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Low-FODMAP Diet

A low-FODMAP diet is low in a group of five sugars found in certain foods, which cause some people to experience bloating, stomach swelling, stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and constipation.

Overview

Overview

  • FODMAP refers to a group of five sugars found in certain foods. These sugars are lactose, fructose (in excess), fructans, galactans and polyols. Specifically, FODMAP stands for:
    • Fermentable
    • Oligosaccharides
    • Disaccharides
    • Monosaccharides
    • And
    • Polyols
  • For some people, FODMAPs are poorly absorbed and can cause symptoms:
    • Bloating or swelling in your belly.
    • Gas.
    • Belly pain.
    • Nausea.
    • Diarrhea (loose stool).
    • Constipation (hard stool or trouble passing stool).
  • The low-FODMAP diet has three phases:
    1. Eliminate.
    2. Reintroduce.
    3. Liberation.
  • It is very important to work with your doctor or dietitian when thinking about following the low-FODMAP diet.
  • Do not start the low-FODMAP diet until your doctor or dietitian tells you to and gives you detailed instructions on how to follow the diet the right way.

Who Should Be On It?

Who Should Be On It?

Certain health conditions can be helped by the low-FODMAP diet. These health issues include:
  • Irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea (IBS-D).
  • Irritable bowel syndrome-mixed (both diarrhea and constipation; IBS-M).
  • Functional diarrhea (chronic loose stool with no belly pain).
  • Bloating or swelling of the stomach that won’t go away.
  • Non-Celiac gluten sensitivity.
  • Celiac disease, if there are still GI symptoms while disease is under control, as stated by your doctor.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), if there are still GI symptoms while disease is under control, as stated by your doctor.
  • Small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
The low-FODMAP diet is not for everyone. If you are having general GI symptoms, other simpler steps, such as a better diet, more exercise and reduced stress, may help. Be sure to talk to your doctor or dietitian before starting the low-FODMAP diet.
Starting

Starting

The low-FODMAP diet uses three phases to figure out which foods are causing your symptoms. Speak with a doctor or registered dietitian before starting the low-FODMAP diet. Phase one is an elimination phase when high-FODMAP foods are removed from the diet for a period of four weeks. Phase two is a reintroduction phase when high-FODMAP foods are brought back into the diet in a structured manner to help determine which of the five sugars trigger GI symptoms. Phase three is the liberation phase.

Phase one

  • Remove all high-FODMAP foods from the diet; remove any foods you have true allergic reactions to as well, even if they are low in FODMAPs.
  • This phase should only be done for about four weeks.
  • Common high-FODMAP foods are:
    • Some fruits, such as:
      • Apples.
      • Apricots.
      • Blackberries.
      • Cherries.
      • Mangoes.
      • Nectarines.
      • Pears.
      • Plums.
      • Watermelon.
    • Some veggies, such as:
      • Artichokes.
      • Asparagus.
      • Beans.
      • Cabbage.
      • Cauliflower.
      • Garlic.
      • Lentils.
      • Mushrooms.
      • Onions.
      • Sugar snap or snow peas.
    • Some dairy, such as:
      • Milk.
      • Yogurt.
      • Custard.
      • Ice cream.
    • Some sweeteners, such as:
      • High-fructose corn syrup.
      • Honey.
    • Foods that have sweeteners ending in “-ol” (many candies or gum), such as:
      • Sorbitol.
      • Mannitol.
      • Xylitol.
      • Maltitol.

Phase two

  • Working with your doctor or dietitian, you will be guided on how to bring certain foods from each of the five high-FODMAP sugar categories back into the diet and how much of them to eat.
  • You will keep track of how you feel after eating certain foods to help you and your doctor or dietitian figure out which sugars are causing your symptoms and at what amounts.
  • The results will not be the same for each person.
  • From here, your doctor or dietitian will make a more permanent diet plan that is unique to you.

Phase three

  • The third and final phase of the low-FODMAP diet is when your dietitian and/or doctor looks over the results of Phase Two and helps you come up with the most liberated, least restricted diet plan possible.
  • This phase helps you ease in to permanent diet changes to help keep symptoms at bay.
Resources

Resources

Starting the low-FODMAP diet can seem a bit overwhelming at first. Work with your doctor and a skilled dietitian to make a plan that you can follow. Doing so can calm any nerves about the diet and greatly help your health. Below you will find tips on how to read food labels to help you better stick to the low-FODMAP diet. By having good information and a supportive health-care team, you can take on the low-FODMAP diet!

How to read food labels for the low-FODMAP diet

  • The easiest way to read food labels is to choose foods without labels! No label reading is needed when you choose unprocessed, low-FODMAP fruits, veggies, grains, nuts, seeds and sweeteners. All pure animal proteins (chicken, fish, turkey, eggs, beef, etc.) and fats (olive oil, canola oil, butter, etc.) are low-FODMAP.
  • When choosing more processed foods, look for ones with only recognizable ingredients. The smaller the ingredients list, the better.
  • Remember to bring any FODMAP lists given to you by your doctor and dietitian to the grocery store with you to make it easier to shop.
  • Often-overlooked high-FODMAP ingredients in processed foods that you should try to avoid are:
    • Chicory root (inulin).
    • Honey.
    • Garlic (any form: salt, powder, etc.).
    • Onion (any form: salt, powder, etc.).
  • Look for the words dairy, milk, wheat and soy in the “CONTAINS” section.
  • If the product does not contain any of the above, there still might be other high-FODMAP foods in it, such as honey, pear juice, alcohols, garlic or onions. Be sure to read the ingredients list carefully as well.
  • Remember that something labeled “gluten-free” (no wheat, barley or rye) does not necessarily mean it is low-FODMAP. Be sure to look at the ingredients list for high-FODMAP foods besides wheat, barley or rye.
  • Note: The statements “may contain” and “processed in a facility that also processes” do not mean the same thing as “CONTAINS” on a packaged product. Only worry about foods listed with the “CONTAINS” statement for the low-FODMAP diet (as well as all the ingredients listed).

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