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So let’s give her some space shall we? Instead of jumping to conclusions about why this actress and mom of two is following the Low FODMAP diet and giving her advice about what she should and shouldn’t doing, why don’t we just mind our own business.
An article published on December 13 by Yahoo7 Bee (Yahoo Lifestyle Online Blog), is titled Expert Warns Against Blake’s FODMAP Diet with the tagline “The mum has vowed to get back in her jeans – but is it the right way?”. The article expresses the opinions of Fiona Tuck, who is identified as a Medical Nutrition Practitioner (What? All I could find is a bachelor’s degree that may give you the title?) who states that the diet is very restrictive and shouldn’t be used for weight loss.
The Low FODMAP Diet for Weight Loss
Being a FODMAP expert and registered dietitian, I absolutely agree with Tuck, this diet is not for weight loss. Some people will have weight loss as a side effect, but others will struggle with weight gain. We are all different and unique so the way the diet works in our bodies, really depends on the food we actually eat. But absolutely – this is not a weight loss diet. There is no evidence that this diet would help anyone lose weight and since weight gain or loss really comes down to the amount of calories in and calories out, there are many factors that contribute. You could follow the Low FODMAP diet, Paleo diet, mediterranean diet, fast food diet… whatever you like and potentially still lose weight.
The Low FODMAP Diet is for IBS & IBD
In a study published earlier this year in the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine titled Managing Irritable Bowel Syndrome: The Low FODMAP Diet a diet low in Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disacharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols (FODMAPs) has been shown throughout the research over the past 5+ years to help those diagnosed with IBS to reduce symptoms. Symptoms of IBS include abdominal discomfort or pain along with changes to bowel movements, either in frequency, consistency or relief with defecation (pain subsides when you poop).
Throughout the scientific literature, we can see that the diet helps more than 75% of those suffering with IBS experience symptom improvement. And this is demonstrated in other symptoms of IBS like gas, bloating, distension and flatulence. There are also studies like this awesome study published this year in the World Journal of Gastroenterology called Follow up patients with functional bowel symptoms treated with the Low FODMAP diet to show that those with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) can also experience significant improvement in digestive symptoms. And there are many other studies on IBD to follow up on these results.
Learn more about the Low FODMAP diet and get started with this free guide:
The Low FODMAP Diet is Harmful to your Health
Well… let’s slow down a second here. This feels a little fear-mongering doesn’t it? In the Yahoo, article Tuck states “…for those who don’t suffer from irritable bowel conditions, cutting out foods can be harmful to your health.” Now it’s a short article, and there is a FODMAP expert missing, so I think we miss out on a deeper explanation here.
The Low FODMAP diet is an elimination diet, Yes. It is a restrictive diet, Absolutely. But to make the bold, general statement that it can be harmful to your health is a little scary if you ask me.
You absolutely can follow the Low FODMAP diet without harm to your health. But you need to consider a few important things before getting started with the diet, or even once you’ve been following it for a while, bear with me.
Low FODMAP Diet Consideration 1: This Diet is Temporary
The article above from the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine states, along with other research and other experts in the Low FODMAP diet like Kate Scarlata, RD and Monash University (and myself ;-), that this diet is best implemented in two phases. The first phase is the strict elimination diet and the second phase is a gradual increase in high FODMAP foods.
Phase One of the Low FODMAP Diet: Elimination
Monash University, where a team of researchers developed the diet, states that the strict elimination phase it should be followed for 2-6 weeks. What happens in this phase? Well you cut out all foods that are high in these poorly digested FODMAP sugars and you include only foods which are low in FODMAPs. This can definitely get restrictive, but that doesn’t mean you can’t include variety and balance… more on this in a second.
In my practice as a Digestive Health Dietitian (RD) who personally has Irritable Bowel Syndrome (diagnosed in 2007), I usually find my clients need to stick to the diet strictly for about 1-3 months. It really depends on the person and the experience with the diet. Factors such as travel, stress and SIBO can complicate the healing process. So symptom improvement may take a little longer than a few weeks. But again, everyone is different. The point here is that the restrictive phase of the diet is temporary.
Phase Two of the Low FODMAP Diet: Re-Introduction
Once these few weeks or few months are up and you are experiencing symptom improvement, you can add FODMAP foods back into your diet. This will help you increase variety of course and reduce the restrictive nature of the diet. Whether you follow a specific Challenge Phase or you do a gradual re-introduction of FODMAPs, you can start to add them back in.
It’s best to do this one food at a time and track your progress. I always recommend keeping a food & symptom journal this whole time along with tracking your progress as you add foods back in. This will keep you on top of your body, symptoms and help you identify food triggers.
For the long-term, you may need to minimize some FODMAP foods, or even keep some out, as these foods and FODMAPs could actually trigger your digestive symptoms.
Low FODMAP Diet Consideration 2: This Diet Includes Healthy Food
If you are “suffering with IBS” or not, following the Low FODMAP diet can be really tricky and you can miss out on many nutrients… that is if you don’t eat healthy. There is still quite a lot of healthy foods you can eat! There is no need to restrict yourself even further, so expand you diet and include every single food that is low in these poorly digested FODMAP sugars.
This Yahoo article, is actually not correct in the foods you must avoid, how about we look at the foods you CAN include:
- Lactose-free dairy foods
- Lactose-free yogurt
- Beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, eggs
- Tempeh, tofu
- Some nuts and seeds (not all)
- Many grains & starches like quinoa, ice, oats, spelt, buckwheat, and corn (small amount)
- Starchy vegetables like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, and sweet potato (small serving)
- Other vegetables like broccoli, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, cabbage, collards, kale and fennel
- Some fruit like blueberries, raspberries, banana, cantaloupe, kiwi and pineapple
For the first few weeks or months, you do need to stick to including only FODMAP foods and it can be restrictive if you don’t include as many as possible. If you’re a picky eater, pull up your big-boy/big-girl pants and learn to like other foods.
