The Low FODMAP Diet

As promised in my last post I am going to write about my experience on the low FODMAP diet.

First a DISCLAIMER: Although I wish to share my experience on this diet and I hope that you can share your experiences, I strongly encourage you to see your doctor to get tested and diagnosed with IBS before you start this diet, because you may miss important diagnoses like celiac disease. AND I really encourage you not to take on this diet alone, it involves cutting out a number of different foods, and although you can still eat a balanced diet I think you do need the help of a registered dietitian experienced in the low FODMAP diet because it can get frustrating and you can get hungry if not following it properly.

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Ok now to the fun stuff.

FODMAP stands for
Fermentable
Oligosaccharides
Disaccharides
Monosaccharides
And
Polyols

Basically, these are sugars that are not well absorbed by some people’s guts so they travel along our digestive tract to the colon where they act as food for bacteria and when the bacteria digest/ferment the food it produces symptoms of gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation and abdominal discomfort. The low FODMAP diet starts by eliminating FODMAPs for 2-6 weeks and then slowly introducing one group at a time to test tolerance/intolerance to a certain sugar group.

The diet was created by Sue Shephard and the team at Monash University in 1999 and is gaining popularity by doctors who are starting to prescribe it to their patients. The Monash team is constantly working to expand the list of FODMAPs and has a great iphone app that can be purchased here, it is $9.99 but all the proceeds from the app go to doing more research and finding more FODMAP foods to add to the list.

So what are the FODMAPS?

Oligosaccharides – water soluble fibres found in: wheat, garlic and onion in large amounts, rye and barley in large amounts, and inulin (added to some foods to increase fibre).

  •          Appropriate foods include: gluten free products (*check labels to ensure they don’t contain other FODMAP food), the green parts of onions, psyllium, gluten free flours
  •          Because IBS is not an allergy to gluten, small amounts of wheat and oligosaccharides can usually be tolerated like bread crumbs and the amount of wheat in sauces like soy sauce

Disaccharides – lactose: found in milk products like, ice cream, milk, most yogurts, some soft cheeses like cream cheese, custard

  • Hard or cured cheeses like mozzarella, brie, feta and cheddar are low lactose and usually well tolerated
  • Small amounts (1-2TBSP) of cream cheese or other soft cheeses like ricotta may be tolerated by some

Monosaccharides – foods with excess fructose like: honey, apples, mango, pears, watermelon, high fructose corn syrup and other foods that contain more fructose than glucose

  • Low FODMAP fruits: bananas, oranges, kiwi, pineapple, grapes, strawberries, tomatoes, papaya, lemons and limes.
  • Keep fruit to 1 serving per meal (separate by 2 or more hours). 1 serving = 1 medium orange or banana, 1/2 cup berries, melon or other fruit
  • Suitable sweeteners: sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, molasses, cane syrup, most jams in small amounts
  • Sugars should all be consumed in small amounts as high amounts promote weight gain, cavities and excess unneeded calories.

Polyols – sugar alcohols found in foods like pears, plums, cauliflower, mushrooms and artificial sweeteners like sorbitol and malitol (commonly found in mints and sugar free gum).

  • Low FODMAP polyols: bananas, blueberries, gum sweetened with sugar, aspartame, cantaloupe

FODMAPs all cause distension in the colon in the same way so eating them in combination at meals increases the effect of symptoms in an additive form. For example if you don’t tolerate lactose and also have difficulty with wheat and you had shredded wheat cereal with milk for breakfast you would be more likely to have symptoms than if you had just a small amount of cheese on gluten free bread. This is why the low FODMAP diet concentrates on the amount of FODMAPs consumed per meal.

The low FODMAP diet divides foods into high, medium and low FODMAP foods. Low FODMAP foods are best tolerated by most people, but as I said before the sugars are cumulative so the amount of each food eaten will affect your symptoms. This is particularly the case with fruits or the Fructose group as you shouldn’t have more than half a cup serving per meal.

I am currently on the Low Fodmap diet phase and have been cutting out any foods I think could be potential triggers, stay tuned for posts about the struggles and achieves of this phase of the diet and my long awaited reintroduction phase.

Below I’ve listed my references and some great resources for dietitians and others trying to follow this diet.

Resources:

Kate Scarlata’s blog:  her blog is fantastic and she offers a lot of information and answers questions and comments.  Her shopping guide is currently posted on my fridge and I recommend anyone trying to start the diet download a copy (it’s FREE!).

Sue Sheppard Low FODMAP Diet: get information direct from the source, she was part of team of researchers who developed the diet.

Monash University website: always new and updated information on low FODMAP foods again direct from the source. Also a link to the app if you want to download it.

Stephanie Clairmont: her webinar is what got me actually inspired to start the diet myself and she also has some really great information online as she follows the diet herself

 

 

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