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How do I plan a FODMAP elimination diet challenge?

Patsy Catsos
Nutrition & Dietetics
The FODMAPS elimination diet is based on limiting "FODMAPS" in the diet. FODMAPS stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides And Polyols. Specifically, some of the dietary carbohydrates described by the term FODMAPS are lactose, fructose, fructans, polyols and galactans. These are sugars, starches and fibers in food that some people cannot fully digest and absorb.

A FODMAPS challenge involves challenging yourself with each class of FODMAPS carbohydrates, one class at a time, by returning foods to your diet in a controlled way. When you are ready, choose a FODMAPS group to challenge. Do the one that is the most important to you first. Leave the foods you can easily do without for last. If you are expecting severe irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms to result from a challenge, be sure to plan it for a time when you can afford to deal with the symptoms for the next 24 hours.

You will probably be more sensitive to some FODMAPS than to others. That is the reason to do each challenge one at a time for a week, monitoring symptoms as you go along. If you challenge more than one group at a time, you will not learn nearly as much. For example, if you challenge yourself by eating a pizza, you will not know whether your bloating and constipation the next morning resulted from eating the wheat in the crust, the lactose in the cheese or the tomato paste in the pizza sauce.

Since you will only be challenging with one type of FODMAPS carbohydrate at a time, you will have to eat quite a bit of it to get the total carbohydrate load you may have had from the combination of FODMAPS you were eating before.

If you already know that you don't tolerate a particular class of FODMAPS from years of hard-won personal experience, there is no need to put yourself through a challenge. For example, if you've known for years that you malabsorb lactose, and you get gas and diarrhea every time you consume it, you can skip the lactose challenge.
IBS: Free at Last! Change Your Carbs, Change Your Life with the FODMAP Elimination Diet, 2nd Edition

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IBS: Free at Last! Change Your Carbs, Change Your Life with the FODMAP Elimination Diet, 2nd Edition

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.