyone. Sometimes the elimination phase is longer, and it may be necessary to look at other factors in the diet, such as starch, additives, and fat. Perhaps a supplement of probiotic or digestive enzymes is needed. The basic rule is that when the stomach is under control, reintroduction can begin. Feel free to seek help from one of our dietitians if you do not feel symptom relief after 6-8 weeks.

The goal of the entire low FODMAP diet is to, during 6-12 months, identify 10-15 foods that are particularly challenging for the stomach to handle. For most people, this means the stomach is fine as long as these foods are avoided. So, in the end, it is your symptoms that set the limits on what you can eat, not the FODMAP lists.

Sofia Antonsson 

Dietitian, Belly Balance

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