OK, so the name may sound a little strange… but the low FODMAP diet is an elimination strategy that makes a ton of sense! A diet low in FODMAPs means a diet low in fermentable oligo-, di-, and monosaccharides and polyols (“FODMAPs”) which is a very fancy way of saying gas-producing foods. The idea is to avoid these short-chain carbohydrates that are not really absorbed by your gut and therefore hang out in your intestines where they are rapidly broken down and fermented resulting in abdominal pain, bloating, and gas. In IBS in particular, there is an underlying gut hypersensitivity and therefore an exaggerated discomfort experienced after eating foods that produce a lot of gas. So before picking up a new Rx to help your symptoms-- change your diet!
Following the low FODMAP diet strictly is not easy as it includes very ubiquitous foods (try to eat flavorful meals omitting all garlic & onion!) but I've broken it down below to make it easier to start and follow. The goal is to initially eliminate ALL of the food groups below high in FODMAPs for 6-8 weeks and then after you start feeling so much better, you can gradually reintroduce one of the groups at a time to determine what your intolerance is it.
Oligosaccharides= fructans, galacto-oligosaccharides= ex. Wheat
Does this mean going gluten-free? Yes! Even in the absence of celiac disease, the identification of nonceliac gluten sensitivity has emerged as an entity that can alter bowel barrier function and motility causing diarrhea. But don’t forget you can still eat all sorts of breads and pasts made from rice, spelt, buckwheat and other whole grains (see previous post).
Disaccharides= lactose= ex. Milk, ice cream, and yogurt
Does this mean going dairy-free? Yes! Even in the absence of a formal lactose intolerance diagnosis, individuals have been found to be intolerant to milk components such as the cow milk protein. Don’t forget you can still drink and eat all sorts of plant-based, dairy-free milks, yogurts, and ice creams!
Monosaccharides= Fructose= ex. High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
This stuff is EVERYWHERE! Read your nutrition labels folks. This can be found in soda, juice drinks, breakfast cereal, yogurt, salad dressing, baked good, bread, candy, and even fiber bars that may have misleading "healthy" labels. HFCS has been found to cause more weight gain, more abdominal body fat, and higher triglycerides... and that's compared to natural sugar! Just avoid it.
Polyols= Sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, and xylitol= ex. artificially sweetened chewing gum and sweets
Pretty self explanatory. Just eat real food and if you want something sweet, eat real plant-based honey, agave, or maple syrup-sweetened sweets.