If you’re reading this post, you’ve probably heard about FODMAP diets before–but what is a FODMAP diet, and who is it good for? First and foremost, you should know that FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols, which are different types of short-chain carbohydrates (sugars) that the small intestine absorbs poorly. It’s also important to note that when people talk about FODMAP diets, they usually mean a diet that is low in FODMAPs. And crucially, this isn’t a diet related to changing your weight—it’s about better understanding how certain foods work with your body.
What is a low FODMAP diet?
According to Johns Hopkins gastroenterologist Hazel Veloso, MD, “the low FODMAP diet is a temporary eating plan that’s very restrictive.” That is because it is a type of elimination diet that involves avoiding foods high in FODMAPs so as to avoid symptoms such as bloating, gas, constipation, and abdominal pain.
Who is a low FODMAP diet good for?
A low FODMAP diet may be beneficial for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but it can also help with other digestive disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), celiac disease, and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
Studies have shown that a low FODMAP diet can effectively manage IBS symptoms in many people. However, it is important to remember this is not a lifetime diet, nor does it mean you should have no FODMAPs. We urge you to work with a healthcare professional (such as a doctor or registered dietitian) to determine if a low FODMAP diet is appropriate for you.
What can a low FODMAP diet tell me about my health?
A low FODMAP diet can help identify which foods are triggering your digestive system. By eliminating high FODMAP foods for a few weeks and reintroducing them one at a time, you can start to determine which foods are causing your symptoms and which ones you can tolerate. In turn, this can help you develop a more personalized approach to managing your digestive health without as many restrictions in the future.
What foods can I eat on a low FODMAP diet?
A low FODMAP diet involves avoiding foods that are high in FODMAPs, including:
- Wheat, rye, and barley
- Dairy products containing lactose
- Some fruits, such as apples, pears, and stone fruits like peaches and plums
- Some vegetables, such as onions, garlic, and artichokes
- Legumes, such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas
- Sweeteners like honey, agave, and high fructose corn syrup
However, there are many foods that are low in FODMAPs and can still be enjoyed, such as:
- Meat, poultry, and fish
- Gluten-free grains, such as rice, quinoa, and corn
- Most fruits, such as bananas, blueberries, and grapes
- Most vegetables, such as carrots, cucumbers, and bell peppers
- Nuts and seeds
- Certain sweeteners, such as maple syrup and stevia
Because of the restrictive nature of this diet, it is important to follow the appropriate guidelines and understand that it’s a short-term program, not a life-long way of eating. That is why having the help of a healthcare professional is key, so they can assist you in creating a long-term meal plan that best fits your health needs.