It’s difficult to stand by when someone you love is suffering. Does your Valentine miss fun outings or important obligations due to IBS pain or needing to stay close to the toilet? If so, here are a few things you can do to help.
- Suggest the FODMAP approach to your Valentine. If increasing fiber intake hasn’t improved IBS symptoms, it’s time to try something new. You’ll be a hero if your suggestion to try a low-FODMAP diet turns your Valentine's life around. Could a gift copy of The IBS Elimination Diet and Cookbook be in order? (Probably not a romantic choice as a Valentine’s Day present, right? Go with the roses and chocolate for V-Day and surprise your love with the book some other day that week. Just a suggestion.)
- Take a little time to understand FODMAPs yourself. It can be a tough topic, and two heads are better than one. The nutshell version of the FODMAP elimination and reintroduction program in my book is only two pages long, starting on page 10. It will help you help your Valentine. If you have a few more minutes, read “FODMAPs—The Big Picture,” starting on page 21.
- Be a good sport. Learning how we react to the elimination and reintroduction of FODMAPs takes some time. It might impact some of your activities as a couple or a family. Your Valentine might not be able to dine out with you as frequently; meals at home are easiest to make work on the diet. Don’t worry, low-FODMAP foods taste great, and eating a low-FODMAP recipe or meal won’t hurt you a bit!
- When the time comes, gently encourage your Valentine to reintroduce FODMAPs. Some people feel so pleased with the results of their low-FODMAP diets that they are reluctant to begin reintroducing. But, nutritious high-FODMAP foods shouldn’t be eliminated forever without cause! The reintroduction process will help narrow things down by identifying which foods are well tolerated and which are not. Your Valentine needs to learn about this by reintroducing FODMAPs systematically, so be a pal and don’t suggest complicated restaurant meals or foods like pizza during this phase of the diet.
- Not everyone with IBS can or should do a formal elimination diet. Let your Valentine know that’s OK. There are still things you can do to help, especially if you do some of the cooking. For example, please don’t put onions and garlic in every blessed thing! Check out our FODMAP Big 10 post and see what clicks. Can you serve IBS un-friendly foods less often or in smaller amounts?
Although you can’t do the FODMAP elimination diet for them, your support and encouragement for your Valentine will not go unnoticed. Don’t worry, the process doesn’t last forever. Soon your Valentine will be feeling better and the two of you can live happily ever after!