FODMAP Diet for IBS
I have a long history of stomach issues, which my doc now thinks is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). The stomach issues are food related, so my doc suggested I try the FODMAP elimination diet to determine if some of the foods on the list are not my friends. The FODMAP diet eliminates a large number of foods to allow the gut time to recover then adds them back in one by one to see if any reaction occurs.
But what are FODMAPs?
FODMAPS stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. It’s a mouthful, but they are just a group of carbohydrates (sugars) that are found in certain foods. In the most basic terms, these carbohydrates ferment rapidly in the gut of sensitive individuals, and can also draw fluid into the gut, both of which can cause IBS symptoms.
Types of FODMAPS
There are a few types of FODMAPS. Lactose (milk, yogurt, ice cream), Fructose (fruit, high fructose corn syrup, honey, agave syrup), Sorbitol and Mannitol (also known as polyols, found in some fruits and vegetables and some sugar-free foods) and Oligosaccharides (which includes galacto-oligosaccharides and fructans, found in wheat, onions, garlic, chicory root, beans, hummus, soy milk). Some foods are considered high FODMAP, some are medium and some are low. Serving size also plays a roll in whether a food is safe to eat. For example, some low FODMAP foods eaten in large amounts can have the same effect as high FODMAP foods.
So, what foods are they in? Sadly, they are in a lot of foods that are otherwise healthy for your body. Many of them are pre-biotics, which are actually very healthy for the gut. And there are many of my faves in there too! Onions, garlic, and avocados to name a few. But the good news is that it is not a forever diet. Rather, it’s a process of eliminating foods, then slowly adding them back in to determine which ones cause the issues and which ones are safe.
A word of caution
If following the FODMAP diet is something you might like to try, work with a dietician if possible. It is complex and time-consuming. I found a great book with lots of detail and some low FODMAP recipes. You can check that out here and look for some other resources on the blog later this week.
However, one of the most frustrating things I encountered during this process was finding an easy reference for foods that are high FODMAP, so I knew what to avoid. There are some apps that are helpful. The one I use is Fast FODMAP Lookup & Learn (pics below). This one can also be used as a good diary for tracking.
Another popular (paid) app is the Monash University app. Monash University is the Australian university that discovered FODMAPs and their relationship to gut health.
However, I also like to go a bit old school and have something I can print and keep handy. If you are that way inclined check out the pics below – they will open in new pages and are printable. The information has been adapted from The IBS Elimination Diet and Cookbook, by Patsy Catsos.
As mentioned, there is a lot to the FODMAP diet. This book has been extremely useful, however, it is advisable to get the help of a dietician when making as many changes as this diet requires.
Good luck and may a happy tummy be in your future!