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When I go to Sprouts (a farmers market 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 that I use to make starch-free sushi, and always get a lot of apples. I live (or I should say, lived) by the “apple-a-day” advice. 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.

That came as a shock to me. I would never have thought that apples(!!!) were causing the bloat and distention I was suffering from for a while. It got so bad that I went on a clean diet cutting out all dairy, wine (very hard for me), meat, and sugar for two weeks, but my stomach was still bloated! So, I consulted Dr. Google, which is how I came to learn about FODMAPs.

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 back others gradually.

It’s highly recommended that you work with a nutritionist or other 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. They can help you figure out what foods to start with, will be able to quickly pinpoint irritants, and work with your lifestyle to craft the right eating plan. They can also recommend cooking oils, safe condiments, brands of foods to steer toward and so on. Sure, the process can take time (on average 4-6 weeks), but that’s so much better than going it alone.

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.

FODMAP 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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