Beginners Guide to Low the FODMAP Diet
What is the Low Fodmap Diet?
The low fodmap diet is a therapeutic diet typically recommended to those diagnosed with IBS, SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth), or struggling with severe digestive distress and unresolved GI issues. Low FODMAP is a highly restrictive diet and is not meant to be continued long term; this is a short-term discovery process that can give you a clearer picture of what foods trigger a response and relieve symptoms' severity. The low fodmap diet is meant to last two to six weeks, depending on the advice of your practitioner.
What are Fodmaps?
Fodmap stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. Each of these are short-chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols that the small intestine does not absorb well. Fodmaps begin to ferment in the intestines, draw water in and release gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and hydrogen, causing the intestines to expand, leading to uncomfortable digestive symptoms such as bloating, gas, pain, constipation, and diarrhea. By removing fodmaps from one's diet, the gas-producing bacteria begin to starve, and the severity of your symptoms should decrease.
Oligosaccharide (fructans and galacto-oligosaccharides)
Disaccharide (lactose and milk sugar)
Monosaccharide (excess fructose)
Polyols (sugar alcohols: mannitol and sorbitol)
Sorbitol, Mannitol, Maltitol
To see the complete list of high and low fodmap foods, click here!
This is where it can get tricky; some of the foods considered high fodmap are traditionally known as healthy, such as apples and Brussel sprouts. But these "healthy" foods result in unpleasant symptoms because of the state the digestive tract is in. Begin to explore the high and low fodmap lists, and start the journey of pinpointing which foods work and do not work for you.
How Does the Low Fodmap Diet Work?
Low FODMAP is an elimination diet used to help relieve digestive symptoms and give a clearer picture of which foods trigger responses within the digestive tract.
Step #1: Eliminate all high fodmap foods to the best of your ability. By avoiding these foods, your digestive tract will have time to heal and repair quicker. Reducing high fodmap intake will likely lead to less inflammation, symptom reduction, and improvement in overall health. Center your diet around low-fodmap foods; this will reduce the severity of your symptoms and also give your digestion a break so the body can focus on healing. Foods such as certain vegetables and fruits, hard cheeses, meat, fish, eggs, rice, oats, and non-dairy milk are considered low fodmap.
A complete list of the high and low fodmap foods can be found here.
Step #2: Begin to reintroduce the foods that have been eliminated slowly. This is a tricky step because it has to be done slowly and preferably under the supervision of a nutrition professional. If one begins adding in too many foods too quickly, then it can trigger the digestive symptoms all over again. As well as, adding in too many foods at once makes it confusing to pinpoint which foods are triggers and which ones aren't. The reintroduction phase is essential because it will show you which foods are good to begin eating again and which foods need to be permanently avoided. Begin by adding in a new food every three days and taking note of any symptoms you feel after reintroducing.
Step #3: After identifying which foods trigger symptoms and which ones do not, you can avoid and limit the trigger foods and worry less about other foods.
Monash is a great resource to start, an app that targets patients with IBS and other digestive disorders. Monash is exceptionally user-friendly and contains the largest database of FODMAP-tested foods. Making it highly accessible anywhere you are!
If you are struggling with trying to find recipes, there are some great low fodmap cookbooks available. Pinterest is another good resource to find low fodmap recipes!
The Low-FODMAP diet for beginners by Mollie Tunitsky
The Low-FODMAP Diet by Kate Scarlata and Dede Wilson
The Low-FODMAP Cookbook by Dianne Benjamin
Due to the fact the FODMAP diet can be somewhat restrictive and challenging to follow, it is essential to consult with a naturopathic doctor or nutrition professional who has specialized training in FODMAP elimination before beginning the diet. Your practitioner will safely assist in safely carrying out the low fodmap diet and monitoring your symptoms as you gradually reintroduce these foods.
Please do not self-diagnose. If you are dealing with digestive symptoms, it is best to consult with your trusted health professional before beginning the low fodmap diet to rule out any other severe intestinal conditions and ensure this diet is followed safely/properly. Before making any changes to your diet, it is best to consult with a healthcare provider you trust.