Do you struggle with chronic stomach aches or have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? Are you constantly avoiding certain foods because you think they may make you sick, but you’re unsure? If you haven’t heard of the FODMAP diet, it’s time to get familiar.
What are FODMAPs?
FODMAPs are a type of carb and the FODMAP diet limits carbs that are fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. Let’s break that down some more. The following types of carbs are FODMAPs, WebMD reported:
- Lactose: Dairy
- Fructans: Garlic, onions, wheat
- Fructose: Fruits, honey, high-fructose corn syrup, agave
- Galactans: Legumes
- Polyols: Sugar alcohols and fruits that have pits or seeds
What do FODMAPs do?
According to WebMD, FODMAPs pull water into your digestive tract and have the power to make you bloat. If you eat too many of these foods, they tend to stay in your gut and ferment. Gross.
What is a FODMAP diet?
A FODMAP diet is an elimination diet that will help you figure out what foods are causing you to bloat or feel sick. It was developed by a team of researchers, from Monash University in Australia, who were the first to prove that low FODMAP diets improved IBS symptoms, according to Medical News Today. You start this type of diet by eliminating high FODMAP foods from your daily menu and sticking to low FODMAP foods.
Here are some specific examples of the foods you’ll want to eat less of, according to Harvard:
- Cow’s milk, yogurt, pudding, custard, ice cream, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, and mascarpone
- Fruits, like apples, pears, peaches, cherries, mangoes, pears, and watermelon
- Sweeteners, including honey and agave nectar
- Products containing high fructose corn syrup
- Vegetables, like artichokes, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, beetroot, garlic, and onions
- Grains such as wheat and rye
- Added fiber, such as inulin
- Chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, and soy products
- Vegetables, like broccoli
- Fruits, including apples, apricots, blackberries, cherries, nectarines, pears, peaches, plums and watermelon
- Vegetables, like cauliflower, mushrooms and snow peas
- Sweeteners, such as sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, maltitol and isomalt, and cough medicines and drops
Harvard also supplied some foods you’ll want to eat more of:
- Lactose-free milk, rice milk, almond milk, coconut milk, lactose-free yogurt; hard cheeses
- Bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, grapefruit, honeydew, kiwi, lemon, lime, oranges, and strawberries
- Bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, bok choy, carrots, chives, cucumbers, eggplant, ginger, lettuce, olives, parsnips, potatoes, spring onions, and turnips
- Beef, pork, chicken, fish, eggs, and tofu
- Nuts/seeds (limit to 10-15 each)
- Almonds, macadamia, peanuts, pine nuts, and walnuts
- Oat, oat bran, rice bran, gluten-free pasta, such as rice, corn, quinoa, white rice, and corn flour
A study published in the journal Gastroenterology reported that about 3 out of 4 people with IBS saw an improvement in their symptoms shortly after starting a low-FODMAP diet, and staying on the diet for a week or more caused the most relief. Imagine eating out and not worrying about where the closest bathroom is should your stomach start aching? Think about going more than a week without feeling belly pain; and, for the love, the bloating — this diet could be the answer you’ve been looking for.
Everyone deserves a second chance
After you’ve removed the high FODMAP foods from your diet for 2-6 weeks, you’ll want to start introducing those items back to your belly one at a time, according to Monash University. Every week, add one of the high FODMAP foods to your diet and see what happens. By doing this, you may learn that only one or two of the high FODMAP foods disrupt your gut. Whether it’s one or all of the foods that turn your tummy, at least you’re armed with knowing what you can eat comfortably, and that could change your life.
Things to Avoid
If you’ve made the decision to try a low FODMAP diet, remember there are some things to avoid. For example, make sure that you see a doctor for a medical diagnosis of IBS — you don’t want to diagnose yourself, regardless of what you’ve read online. You should also consider getting in touch with a registered dietician who is familiar with FODMAP diets in order to start this journey. While you can do this yourself, it’s always safer to be monitored by a professional when trying an elimination diet.
Don’t make too many changes at once, AboutIBS.org reports. In order for this diet to work, you should focus on an isolated change to your diet only. If you start changing supplements and medications at the same time as what you’re eating, you’ll never know what worked. The site also warns that fiber intake can decrease drastically on this diet so it’s important to increase your intake of fiber from low FODMAP foods, including fruits and vegetables, grains and legumes, and small servings of nuts and seeds.
Click here for a printable FODMAP food list from IBSDiets.org.
If you don’t want to try this diet, but still want to know which foods are bothering your belly, give an EverlyWell at-home food sensitivity test a shot. It requires a simple finger prick that you mail back to the company so they can process your results. The test reportedly measures your body’s immune response to 96 different foods, and can be ordered here.