You are following a low FODMAP diet and have found that your IBS symptoms are beginning to reduce. However, you still get a bit of a flare up, even when you think you’ve eaten a mostly low FODMAP food diet. These symptoms might be caused by something called FODMAP stacking.
What is FODMAP Stacking?
FODMAP stacking is the process of eating low FODMAP foods but they each contain the same FODMAP and by eating them close together the FODMAPs build up in your digestive system.
You rarely eat foods in isolation and making them into a meal can increase the amount of FODMAPs you are eating, taking it from low FODMAP to high FODMAP. It isn’t even just one meal. FODMAPs can build up over the day.
This build of FODMAPS leads to the symptoms you were likely trying to avoid such as bloating, pain, constipation, diarrhoea, and nausea.
For example, you could have a low FODMAP breakfast of a slice of bread with some fruit, maybe jam and that would be a low FODMAP meal. And then at lunch, you fancy another slice of bread with avocado. While one slice of bread was low FODMAP, you may not have fully digested it by the time lunch comes around. The FODMAPs build up in your digestive system and you experience symptoms.
For many people, this FODMAP build-up might not be a problem. If you are following a low FODMAP diet and your symptoms are decreasing then don’t stress about it. However, if you notice symptoms despite trying to eat low FODMAP meals take a closer look at what you are eating and what could be causing this issue.
Tips to Avoid FODMAP Stacking
- Eat more foods low in FODMAPS or FODMAP-free – take a peek at the Monash Food App to help you find out what foods are low FODMAP or FODMAP-free. You don’t need to always eat this way, but it’s nice to have a few foods you can whip out when you want something that won’t aggravate your IBS or that you can eat in larger quantities.
- Space out your meals – try and leave 2-3 hours between meals to help your food digest, although if you find yourself feeling peckish, refer to point number 1
- Eat a varied diet – by eating a variety of foods you are less likely to stack your FODMAPS, plus it is a great way to get more micronutrients into your diet. Variety is the spice of life after all.
If you are following the low FODMAP diet and it is helping, then continue as you are. If you are still experiencing symptoms consider the above tips. It is also good to be aware that each person is different, what might cause symptoms for one person won’t be the same for the next.
Remember that no matter how low FODMAP foods are or how careful you might be, you could still experience digestive symptoms. The aim of following something like the low FODMAP diet is to reduce symptoms as much as possible.