When I go to Sprouts and Trader Joe’s (my local supermarkets), I like to stock up on healthy snack foods. I’m a grazer eater (in my case because I hate to cook) so snacks are the staples of my diet. My shopping list for a long time consisted of Sahale Snacks Pomegranate Pistachios, kale chips, beets chips, baby carrots, avocados, Nori sheets which I use to make homemade sushi, and apples.
Although the apples we get in America are nowhere as tasty as the ones I grew up on in Jamaica, I’m still addicted to apples. They’ve been my go-to meal replacement for a long time. If they’re on sale, I’ll get (and eat) extra.
Little did I realize that apples, widely considered to be one of the healthiest foods ever, could be triggering my IBS symptoms. I only figured this out after, at the suggestion of a friend, I looked into a low Fodmap diet. Color me shocked when I learned that eating apples can be terrible for people with IBS, Crohn’s, ulcers, and other chronic digestive illnesses and conditions.
I would never have guessed that apples could have been causing the bloat and distention I had been trying to beat. But after 3 apple-free days and my symptoms went away, I had to call my friend and thank her.
Learning about and working on the low-fodmap eating plan, has been a revelation. So here I am, passing on one of the best IBS diet tips out there: try a low fodmap diet!
So what the heck are FODMAPs?
FODMAPs is short for fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides, and polyols. These are a collection of short-chain carbohydrates found in foods that cause liquid and gas in the small and large intestines. The main food groups of FODMAPs are:
- Oligosaccharides: Wheat, rye, legumes and various fruits and vegetables, such as garlic and onions.
- Disaccharides: Milk, yogurt and soft cheese. Lactose is the main carb.
- Monosaccharides: Various fruit including figs and mangoes, and sweeteners such as honey and agave nectar. Fructose is the main carb.
- Polyols: Certain fruits and vegetables including blackberries and lychee, as well as some low-calorie sweeteners like those in sugar-free gum.
The FODMAP diet
They’ve done over 30 studies and found that IBS suffers do better on a low-FODMAP diet. When you go on a “low-FODMAP” diet you eliminate the most irritating foods then add certain foods back gradually.
It’s highly recommended that you work with a nutritionist or another pro to help you personalize your diet. In my case, for example, I learned that even some safe foods like oranges can be problematic for some stomachs.
Low-FODMAP food list
According to HealthLine, these foods are usually safe for most people to eat.
- Protein: Beef, chicken, eggs, fish, lamb, pork, prawns, and tofu
- Whole grains: Brown rice, buckwheat, maize, millet, oats, and quinoa
- Fruit: Bananas, blueberries, kiwi, limes, mandarins, oranges, papaya, pineapple, rhubarb, and strawberries
- Vegetables: Bean sprouts, bell peppers, carrots, choy sum, eggplant, kale, tomatoes, spinach, and zucchini
- Nuts: Almonds (no more than 10 per sitting), macadamia nuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, and walnuts
- Seeds: Linseeds, pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower
- Dairy: Cheddar cheese, lactose-free milk, and Parmesan cheese
- Oils: Coconut oil and olive oil
- Beverages: Black tea, coffee, green tea, peppermint tea, water, and white tea
- Condiments: Basil, chili, ginger, mustard, pepper, salt, white rice vinegar, and wasabi powder
Or use this shopping list as your guide.
I’m still learning about FODMAPs myself so I’m no expert, but there are quite a few of them out there if you want to learn more. Start with these resources.
Low FODMAP Diet Apps (for Android)
Christine is a Life Strategist living in Los Angeles. Using systems, routines, and personalized methods, she can help almost anyone hack their mind and life for more joy and greater productivity.