I’ve been on the low FODMAPs diet for almost two years now, but as the diet gets more popular, many more people are starting it each day.
The standard protocol for going on the low FODMAPs diet is to completely avoid all known FODMAPs for 6-8 weeks, while your system settles down and heals. After that, you’re supposed to slowly add problem foods, one at a time, with a few days between each new food. This is pretty standard for any elimination diet.
When I first started the diet, I did the same thing. I avoided all known FODMAPs (though of course I slipped up many times, as you do on a new and complicated diet) for about seven weeks. Then I started the challenge phase. It was really miserable. Every few days I tried to eat a food and I failed just about every single challenge. And there are so many problem foods that the challenge stage can last a really long time!
I decided I’d already felt horrible for too long, so I quit the challenge stage and went back to avoiding FODMAPs mostly, or only eating incredibly small amounts. One or two small pieces of broccoli. A bite of beans. Three grapes. Often I’d mix something in with other foods so I could at least taste it, even if I couldn’t have a lot of it. And that seemed to work fine.
A year into the diet my other health issues started up, so I continued to avoid problem foods when I could. Sometimes special occasions would come up, or I had to eat out, or just couldn’t avoid them for one reason or another. But mostly, I just minimized my exposure to FODMAP-containing foods.
Now, finally, at almost two years in, I’m starting to challenge again. And this time, it’s working a lot better. I sometimes put several mushrooms in a stew or soup. I’ll put snow peas in stir fry. I even once put both snow peas and mushrooms into a soup! Sometimes I use jarred tomato sauce, and I’m mostly ok with the onions. It expands the options I have for foods and helps me get more of the vitamins and minerals I feel I must be lacking when I have to avoid most produce.
Well, this weekend, something amazing happened. First, on Saturday, I ate at a Tex Mex/Salvadoran restaurant and had cheese enchiladas and refried beans. Then, on Sunday, I had a rainbow trout with a chimichurri sauce (which has garlic in it), garlic mashed potatoes, and french green beans. And I seem fine! This is nothing short of amazing, to me.
So maybe there is hope. Maybe challenging aggressively after only 8 weeks is too soon. Maybe some people need to wait a lot longer to heal or for their gut flora to change before trying to challenge.
On the other hand, maybe it’s just the antibiotics I had a few weeks ago, helping to keep my native beasties in check. All I have is one piece of anecdata.