3 Reasons Not To Stay on the FODMAP Diet Long-Term IBS Health Coaching and FODMAP Diet Recipes | Calm Belly Kitchen (2024)

Unlike the dietary changes that celiac, gluten-intolerant, or allergic people are suggested to follow, the elimination stage of the FODMAP diet is not intended to be a long-term, forever thing.

While it’s an essential part of the process, the elimination phase should only last for four to eight weeks. Following that, foods need to be reintroduced by category, to determine which ones are trigger foods...

...AND to know which ones aren't so you can eat them again! This is typically known as the “reintroduction phase.”

Even though the elimination phase of the FODMAP diet is a pretty intense life and behavior change for most people, the trade off of having a reduction in symptoms is the motivation most of us need to continue.

In fact, recent studies show that up to 86% of people with IBS experience some improvement in symptoms during this step.

I know how safe it feels to stay in super-restrictive mode because you’re feeling better, but despite all the benefits and improvements, it’s not in your best interest to stay in the elimination phase long-term.

There are three key reasons why you should complete BOTH phases of the FODMAP diet and bring the foods that don’t trigger your symptoms back into your life:

Reason #1: Because variety in your diet is a good thing, and it’s really important!

Not only is variety the spice of life, it’s also essential for a whole and healthy body.

Out of all of the diet advice out there, it’s absolutely true that keeping a balanced diet is important. Healthy proteins, fats, vegetables, fruits, whole grains… mix it up!

If you eat a wide variety of foods, in moderation, you’re sure to get all those vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants, and everything you need to keep your body healthy.

Food scientists haven’t even discovered all of the tiny micro-nutrients in foods, and we don’t even know what some of them do, but we do know that staying in that restricted space means you’re restricting your options.

Which means you might not be getting that wide variety of things your body needs.

Sure, you can take supplements, but the best and easiest way is to get those nutrients is from food. A multivitamin might give you Vitamin C, but when you eat a tomato, you get all the other antioxidants, phytonutrients, and all those other little components that make it such a healthy food.

It’s important to reintroduce the foods you’ve eliminated carefully, so you can make sure you are eating the widest variety possible, while still identifying and minimizing your trigger foods.

Reason #2: Because of the prebiotic effect

Getting a wide variety of nutrients is essential, but reason #2 may be even MORE important—especially for people with digestive issues! So let me break it down.

You’ve probably heard of (and might even be taking!) a probiotic supplement. Probiotics are a type of bacteria that forms the ecosystem in your gut. You may have heard it called ‘gut flora.’ These gut bacteria aid in healthy digestion, and you get them from eating things like yogurt, or fermented foods.

Because this good bacteria is a living thing, it can’t just survive on its own. It needs to eat!

Prebiotics are a type of non-digestible dietary fiber which feeds and supports that good gut bacteria. Many FODMAP foods contain prebiotics, and severely restricting your intake of prebiotics can influence the health of your gut flora. This, in turn, can lead to other digestive problems.

This is a field of study that is still emerging, and there are unfortunately no long-term studies on the effects of ten or twenty or thirty years of low-prebiotic intake. However, research does seem to suggest that staying in that severely restricted stage is not good for long-term health.

When the gut flora is not fed, the gut health is not in balance, and the body has to work even harder to maintain that essential balance.

Like with the missing nutrients from a diet lacking in variety, you can take a probiotic supplement, and it may help, but unless you’re feeding that gut bacteria, it’s not going to populate your digestive system and it’s not going to help. You’d just be taking the supplement and then not giving it what it needs to survive.

All the more reason to eat a wide variety of foods, and not stay in the elimination zone forever!

Reason #3: Because it makes your social life really tough

You already know how hard it is to make a major dietary change, even if the results are completely worth it! The truth is, a severely restricted long-term diet makes it challenging to do all the things we do as social creatures who like to share a meal.

Eating out at restaurants, attending a work potluck, enjoying a family event, weddings, birthdays, etc…

Avoiding these events (or getting stressed out when you do participate)doesn’t create a healthy long-term lifestyle, physically or emotionally.

Doing a severely restricted diet, especially when you might not even need to be that restricted, is stressful, and can be emotionally taxing. You might feel like you’ll do anything, no matter how extreme, to feel better and alleviate your IBS symptoms, but you also need to take care of your social and emotional health.

It might not be necessary to be restricting yourself forever! If you don’t transition into the reintroduction phase, you’re probably making it harder on yourself, and you won’t learn what your specific trigger foods are.

Further Reading: When is it time to challenge FODMAPs: 3 Simple ways to know


It’s scary to think about having to bring back high-FODMAP foods and running the risk of experiencing those symptoms again, but here’s the thing:

If you’re like me, you went for years experiencing IBS symptoms. Testing FODMAPS in a controlled way, for a short time, in order to learn your personal trigger foods is well worth the discomfort because of what you learn in the process.

Finally, keep in mind that the goal of the elimination phase is not total symptom erasure, but consistent symptom improvement.

