3 Reasons Why the FODMAP Diet Isn’t Working (and what you can do about it!) IBS Health Coaching and FODMAP Diet Recipes | Calm Belly Kitchen (2024)

IBS symptoms can be numerous, varied, and hard to pin down sometimes. And when it comes to the treatment and management of symptoms, every person is a little bit different.

People begin the FODMAP diet with the goal of treating a variety of symptoms and conditions. Because our bodies and our needs are different, it follows that each person will respond differently too.

While the FODMAP diet can be an absolutely life-changing decision for many people, not everyone has the same experience.

After eliminating FODMAPs for six to eight weeks, you might feel amazing… or not. While a recent review of the research to date shows that 86% of people with IBS experience significant improvement in symptoms on the FODMAP diet, that might not be true for your experience so far.

A Variety of Factors Affect Digestive Health

If it’s not working for you the way you’d hoped, we can still figure out what’s going on. In many cases, a few small tweaks are all you need to see a big difference.

But first, some reassurance: The majority of people don’t have 100% symptom improvement on the FODMAP diet. This is because food isn’t the only factor that affects your gut on any given day.

(So if you were beating yourself up about slipping up, missing a sneaky FODMAP, or accidentally sabotaging yourself, I give you permission right now to stop doing that.)

My goal is to make people feel better. And better is a process.

Let’s try and figure this out, shall we?

Check-in #1: Food Choices

Let’s start by gathering a baseline. Are you feeling some improvement with your symptoms? Think back to where you were before you started. Has anything changed?

If your symptoms are around 70% improved, or better, then you’ve confirmed that FODMAPs play a major role in your digestive symptoms. To continue to see improvement, make sure that you are avoiding high-FODMAP foods and really sticking to your low-FODMAP plan in as many situations as possible.

If your symptoms have improved somewhat—between around 30% and 70%—your quality of life has increased, but perhaps there’s more room for improvement. You're definitely on the right track (congrats!), so let's dig a little deeper.

What else might be going on?

There are a few possible reasons why you didn’t experience a greater reduction in bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation. I’ll discuss some other reasons why later in this post, but when it comes to your FODMAP intake, it's important to double check your adherence to the diet.

Make sure that you are compliant with the FODMAP diet the majority of the time.(By compliant, we mean your food choices AND serving sizes were on point according to the Monash FODMAP app.)

Read the ingredient labels on any foods, as well as medications and supplements, you may take regularly. If you don't know what an ingredient is, google it to learn if it might be high in FODMAPs.

If you might not have been as compliant with the diet guidelines in the past, stick with the elimination phase for two to four weeks more. Don’t give up hope! There’s a good chance your symptoms WILL improve, with some small adjustments.

If you were compliant with the diet guidelines, then it’s possible that a non-FODMAP factor could be causing problems.

Keep on reading to learn more about the habits and lifestyle changes that might make an even bigger difference.

If you’re not seeing any improvement in symptoms at all, follow the advice above to make sure you’ve removed all high-FODMAP foods and serving sizes from your diet. If you aren’t straying from the diet, then move onto Check-In #2.

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Check-in #2: Your Habits + Lifestyle

Changing your diet isn’t just about changing what you eat. There’s a lifestyle change, too. And that’s just as important.

During the elimination phase, it’s common to identify other non-FODMAP factors that play a role in how your belly feels.

If you’re not seeing the improvement you wish in your symptoms from the FODMAP diet alone, consider the following:


Were your stress levels high for a good portion of the time that you were eliminating FODMAPs?

Even if your diet was on point, your symptoms may have been aggravated by stress. Yes, it CAN make this big of a difference.

Spend a week or two testing out stress management techniques. Adopt the ones that work for you and continue the elimination phase for another two to four weeks. There’s a good chance your symptoms WILL improve. After that, continue on to the reintroduction phase.

Menstrual Cycle

Many women with IBS report that hormonal fluctuations throughout the month directly affect their symptoms. Consider keeping track of your symptoms and your cycle, and note if there are any correlations. Aim to eat comforting, familiar meals at the times of the month when your belly is most sensitive.

Also, if you’re heading towards menopause, there is some indication that IBS symptoms can worsen as hormone levels change and taper off in preparation for menopause. Listen to your body, and consider if these non-FODMAP factors might be causing you additional discomfort.


Healthy sleep habits are good for everyone, not just for your IBS! If you’re not getting enough solid, restful, and consistent sleep every night, then your body will probably be unhappy with you. Consider keeping a sleep log and noting down any times when IBS symptoms flare up. Is there a connection to your sleep? What do you observe?


