What is the FODMAP diet?

onions and garlic

FODMAP stands for:

Fermentable – broken down by bacteria in the gut
Oligosaccharides – fructans and galactans
Disaccharides – lactose
Monosaccharides – fructose
Polyols – sugar alcohols such as sorbitol and mannitol

Most of the items listed are types of carbohydrate that have a certain type of bond that some people aren’t able to digest as easily. As a result, they are fermented in the gut and can cause gas, bloating and discomfort.

The low FODMAP diet is a diet that people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and other digestive issues follow to help manage gas, bloating and discomfort.

The low FODMAP diet limits foods containing the following:

  • Fructose (a sugar that naturally occurs in fruit) – found in apples, mangoes, honey and high fructose corn syrup.
  • Fructans (a type of sugar molecule consisting of multiple fructose molecules) –  found in wheat, onions, leeks, garlic and vegetables in the cruciferous family (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, etc).
  • Lactose (a milk sugar found in dairy products) – examples include cow, sheep and goat’s milk, yogurt, ice cream, soft cheeses such as brie, camembert, ricotta and cottage cheese.
  • Galactans (another sugar molecule that consists of multiple galactose molecules) – commonly found in beans, chickpeas and lentils.
  • Polyols (a type of alcohol molecule) – these sugar alcohols occur in nature and can be found in apples, cherries, lychees, mushrooms, pears, prunes, watermelon and sweeteners such as sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol.

It is thought that some individuals may be lacking the specific enzyme required to efficiently break down the bonds. Some items (fructose and polyols) are also highly osmotic (attract water) which can lead to diarrhea and further worsen issues.

Lactose and gluten (found in wheat, barley, and rye) are both avoided in the low FODMAP diet.

Check out the following FODMAP charts for a more complete listing of foods to choose/avoid:

Foods choose/ avoid on a low FODMAP diet

A guide to FODMAPS

Foods to include

Foods to avoid

How to reintroduce foods:

It is recommended that people avoid these foods for 6 to 8 weeks and keep a food journal to record how they feel. When it’s time to reintroduce foods, the general recommendation is to introduce one new food every four days. If a reaction occurs, wait two weeks before trying another test food. Here is a list of test foods to try during the reintroduction phase:

Lactose: ½-1 cup milk
Fructose: ½ mango or 1-2 teaspoons honey
Fructans: 2 slices wheat bread, 1 garlic clove or 1 cup pasta
Galactans: ½ cup lentils or chickpeas
Sugar alcohols (polyols): Sorbitol, 2-4 dried apricots; Mannitol, ½ cup mushrooms

Other useful FODMAP articles:

The Low FODMAPs Diet

The Low FODMAP Diet (FODMAP=Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides and Polyols)

FODMAP Books, Apps and Resources:

The Complete Low FODMAP diet by Sue Sheppard and Peter Gibson

The Complete Idiots guide to low FODMAP by Kate Scarlatta

Low FODMAP diet App by Monash University (Australia)

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