FODMAPs are short chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine.
This is why people suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other digestive problems seek to have a low FODMAP diet. It has been found that a low FODMAP diet improves symptoms in about 70% of IBS patients. Not that the doctor told me this but on my research through the internet I’m seeing more and more about low FODMAP foods and how avoiding high FODMAP food can help with my problems and digesting food.
However it is a relatively new diet which makes it highly advisable to speak with a registered dietitian who knows the low FODMAP diet well. It is not as easy as an ‘eat list’ and ‘do not eat list’ especially when it comes to packaged foods (knowing how to read labels properly helps) and eating out.
It is essential when wanting to try this diet to seek professional help as it is individualised to each persons requirements and needs, in order to provide all the nutrients you require. The main thing to note is this is a very strict diet and not following it properly means it is unlikely to be effective.
Which now I know about this diet it makes a lot of sense, your gut is sensitive so you wouldn’t want to be putting pressure on it with the type of foods it finds hard to digest.
But how do I know if a food is low or high in FODMAP?
FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. These are types of carbohydrates that aren’t easily broken down and absorbed by the gut. This means they start to ferment in the gut relatively quickly, and the gases released during this process can lead to bloating.
They can be found in a range of different foods:
- Oligosaccharides: e.g. fructans (found in wheat, rye and some vegetables) and galacto-oligosaccharides (found in pulses and legumes)
- Disaccharides: e.g. lactose (found in mammalian milk)
- Mono-saccharides: e.g. free fructose (found in honey, some fruit and fruit juices)
- Polyols: e.g. sorbitol and mannitol (found in some fruits and vegetables)
A low FODMAP diet essentially involves restricting your intake of various foods that are high in FODMAPs, such as some fruits and vegetables, animal milk, wheat products and beans.
Although I have found a lot of conflicting comments, such as – yes broccoli is a low FODMAP food but it does cause bloating. So you really have to find out what foods suit you and in what quantities, going back to my very first post.
How do I restrict certain foods?
Restricting food, keeping to our example of broccoli, instead of a whole bunch of broccoli taking up quarter of the plate or having broccoli in several meals in the day, only have half a cup / two or three stems in the day.
This for me was very hard as I started off by having half an avocado everyday with eggs… not anymore, recommendation I found somewhere is to have 1/8 an avocado… 1/8!? that’s one mouthful, avocadoes are High in FODMAPs therefore avocadoes are not in my diet anymore however I did see myself improve from not having them every morning.
It is things like this where you are still not feeling right but you can’t think of what you are eating wrong because you have eaten them everyday where one can get blinded to what food is doing more damage than good. Avocadoes do have a lot of good properties but in the right quantities.
If you want to find out more, I have found www.lowfodmapdiets.com useful and you can download a useful FODMAP diet shopping list on the website too, if you do not have access to The Monash University Low FODMAP diet App (like me) where it gives you a recommendation of restricting certain foods from your diet to help know what foods are low in FODMAPs more easily.
A very interesting and super informative YouTube video from a lecture about IBS and the low FODMAP diet is useful to listen to, it is long (1hr20mins) but can have on in the background, looking at the video slides is not really needed.