Like sleep, keeping our bodies moving is essential to our overall well being. As I’ve mentioned in prior articles, incorporating movement and exercise can be a great way to reduce the severity of your IBS symptoms, in addition to the low-FODMAP diet.

Quantity + Timing of Meals

Even low-FODMAP foods can exacerbate your symptoms, if eaten too quickly, or in too large a quantity. If you struggle with eating large portions and feeling stuffed, try eating smaller meals more frequently.

Non-FODMAP Problem Foods

Carbonated drinks, alcoholic beverages, raw produce, high-sugar foods, or a high quantity of processed foods can all trigger your IBS symptoms, depending on how your body reacts. Keeping a food log is a great way to spot these non-FODMAP food issues.

Try new strategies one by one until you find what works for you. If you discovered other factors that negatively affect you, have you learned ways to manage and improve them? (You DO NOT need to be perfect—It’s the awareness that’s most important!)

Once you've learned ways to manage these other factors (give it no more than two to four weeks—remember, you're not after perfection), you'll likely see more symptom improvement. Then it's time to move on to the reintroduction phase.

But if you think there might be other factors yet, or if the low-FODMAP diet just isn’t helping you at all, it’s time to consider other health issues with Check-In #3.

Check-in #3: Non-IBS Health Issues

You may be one of the people with IBS who don’t respond to the FODMAP diet at all. However, it may still be worth it to proceed with the FODMAP diet for two to four more weeks, then move forward with the reintroduction phase. By testing your tolerance to each FODMAP category individually, you’ll be able to determine the ones that have the greatest negative impact on your symptoms. You can avoid those foods, and not worry so much about the ones that don’t make a big difference.

If the FODMAP diet didn’t help you like you thought it would, there may be a condition or other underlying factor, either instead of, or in addition to, IBS.

I encourage you to seek out a doctor to explore other treatments. Traditional doctors aren't the only option. Explore functional medicine doctors, naturopaths, or dietitians. Ask about his or her experience and philosophy around treating digestive disorders.

Could it be SIBO?

One of the common conditions that’s misdiagnosed as IBS is SIBO, which stands for Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth. It’s a treatable condition, and your GI doctor can do a breath test to check to see if you have it. People with SIBO experience many similar symptoms to IBS, and one common sign is that most meals cause bloating soon after eating.

The FODMAP diet can help your symptoms, but you need to be treated specifically for SIBO to see a big improvement. If you have SIBO, a modified FODMAP Diet is often needed, together with antibiotics, so consider getting expert help.

Non-IBS Health Concerns

The FODMAP diet is sometimes recommended for other digestive issues besides IBS. However, there isn’t a lot of research to help us gauge just how much of an impact the FODMAP diet can have on these non-IBS conditions.

If you experienced noticeable symptom improvement, that shows the FODMAP Diet is indeed helping your condition—this is good news. You might consider continuing the elimination phase for two to four additional weeks, paying close attention to what you eat and how you feel. Change and adjust anything that's not working optimally, but keep in mind that your level of symptom improvement may have already reached its peak.

On the other hand, if you felt negligible improvement in your symptoms, you might consider checking in with your doctor. Discuss your results, and ask what they recommend next for your specific situation.

If your head is spinning right now, don’t worry! It’s normal!

Your body is complex, which means there are a wide variety of things to consider when the FODMAP diet doesn’t immediately work.

Whatever you do, don’t lose hope.Like I said above, feeling better is a process. Go through this article again and make notes on what you want to focus on next in this health journey.

Tired of endless google searches and outdated information? Our ebooks provide a complete guide to every aspect of the FODMAP Diet. Learn more!

3 Reasons Why the FODMAP Diet Isn’t Working (and what you can do about it!)  IBS Health Coaching and FODMAP Diet Recipes | Calm Belly Kitchen (2024)


Why is the low FODMAP diet not working? ›

One reason the low-FODMAP diet may not work is that you may not have IBS but actually have another disorder. Your healthcare provider may need to do more tests, or you may need to go to a specialist. Other possible diagnoses include: Inflammatory bowel disease.

What are the negatives of Fodmap diet? ›

Risk of the low-FODMAP diet

For starters, this diet is highly restrictive. While the initial restrictive phase is only temporary, nutritional deficiencies—especially inadequate fiber intake—can occur and may worsen GI symptoms.

Does the Fodmap diet work for IBS? ›

The low FODMAP diet is part of the therapy for those with IBS and SIBO. Research has found that it reduces symptoms in up to 86% of people.

