What Is A Low FODMAP Diet?
The Low FODMAP Diet is the go-to dietary intervention for people with IBS. This blog post gives an in-depth look at the diet, discussing everything from what FODMAPs are and how to follow a Low FODMAP diet, to sharing Low FODMAP food lists and recipe ideas.
Did you know that IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) affects 10-15% of the worldwide population? IBS is not only physically uncomfortable, but it can affect a person’s emotional, social, and professional life.
Luckily, a dietary intervention called “The Low FODMAP Diet” has been shown to provide relief of symptoms for up to 75% of people with IBS. Because of its success, the Low FODMAP diet has now become the go-to dietary intervention for many individuals with IBS.
Perhaps you or someone you know suffers from IBS, or maybe your doctor has suggested that you look into following the diet. As a dietitian (RD), I fully realize that the Low FODMAP Diet can be overwhelming, complex, and not well understood.
That’s why I’m excited to team up with my friends at Fody Foods to give you an overview on all things Low FODMAP. We’ll be covering what FODMAPs are and how to follow the Low FODMAP diet, while also sharing resources for Low FODMAP food lists and recipe ideas.
This blog post is sponsored by Fody Foods, an amazing company that creates Low FODMAP food products to help provide IBS symptom relief while keeping food delicious! As always, all words, thoughts, and opinions are my own. Thank you for continuing to support the brands who help make Walder Wellness possible.
What Are FODMAPs?
Let’s start with the basics. FODMAPs are a group of short-chain carbohydrates that are not completely digested and absorbed into the body.
The acronym stands for “Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, And Polyols.” These FODMAPs are found in a wide range of different foods, including certain fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes.
When we eat these short-chain carbohydrates, our bodies do not break them down and therefore they are not absorbed into our bloodstream. Instead, they continue to travel down our digestive tracts, reaching our intestines relatively in tact.
In the small intestine, these FODMAPs tend to attract water into the gut. In the large intestine, FODMAPs are fermented by our gut bacteria, which produces gas as a byproduct. This is normal!
However, the combination of excess gas and water can cause the walls of our intestines to expand. While most people can eat foods containing FODMAPs with no issue, individuals with IBS are highly sensitive to this stomach expansion.
Eating high-FODMAP foods can thus result in exaggerated sensations of abdominal pain and discomfort, as well as other common IBS symptoms like excessive bloating, gas, and altered bowel habits (diarrhea and constipation).
What Is A Low FODMAP Diet?
Now that you know what FODMAPs are, it hopefully makes more sense that a Low FODMAP diet is a way of eating that is, well, low in FODMAP-containing foods! While this is true, it’s not quite so straight forward.
Essentially, the low FODMAP diet is a type of elimination diet that limits foods that have been found to aggravate IBS symptoms. The diet categorizes FODMAP-containing foods according to the TYPE of carbohydrate they contain, which helps us systematically test which type of carbohydrates cause digestive symptoms.
It is NOT a weight loss diet, nor is it a low-carb diet.
There are 3 stages of the low FODMAP diet, including an Elimination Phase, Challenge Phase, and Integration/Personalization Phase.
It’s important to note that the elimination phase of this diet is NOT meant to be followed forever, and that foods will gradually be reintroduced. Because of it’s complexity, it’s best to follow the diet under the supervision of a qualified dietitian or healthcare professional who specializes in gastrointestinal disorders.
Who Is The Low FODMAP Diet For?
The low FODMAP diet is intended for people who have been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
While the majority of the research for the Low FODMAP diet centres around IBS, the diet shows promise for helping individuals with other digestive disorders, including Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD), like Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis.
At the moment, more research is needed before we can routinely recommend the Low FODMAP diet for digestive disorders other than IBS, but it may be something to explore with your doctor or dietitian.
Like any medically-necessitated diet, it’s important to receive a proper diagnosis and to have a discussion with your doctor first, in order to determine if the diet is right for you.
Because the diet is restrictive, it’s critical to note that the Low FODMAP diet is not for everyone. Individuals who have an active eating disorder or extreme food fears should not follow this diet. The diet is also not meant to be followed by children or anyone at risk for malnutrition.
How Do You Follow The Low FODMAP Diet?
As mentioned, the low FODMAP diet is broken down into three phases:
Phase 1: Elimination. During this phase, all high FODMAP foods are avoided until IBS symptoms are eliminated or significantly reduced. Typically this phase will last 2-6 weeks.
Working with a dietitian can help you with food label reading and understanding which brands offer appropriate foods. An RD can also help you find substitutions for the foods that need to be eliminated, while making sure you’re still meeting your nutrition needs!
