You might have heard of a FODMAP diet to help symptoms of IBS, but what does it mean, who should use it and how does it work? As an IBS nutritionist the low FODMAP diet is a useful and well used tool in my toolbox. Let me explain a bit more about it.

What does FODMAP stand for?

The term stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols. No clearer?

These are names of fermentable carbohydrates that commonly trigger bloating and gas that are so prevalent in IBS.

Not everyone with IBS has a problem with all these foods, and they aren’t ‘unhealthy’ foods. Most people who don’t get IBS are fine to eat all foods high in FODMAPs.

In fact it might surprise you how common they are.

What are FODMAP foods?

FODMAPs are found in many common foods, and you might react to one type of starch, or all of them. The main kinds of foods high in FODMAPS include:

  • Oligosaccharides: Wheat, rye, legumes and various fruits and vegetables, such as garlic and onions.
  • Disaccharides: Milk, yogurt and soft cheese. Lactose, maltose and sucrose.
  • Monosaccharides: Foods high in fructose are the main source, for example mangoes as well as sweeteners like agave syrup.
  • Polyols: Certain fruits and vegetables including blackberries, mushrooms, peaches, cauliflower, watermelon that are high in Mannitol, Isomalt, Maltitol, Sorbitol, and Xylitol (found in toothpaste and chewing gum)

Your 7 day low FODMAP meal plan

A tasty 7 day meal plan with over 25 healthy meals for easing IBS flares

In some people with IBS these carbohydrates produce gas due to fermentation in the gut, and draw water into the intestines causing bloating and loose stools.

Fermentation in the gut is normal, but the people with IBS, who have a hypersensitive gut, will feel heightened pain, cramping and gas.

What CAN you eat on the FODMAP diet?

Lots of vegetables and fruits are still available to you like carrots, courgette, green beans, pumpkin, parsnips, kiwi, blueberries, sweet potato etc.

You can also eat meat, fish, oats rice, some nuts and some low lactose dairy.

How to do the low-FODMAP diet

It’s a very tough diet to manage because it’s so restrictive, and you need to ensure you’re eating a balanced range of nutrients. I don’t recommend anyone trying to manage a dietary changes this big on their own, always work with a nutrition professional.

Think of the low FODMAP diet as a diagnostic tool that is intended to identify food triggers for symptoms of IBS rather than a way of life.

In some cases the low FODMAP diet can allow some healing in the gut and a chance to build more resilience. Then we can reintroduce as much food back into your diet as possible. The low FODMAP diet should not be followed long term because it is too restrictive.

The microbes in our gut need fibre and diversity. It’s better for us to eat as varied a diet as possible – some studies have suggested 30 different plant foods a week is a good target. But, back to the FODMAP diet…

To ensure we are getting the right kind of data out this targeted IBS treatment intervention the diet is conducted in 3 phases:

  1. Low FODMAP Phase – 2-6 weeks of removing high FODMAP foods
  2. Re-challenge Phase – reintroducing each of the FODMAP groups in a strict way, with washout period in between each type of carbohydrate. 
  3. Adapted low FODMAP Phase – personalise your long term diet and gut health
Should you try a low FODMAP diet?

It’s important that your digestive symptoms have been checked out by a doctor.

If you’re constantly getting constipation, diarrhoea, bloating and pains there could be other diagnoses that your doctor might make so get yourself checked out. These could include coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel disease or colonic cancer.

If you have IBS and want to try making changes to your diet, there are simple changes you can try before a FODMAP diet such as

  • cutting out processed foods especially high fat foods as these can contribute to a leaky gut
  • remove alcohol from your diet
  • restrict caffeine – 1-2 cups of tea or coffee because caffeine can irritiate the digestive system
  • drink water – aim for 8 glasses a day
  • if you’re sensitive to dairy or gluten try cutting either of these out for 4-6 weeks to look for any difference in your symptoms
  • look at your stress levels
  • ensure you’re getting enough sleep – aiming for 8 hours a day

To get support with making any changes to your diet please get in touch – I can help you find the right diet for you!

7 Day Low FODMAP Meal Plan

A tasty 7 day meal plan with over 25 healthy meals for easing IBS flares

Hi I'm Anna Mapson, registered Nutritional Therapist.

I help people with IBS and SIBO get control of unpredictable gut symptoms to find long term relief from painful and embarrassing IBS without restrictive dieting.

I can help you to:

  • understand your digestion better, so you recognise your triggers
  • eat a well balanced diet, with tasty meals that are simple to prepare
  • develop better digestion and more energy

Find more about my 3 month 1:1 Gut Reset programme

How to eat apples with IBS
How to eat apples with IBS

An apple a day is supposed to be healthy, but what about if you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome?  This post explains how to eat apples with IBS and why they might be an issue for you. Apples and IBS They are cheap, and an easy snack to carry around with you, apples are...

Are cherry tomatoes your hidden IBS trigger?
Are cherry tomatoes your hidden IBS trigger?

If you are unsure of your IBS food triggers, you might be wondering about whether you can eat tomatoes with IBS. This post explains how tomatoes might trigger your digestive symptoms, and how best to eat them.  Tomatoes and IBS Tomatoes aren't normally the first...

Low FODMAP vegetarian protein for people with IBS
Low FODMAP vegetarian protein for people with IBS

Staying healthy and well nourished on a vegetarian low FODMAP diet can be tricky. You probably eat a lot of eggs, and tofu! In this blog I'll show you how you can you eat more vegetarian low FODMAP protein foods. And you can also download my list of top low FODMAP...