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What Is The FODMAP Diet? A Complete Guide & Low FODMAP Food List

What Is the FODMAP Diet? A Complete Guide & Low FODMAP Food List

There’s nothing more frustrating than suffering from painful digestive symptoms with no idea what’s causing them. If bloating, gas, and constipation are standing in your way of enjoying life to the fullest, you may find relief by following the FODMAP diet.

The FODMAP diet is recommended for relieving symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS (a wastebasket term for digestive distress) — but research also suggests the FODMAP diet provides promising results for inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) such as Crohn’s disease and colitis (1).

Studies have shown a 50 percent improvement in symptoms for patients with an IBD (both for those whose conditions were active and those in remission), while over 75 percent of people with IBS symptoms noticed an improvement when following the FODMAP diet (2)(3)(4).

What Are FODMAPs?

FODMAP is an acronym for a group of short-chained carbohydrates or sugar molecules that are poorly digested by the human body (5). They’re found in common foods such as onions, legumes, certain grains, and dairy products. FODMAP stands for:

Fermentable

Oligosaccharide

Disaccharide

Monosaccharide

And

Polyols

Since most people can’t break down FODMAPs, these molecules remain undigested until they reach your colon. From there, the bacteria in your colon “digest” or ferment these molecules, which produces gas, and causes digestive symptoms.

The FODMAP diet (also known as the low FODMAP diet) eliminates foods that are high in these carbohydrates, for anywhere between two weeks to two months at a time. After the elimination phase is complete, high FODMAP foods are reintroduced one by one to help identify which specific group of carbohydrates are causing symptoms.

Symptoms Caused by High FODMAP Foods

FODMAP intolerances share many of the same symptoms as IBS, such as:

  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • A change in bowel regularity
  • Excessive gas
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal distention and swelling
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue

Who Should Follow a Low FODMAP Diet?

As suggested above, a low FODMAP diet is most helpful for IBS, but it can also provide relief for conditions such as SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth), and irritable bowel diseases such as Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis.

Not all people are sensitive to high FODMAP foods — but anyone who regularly experiences the above symptoms may benefit from reducing the FODMAPs in their diet, despite having not received a diagnosis.

Note: While there are plenty of resources online about the FODMAP diet and meal plan options, both phases of the FODMAP diet should be followed under the supervision of an experienced healthcare professional.

Risks For Following the Low FODMAP Diet

Since the FODMAP diet eliminates several foods at once, there is a risk for vitamin and mineral deficiencies, especially if you already have an existing deficiency. For this reason, you may need to take nutritional supplements, which your healthcare practitioner can advise you about.

You may also need to remove the current supplements you take during Phase I (especially fiber supplements, which contain inulin or vitamin tablets sweetened with xylitol and fructose) as many do contain FODMAPs.

The low FODMAP diet isn’t meant to be a long-term plan. It’s designed to give your digestive system a break and identify the specific FODMAPs that are causing your symptoms.

Can You Test For FODMAP Intolerances?

The Hydrogen Breath Test, which measures the amount of hydrogen and methane in your breath produced by gut bacteria, may be helpful for detecting carbohydrate malabsorptions, such as sorbitol, fructose, and lactose. However, the Hydrogen Breath Test may not produce 100 percent accurate results, and can only detect the malabsorption of some FODMAPs (for example, it can’t detect fructans). For this reason, it’s not commonly recommended as a diagnostic tool for FODMAP food intolerances.

In any case, your body knows best: Tracking your meals and symptoms and committing to a low FODMAP diet are the most accurate ways of determining which foods are causing discomfort.

As you can see, a low FODMAP diet can provide powerful results for healing digestive symptoms, and improving your overall health and happiness. In addition to eliminating FODMAPs, it’s also important to regularly eat foods that support gut healing, such as coconut kefir, low-FODMAP-approved green smoothies, and bone broth.

High FODMAP Food List (Off Limits on a Low FODMAP Diet)

FODMAP Name: Example of Carbohydrate: Foods Highest in Carbohydrate:
Oligosaccharides Fructans & Galacto-oligosaccharides
(GOS)

 

Asparagus, onions, leek bulbs, garlic, beans, lentils, artichokes, cabbage, celery, brussels sprouts, beetroot, broccoli, fennel, inulin, agave, yacon root
Disaccharides Sucrose, maltose, lactose

 

White sugar, rye, wheat, barley, and other dairy products
Monosaccharides Glucose, fructose, galactose Apples, pears, nectarines, peaches, plums, mangos, watermelon, high fructose corn syrup, honey, table sugar
Polyols
(Sugar alcohols)
Mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, maltitol, isomalt Avocados, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, snow peas, celery, watermelon, mushrooms


While all high FODMAP foods should be eliminated on a low FODMAP diet, some people report the most relief by removing onions, garlic, and lentils. This may be helpful to note if you don’t suffer from IBS or IBD, but still experience digestive symptoms after certain meals.

