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 and Emotional Health Coach living in Los Angeles. She's big on meditation and believes in systems and routines, and in personalizing everything you do to help you get where you want to be.