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A 28-Day Plan for IBS Relief : Book Review and Q & A with Audrey Inouye and Lauren Renlund

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A 28-Day Plan for IBS Relief

Registered dietitians Audrey Inouye BSc RD and Lauren Renlund BASc MPH RD have written The 28-Day Plan for IBS Relief: 100 Simple Low-FODMAP Recipes to Soothe Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. We had an opportunity to chat with Audrey and Lauren and would like to introduce you to them and their new book.

Feature Image - Interview with Audrey Inouye and Lauren Renlund

Dédé: Audrey, Lauren, thank you so much for chatting with us. Let’s start with some background on each of you. Why don’t you each tell us a little about yourselves and your specific professional interests?

Audrey:  I’m a Canadian dietitian and owner of IBS Nutrition in Edmonton where I offer in-person counseling and virtual services across Canada. My passion is to help people who have a sensitive digestive system, find their food triggers and feel great again. On a personal note, I live in Edmonton with my husband, three boys and puppy. We love adventure and travelling. After writing our book, I learned how to surf which is both exhilarating and terrifying!

Lauren: I’m a Canadian dietitian from London, Ontario. I have IBS and I love helping others use food to reduce their digestive symptoms. When I first became a dietitian 3.5 years ago, I started a private practice and low FODMAP food blog. Also, around that time, I met Audrey through Facebook, and we became colleagues and friends. I currently live in Edmonton, Alberta and work in community health. I spend a lot of my free time drinking tea, reading and exploring.

Tell us how each of you first learned about the low FODMAP diet and why you started using it with patients.

Audrey: I started using the low FODMAP diet in my private practice in 2016. I distinctly remember my first patient. After two weeks on the low FODMAP diet, he no longer had to rush to the bathroom six times a day and had much less abdominal pain and bloating. Together we figured out his food triggers, so he was able to finally get on with his life! I can tell you dozens of similar heart-breaking stories of how digestive symptoms held people back from taking a trip, having dinner with friends, or simply leaving the house. After a few weeks on the low FODMAP diet, they could say “yes” to things they were previously unable to do. The low FODMAP diet is truly life changing for some people.

Lauren: The low FODMAP diet absolutely changed my life. I struggled with digestive issues for years but wasn’t diagnosed with IBS until 2014 after I contracted a bad gut bug. I had just started my master’s degree and was struggling to keep up in school due to constant IBS symptoms and anxiety. After months of pain and frustration, I bought a book and started the low FODMAP diet. It was tough to do alone, but I was able to get my symptoms under control, finish my degree and fulfil my dream of becoming a dietitian. During my degree I also had the chance to complete a directed reading course and complete an extensive literature review on the low FODMAP diet for IBS. Between the strong scientific evidence supporting the diet and my own personal experience, I knew I had to help others learn about how to properly use the diet.

Between the strong scientific evidence supporting the diet and my own personal experience, I knew I had to help others learn about how to properly use the diet. - Lauren Renlund RD Click To Tweet
Lauren, thank you for sharing your personal story! Audrey, has the low FODMAP diet changed your practice?

Audrey: After discovering the low FODMAP diet, I was hooked! Never in my 18 years of being a dietitian had I made such a profound improvement in so many people’s lives. I decided to make digestion the exclusive focus of my practice. The low FODMAP diet is often the first and most effective step for my patients. Some people may need additional layers of dietary strategies, lifestyle recommendations, over the counter supplements/laxatives, or possibly medications, but the low FODMAP diet is the best foundation.

(Editor’s Note* Lauren no longer has a private practice).

Audrey, tell us why you felt it was important to go through the Monash University FODMAP training?

Audrey: What I learned in the Monash Training for Dietitians completely enhanced my practice. I learned how to adapt the diet to be the least restrictive necessary for symptom improvement. It filled me with the most up-to-date and evidence-based strategies to supplement the low FODMAP diet as well. Now, my patients are getting better faster and can complete each phase of the diet in much less time, with better results. I learned so much more than I ever expected.

Lauren: I’ve heard great things about the Monash training. I haven’t completed the training because the course was released after I moved from private practice to community health.

The 28 Day Plan for IBS Relief cover

Your book, The 28-Day Plan for IBS Relief, has hit the shelves! Congratulations!

Lauren: We are so proud of this book. What’s really great is that our cookbook is so much more than just recipes! The book starts with a crash course on the basics of the IBS and the low FODMAP diet. We have a chapter full of our best tips and tricks, as well as helpful lists on topics such as low FODMAP foods and ingredients to avoid. Our 28-day meal plan is broken down week by week with instructions, grocery lists, tips and encouragement. There are 100 simple and delicious recipes, all of which are safe for the first phase of the diet. We finish the book with a list of trusted resources where you can find more information.

meal plan The 28 day Plan For IBS Relief Low FODMAP Lauren Renlund Audrey Inouye

Did you rely on Monash University data for creating your recipes? Or is it a blend of sources?

