3 Reasons Why It Is Important to Expand Your Diet
This is the exciting part of the low FODMAP diet protocol: you get to put into practice what you learned during the elimination and re-challenge phases. You will create your Personalized FODMAP Diet. You won't be including all the high FODMAP foods you may have enjoyed in the past but you won't avoid all of them either. Remember, your long-term diet is not meant to be a low FODMAP diet but a modified FODMAP diet, that is, you get to modify it according to your tolerance.
You may be fearful to reintroduce high FODMAP foods long-term or expand the variety of the foods you include in your diet. Especially if you felt really good during the elimination phase, you may ask yourself: why should I risk experiencing symptoms by trying higher FODMAP foods, bigger portions, or different combinations? There are at least 3 good reasons.
1. Improve nutritional adequacy
As it happens with any restrictive diet, a low FODMAP diet may compromise intake of key nutrients. Research studies have shown that during the strict elimination phase, intake of dietary fiber, calcium, and iron can be too low. However, when participants started re-introducing high FODMAP foods, these nutrients were restored.
2. Ensure adequate prebiotic intake
Prebiotics are substances that the bacteria living in our large intestine use as food. These “good bacteria” are known to contribute to the health of your gut and may have several other health benefits. Thus, we don’t want to starve them (more to come on this interesting topic in a separate article)!
The oligosaccharides that were restricted during the elimination diet (fructans and galactooligosaccharides, or GOS) are prebiotic fibers, and research has shown that a low FODMAP diet can reduce the intake of these fibers and, consequently, the variety and number of good bacteria after only 3-4 weeks. For this reason, it is recommended to re-introduce as many sources of prebiotic fibers as possible, while maintaining good symptom control.
3. Maintain or improve quality of life
Restrictive diets may adversely affect the quality of life and social eating. Expanding your diet to include a higher variety of foods will give you more flexibility and may make it easier - and more enjoyable - to eat at social occasions, in restaurants, and when traveling. It may also make you feel less of an outcast at parties or family gatherings, and this fact alone may boost your mood.