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IBS and Diet

People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea, and have frequent abdominal pain. Other symptoms include nausea and vomiting, gas, bloating, and abdominal distention. 

Up to 90 percent of people with ME/CFS also have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Major IBS organizations as well as colleges of gastroenterology (incl. in Canada, US, England, Australia and more) recommend the low-FODMAP diet to manage IBS symptoms. 

Anecdotally, some patients with ME/CFS or Long-COVID report that decreasing their IBS symptoms can have significant added benefits for energy, pain, brain fog and general illness management.

What is a low-FODMAP diet?

For a good overview of what FODMAPs are, why the diet seems to work, and a quick overview of high and low FODMAP foods, see here (from Monash University where the diet was first developed), here (from MEpedia), here (from Harvard Health Publishing) and here (from John Hopkins Medicine).

Implementing a low-FODMAP diet

The low-FODMAP diet has three phases:

  1. Elimination - All high-FODMAP foods are eliminated from the diet for an extended period of time, often four to six weeks. 

  2. Reintroduction - You systematically reintroduce restricted foods, noting how well you tolerate increasing quantities of the foods you're reintroducing. 

  3. Personalization - Only avoid foods in quantities that cause symptoms.

  • For excellent, simple instructions on following the low-FODMAP diet, see here.

  • For some easy tips and reminders, see here.

  • For a very well-reviewed app (from Monash University, where the low-FODMAP diet was developed), see here. This app helps you implement the diet and identifies high and low-FODMAP foods and recipes.

Low-FODMAP recipes

For some excellent (but not always easy/low effort) low-FODMAP recipes from Em Schwartz (a FODMAP-trained Registered Dietitian living with IBS), see here.

For some easier low-FODMAP recipes, organized by the number of minutes they take to prep, see here.

For some low-FODMAP recipes from dietitians that also claim to be easier (let us know if they are!), see here.

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