The Power of Variety on a Low FODMAP Diet

In this lesson we look at five benefits of making sure you eat varied diet when eliminating FODMAPs.

By Laura Tilt

By now you’ve hopefully got the message that a varied diet is important when eliminating FODMAPs! But I think it’s a message worth repeating, because a common mistake I see people making when following FODMAP elimination is restricting their diet too far.

With that in mind, here are five reasons to keep your diet varied and interesting as you continue your journey:

1. Essential Nutrients:

Eating a varied diet ensures you get all the nutrients you need to stay healthy and feel energised. We know a low FODMAP diet can be low in carbohydrates (important for energy levels) calcium (important for bone health) and fibre (important for gut health) – so these are three nutrients to watch out for. To avoid issues, do these three things:

  • Replace the foods that you remove with low FODMAP alternatives
  • Aim for 2-3 servings of low FODMAP dairy or fortified alternatives a day
  • Try to include whole grains like quinoa, brown rice and oats with your meals

2. Gut Health:

Many of the foods eliminated during a low FODMAP diet are a good source of prebiotics. Prebiotics are a specific type of fibre that feeds the helpful bacteria in the gut. A diverse low FODMAP diet maintains a healthier gut microbiota, which is important for long-term gut health.

Here are a few low FODMAP prebiotic picks to include:

  • half cup rolled oats
  • medium greenish banana
  • a low FODMAP serve of almonds or hazelnuts (10 in number)
  • a low FODMAP serving of canned lentils or chickpeas (rinse well, as FODMAPs leach into the water)

3. More Enjoyable Eating:

Eating a wide variety of food makes meals more enjoyable, giving you a better chance of sticking with the diet. Finding alternatives for your favourite foods (or new favourites!) as part of the process will result in a more positive experience for you too.

4. Psychological Well-being:

The FODMAP diet isn’t for life, but you will need to follow it for up to four months if it's successful. This is because you'll need to complete the reintroduction stage following elimination, which can take 10-16 weeks.

Following a very restricted diet for this length of time is mentally challenging and can lead to feeling deprived. Eating as wide a variety of food as possible will help you maintain a positive relationship with food during this time.

5. Social Inclusion:

Eating a varied diet as possible makes it easier to continue taking part in social events. This makes the low FODMAP diet feel less isolating. Once you’re confident with the diet, try planning a meal out, or cook at home for friends and family.