Honestly, I don’t mean to be harsh… but eating really well and including a variety of foods is important. So if you don’t like eggs, learn how to include them in a frittata or sandwich so you can tolerate them. IF you don’t like peanut butter, try sunflower butter. If peppers and eggplant aren’t your thing, roast them in the oven and then puree them into a soup or pasta sauce.
You can do this! Try new things, and include as many Low FODMAP Foods as possible. This will help you get a balance of micro and macronutrients to keep you well even during the elimination phase.
Low FODMAP Diet Consideration 3: Whole Body Health is Key
Yes, the Low FODMAP diet is restrictive. But whether you’ve been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s, Colitis, Reflux, Diverticulitis or you haven’t been diagnosed with anything but suffer from digestive health issues like diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gas, distention, abdominal pain or discomfort … if you don’t consider your whole body health of course it can be unhealthy.
And to be honest, any way you eat, any diet you follow – if you don’t eat well, than you can be unhealthy. So it’s going a little too far to say this and not back it up. Here are my top suggestions for eating well and being healthy no matter what diet you follow (this is not new!)
- Eat a variety of fresh foods that include all the food groups & healthy fats
- Minimize the amount of packaged foods you consume, cooking from scratch is always helpful
- Reduce sweet treats, sugary foods, and eating out. Focus on food good for your body.
- Consume enough fluid and fibre to keep your gut working
- Exercise, do yoga, meditate and bring wellness into your body and your life
Let’s touch not he microbiome for a minute. The research does show that there is some concern on the bacteria that live in our digestive tracts when following the Low FODMAP diet. You see, FODMAPs are actually food for gut bacteria, and this study on those with IBD published in early 2016 shows that when you remove FODMAPs there can be a change in the bacteria that we need for healthy digestion.
So if you are following this diet, it’s important to remember that it is temporary and you want to gradually include FODMAPs, even small amounts, back into your diet down the road.
The Low FODMAP diet, or any restrictive diet, or any way of eating, can be harmful to your health if you aren’t eating well and including a variety of foods. There may be a role for probiotics in your life while you are following the Low FODMAP diet, but this is best to discuss with your own registered dietitian.
If you’re looking for support and more information to help you with the Low FODMAP diet, read more about the Beyond FODMAPs Insider’s Club. This is the best way to work with me in the program I offer to meet you where you are, provide you with credible, up-to-date advice and information to get you feeling better and get back to enjoying your life. I’d love to have you join us as a member.
Back to Blake
Let’s get back to the article that criticizes Blake Lively for following the Low FODMAP diet. On December 5th, Blake shared this picture on her Instagram:
… with the exact quote “New Years resolution started early – I WILL fit into my jeans again gall darnet. Thanks @getepircured for making it tasty. This is not an ad. This is me getting it up for healthy food.”
So yes, Blake is sharing this food and stating that it will help her fit into her jeans and that it’s healthy and tasty… but she doesn’t say it’s for weight loss. The article on Yahoo says Blake is following this diet to lose weight, but that is straight up incorrect… based on this post… we don’t know why Blake is following this diet. She wants to fit into her jeans… but for those of us who have experienced bloating and digestive issues, don’t we want to fit into our jeans too?
Perhaps there is more to the story that Blake just isn’t sharing. Does she need to? Does she need to go into depths about how she is feeling? What symptoms she may be experiencing? The girl just had her second baby… and many of us know how babies change our bodies! Who knows!
I’m not saying why Blake is eating Low FODMAP, I’m just saying let’s not jump to conclusions and start pointing fingers and judging. Know what I mean?
So many thoughts pop into my head and honestly, as someone who was diagnosed with IBS, you don’t see me sharing on Instagram my symptoms 😉 Back in 2007, I was embarrassed. I didn’t want to talk about what that meant or the digestive symptoms I suffered from. I didn’t want the term “Irritable Bowel Syndrome” hanging over my head, because doesn’t that sound gross all on it’s own? I hid it. And I do think that we can move along on the road to recovery without sharing every little detail on the internet.
I’m not saying Blake has IBS, or digestive health issues. I’m just saying let’s not judge. And let’s not put words in her mouth. Perhaps Epicured is helping Blake to eat HEALTHY on the Low FODMAP diet, so she gets a variety of food and nutrients and feels good.
Perhaps Blake is dealing with bloating or distension or maybe other digestive issues that she doesn’t want to talk about on Instagram. Perhaps not, we don’t know. Perhaps she just wants to share her way of following the Low FODMAP diet in a healthy, balanced way. And good for her! Those following this diet need solutions to help eat well and balanced Low FODMAP style.
DISCLAIMER: I don’t know much about the Epicured menu, but I plan on meeting with them and learning more about their food and how they do what they do. I will post about it here 😉
So that’s it. That’s my opinion and my advice. Let’s not judge people following the Low FODMAP diet. It can be healthy, it can be followed well, with the right information, food and support. Let’s let Blake do her thing, and let’s take a big step back from criticizing.
The Low FODMAP diet is an evidence-based way of eating to help those suffering with IBS, IBD and other digestive health issues reduce symptoms. It changed my life. And I’ve seen it change so many other’s lives. If you’re following it, do it right, with support and credible information.
BEWARE articles like this, that do not provide the correct information. Work with a dietitian.
Join me in the free Facebook group Beyond FODMAPs where you can connect with others, get advice and support to help you improve your digestive health and better manage symptoms.
Wishing you much love & wellness,