Lauren: We used the Monash University app to ensure all of our recipes are low FODMAP. The Monash University app has the most up-to-date information on FODMAP content of foods. We recommend anyone reading the book or trying the meal plan download the app. 

Carrot Ginger Soup
Bowl of Carrot-Ginger Soup
What do you think some of the sticking points are for people with the diet?

Audrey: I think the complexity of the diet and misinformation on the internet hold people back from either starting the diet or being successful with it. We love FODMAP Everyday because your information is reliable, accurate, and up to date. That is not the case for many other sources of FODMAP information on the internet.

Lauren: I find a lot of people are scared to try the diet because they think they will have to eat bland boring food. Luckily, low FODMAP does not equal low flavour!

And how do you address these in the book?

Audrey: Our recipes are simple and made with ingredients that you can find in every grocery store. We rely on low FODMAP swaps to convert mainstream high FODMAP meals to a low FODMAP version. For example, we have recipes for low FODMAP beef stew, lasagna, stir-fries, nachos, oatmeal, sausages, French toast, hummus, cookies, and power balls.

To make sure that our information is accurate, we reached out to our community of FODMAP specialists from around the world to review our content and recipes. Joanna Baker, RD (Everyday Nutrition), Alana Scott (A Little Bit Yummy) and Kate Watson, RD were tremendously supportive and gave us excellent feedback and advice. We are really lucky to have talented and passionate people by our side.

Lauren: We are both big foodies and were lucky to have many taste-testers. We put all of our family-favourite recipes into this book. When converting recipes to low FODMAP, we didn’t simply just remove high ingredients. We always added in additional flavourful ingredients to compensate. For example, in place of onion, we often use green onion leaves, onion infused oil and/or fennel bulb. You should not have to feel like you are missing out on delicious food during this diet.

Do you look at the book as an at-home companion to the work people are doing with their own FODMAP trained RD?

Audrey:  Absolutely! Our book has been a huge hit within the community of FODMAP dietitians. You’ll see that many of our reviews on Amazon in the US and Canada were actually posted by dietitians who use The 28-Day Plan for IBS Relief with great success in their practice. Our goal was to do the thinking for you and your dietitian!

We talk about working with RDs all the time, and we all know that statistically folks will have a better chance at success if they do work with a RD,  but let’s hear it straight from you why it is important.

Audrey: There are many great reasons to work with a FODMAP-trained dietitian. Your health is important, so you need to work with a reliable health care provider. A FODMAP-trained dietitian will:

  1. Decide if the low FODMAP diet is right for you based on your pattern of symptoms. 
  2. Ensure that you are properly screened for other conditions.
  3. Tailor the diet to be the least restrictive necessary for symptom relief.
  4. Offer additional strategies to help get better faster. 
  5. Trouble-shoot and help you identify both dietary and non-dietary triggers. 
  6. Move you through each stage as efficiently as possible.
  7. Navigate other conditions that may go hand in hand such as reflux, celiac, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, endometriosis, and other food intolerances.
  8. Not recommend unreliable tests such as the IgG Food Intolerance Test. 
Orange Chicken & Broccoli Bowl
Orange Chicken & Broccoli Bowl
Okay, tell us who will benefit from your book and why. I think some of that will be apparent just from looking at the gorgeous images of your recipes in this article!

Audrey: People who experience digestive symptoms such as bloating, distension, gas, abdominal pain or discomfort, diarrhea and/or constipation may benefit from our book. However, it is important to work with your doctor and/or dietitian to make sure that you have had other conditions first ruled out and this is the right diet for you.

Salmon with Basil Caper Pesto
Salmon with Basil Caper Pesto

Lauren: Also, anyone who has been looking for simple and easy low FODMAP recipes. You certainly don’t need to be a chef or spend all day in the kitchen to make our recipes! We focused on simple recipes anyone can make. The recipes use basic cooking equipment and ingredients commonly found in grocery stores. Almost all of the recipes are 10 ingredients or less, and many recipes take 30 minutes or less. The meal plan and grocery lists will also help save you lots of time and energy.

If you are about to embark on the low FODMAP diet or if you are already following it, our book offers kindness, encouragement, accuracy and simplicity by turning a seemingly complex diet into delicious everyday meals and snacks. We hope that you enjoy our recipes as much as we do!

Lauren and Audrey, that you so much for your time. The book will be a huge help to so many who are utilizing the low FODMAP diet.

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