How Do You Know If The Low FODMAP Diet Is Working?
Before you start the Low FODMAP diet (preferably with a Dietitian for a faster and more efficient process ), take note of your symptoms.
What symptoms do you have? How often do you have these symptoms? AND, how bad are your symptoms on a daily basis?
Using a scale can be very helpful here.
Use a Scale To Rate Your Gut Symptoms
For example: BLOATING.
Out of a scale from 1 - 10 with 1 being almost non existent and 10 being looking like 9 months pregnant- how do you rate your daily bloat? For example- say you sometimes get 9-10 for your bloat- how often would it be this bad. What is your average scale?
Do the same for gut pain (usually is in line with the bloat).
What about your bowel motions (also called stools). If you have seen the Bristol Stool Chart then your can rate your bowel motions using a well established poo classifying system!
The Bristol Stool Chart to Rate Your Stool Texture
I love the kiddy Bristol Stool Chart as it is very descriptive in a way the is also useful for adults.
Note what your Bristol Stool Chart rating tends to be (is it like diarrhoea like gravy or constipated like rabbit pellets?), whether you strain or it is easy to pass like a slippery sausage (that would be a number 4 Bristol Chart- the perfect stool!) and if you feel your bowel has fully evacuated at all.
Note how often you you frequent the toilet, what your level of urgency is and anything else worth noting.
Note Other Symptoms Related To Your Gut Symptoms
Note other symptoms such as fatigue, reflux and general grumpiness (getting gut symptoms tend to make us grumpy). Sometimes when we focus on the gut we can forget about other changes that may occur.
This is your BASE LINE data and helps you compare what changes have occurred embarked on the Low FODMAP diet.
You think you will remember this information- but people tend to forget as soon as they improve. Must be our brain's way of moving on!
How Do People Normally Feel With Their Gut?
As you have been suffering with an array of different gut issues beyond what you would normaly expect- you probably do not know what it is like for the average person.
The average person can still feel over full after a big meal. Can have lots of excess and smelly gas after eating some foods, such as dried fruit, a big fatty meal or lots of legumes.
The average person has bowel motions that can change in colour depending on what they eat, be a little fast one day and maybe a little slower another day which can depend on how much coffee has been consumed, if they have done some exercise, if they had a big meal the night before and depending on how much fibre they have recently been eating.
Looking for a prefect gut is not what you are after as all our guts are responsive to what we eat. BUT- having painful cramps, daily bloating, and constantly loose stools or constipation is also not normal.
Working out if the Low FODMAP Diet is Working
Once you have been on the diet for at least 2 weeks (and been monitoring intake and/or symptoms) compare them to your baseline to get a feel how much you have improved, and where you have improved and what issues remain.
When your symptoms have reduced to manageable levels, where your symptoms are not enough to get in the way of ordinary living, then you can claim that the diet is working for you.
If you have some improvement in your symptoms, but still significant gut issues are impacting on your daily quality of life (for example, if you feel you can't leave home without knowing where every single toilet is), then some trouble shooting with a Dietitian specialising in FODMAPs and Food Intolerance is a good idea.
It maybe that there are, unknown to you (and commonly occurs), some FODMAP still being consumed on a regular basis- enough for symptoms to continue on a regular basis, albeit improved.
If you are getting significant symptoms now and then but can track why these symptoms are happening most of the time- then the FODMAP diet is your jam. It is more the unknown flare ups that there needs to be some trouble shooting with a Food Professional.
If there is no improvement, or limited improvement, then the FODMAP diet may not be for you. Have your diet checked by a Dietitian specialising in Food Intolerance before opting out and bringing in your normal foods back into the diet.
Get your monitoring tools in place, determine your baseline level of symptoms using the rating tool and the Bristol stool chart and see how these symptoms change after at least 2 weeks on the Low FODMAP diet.
You can often you can see some excellent improvements within the first few days or first week if the FODMAPs in your diet have been tagged and reduced- as soon as you have 5 new good days- time to move onto the next fun phase- finding your triggers via easy food trials which allows identification of what you are personally reacting to and how to expand your diet. More on that in. another blog!
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The Food Intolerance Dietitian