The best way to implement anything new and stick with it is to make it as easy as possible and attach incentives. Rig the game and you have a better chance of winning. How do you rig a low-FODMAP diet?
First, eat the same meals. Pick favourite low-FODMAP meals that are easy to prepare and make them your daily defaults. Making decisions is taxing and stress-inducing. Eating the same meals reduces your daily decision making around food and makes adhering to the diet easier. Repetition is obviously not ideal, but is it worse than your IBS symptoms?
Second, choose default meals that you will actually be capable and happy to prepare. Have the time and love to cook? Choose more involved recipes. Kitchens give you hives? Salads and foods you can cook from cans or in the microwave are your new best friends. Be realistic from the outset and you will be more successful. Don’t add the task of learning to cook on top of everything else you’re doing to manage your digestive issues.
Third, incentivize eating low-FODMAP foods. Apart from the obvious incentive of feeling better, a great way to achieve this is making yourself accountable to others. Recruit someone whose opinion you really care about to be your “accountability partner”. Don’t choose your spouse who always condones your slip-ups, or your best friend who always sympathises and chalks up your eating indiscretions to a bad day. A person whose judgements you fear and who will actually be disappointed if you don’t live up to your low-FODMAP promise is a better choice. Are you motivated by the carrot or the stick? Figure this out, and come up with rewards for achieving, or penalties for failing to adhere to the diet. Better yet, make your goal of eating low-FODMAP public. This strategy really ups the ante. There are few things in life more motivating than to avoid public embarrassment.
Adopting a very restrictive low-FODMAP diet is a challenge, but you can stack the deck in your favour. Be realistic with yourself, and you can come up with creative ways to work within your time/cooking ability/energy constraints. Simplify and set up incentives and you can win the low-FODMAP game.