The FODMAP Diet
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If you came across this page, chances are you actually were specifically looking for information on the FODMAP-diet. In the last years, this diet has gained a lot of attention in the IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) community. This is because it can help 75% of the people with IBS relieve their symptoms. Those are amazing numbers! Finally, a diet which can offer relief, when none of the others could!
There is tons of information to be found on the FODMAP diet. Unfortunately, it’s not always clear how reliable this information is, and who has written it. This is where I can help!
In my daily practice as a FODMAP (and gut) specialized dietitian, I help a lot of people to find the cause of their gut complaints, and often this involves the FODMAP diet. Now I’d like to share some of my knowledge with you, and don’t hesitate to contact me if you need help with your FODMAP diet.
What Are FODMAP’s?
Let’s start with the name of the diet. FODMAP is an abbreviation of the names of certain carbohydrates that are hard to digest. These carbohydrates go through your digestive system, without being digested. Once they reach the colon, the bacteria in your colon will start to digest them as their food. And this is where the trouble starts. Your bacteria will produce gas and acids as a result of digestion. These gasses can make you feel bloated or cause flatulence. The acid can attract liquids to your bowel to cause diarrhea, or they can numb the muscles in the wall of your colon so that they will not squeeze and push your ‘poop’ anymore. This will get stuck and can cause constipation.
Basically, all the symptoms that are experienced are based from IBS (click this link for my article on IBS) Since the intolerance to FODMAP’s is mostly experienced by people who have IBS.
Common symptoms are:
– Stomach aches/cramps
– Bloating (can start as soon as within 5 minutes after a meal)
– Constipation (Often not mentioned as a symptom, but definitely possible)
These complaints can start from straight after a meal of even until 4 days after you’ve eaten them. Which makes it very difficult to pinpoint your trigger! (Well, it wouldn’t be fun anymore if it was easy for once right?!…..)
So, it’s clear the FODMAP’s can be a real pain in the ass (no pun intended). The thing is, no one has the ability to properly digest them. Only the IBS makes your gut more sensitive, so you can feel it so much more.
What’s With The Name?
Now, I’ve already mentioned that FODMAP is an abbreviation. Now it’s time to fill you in on the full names:
|Fermentable||Which means the gut-bacteria digest them|
|Oligosaccharides||This is a group of long-chain carbohydrates|
|Disaccharides||This is a group of carbohydrates made out of 2 molecules|
|Monosaccharides||This is the single-molecule carbohydrates|
|Polyols||These are sweeteners and natural occurring sweeteners in fruit|
Not really necessary to remember them though, it does not tell you anything about actual products you can or can’t eat. But what is it then that you can’t eat?
Are you having difficulties doing the FODMAP diet all by yourself and would you like guidance from a specialized dietitian? Schedule an online consultation at my online dietitian practice Darm diëtist, and I will help you with all your questions!
The FODMAP Diet
To find your way around the FODMAP diet, it is best to seek help from a FODMAP-specialized dietitian. A dietitian can help you create a meal plan with proper nutritional value, without FODMAP’s. Getting enough fiber is the main difficulty with the FODMAP diet. Not getting enough fiber could worsen your symptoms, since fiber is the main source of nutrition to your friends, the gut bacteria (for my article on gut bacteria and weight gain, click here)
You definitely don’t want to starve them.
The 3 phases of the diet:
– The Elimination Diet. Which has a duration of about 4 weeks, in which you eliminate all the high FODMAP foods from your meals. After 4 weeks the evaluation takes place of your symptoms, has it gotten better? If not, the diet is not the solution for you. If it does get better, then you continue on to:
– The Introduction Phase. Here you add certain products from all the FODMAP groups back into your diet and keep track of any symptoms you’re experiencing. In the end, this will give you a list of products you can and cannot eat. Once you’ve established that, you’re in the:
– The FODMAP Way Of Life. This is the last phase of the diet. You know the products you are sensitive to and are avoiding those. All other FODMAP’s are included in your diet. This last part is very important! Since it’s a bad thing to actually be on an elimination diet for an extended period of time. Elimination diets are usually very restrictive, and it’s hard to meet your nutrient and fiber needs. Having a nutrient or fiber deficiency is not good for your health. So please don’t stay in the elimination phase!
In the FODMAP way of life, it is important to try and challenge yourself to your food sensitivities every 6 months. Your intestinal lining renews itself every 3 days, and your gut microbes and gut health changes constantly. It could be, that a food sensitivity you have now, will not be present in 3 months. It would be a shame if you never re-tested again, and never found out you could eat the foods again!
So always stay alert and critical of your diet!
Low- and High-FODMAP Foods
On the internet, there are plenty of lists of high and low FODMAP foods. These lists are great for giving an overview of the products that you can and cannot eat. However, personally I’m not a big fan of them, and with good reason.
– It’s not always clear who made the list, is it a reliable source?
– Usually, the lists are quite old, when was it updated last?
– It is not easy to actually find a specific product in a list written/printed on paper
Still, the lists are better than nothing. If you want to use a list, I recommend using the website of Kate Scarlata, she is a dietitian from the Monash University. Kate blogs about the FODMAP diet and has information on her website that you can download for free.
The Best List Of FODMAP Products
My recommendation is to use the Monash Uni Low FODMAP Diet app which is available on Android and Apple. This app gets updated whenever the university has tested a new product and gives you information on portion control. This way you always have a reliable information source on FODMAP in your pocket.
The app uses a traffic light system.
Green products are the ones you should be eating.
Orange ones should be used 1 product per meal in the amounts listed.
Red ones should be avoided completely.
This approach helps you choose the products that are right for you.
Reading Labels and Picking Brands
Alright, now you have a proper list of foods you can and cannot eat. You go to the grocery store and see all sorts of products that consist of multiple ingredients. Not all ingredients are always clear to be high or low FODMAP.
To make this a little easier, here is a list of HIGH and LOW ingredients.
Of course, the list is never complete, but I hope it will help you figure out whether you can eat a product or not.
|High FODMAP||Low FODMAP|
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
Dried fruit (most varieties)
Whey protein isolate
Apart from figuring it all out yourself, there are some proper low-FODMAP brands that are available. One example is Fody Food (link to Amazon). They have a whole range of products like salsa, spice mixes and energy bars. So if you don’t want to have to dive into the ingredients list with a magnifying glass, try using a low FODMAP brand!
This is the basic outline of the FODMAP diet, and what to take into account if you’re following the diet. In the near future, I will post more articles on how to make a recipe low-FODMAP by using food swaps and how to eat out on the FODMAP diet. Click here to find all my FODMAP-related articles!
Have you done the FODMAP diet? Or are you doing it now? What are your best tips? Please let me know!
Hi there, I’m Manon.
In my daily life I work as a registered dietitian in the Netherlands with a special interest in gut health.
During my workday I get loads of questions about healthy food, recipes and lifestyle to make it a little easier to get healthy. On Positive Gut I collect my best recommendations, tips and recipes to make your healthy lifestyle a little easier!