If you’ve just been diagnosed with SIBO, you might find yourself wondering about your next steps—especially if your provider says that the SIBO diet is part of your treatment plan. Like many of the patients we work with, two thoughts probably cross your mind:
- What’s a FODMAP?
- What the heck am I supposed to eat?!
We get it. The SIBO diet is one tough cookie (pun intended). Aside from requiring some new vocabulary (try saying Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols five times fast), a SIBO diet takes time and dedication to successfully implement. While it’s not intended for long term use, many individuals do end up following the SIBO diet for quite some time while they heal their digestion.
The SIBO diet doesn’t have to be impossible. With our tips, you can find clarity and encouragement as you begin your treatment plan. So, how exactly do you keep your sanity while on the SIBO Specific Diet? (And a note: As always, following any elimination diet should be done with the guidance of a medical provider to monitor for nutritional deficiencies. After all, the goal of any elimination diet is to help you feel better, not worse.)
What is the SIBO Specific Diet?
If you’re new to the world of SIBO, check out our first two blog posts on what it is and how we treat it. The SIBO Specific Diet, created by Dr. Allison Siebecker, is an elimination diet that assesses whether certain foods may be contributing to your digestive symptoms, and it combines the Low-FODMAP and the Specific Carbohydrate diets. FODMAPs are a group of small chain carbohydrates that are often not well absorbed in the small intestine. In someone with SIBO, these carbohydrates provide an easily fermentable food source that perpetuates the overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) follows a similar pretense and also eliminates carbohydrates that are not well digested and can feed harmful bacteria in the small intestine.
In our practice we’ve found the most success when we have patients follow the SIBO Specific Diet, as it encompasses more possible food triggers and best facilitates the restoration of a healthy microbiome. Unfortunately, many foods allowed on the Low-FODMAP Diet are not allowed on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, and vice versa. This is where it gets a bit tricky and why we encourage you to work with a health professional who can help you find nutritional balance while you heal your digestive system.
A SIBO Specific Diet Meal Plan
When initially following the SIBO Specific Diet, we often encourage patients to start with foods that are both low-FODMAP and SCD “legal”. If you were provided a SIBO specific diet handout, this is often depicted as the “green column”. In order to create a balanced, “legal” meal, we recommend following the below meal equation for lunches and dinners.
SIBO Diet Balanced Meal Equation:
Pick at least one food from the SIBO Specific Diet’s green column for each category, to create a balanced meal.
- Protein (3-4 oz.): preferred protein source (meat, fish, eggs, hard cheese)
- Vegetables (1-2 cups): anything from the green list
- Carbohydrates (½ + cup): lentils, winter squash, berries, banana, other “green list” fruits
- Nuts/Seeds (1/2 oz): almonds, walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, coconut
- Fats (1-2 tsp): butter, ghee, olive oil, coconut oil
SIBO Meal Planning Strategies
The key to success with any elimination diet is planning. Spending a few hours over the weekend to plan out meals, grocery shop, and prep a few dishes will save you time, money, and stress during the week. Having a meal plan will also help you identify when you may need to bring SIBO-friendly meals and snacks with you.
Create SIBO Emergency Meals
Even with the best planning, there are often times when we are left unprepared. Keep a few staples in your fridge or freezer that can easily be transformed (or just reheated) for a quick meal or snack. If possible, try making a few freezer meals that you can have as a backup when needed.
Make SIBO Power Bowls
Use the meal planning equation above to create one-dish meals (i.e. power bowls). Make a large batch and store in glass jars in your fridge to enjoy throughout the week. Here are some of our favorite combinations:
- Protein: 2 eggs, fried in ghee
- Vegetables: arugula, bell peppers (cooked with eggs)
- Carbohydrates: ¼ cup roasted squash + ½ cup strawberries
- Nuts/Seeds: 1-2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
- Fats: ghee (for eggs and bell peppers) + olive oil drizzle
- Protein: chicken
- Vegetables: roasted broccoli and zucchini with chopped kale
- Carbohydrates: ½ cup brown lentils
- Nuts/Seeds and fat: 2 Tbsp. SIBO friendly pesto
Create a SIBO Specific Diet Recipe Collection
With the rise in popularity of the low FODMAP diet, there are lots of great online resources for finding recipes. Once you’ve found a few tried and true recipes, print them out and place them in a binder (or save in a folder on your computer) for easy access. This way you have all your recipes in one place and you can make notes as you try new variations. The best part? This will make weekly meal planning soooo much easier! You can even craft grocery lists that you can reuse so you don’t have to start from scratch each week.
You Don’t Have to Reinvent the Wheel
While making your own SIBO friendly sauces and protein bars may sound like fun for some, it doesn’t have to be your only option. There are now companies that make healthy low FODMAP foods that you can order online. FODY Foods, Rachel Paul’s Food, and Casa de Sante are all great options for low fodmap options. While these companies are designed specifically to be low FODMAP, many still work while on the SIBO Specific Diet.
While starting on the SIBO Specific Diet may seem overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. By planning ahead, having emergency meals, and embracing a few healthy convenience options, you can find success on the SIBO diet, while still keeping your sanity. Here at MIMC, this is one of the many ways we help our members easily navigate their health journey. Having the right tools and support makes a world of a difference.
If you’re ready to get to the bottom of your constant gas and bloating, the team at MIMC are here to help! Learn more about us here.