Be Well Diet & Nutrition

Should you be on a low-FODMAP diet?

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When I go to Sprouts (my local supermarket), I like to stock up on healthy snack foods. I usually get Sahale Snacks Pomegranate Pistachios, kale chips, baby carrots, avocados and Nori sheets (which I use to make starch-free sushi). And I always always get apples. I live (or I should say, lived) by the “apple-a-day” advice. They were my go-snack and my go-to meal replacement. I often had as many as 3 a day. Little did I know that apples may not be such a good idea if you have IBS (which I do), Crohn’s, ulcers, or other digestive problems. Until recently, I had never even heard of the term Low-Fodmap Diet.

Because I thought of apples as the Tom Hanks of the nutrition world — wholesome and solidly good — I would never have thought they were causing the bloat and distention I had been trying to beat for a while. After cutting out all dairy, wine (very hard for me), meat, and sugar for two weeks, and still, my stomach was bloated, I was stumped. So I consulted Dr. Google. I eventually found articles about FODMAPs, which led me to the apple information. I stopped eating them and after just 3 days off apples, I began to feel better. Ahhh.

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

I’m still learning about FODMAPs myself so this is not expert advice. What I can tell you though is that cutting out apples did finally bring me relief. I’ve also done elimination diets to manage my IBS and know they 100% work. Something else I think will help anyone looking to manage IBS is to learn about food combining. It’s an important part of the solution.

Low-FODMAPs Resources

Sue Shepherd’s book, The Low-FODMAP Diet Cookbook and

Shepherd Works, Sue’s website

Low FODMAP Diet Apps (for Android)

Monash University’s FODMAP research project

IBS Diet’s Food chart

 


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About the Author

Christine is a lifestyle coach who believes the way we live affects everything we do, especially our motivation. She's also a mindful living educator living in Los Angeles, California.

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