Restrictive diets are the worst, but they can actually help pinpoint the cause of your problem. This NutriNeat article on low-FODMAP diet can teach you how you must eat to ease your digestive problems, and once you’re pain-free, you won’t feel restricted for very long.
Did You Know?
The low-FODMAP diet is an effective dietary approach for reducing irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.
If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, gas, bloating, or other digestive issues that just won’t go away, your doctor may have mentioned something about the low FODMAPs diet to you. So what is it? It’s not a diet to lose weight, although many people do lose weight when on it, because it restricts many of the foods that induce overeating. Dr. Peter Gibson and Dr. Susan Shepherd of the Monash University in Melbourne are credited with developing the low-FODMAP diet. FODMAPs stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides, and Polyols, and they’re in most of the foods you’re used to eating. Giving them up is tough, but it won’t be forever, and it may just relieve your digestive ills.
Most people cannot absorb FODMAPs very well, meaning that the digested food sits around in the gut, feeding the wrong bacteria, producing gas, bloating, and even constipation or diarrhea. It’s very common, and it’s just the result of what these foods are made of and what our bodies can handle. People who are particularly sensitive to these foods can experience symptoms, bad enough to lower their quality of life, or to cause them to avoid food as a whole because they would rather be hungry than in pain. The low-FODMAP diet is a way of sussing out which particular foods are causing problems, so that you know exactly what you can eat without feeling ill.
The High FODMAP Foods
FODMAP is anything that contains fructose, lactose, galactans, and polyols – all of them carbohydrates, mostly sugars. Foods given below are high-FODMAP foods, and need to be avoided when following a low-FODMAP diet.
- Agave syrup, sorbitol, honey, high-fructose corn syrup, mannitol, inulin, xylitol, maltitol, isomalt, molasses, and wine
- Artichoke, cabbage, onion, broccoli, brussels sprouts, asparagus, garlic, mushroom, okra, spring onion (white part), sugar snap peas, beet, fennel, radicchio lettuce, cauliflower, and dandelion leaves
- Fruits like the apple, peach, apricot, cherry, avocado, pear, nashi fruit, plum, mango, nectarine, prune, coconut, lychee, and watermelon
- Milk (cow, goat, and sheep), ice cream, custard, margarine, cream, yogurt, condensed and evaporated milk, chocolate, and cheese
- Soy beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, and baked beans
- Wheat and rye (Avoid in large quantities)
It’s a pretty long list, and you must also read all food packages to make sure you don’t eat anything that contains these ingredients. It’s tempting to cheat, but cheating keeps your body from healing. The longer it takes your body to heal, the longer you have to stay on the diet.
The plan is to cut out all FODMAP food for six weeks – the six-week period begins on the date of your last bite of FODMAP food. No weaning, no cutting back. This gives the damage already done to your intestines, some time to heal. After six weeks with non-FODMAPs, see your doctor. She’ll assess whether it’s time to move on or if you need more time to heal. If you’re all good now, you’ll be asked to begin reintroducing FODMAPs into your diet one at a time, in small amounts. No more than one FODMAP per meal – that way if you get symptoms, you’ll know what caused it. By the time you’ve reintroduced all the FODMAPs, you’ll know exactly which foods cause you problems, and you can easily avoid them in the future. Some people find that only one or two things bind them up. Others may find that they have to avoid most FODMAPs to stay healthy.
Foods To Eat
Reading the list of excluded foods leads many people to wonder just what they can eat – don’t worry, there’s still a full list of low-FODMAP foods.
- Wheat-free products, all gluten-free grain products, oats, rice, corn, quinoa, arrowroot, buckwheat, and sorghum
- Lactose-free products, such as lactose-free ice cream and yogurt, sorbet, butter, gelato, hard cheese, brie, and camembert
- Banana, blueberry, honeydew melon, boysenberry, strawberry, lemon, grapefruit, raspberry, mandarin orange, grape, kiwi fruit, lime, cranberry, and pineapple
- Meat, chicken, fish, beef, shellfish, turkey, cold cuts, canned tuna, and eggs
- Cucumber, carrot, potato, tomato (avoid cherry tomato), bamboo shoots, ginger, spinach, bok choy, bean sprouts, eggplant, green beans, celery, pumpkin, sweet potato, lettuce, olives, zucchini, scallion/spring onion (only green part), bell peppers, parsnip, and parsley
- Almond milk, rice milk, nuts and nut butters, seeds, coffee, and tea
- Golden syrup, maple syrup, glucose, aspartame, saccharin, and sugar (sucrose)
Though a low-FODMAP diet seems restrictive, it does give you plenty of options to pick from. Once you get used to not eating out of packages, you needn’t feel deprived at all.