What are the challenges of low FODMAP diet? ›

Additionally, there are challenges such as those in precisely quantifying FODMAP content, potential exacerbation of constipation, links to eating disorders, and limited long-term data. While some studies report sustained benefits, more research on the diet's long-term efficacy and safety is needed.

Why do I feel worse on low FODMAP diet? ›

You may also be eating more starches and sugars from hyper-processed gluten free, low FODMAP packaged foods than usual, which may overwhelm the absorption capacity of a sensitive, hyper-active gut. If you suspect this, try eating more fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds and see how you feel.

Why does low FODMAP diet take so long to work? ›

The amount of time it takes for someone to see results from a low FODMAP diet depends on many factors, including how strictly they follow the diet and their individual body composition and metabolism. Most people will start to feel better after about two weeks of following a low FODMAP diet.

Who should avoid Fodmap diet? ›

Remember, a low-FODMAP diet isn't for people with eating disorders, those with too many other dietary restrictions, or those who are pregnant. These people should consider alternatives like a FODMAP-gentle diet.

Are bananas low FODMAP? ›

Unripe bananas are low in FODMAPS and therefore a better choice for people with IBS — although they're not as sweet or soft as ripe bananas. However, as bananas ripen, they accumulate a type of FODMAP called oligofructans. Therefore, ripe bananas are considered a high FODMAP food (6, 7 ).

What food has the highest FODMAP? ›

High FODMAP foods
  1. Wheat. Wheat is one of the single biggest contributors of FODMAPs in the Western diet. ...
  2. Garlic. Garlic is one of the most concentrated sources of FODMAPs. ...
  3. Onion. Onions are another concentrated source of fructans. ...
  4. Fruit. ...
  5. Vegetables. ...
  6. Legumes and pulses. ...
  7. Sweeteners. ...
  8. Other grains.
Jun 2, 2022

Does the low FODMAP diet really work? ›

The low-FODMAP diet may also help soothe the symptoms for those with other gastrointestinal conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and functional dyspepsia (chronic stomach discomfort and pain), and those with an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, Dr. Chey said.

What food calms an IBS flare up? ›

Foods to include during an IBS-D flare
  • Lean protein. Include lean meats, eggs, and fish to ensure adequate protein intake during an IBS flare. ...
  • Fruits. Berries and other fruits with seeds are harder to digest. ...
  • Vegetables. Fresh vegetables are a mainstay in a balanced diet. ...
  • Grains. ...
  • Dairy.

Can you still eat anything with IBS? ›

Choose easier-to-digest proteins, such as eggs, chicken, turkey, fish, extra-firm tofu, and plain lactose-free greek yogurt. Lower-fat cooking methods, such as baking, roasting, steaming, boiling, and sautéing, can also help you avoid uncomfortable symptoms.

Can low FODMAP make IBS worse? ›

Trials eliminating FODMAPs from the diet have consistently been shown to reduce IBS symptoms (3).

Why is low FODMAP not good long term? ›

There is also concern that long-term restriction of high-FODMAP foods changes the makeup of bacterial colonies in the gut, which may negatively impact intestinal health and possibly worsen digestive issues over time. Oligosaccharides, in particular, are an important energy source for beneficial bacteria.

What happens if you eat a high Fodmap food on low FODMAP diet? ›

Instead, high FODMAP foods can trigger symptoms when the bacteria in your gut break the FODMAPs down through fermentation (2). This process can draw water into the gut, create gas, and cause distension, and all this can lead to cramps, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and constipation (2).

What to do when low FODMAP doesn't work? ›

If you're still experiencing no improvement in your symptoms, it might be worth returning to your Gastroenterologist for further investigations, or seeing a Dietitian who can investigate other dietary triggers, such as naturally occurring food chemicals (salicylates, amines and glutamates) that may be responsible for ...

How long does it take to see results from a low FODMAP diet? ›

Many, but not all people will experience an improvement in their IBS symptoms during the first 2-6 weeks on a low FODMAP diet. While a poor response to the diet can be disheartening, there are a number of very good reasons to explain this.

How long does it take to get relief on a low FODMAP diet? ›

For people with gastrointestinal problems like bloating, gas, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – a low FODMAP diet may help. Some studies have shown that 3 out of 4 people with IBS saw fewer symptoms right away with the most relief after a week of eating a low FODMAP diet.

How long does it take to feel effects of low FODMAP diet? ›

After starting the FODMAP diet, some people will experience relief after 2-3 days and others may find it takes a couple of weeks before they see an improvement. The differences in these response times might depend on: How many high FODMAP foods the person was eating before starting the FODMAP diet.

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