What Is a Fodmap Diet? | Complete Low Fodmaps Food List
What Is a Fodmap Diet? The Best Diet for IBS Sufferers?
Fitbit? Fodmap? What is this strange new vocabulary floating around these days? Sounds like something from outer space. Well, inquiring minds want to know, so I picked one and did some research. So just what is a fodmap diet? Can you eat sugar on a low fodmap diet, and if so, what types of sugar are okay?
Here is what I discovered about Fodmaps (and don’t miss the low fodmap food list. We link to a printable, more complete low fodmap food list, as well as listing the common foods that are high in fodmaps).
What Is a Fodmap?
Fodmap stands for….wait for it….fermentable oligo-di-monosaccharides and polyols. Oy vey!
Anyway, these are what they call short chain carbs that are resistant to digestion. Instead of being absorbed into your bloodstream, they travel to the far end of your intestine where most of your gut bacteria reside. The gut bacteria then use these carbs for fuel, producing hydrogen gas, and causing digestive symptoms in sensitive people. Fodmaps also draw liquid into your intestine, causing diarrhea in some cases.
Some examples of common fodmaps include fructose (sugar in fruits and vegetables), lactose (carbohydrate found in dairy products), fructans (found in grains like wheat, spelt, rye, and barley), galactans (found in legumes), and polyols (sugar alcohols often used in sweeteners).
What Types of Sugar Can You Eat On a Low Fodmap Diet?
Can you eat sugar on a low fodmap diet, and if so, what types are okay?
All types of sugar should be used minimally on a low fodmap diet. But cane sugar, glucose, dextrose, coconut sugars and brown sugar are all considered low Fodmap. Even Fructose is not so bad, provided it is not in high fructose corn syrup. Maple and rice malt syrup are also considered low Fodmap.
Best Diet for IBS Sufferers
Normally these guys, categorized as a dietary fiber, go along minding their own business and not hurting anyone. But for those suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, they can create a problem leading to gas, bloating, stomach cramps, pain, and constipation.
IBS has no well-defined cause, but diet has a significant effect, as does stress. In many cases going on a low fodmap diet alleviates a great deal of these symptoms.
High Fodmap Foods List
Here is a list of high fodmap foods that should be avoided if you suffer from IBS:
- fruits such as apples, apricots, blackberries, boysenberries, canned fruit, cherries, dates, figs, peaches, pears, and watermelon.
- sweeteners such as fructose, high fructose corn syrup, honey, and sorbitol.
- dairy products such as ice cream, milk, most yogurts, soft cheeses such as ricotta and cottage cheese, sour cream, and whey supplements.
- vegetables including artichokes, asparagus, beetroot, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, fennel, garlic, leeks, mushrooms, onions, and peas.
- all types of beans
- products made with wheat, including buns, bread, breakfast cereals, crackers, pancakes, pasta, tortillas, and waffles. Other grains such as barley and rye are no-nos as well.
- beverages such as beer, fortified wines, fruit juices, milk, soft drinks, and soy milk.
Yes this sounds like a long, long list but avoiding them will improve your health immeasurably if you suffer from IBS.
Also keep in mind that the purpose of this diet is not to completely eliminate all fodmaps, but to experiment until you find the ones that cause your symptoms.
Low Fodmaps Food List
Cheer up. Here is a complete low fodmap food list that you could print and stick to your refrigerator or inside a cupboard door. In the meantime, here is a more concise sampling of foods that are healthy and nutritious and free for the eating.
- meats, fish, eggs
- fats and oils
- herbs and spices (not garlic, unfortunately)
- many fruits too numerous to list here, but pretty much any that aren’t on the forbidden list above.
- lactose free dairy products, hard cheeses, and softer varieties such as Brie and Camembert.
- vegetables also way too numerous to list here but again any not listed in the no-no list.
- grains including corn, oats, quinoa, rice, sorghum, and tapioca
- beverages such as water, coffee, tea, etc.
Trial and Error:
Should I Do a Fodmap Diet?
Keep in mind that everyone and their digestive system are different. The only way to discover for sure which fodmaps are good for you and which are to be avoided are by trial and error. It is recommended that you should eliminate all high fodmap foods for a few weeks, gradually adding them back in one at a time. Yes, it is time-consuming but you may experience relief in just a few days if you avoid the ones that irritate you.
This diet is not a cure-all and may not eliminate all digestive problems, but usually leads to significant improvements in such areas as stomach pain and bloating, as well as flatulence, diarrhea, and constipation.
A low fodmap diet is not for everyone, of course. In point of fact, unless you suffer from IBS the diet can do more harm than good. Fodmaps are prebiotics which, as we know, support the growth of beneficial gut bacteria so eliminating them may harm your intestinal bacteria. To ensure nutritional adequacy this diet should be followed under the guidance of a dietitian.
Before Going On a Fodmap Diet
Just to be safe, follow these steps before going on a fodmap diet.
1. Make sure you actually have IBS, which includes recurrent stomach pain, stool changes, and persistent symptoms that have lasted 3-6 months.
2. Try lifestyle and other dietary modifications first.
3. Plan ahead. This means acquiring a low fodmaps food list, get rid of high fodmap foods, and make a shopping list so not to make purchase errors.
OK you have begun your fodmap plan. Here is a helpful hint for a flavorful diet. Garlic and onion are our flavors of choice in most dishes but can be successfully substituted with other herbs, spices, and flavorings. Using strained garlic-infused oil is another option.
Your new diet is not causing your symptoms to improve? Try these options before giving up:
- check ingredient lists. Packaged foods sometimes contain hidden fodmap sources.
- follow an official fodmap food list, not just one found online. There is a fodmap app available that is comprehensive and helpful.
We have answered the questions, What is a fodmap diet, and is it the best diet for IBS sufferers?, and What types of sugar can you eat on a low fodmap diet?, and you can now begin to examine whether or not a low fodmap diet will work for you, before going on one.
Yes, sorting through and eliminating in preparation for this diet is time-consuming, but for those suffering from IBS with no end in sight, the improvements in your health will be significant. This is the best diet for IBS sufferers, according to our findings.