What the project is:
Last weekend I visited the Allergy and FreeFrom Show in Glasgow and I had the pleasure of meeting Lesley Reid, a registered dietitian who specializes in FODMAPs. Lesley was giving a talk at the show on recent developments in the FODMAP world and I’d arranged to have a chat with her afterwards.
Lesley’s talk was a brilliant whistle-stop tour through the basics of the FODMAP diet and I saw a lot of people taking photos of her slides and writing down notes of what foods were low/high FODMAP. However, another thing I noticed which made my heart sink was that when Lesley asked how many people were on or had tried the FODMAP diet and then asked how many had successfully gone through the reintroduction phase (I’m paraphrasing a little bit here, but it’s hard to remember the exact words), there were significantly fewer hands up for those who had reintroduced.
Now, this mirrors a concern I’ve had for quite some time now, that far too many people are going into the exclusion phase of the low FODMAP diet, feeling the benefits of cutting out high FODMAP foods, but aren’t going through the reintroduction phase to identify their own FODMAP tolerance levels.
As a blogger, I’m in a huge number of groups and channels on social media and I’ve noticed that a huge amount of people won’t try the reintroduction phase because they’re frightened that their IBS symptoms will come back.
I can sympathize with this, I really can, but the problem with staying in the exclusion phase is that it diminishes the number of foods people will eat which, as a result, has a detrimental effect on their gut bacteria and can lead to nutritional deficiencies in the long-term.
When I met Lesley I approached her with an idea I’d had for a while – that she, as a FODMAP trained dietitian, guide me through the elimination and reintroduction phases so that I can identify my new FODMAP tolerance levels while under the assistance of a trained dietitian, all the while documenting my experience of the whole project on my blog. Thankfully, Lesley empathizes with and understands my concerns about the number of people who won’t reintroduce and happily agreed to the project.
Why I’m doing it:
It’s been a couple of years since I put myself through the elimination and reintroduction phases and I’m noticing that foods I’d previously thought safe to eat are now sometimes causing me discomfort. Equally, there are foods I’d previously excluded from my diet in the belief that they were a FODMAP group I couldn’t tolerate, which I’m now able to eat. As a result, I think my gut microbiome has changed over time and I strongly believe that doing the elimination phase again, however difficult it might be, is the best way forward. Trust me, I’m not doing this lightly!
The other reason I’m doing this project is that when I first started the low FODMAP diet I did not consult a dietitian. This was for a number of reasons:
1.) I couldn’t afford to see a private dietitian.
2.) The waiting list to see a dietitian on the NHS is long and it would have taken a long time to get an appointment.
3.) I wanted to start ASAP because I was in so much discomfort.
4.) I’m a qualified researcher, so I knew I could educate myself in how the FODMAP diet in all of its phases worked before I began the diet.
The main reason I want to go through the elimination diet a second time under the tutelage of a FODMAP trained dietitian, such as Lesley, is so that I can live the experience and communicate to others the importance of going through the elimination and reintroduction phases.
Why I chose to do the elimination and reintroduction phases with Lesley:
I asked Lesley Reid if she would be open to doing the project with me because she trained in the Low FODMAP diet at King’s College London, so she’s entirely qualified as a dietitian to take someone through the intricacies of the FODMAP diet.
She’s also very passionate about the importance of the reintroduction phase of the low FODMAP diet and shares my concern about the number of people living in the exclusion phase.
She’s also local (I live in Stirling and she’s got two office locations in Glasgow), so it made sense to use someone close by.
What I aim to achieve:
I want to emphasise to everyone who follows the low FODMAP diet the importance of properly going through the elimination and reintroduction phases, so that a proper understanding of our own FODMAP tolerance levels can be understood with the long-term aim of being able to incorporate higher FODMAP foods within our diets to encourage good bacteria growth in the gut microbiome.
What’s happened so far:
This morning Lesley said that she’d be sending me documents to fill out, so that our project can proceed just like it usually would for any of her professional consultations and we’ll have our first telephone consultation on Friday.
I have to say, she’s so friendly and approachable that I already feel reassured that she’s going to be the dietitian taking me through this process.
The elimination phase is restrictive, so I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about going back through it, but I know that it’ll benefit me in the long run by informing me of my new tolerance levels and improving my gut health.
I’ll keep you posted!