If you’ve got any kind of digestive disorder, like IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), coeliac disease or Chron’s disease, the FODMAP diet could massively ease your symptoms and help you take back control of your life. But what exactly is the FODMAP diet?
FODMAP is an acronym for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. Click To Tweet These incredibly confusing names are simply the scientific terms for short-chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols which are known to cause digestive problems.
The idea behind a FODMAP diet is to avoid foods which contain high amounts of the molecules listed above. By cutting out these things, you’ll put less strain on your digestive system and should see a reduction, or possibly total elimination, of your symptoms.
High and Low FODMAP Foods
The bad news is that FODMAPs are found in almost everything, which makes completely cutting them out impossible. The good news is that there’s a fair amount of foods which contain low quantities of FODMAPs that you can consume on a FODMAP diet without causing your intestines to go into a frenzy.
Examples of foods high in FODMAPs (i.e. the ones to avoid)
Vegetables: Onions, peas, mushrooms, cauliflower and asparagus
Fruits: Apples, avocado, currants, mangoes and watermelon
Grains: Rye, wheat and barley
Dairy: ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, yoghurt, evaporated milk and cow’s milk
Sweeteners: agave, high fructose corn syrup, honey, sorbitol and mannitol
Examples of foods low in FODMAPs (i.e. the ones safe to eat on a FODMAP diet)
Vegetables: Bean sprouts, bell peppers, cucumber, spinach and kale
Fruits: Blueberries, coconut, kiwi, lemons and raspberries
Grains: Millet, oats, rice, quinoa and polenta
Dairy: Brie cheese, camembert cheese, cheddar cheese, lactose-free ice cream and goat’s milk yoghurt
Sweeteners: maple syrup, white sugar, brown sugar, stevia and coconut sugar
As you can see from the examples above, picking out low FODMAP foods and high FODMAP foods is pretty tough and to do it successfully, you’ll need to do your research and be really strict with yourself. But for the chance to be completely symptom-free without any medication whatsoever makes it entirely worth the hassle.
The FODMAP Diet Explained
The FODMAP diet begins with an elimination stage followed by multiple reintroduction stages. The entire diet can take months to complete, but it’s one of the sure-fire ways you can safely discover which foods are safe for you to eat and which ones to avoid.
The elimination stage
The elimination stage involves cutting out every single food that’s high in FODMAPs until you get your symptoms under control. Depending on how your body reacts, this can take 2-8 weeks. When you’re feeling fine, it’s time to start your first reintroduction stage.
The reintroduction stage
This part of the low FODMAP diet is longer and more complex than the elimination stage. Each week, you pick one high FODMAP food to introduce into your diet.
Day 1: Eat a small portion of your chosen food.
Day 2: If you experience no symptoms, eat a medium portion of the same food.
Day 3: If you still don’t experience any symptoms, eat a large portion of the same food.
Days 4-7: Return to the strict FODMAP diet and avoid high FODMAP foods.
If you don’t experience any symptoms at all throughout the week, good news – the food you tested is fine for you to eat and you can add it to your “Safe” list!
If you got symptoms after day one, the food you tested is really not a good fit for your digestive system and you need to avoid it completely. Add it to your “Avoid” list.
If you only got symptoms after day two, the food is safe to eat in small potions and if you only got symptoms after day three, the food is safe to eat in medium portions.
Begin the reintroduction stage again after the four-day waiting period if you didn’t experience any symptoms. If you did get some symptoms, you’ll have to stick to a strict low FODMAP diet until you feel better and then begin the reintroduction stage.
The Importance of a Diary on the FODMAP Diet
If you’re going to give the FODMAP diet a try, it’s vital you keep a detailed food and symptom diary. Each day, write down exactly what you ate, at what time you ate it and what the portion size was. Then as soon as you feel even the slightest twinge of a symptom, make a note of it, what time you got it and how bad it was on a scale of 1-10.
You can write it all down in a notebook, keep a digital record on your computer or use a note-based app on your smartphone – whichever method works best for you and is most convenient so you stick with it. Keeping a diary while on a FODMAP diet will make pinpointing exactly which foods cause your symptoms so much easier and will help you get your digestive health back on track a million times faster.
What is the FODMAP Diet – The Final Takeaway
If you’re fed up of medication and want a more natural alternative, a FODMAP diet could be the way to go. It takes a lot of time, dedication and effort, but the first time you go a full day without any bad symptoms just by simply changing your diet, you’ll be inspired to stick with it until you’re free of digestive discomfort for good!