The FODMAP diet is becoming increasingly popular across the United States as more and more people are trying to get a better handle on their digestive issues. So what exactly is the FODMAP diet, and how can you incorporate it into your lifestyle?
FODMAP stands for fermentable, oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. These are just complex ways to categorize the different types of sugar found in the foods we eat. The foods classified as FODMAPs are sugar alcohols (not the kind of alcohol that gets you drunk) and short-chain carbohydrates.1
The problem is, when you eat these foods, your digestive tract is not able to properly digest them. This results in one of two things, either excessive gas or a change in your bowel movements. The excessive gas is a result of the FODMAP foods becoming fermented in your digestive tract by the naturally occurring bacteria. While the bowel movement issues are caused by the fact that FODMAPs are osmotic, meaning they attract excess water into your bowel.2
These symptoms, along with bloating and abdominal pain are often associated with irritable bowel syndrome (or IBS). FODMAPs have recently become a popular way to treat the symptoms of IBS, and with 10-15% of the world’s population thought to suffer from IBS it is no wonder the FODMAP diet is becoming more and more popular.3
So, what exactly can you eat on the FODMAP diet?
The list of foods you cannot have on the FODMAP diet is quite extensive, but with some careful planning and preparation, you will be able to make the transition in no time.
|Food Category||Low FODMAP Foods||High FODMAP Foods (avoid or limit these)|
|Fruits||Banana, grapefruit, grapes, kiwi, lemon, lime, manadarin oranges, melon, oranges, pineapple, rhubarb||Apples, avocado, cherries, dried fruit, figs, mango, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, watermelon|
|Vegetables||Bean sprouts, bell pepper, bok choy, carrot, chives, cucumber, eggplant, fresh herbs, green beans, lettuce, potatoes, tomatoes, winter squash, zucchini||Artichokes, Asparagus, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, celery, fennel, garlic (and garlic salt), legumes, onions (all, including scallions), savoy cabbage, snap peas, sweet corn|
|Bread and Grains||Gluten-free bread, rice, oats, quinoa, corn tortillas, gluten-free pasta, sourdough bread||Wheat-containing bread and cereals, flour tortillas, wheat pasta, rye|
|Milk and Dairy||Lactose-free milk and milk products, hard cheeses||
Cow dairy products, soft cheeses, ice cream, coconut milk
|Cookies and Snacks||Gluten-free cookies, crackers and other snacks, rice cakes||Wheat-based cookies, crackers and snacks, high-fructose corn syrup, rye containing products|
|Protein Sources||Beef, pork, poultry, tofu, tempeh, nut butters, eggs||legumes|
|Nuts and Seeds||Less than 10 almonds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts||Cashews, pistachios|
This list looks daunting when you first look at it, especially if you are like us and put garlic and onions in just about everything. But, if you are someone who suffers from IBS, this diet might be the key to feeling better. If you want to use this diet to figure out what foods are most irritating to your system, you do not need to give up all of these foods forever, in fact, it can take only a few months to figure your main intolerances out.
To start the diet, you should take all of the high-FODMAP foods out of your diet. For the next two weeks, continue to eat only low-FODMAP foods. Once that initial period is over, you can begin introducing the high-FODMAP foods back into your diet, one at a time. By doing this, you will be able to pinpoint which foods are very disruptive to your system and which foods you can keep in your diet (even if they are high-FODMAP). After doing this process, you will be able to get into a diet routine and even introduce some of your favorites back into your meals if they do not disrupt your digestion too much.
The FODMAP diet is not designed as a way to lose weight, it is designed to help people who suffer from things like IBS figure out what foods cause them discomfort so that they can live a more comfortable life. With this said, as with any new dietary change, there is a chance people who use the FODMAP diet may lose weight. This could be attributed to the fact that a lot of processed foods contain high-FODMAP ingredients so those will be cut out.
If you are suffering from IBS or other bowel discomforts, the FODMAP diet might be a good chance for you to determine what it is that is causing issues. As with any other change in diet, it is best to consult a physician before you begin to make sure you are healthy enough to make these changes.
Give some of our favorite FODMAP diet friendly recipes a try:
1. “What are FODMAPs?” FODMAP Friendly. FODMAP PTY LTD, n.d. Web.
3. “Facts about IBS.” About IBS - International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, Inc., n.d. Web.
4. “Examples of Low and High FODMAP Foods.” The Monash University Low FODMAP Diet. Monash University, n.d. Web.; Celebum Feride, and Gamze Akbulut. “Current Dietary Approaches in Bowel Diseases: Low Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, and Mono-Saccharides and Polyols (FODMAP) Diet: Review.” Turkiye Klinikleri Journal of Gastroenterohepatology 21.2. (2014): 43-52). FODMAPliving.com. Web.