IBS—Free at Last Book Review

FODMAP Book review. Getty Images Credit: Dave and Les Jacobs

To my knowledge, IBS—Free At Last by Patsy Catsos, MS, RD, LD, is the first self-help book to cover the use of a low FODMAPs diet for IBS. The book discusses the science behind the diet and offers step-by-step directions for following the diet. Included in the book are lists of allowed foods, as well as foods that should be avoided.

About the Author

Patsy Catsos, MS, RD, LD is a licensed dietitian with a private practice in Portland, Maine. As a sufferer of ulcerative colitis, she has had a particular interest in gastrointestinal health.

Strong Points

  • The book is very well-written. Catsos does an excellent job of offering understandable explanations of the complex theoretical material. I particularly liked her discussion regarding why high FODMAPs foods are problematic for IBS.
  • The book offers step-by-step instructions for initiating and maintaining a low FODMAPs diet.
  • Catsos includes easy-to-follow meal plans, using foods that should prove to be readily available to most people.
  • Overall, the book takes the mystery out of the low FODMAPs diet, making it seem possible to follow the diet without too much difficulty.


  • Catsos chose to outline the diet before discussing the science behind the FODMAPs diet theory. My preference would be that anyone choosing to place themselves on this diet would be fully informed as to why they would be restricting themselves to certain foods.
  • The FODMAPs researchers have consistently made the strong recommendation that the diet only is followed under the supervision of a licensed dietician. Catsos does not really cover the risks of following the diet unsupervised.
  • To me, a jarring note came in the form of the inexplicable inclusion of four unrelated recipes. The book should have either included a more comprehensive array of recipes or simply stuck to its original premise, that of providing a self-help manual for following a low FODMAPs diet.

Is the Book for You?

Research to date seems to indicate that for some people with IBS, a low FODMAPs diet offers some promise in terms of reducing IBS symptoms.

I feel compelled to side with the people doing the actual research who recommend that the diet only is followed under supervision. However, I also realize that for some people, access to a dietician may be restricted due to financial and/or geographical reasons. Catsos' book, therefore, does provide people with the next best thing—a way to try the low FODMAPs diet on their own in order to see if the diet brings about symptom relief.

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