So if you’re in that part of the FODMAP diet right now, and you’re still experiencing symptoms, look for consistent improvement, not perfection. And don’t be afraid to reach out to an expert who can help you find a solution.

Ready to tackle the reintroduction phase? Learn more about our Free To Eat Ebook!

3 Reasons Not To Stay on the FODMAP Diet Long-Term IBS Health Coaching and FODMAP Diet Recipes | Calm Belly Kitchen (2024)


3 Reasons Not To Stay on the FODMAP Diet Long-Term IBS Health Coaching and FODMAP Diet Recipes | Calm Belly Kitchen? ›

Risk of the low-FODMAP diet

For starters, this diet is highly restrictive. While the initial restrictive phase is only temporary, nutritional deficiencies—especially inadequate fiber intake—can occur and may worsen GI symptoms.

What are the negatives of FODMAP diet? ›

Risk of the low-FODMAP diet

For starters, this diet is highly restrictive. While the initial restrictive phase is only temporary, nutritional deficiencies—especially inadequate fiber intake—can occur and may worsen GI symptoms.

Why is low FODMAP diet bad long-term? ›

There is also concern that long-term restriction of high-FODMAP foods changes the makeup of bacterial colonies in the gut, which may negatively impact intestinal health and possibly worsen digestive issues over time. Oligosaccharides, in particular, are an important energy source for beneficial bacteria.

Why is FODMAP bad for IBS? ›

Put more simply, FODMAPs are certain types of carbohydrates -- the sugars, starches, and fiber in foods. For most, these foods are not a problem unless you eat too much of them. But some people are sensitive to them. FODMAPs draw water into your digestive tract, which could make you bloated.

Who should not follow a low FODMAP diet? ›

Remember, a low-FODMAP diet isn't for people with eating disorders, those with too many other dietary restrictions, or those who are pregnant. These people should consider alternatives like a FODMAP-gentle diet.

Can FODMAP make you feel worse? ›

In short, FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates that often make IBS worse. They're found in everything from apples to soup, so avoiding them can be tough. For many people, however, low FODMAP eating is the key to managing symptoms.

Can low FODMAP make IBS worse? ›

Trials eliminating FODMAPs from the diet have consistently been shown to reduce IBS symptoms (3).

Is a low FODMAP diet healthy long term? ›

Reassuringly, the study shows that a low FODMAP diet improves IBS symptoms in both the short, and long-term. The study also suggests that some degree of FODMAP restriction may be necessary to maintain adequate symptom control in the long-term. It is here that we issue a note of caution.

What's the worst thing for IBS? ›

  • do not delay or skip meals.
  • do not eat too quickly.
  • do not eat lots of fatty, spicy or processed foods.
  • do not eat more than 3 portions of fresh fruit a day (a portion is 80g)
  • do not drink more than 3 cups of tea or coffee a day.
  • do not drink lots of alcohol or fizzy drinks.

What food calms an IBS flare up? ›

Foods to include during an IBS-D flare
  • Lean protein. Include lean meats, eggs, and fish to ensure adequate protein intake during an IBS flare. ...
  • Fruits. Berries and other fruits with seeds are harder to digest. ...
  • Vegetables. Fresh vegetables are a mainstay in a balanced diet. ...
  • Grains. ...
  • Dairy.

Are bananas good for IBS? ›

Unripe bananas are low in FODMAPS and therefore a better choice for people with IBS — although they're not as sweet or soft as ripe bananas. However, as bananas ripen, they accumulate a type of FODMAP called oligofructans. Therefore, ripe bananas are considered a high FODMAP food (6, 7 ).

What food has the highest FODMAP? ›

High FODMAP foods
  1. Wheat. Wheat is one of the single biggest contributors of FODMAPs in the Western diet. ...
  2. Garlic. Garlic is one of the most concentrated sources of FODMAPs. ...
  3. Onion. Onions are another concentrated source of fructans. ...
  4. Fruit. ...
  5. Vegetables. ...
  6. Legumes and pulses. ...
  7. Sweeteners. ...
  8. Other grains.
Jun 2, 2022

What is the most common FODMAP intolerance? ›

The most common digestive disorder affected by an intolerance to FODMAPs is IBS or irritable bowel syndrome, apart from Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and other inflammatory bowel disorders (IBD).

Is a low FODMAP diet good for everyone? ›

The low-FODMAP diet has a high predicted success rate for people with IBS, but up to 25% may not benefit. For all other conditions, research is more limited, but there's reason to believe it may help with symptom management in cases of SIBO, IBD and functional dyspepsia.

Does low FODMAP work for everyone? ›

Many, but not all people will experience an improvement in their IBS symptoms during the first 2-6 weeks on a low FODMAP diet. While a poor response to the diet can be disheartening, there are a number of very good reasons to explain this.

Should everyone eat low FODMAP? ›

"The idea is that anyone who has problems with digestion or is intrinsically sensitive to distension or excess gas may benefit from trying the low-FODMAP diet," says Dr. Quigley. "It's not a panacea, it doesn't work for everybody, but it does work for some."

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