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Online course for Patients about the low FODMAP diet from Monash University


Jeffrey Roberts

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Jeffrey Roberts

These are my notes from the online course for Patients about the low FODMAP diet from Monash University, the academic center where the low FODMAP diet was developed.

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The Monash FODMAP online course for Patients contains five (5) modules delivered entirely online with dialog, videos and quizzes. You have twelve (12) months to complete the course at your own pace. The course is not meant to be a replacement for healthcare professionals like your Physician or Dietitian. The course is intended to help you better understand your condition.

It is important to have a proper medical diagnosis by a doctor before proceeding with any treatment. The course is not meant to self-diagnose yourself with IBS.

According to Monash University, these are the aims of the course for Patients:

  • All about IBS, including symptoms, causes, the importance of getting a proper medical diagnosis, red flags symptoms, common tests and treatments. 
  • What FODMAPs are and how a 3 step FODMAP diet can reduce IBS symptoms 
  • How to follow Steps 1, 2 and 3 of the FODMAP diet
  • What to do if you do not experience symptom improvement on this diet

I completed the course in about two (2) weeks. The course filled in a lot of gaps in my knowledge about FODMAPs when I thought I already knew everything! It really helped me understand how to better use the Monash University FODMAP app and how to better utilize a Dietitian that has been certified to manage the low FODMAP diet.

Some background on the low FODMAP diet

The team at Monash University in Australia developed the low FODMAP diet showing that FODMAPs could trigger symptoms of IBS and research which acknowledges that diet could be responsible for IBS symptoms. In turn, limiting dietary FODMAPs became an effective treatment for 3 out of 4 people for treating their symptoms of IBS.

The FODMAP acronym was coined to classify groups of carbohydrates (sugars and fibers) found in foods and beverages, that are similar in length and structure. These, “short-chain” carbohydrates have been shown to be poorly absorbed in individuals living with digestive sensitivities, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and resulting in a common set of gastrointestinal symptoms including abdominal pain, bloating and gas, constipation and/or diarrhea.

More information about the low FODMAP diet is here.

Course outline

The course is delivered in five (5) modules broken down as follows. There are some pop-quizzes (True/False and Multiple choice questions) during the lessons which give you immediate feedback on the material covered.

Module 1 – Understanding IBS

  • Great overview of what IBS is
  • Insight as to possible causes
  • How is a diagnosis made?
  • What are red flags and why they are important?
  • Common tests to diagnose IBS
  • Common and current treatment options including diet like the low FODMAP diet

Module 2 – Introduction to FODMAPs

  • FODMAPs have similar effects in the gut of a healthy person and someone with IBS; however, people with IBS are thought to experience symptoms when they eat high FODMAP foods because they have a more sensitive intestine
  • FODMAP composition food guide (downloadable)
  • Learn to identify high FODMAP foods and what are possible alternatives
  • A fun FODMAP identification game challenges you to place foods under the right FODMAP group
  • The low FODMAP diet is a 3 step diet. If you do not improve after step 1 then you need to look for other ways to manage your IBS symptoms. If you do, FODMAP intake will gradually increase over the 3 steps of the diet until you find the right levels of FODMAP that you can tolerate

Module 3 – Step 1 Low FODMAP Diet

  • Learn what’s it like from a patient’s experience to follow the low FODMAP diet
  • Learn to use a Dietitian as a resource for what does and doesn’t work (Find Monash FODMAP Trained Dietitians on the Dietitian Directory
  • Tour of the Monash University FODMAP Diet app
  • Understand the traffic light rating system for foods
  • Serving size matters with FODMAPs
  • All about swapping high FODMAP foods for low FODMAP alternatives for meals and recipes
  • Cooking and food processing techniques that involve water may lower FODMAP content because preparing a FODMAP ingredient by boiling may dissolve the high FODMAP content into the liquid. Fermentation or pickling of some ingredients also lower FODMAP content.
  • Shopping tip: The Monash FODMAP Diet app has a shopping list feature
  • Understand what FODMAP stacking is, ie: can you eat multiple Green rated foods in a single sitting?

Module 4 – FODMAP Reintroduction

  • Wait until your symptoms are well controlled before beginning the FODMAP reintroduction step
  • Food challenges help you to understand which FODMAPs you tolerate and which are your trigger symptoms. You do this for only 2-6 weeks.
  • Use the diary function in the Monash Fodmap app to record symptoms from food challenges
  • The long term effects of an exclusive low FODMAP diet are unknown as the diet reduces prebiotic intake and it is unknown the effect this will have on the growth of beneficial bacteria. Additionally you will be missing out on important nutrients a strict low FODMAP diet.
  • Having a less restrictive diet is more enjoyable and likely easier to maintain
  • Only challenge yourself with high FODMAP foods over 1-3 days while staying on a safe diet so you do not confuse the results
  • Use a break of 2-3 days between challenges
  • IBS symptoms during the challenges are unpleasant, but limited
  • Minor tolerable symptoms may be just usual digestion and not a need to stop challenging yourself

Module 5 – FODMAP Personalization

  • Personalization is about introducing your successful challenge FODMAP foods from step 2 with your safe FODMAP foods from step 1
  • Aim to develop a diet with a Dietitian which is as least restrictive as possible that helps to minimize IBS symptoms
  • Tolerance may change over time; re-challenge in 3-6 months
  • Strategies are presented that you can try if you flare while maintaining a personalized FODMAP diet
  • Filters within the Monash FODMAP App help personalize your sensitives to FODMAPs by adjusting the Food Guide
  • You can always return to a more restrictive FODMAP diet during a flare for a short period of time

In summary:

I highly recommend this well organized and informative course from Monash University.

Monash University allows you to enjoy 2 weeks free access to Module 1 of the 5 module course.

Learn more or sign-up for the Patient course here.

Note: We have not received any payment from Monash University to review or recommend this Patient course. We strongly believe that it provides education about a treatment option that may be beneficial for some IBS sufferers.

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