The low FODMAP diet is designed to alleviate gastrointestinal discomfort caused by certain carbohydrates. Explore the benefits of a low FODMAP diet for managing digestive discomfort. Read more to learn low FODMAP foods and essential steps of the diet.
A low FODMAP diet aims to ease digestive problems such as bloating and discomfort.
Some foods are high in FODMAPs, which are fermentable carbohydrates that can elevate digestive symptoms.
Elimination, reintroduction, and personalization are the three crucial steps of the diet.
The low FODMAP diet should be a short-term restriction and not pursued without consulting a healthcare professional.
What is FODMAP?
FODMAP refers to fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols, which are rich fermentable short-chain carbohydrates found in many foods.
It is generally recommended for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), which are conditions of the digestive system causing bloating, diarrhea, constipation, stomach cramps, and so on.
|Rich FODMAP foods||Low FODMAP foods|
|Vegetables||Onion, garlic, mushrooms, artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage.||Kale, spinach, pumpkin, squash, radish, red bell pepper, sweet potato, white potato, and zucchini.|
|Fruits||Apples, cherries, avocados, blackberries, dried raisins, dried dates, pears, and watermelon.||Bananas, blueberries, grapefruit, grapes, kiwi, lemons, limes, oranges, pineapple, raspberries, strawberries, and tangelos.|
|Dairy||Milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, and ice cream.||Kefir, lactose-free milk, lactose-free cottage cheese, lactose-free yogurt, hard or aged cheeses, butter, cream, and cream cheese.|
|Grains and cereals||Wheat, barley, rye, and breakfast cereals.||Quinoa, millet, rice, and gluten-free products.|
|Sugar and sweeteners||High fructose corn syrup (HFCS), crystalline fructose, sugar beet molasses, honey, agave, and sugar alcohols.||Granulated sugar, brown sugar, brown rice syrup, pure maple syrup, sugar cane molasses, and stevia.|
|Nuts and seeds||Cashews and pistachios.||Macadamias, peanuts, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds.|
|Legumes||Soy, beans, chickpeas, and lentils.||Firm and medium tofu.|
|Drinks||Soft drinks that include HFCS or other high-FODMAP sweeteners, fruit juices, apple cider, instant coffee, and chamomile tea.||Espresso, filtered coffee, peppermint tea, green tea, and black tea.|
A rich FOODMAP diet increases fluid and gas in the bowel leading to gastrointestinal symptoms.
A low FODMAP diet temporarily restricts high FODMAP foods to ease symptoms.
Is the low FODMAP diet right for me?
Although the low FODMAP diet may reduce digestive symptoms, especially in patients with IBS, it should be a short-term dietary restriction that can help you to find out the foods affecting your digestive system. It's crucial to understand the very restrictive nature of this diet. Therefore you should only follow protocols that your healthcare provider suggests.
Keep in mind that FODMAPs do not cause discomfort or digestive problems to everyone. Unless it's recommended by your healthcare professional, do not follow a low FODMAP diet.
Steps to follow on the low FODMAP diet
The low FODMAP diet consists of three essential steps.
- Elimination. In the first step, you cut high-FODMAP foods. This helps to alleviate symptoms and provide relief from digestive issues.
- Reintroduction. Then you slowly reintroduce those foods to spot the ones resulting in digestive symptoms. This step helps identify which foods trigger digestive symptoms in each individual.
- Personalization. Follow your usual diet after you only eliminate or limit the foods resulting in digestive symptoms. This phase allows for a more personalized approach, ensuring you can still enjoy a wide range of foods while managing your digestive health.
Starting restrictive diets is challenging for most people. Starting with small, more manageable steps can help the process. You can eliminate packaged products that are usually high in FODMAPs like fructose, crystalline fructose, HFCS, honey, and sugar alcohols. Read the nutrition facts label before buying packaged products.
The low FODMAP diet can offer relief for those suffering from digestive discomfort. However, seeking guidance from a healthcare professional is recommended before starting a low FODMAP diet to get ahead of nutritional deficiencies and potential side effects.
How long should I stay on a low FODMAP diet?
The low FODMAP is a short-term restrictive diet. Once trigger foods are identified during the reintroduction phase, the goal is to personalize the diet by eliminating or limiting only those specific trigger foods while maintaining a balanced and varied diet.
Are there any potential side effects of a low FODMAP diet?
The low FODMAP diet can be challenging, as it restricts certain carbohydrates. This could result in a reduced intake of some nutrients and dietary fiber, which is important for overall digestive health. Working with a healthcare professional can help address nutritional gaps and ensure a well-balanced diet.
Can I follow a low FODMAP diet without a healthcare professional's guidance?
While resources are available for following a low FODMAP diet, it is generally recommended to work with a registered dietitian or healthcare professional specializing in digestive health. They can provide you with personalized low FODMAP nutrition plans to minimize nutrient deficiencies and side effects.
Will I lose weight following a low FODMAP diet?
A low FODMAP diet is very restrictive and may cause a calorie deficit. However, it shouldn't be followed with the goal of weight loss because the diet eliminates many foods resulting in decreased nutrient intake. Consult your healthcare professional for a personalized healthy and balanced nutrition plan, an established way to lose weight.
- Harvard Medical School. Try a FODMAPs diet to manage irritable bowel syndrome.
- Johns Hopkins Medicine. FODMAP Diet: What You Need to Know.
- Cleveland Clinic. Low FODMAP Diet.
- Harvard Medical School. The lowdown on the low-FODMAP diet.
- University of Virginia. Low FODMAP diet.