You will learn
- What is FODMAP Definition?
- What are FODMAPs?
- High FODMAP Foods
- Low-FODMAP Foods
What is FODMAP Definition?
FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols
FODMAP is a term coined by researchers at Monash University in Melbourne to describe a group of sugars that can be poorly absorbed, contributing to the onset of symptoms of stomach issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
FODMAPs are a class of carbohydrate that some people have trouble digesting. The word “FODMAP” is an acronym for the different sub-classes of carbohydrate included in the designation: Fermentable (which applies to all of them), Oligo-saccharides, Disaccharides, Mono-saccharide and Polyols. Different people have different reactions to the particular sub-classes; some people might digest Disaccharides fine but have trouble with Polyols.
FODMAPs are carbohydrates in foods and drinks that are fermented by bacteria in the colon, because they have ‘escaped’ digestion in the upper gut. The term is made up of the first letter of specific carbohydrates:
WHAT IS THE LOW-FODMAP DIET?
The Low-FODMAP Diet is a program created by researchers at Australia’s Monash University to help people suffering from the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) such as abdominal pain, gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhea.
By eating only foods low in FODMAPs (a type of carbohydrate—see below), some 75% of patients found a huge reduction in their symptoms. It is now considered one of the most effective treatments for IBS symptoms, and it involves no special medications or products, just a careful approach to cooking and eating.
WHAT ARE SOME FOODS THAT CONTAIN FODMAPS?
The list of foods that contain FODMAPs is long, and not always predictable. Broadly, though, it includes vegetables like onions and garlic; fruits like apples, pears, and basically all stone fruits; dairy products that contain lactose (which is not, it should be emphasized, all dairy); legumes like lentils, and gluten grains like wheat and rye.
WHERE CAN I FIND A LIST OF LOW-FODMAP FOODS?
I’ve put together a handy list of high- and low-FODMAP foods here. Monash University also offers a useful app for iPhones, which I’ve found helpful when out shopping and planning meals.
CAN I COOK THE FODMAPS OUT OF MY FOOD?
I wish! Unfortunately it doesn’t quite work that way. Though are some workarounds, such as cooking garlic in oil to imbue it with flavour and then discarding the garlic pieces, there’s no way to get rid of FODMAPs by cooking or heating them.
HOW EASY IT IS TO CUT OUT FODMAPS?
Short answer: easier than it might seem. The Low-FODMAP lifestyle can be intimidating at first. Most people find it hard enough to cut out lactose or gluten grains alone, but both at the same time, as well as a seemingly random assortment of fruits and vegetables? It seems tough, and for the first few weeks it can be. But you’ll soon find your habits changing, and—most importantly—if you indeed have trouble digesting FODMAPs, you’ll (probably) start feeling a lot better.
This blog was started as a resource for people going through that transition. When I started, there were very few resources on the web, or places to find recipes, advice, etc. I’m hoping that by sharing my journey I can make it easier for others on the Low-FODMAP path to feeling better.
DO I NEED TO STOP EATING ALL FODMAPS FOR LIFE?
Definitely not. Researchers recommend that you gradually re-introduce individual categories of FODMAP foods after about 6 weeks. Some FODMAPs are prebiotics, meaning that they help foster healthy bacteria in your gut—the stuff you need!
After the re-introduction period, you may not end up being able to eat everything you enjoyed before, but more likely than not, you will go back to consuming some. For more information, check out this great post on Monash’s blog.
IS THE LOW-FODMAP DIET THE SAME AS GLUTEN-FREE DIETS?
There is definitely some overlap, but they are not the same. For one, you’re cutting out a lot more than just gluten, which is definitely more difficult, but on the other hand, you don’t have to be as strict about it. Remember, this is a LOW-FODMAP plan, not a NO-FODMAP lifestyle. You can consume a little—soy sauce, for instance, is fine—and not need to be as strict as people on the gluten-free lifestyle.
Please note, though, that Low-FODMAP eating is not appropriate for celiac disease sufferers, who must completely exclude gluten grains. If you have celiac disease, do NOT attempt this. And if you have any doubt at all, make sure you check with a qualified physician beforehand.
What are FODMAPs?
FODMAPs is a term used to describe the variety of short-chain carbohydrates that are found in many common foods. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides, and Polyols. I think you’ll agree, FODMAP is much catchier!
It is believed that FODMAPs cause problems for people with IBS and other gastro-intestinal issues, like bloating, gas, stomach cramps, diarrhoea and constipation. Therefore, if you suffer from these symptoms, eliminating foods which contain FODMAPs in high levels could be beneficial. However, there are still ongoing studies looking at the accuracy of the FODMAP diet in terms of its effectiveness for IBS sufferers.
FODMAPs are divided into the following 5 groups:
A detailed list of foods that contains these FODMAPs can be found below.
High FODMAP Foods
High in Fructose
Fruit in large quantities
Dried fruit (some, like raisins, are ok for some)
Corn Syrup and High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCP)
High in Lactose
Milk from cows
Milk from goats
Soft Unripened Cheeses:
High in Fructans
Broccoli (ok for some people)
Wheat & Rye e.g. pasta, bread, cakes, biscuits etc.
High in Galactans
High in Polyols
Below is a list of low-FODMAP foods suitable for the low-FODMAP diet.
Alternatives to Wheat
Corn (not ok for some)
Alternatives to Lactose
Hard cheese, like parmesan
Peppers (Not green)
Spring onion (green part only)
Tomato (not concentrated e.g. tomato paste not ok)
Sweeteners that do not end in -ol
Notes on Fruit
- It is best to buy organic fruit and veg wherever possible.
- Some people are ok with dried fruits and others are not, so please test.
- Limit your intake of the above fruits to one serving per meal. e.g. one whole banana or orange or small handful of berries.
- Juice should only be drunk in small quantities e.g. a third to half a glass.
Notes on Veg
- The starred (*) items may not be ok for some people. Please test in small quantities.
- There is undeclared onion hidden in many processed foods including sauces, marinades, dehydrated vegetables, stocks, gravies and soups.
- Onion is one of the biggest contributors to IBS. Complete avoidance is recommended.