I completely understand how easy it is to lose sight of the “big picture” when you are focusing on the details. The Low FODMAP diet is all about rules, food lists, portion sizes, and combinations of foods. So, of course, it is natural to get overwhelmed by all of these details and fixate your energy on making sure that you are eating the right things to “be good.” It is really commendable to adhere to the guidelines. While not overly restrictive compared to other “diets,” I am the first to admit that the Low FODMAP diet has a lot of nuances, and is not intuitive.
So, is my advice to hyper focus on the rules to make sure that you are following the Low FODMAP guidelines 100%? You might guess that my answer to this question is a resounding “no!” Don’t get me wrong, I think it is absolutely important to follow a diet plan that reduces your symptoms and nourishes you. But, when I counsel someone on Low FODMAP living, I continue to teach the principles that I believe should apply to everyone – and to not only think about FODMAPs (even though I love thinking about FODMAPs)!
What I mean by all of this is that if you become overly reliant on rules, you may not be “listening to your gut.” Just because a food is Low FODMAP, does not mean it is what your body needs or wants. For example, chowing down on a loaf of Low FODMAP bread may technically be “OK,” but is it making you feel good? Just because a food is on a “safe” list, doesn’t mean you should eat it. Don’t forget, there are tons of Low FODMAP food options and companies like FODY Foods are making it even easier for us to all enjoy a wide variety of foods that we would not otherwise be able to enjoy.
If any of this is resonating with you, I have some suggestions about how to stay mindful while on a Low FODMAP diet, which is the key to truly feeling your very best.
Keep a food journal for a few days. In addition to writing down what you eat, also log what your mood is when you are either about to eat, or just after you finish. It is often hard to look back and remember our emotional state after the fact, but writing it down is a great way to hold ourselves accountable.
Practice a mini meditation. Even as a dietitian who talks about food all day, I sometimes find myself overwhelmed when it comes to deciding what to eat. One great way to tune in to yourself is to sit somewhere quiet and take 10 deep breaths. I know, it sounds so simple but if you try it, you will feel your heart rate slow down and your body calm itself. With a clear mind you are better able to make nourishing decisions.
Stay hydrated. Sometimes when you are feeling famished and are most likely to do mindless snacking, you are actually just thirsty. I shouldn’t say “just” thirsty, because staying hydrated is very important!
Plan ahead. Looking at your calendar and planning out your meals in advance can be a helpful way to stay committed to a nutritious Low FODMAP diet plan. It can limit impulse decision making and help you to use certain days to batch cook so that you don’t have to spend hours cooking when you are really hungry.
Keep portion controlled snacks available. Have pre-portioned snack packs like FODY Foods Mockingbird and Woodpecker Trail Mix, or my favorite FODY Foods bars are excellent choices when you get hungry on-the-go.
About the Author
Danielle Capalino, MSPH, RD, is a registered dietitian in New York City, providing nutritional counseling on digestive health. She is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the John Hopkins School of Public Health.