Low FODMAP diet

The low FODMAP diet was developed by Sue Shepherd & Peter Gibson in 1999. It has been proved that the low FODMAP diet works as an effective symptom management for many suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Nowadays, doctors recommend this diet as the dietary therapy for IBS.

FODMAPs

FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides (such as galacto-oligosaccharides and fructans), disaccharides (such as lactose), monosaccharides (such as fructose) and polyols (such as sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol). These components are found in various foods that we eat. The molecules cannot be absorbed well in the small intestine and thus, they land in the large intestine. The bacteria present in the large intestine ferments these molecules, causing symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).

There are several symptoms of IBS such as abdominal pain, bloating, excess wind, nausea, diarrhoea and constipation.

Foods that contain FODMAPs

Fructose is found in fruits such as apples, pears, mango, watermelon and honey. Fructans are found in artichokes, spring onion, garlic, barley, wheat, shallots and rye. Lactose is found in large amounts in ice-cream, milk, custard, commercial yogurt, dairy desserts and soft cheeses such as cottage cheese and ricotta cheese. Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) are found in chickpeas, lentils and beans such as kidney beans and baked beans. Polyols are found in apricots, pears, cherries, apples, avocado, mushrooms and prunes.

A low FODMAP diet

When I take someone through a FODMAP elimination diet they usually feel the benefit within a couple of weeks, sometimes a couple of days. If you are suffering from IBS, switching to a low FODMAP diet to work out if it reduces your symptoms is worth trying. This diet is divided into 2 phases. In the first phase of the diet, you will strictly avoid consuming any foods that are rich in FODMAPs. The duration of the first phase is up to six weeks depending on how you respond.

Ideally you should consult with a nutritionist before beginning the second phase as reintroducing the FODMAP groups needs to be done in a specific and measured way to get the most useful results for you.

Some low FODMAP foods

Some of the food items that are included in a low FODMAP diet are:

  • Vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers, potatoes, lettuce and leafy greens.
  • Fruits such as bananas, passion fruits, pineapples, lemons and oranges.
  • Protein sources such as chicken, egg, fish, shellfish, nuts and seeds.
  • Grains such as rice, oats, quinoa and buckwheat.

Since many dietary changes are involved in a low FODMAP diet, you should consult a knowledgeable professional before starting the diet. It is designed as an elimination diet and not a long term diet due to its restrictive nature.

Lisa completed the Monash University ‘Low FODMAP Diet For IBS’ online training course for Health Professionals. If you’d help getting started on a low FODMAP diet see her step by step course: Implementing a low FODMAP Diet

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