How to Follow a Low FODMAP Diet

There are two phases for following a low FODMAP diet:

Phase I: Eliminate High FODMAP Foods
Phase II: Reintroduce High FODMAP Foods

Phase I – The Elimination Phase of High FODMAP Foods

High FODMAP foods are removed for at least two weeks, and up to a few months depending on severity of symptoms and reactions in the reintroduction phase.

Here are a few examples of low FODMAP swaps. For a comprehensive list of low FODMAP substitutes and recipes, we recommend checking out “The Complete Low FODMAP Diet” or “The FODMAP Friendly Kitchen”.

High FODMAP Source: Low FODMAP Replacement:
Dairy (milk, yogurt) Homemade almond milk, coconut milk yogurt (if store bought, read labels to avoid high FODMAP additives)  
Beans and lentils Organic meat, organic eggs, organic non-GMO tofu
Apples and pears Bananas, oranges
Barley, wheat, rye Spelt, gluten-free oats, quinoa, jasmine rice

Phase II – The Reintroduction Phase

Once an improvement in your symptoms is noted, the next step is to reintroduce one high FODMAP food at a time, from one FODMAP group at a time.

For example, you may introduce disaccharides one week (such as dairy products or grains), and polyols the next week (such as avocados or mushrooms). It’s important to avoid introducing two types of FODMAPs at the same time so you can determine which foods your body is still reacting to (if any).

Most reintroduction phases recommend reintroducing only one FODMAP food per week.

What If You Experience Symptoms During the Reintroduction Phase?

If you experience digestive symptoms during phase II, you can re-test a food from the same group. So, let’s say you tried cheese and your body didn’t react well. You can try another disaccharide food, such as barley, to see if you experience the same symptoms. If you do, you’re considered sensitive to that particular type of carbohydrate and should continue to avoid it. Your healthcare practitioner may also recommend going back to the original elimination phase before reintroducing another group.

When and How Do You Continue to Increase High FODMAP Foods?

If you don’t experience symptoms after reintroducing a certain food, you can begin increasing those foods in the same group, and the same subgroups — one at a time (6).

It should be noted that the FODMAP diet isn’t a no FODMAP diet — it still allows foods that contain traces of FODMAPs in lower amounts. In more extreme cases, it may be recommended to avoid FODMAPs altogether.

Tips for Low FODMAP Diet Success

#1: Create Time in Your Schedule and Make It Realistic

Since the FODMAP diet eliminates several foods at once, it requires dedication for the best results. For this reason, it’s best to begin a low FODMAP diet during a time you’re able to have the most control over your diet, and not in a position where you’ll be frequently eating out or under excessive stress.

#2: Read Labels and Avoid Processed Foods

Reading food labels and doing meal prep at home is also important, since high FODMAP ingredients such as onion powder, sugar alcohols, refined sugar, and skim milk powder hide in processed foods, fast foods, and packaged foods.

#3: Keep a Meal and Symptom Journal

Keep track of improvements or worsening of your symptoms after each meal in your phone or in a notebook.

#4: Always Have Low FODMAP Foods on Hand

Keep low FODMAP foods accessible at all times. It can also be helpful to keep a low FODMAP list in your phone or a low FODMAP app, so you’re never left guessing what to eat and grocery shop for. Keep your pantry stocked with items like chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, brown rice, and maple syrup so you can easily prepare a low fodmap recipe anytime.

As you can see, a low FODMAP diet can provide powerful results for healing digestive symptoms, and improving your overall health and happiness. In addition to eliminating FODMAPs, it’s also important to regularly eat foods that support gut healing, such as coconut kefir, low-FODMAP-approved green smoothies, and bone broth.

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What Is the FODMAP Diet? A Complete Guide & Low FODMAP Food List #fodmap #guthealth

What Is the FODMAP Diet? A Complete Guide & Low FODMAP Food List

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