An introduction to the Low FODMAPs Diet

Before I started studying Dietetics, I will admit that I did not know much about FODMAPs and what a low FODMAPs diet entailed. Nowadays, I feel like I am constantly learning and hearing about FODMAPs as it peers its head into the community- the low FODMAPs diet is here, and here to stay!

A low FODMAPs diet is used as a treatment to help alleviate the symptoms of patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and also some food intolerances. Some evidence also exists to say that a low FODMAPs diet may help Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) sufferers.

So what are FODMAPs? They are poorly absorbed carbohydrates that ferment in the large intestine by bacteria, causing IBS symptoms (bloating, diarrhoea, gas and abdominal pain to name a few). The diet works by simply cutting out and reducing the intake of foods that contain FODMAPs, in order to help control and alleviate patient’s symptoms. This diet approach has been shown to work in ~3 out of 4 patients with IBS, which is pretty successful stuff!

ibs

So what can you eat if you are following a low FODMAPs diet? I’ve created a table below that gives a brief list of foods you can and cannot eat when following this diet.

Food group Low FODMAP foods
(Eat more of these)
High FODMAP foods
(Reduce these)
Fruits Banana, orange, mandarin, grapes, berries Apples, apricots, nectarines, pears, plums, prunes (and most dried fruit), watermelon
Veggies Alfalfa, bean sprouts, green beans, bok choy, carrot, fresh herbs, capsicum, zucchini Artichoke, garlic, onion, leek, shallots, asparagus,
Grains Gluten free bread, spelt bread, some sourdough breads, oats, rice, quinoa, rice cakes, corn thins Food that contains wheat, rye or barley (including biscuits)
Dairy Lactose free products, hard cheeses Cows milk, yoghurts, soft cheese, cream, custard, ice cream
Nuts Almonds (in small amounts), pumpkin seeds Cashews, pistachios
Meat and meat alternatives Meat, fish, chicken, tempeh, tofu Legumes, chickpeas and lentils

It may seem restrictive but if you are willing to try and get creative with your cooking, and try different ingredients to what you might have previously been using, tveggieshen you might find that it is not as bad as it may seem.

Of course, following a low FODMAPs diet can be difficult, and supervision under an Accredited Practicing Dietitian is recommended. The diet is usually followed for about 8 weeks maximum; foods are then re-challenged back into the diet one-by-one to decipher what foods are considered ‘problem foods’ and what foods are not; the role of a Dietitian is important here.

Following a low FODMAPs diet does not mean following a boring diet! A close friend of mine follows this way of eating, and has been for many years, due to him having a number of intolerances. He has been an excellent resource for me, helping me increase my low FODMAPs recipe collection and allowing me to pick his brain on what it’s like living on a low FODMAPs diet. I have only followed the diet once, for just 10 days. I will admit I found it challenging, but don’t be disheartened- it wasn’t impossible and I feel that perhaps I could have continued with it after some adjusting.

Time to make myself some low FODMAPs treats!

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