Phase 2: Challenge. During the reintroduction phase, high FODMAP foods will be added back to the diet, one FODMAP group at a time and in a systematic fashion.
For instance, your dietitian may suggest starting the challenge phase by reintroducing foods from the “Oligosaccharide Group,” by having you include a small amount of onion in a meal. If your symptoms don’t return, they’ll have you include a little bit more and check for symptoms again.
Then, you may move on and challenge the “Disaccharide Group” by introducing a small amount of milk, and so on.
The purpose of the challenge phase is to determine individual FODMAP sensitivities (i.e. which FODMAPs are tolerated and which are not).
A “failed challenge” is determined by a significant and noticeable change in gastrointestinal symptoms (i.e. ones that resemble an IBS flare). A little bit of gas and bloating is completely normal, and does NOT indicate a failed challenge.
The Challenge Phase is crucial in helping you determine WHICH types of FODMAPs are responsible for your symptoms. You may find that you’re only sensitive to one group of FODMAPs, or that you can include certain FODMAPs in small amounts without any symptoms.
Phase 3: Integration/Personalization. Once you have completed the challenge phase and have determined which FODMAP group(s) trigger your symptoms, it’s time to integrate that knowledge into your everyday eating.
This final phase of the “diet” is the one that you will likely follow long-term. Well-tolerated FODMAPs should be included in amounts that provide symptoms relief, while only the poorly tolerated FODMAPs remain restricted.
The purpose of this diet is to find which foods are particularly troublesome to YOU and is not about limiting all high FODMAP foods forever. Many of the foods high in FODMAPs are incredibly nutritious and high in fibre, and we want to include them in our diets if we can!
How Fody Foods Can Help
While the Low FODMAP diet may be complex, brands like Fody Foods are here to help! Fody’s entire line of food products are FODMAP-friendly, meaning they’re completely free of all onion, garlic, gluten, and lactose.
All of Fody’s products have been certified Low FODMAP by Monash University (the pioneers of the diet). Fody’s products are also certified Gluten Free, Vegan, and non-GMO to help a range of people suffering from digestive discomforts.
What I love so much about Fody is how they help keep the joy and pleasure derived from eating in an otherwise restrictive diet. They create delicious and suitable alternatives to products that commonly contain high FODMAP foods, such as pasta sauces, salsas, salad dressings, seasonings, soup bases, snack bars, and many other condiments.
While Fody’s products are primarily designed to help those on a low FODMAP diet, they can truly be enjoyed by anyone! If you have a gluten sensitivity or are lactose intolerant, their products are great options.
If you’re curious to try Fody Foods for yourself, fee free to use my discount code “Walderwinter15” at checkout to receive 15% of your entire online order. Fody is also available in most grocery stores across North America – visit their store locator on their website to see where they’re sold near you!
FODMAP Foods List
Online searches of high and low FODMAP food lists online may result in some inconsistencies.
For a reliable source, check out Fody’s lists of High FODMAP Foods and Low FODMAP Foods. These downloadable PDFs are organized by FODMAP group and food type (i.e. Low FODMAP fruits, vegetables, etc.) Of course, all of Fody’s products are appropriate to have on a Low FODMAP diet as well.
Another excellent resource? The Monash University FODMAP Diet App. This app allows you to search for any type of food and will let you know if a food is low or high FODMAP using a traffic light system.
My favourite part about the app is that it also let’s you know about SERVING SIZES! Certain high FODMAP foods can be tolerated in smaller amounts, and the app can help guide you with this.
Low FODMAP Recipes
Having a library of delicious low FODMAP recipes can be incredibly helpful when following a low FODMAP diet. Fody has a ton of appropriate recipes on their website, including Low FODMAP breakfasts, dinners, snacks, and even desserts.
Also available are low FODMAP cookbooks, such as this one by dietitian and gut-health expert Kate Scarlata.
You can also check out some low FODMAP recipes that I’ve created in partnership with Fody Foods, including:
- Low FODMAP Cheese Board
- Low FODMAP Shakshuka
- Low FODMAP Shrimp Tacos
- Low FODMAP Mediterranean Toast
- Low FODMAP Teriyaki Salmon
- Low FODMAP Green Bean & Potato Salad
- Low FODMAP Spicy Arrabbiata Shrimp Pasta
- Low FODMAP Taco Salad Bowl
Like most of my recipes, I promise these ones are simple to make and full of nutritious ingredients!
I so hope that you found this Low FODMAP blog post helpful. If you have any additional questions about the Low FODMAP Diet, please do not hesitate to ask them in the comments below.
Again, if you’d like to try Fody’s products for yourself, feel free to use my discount code “walderwinter15” at checkout to receive 15% of your entire online order!