A Beginner’s Guide to a Low FODMAP Diet

High FODMAP foods may be causing some of your digestive sensitivity issues. Find out which foods might be the culprits.

Woman eating low fodmap salad
Man Jogging

Food sensitivities can range from being mildly uncomfortable to completely debilitating, which can make everyday life difficult. In some cases, following a new diet can be one of the simplest and most effective ways to combat these sensitivities. Originating from Monash University in Australia, Low FODMAP diets have become more and more popular over the last few years1, and can help provide benefits for people with digestive issues from a food sensitivity.

About food sensitivities                           

A food sensitivity, or food intolerance, can trigger negative reactions in the digestive tract. Unlike food allergies, food sensitivities aren’t life threatening, but they can still be very painful, distressing and inconvenient. Common symptoms of a food sensitivity include2:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating or gas
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

How Low FODMAP diets work

Low FODMAP diets work by reducing or eliminating problem foods that contain these types of carbohydrates. FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols) are types of short-chain carbohydrates found in certain foods that are indigestible or poorly absorbed by certain people1. When FODMAPs aren’t absorbed correctly in the small intestine, they move through the digestive tract, producing an increased volume of liquid and gas in both the small and large intestine.2

The benefits of following a Low FODMAP diet

Mealtime should be enjoyable, not stressful. Digestive issues resulting from High FODMAP foods – like abdominal pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation2 – can be irritating, inconvenient and downright embarrassing. Following a Low FODMAP diet may help decrease these symptoms and help you avoid some uncomfortable or awkward digestive problems.

Low FODMAP diets are often recommended for a variety of digestive conditions and other functional gastrointestinal disorders.

Low FODMAP foods vs. High FODMAP foods 3, 4, 5

Food Type

Low FODMAP

High FODMAP

Fruits

Avocado, banana, blueberries, cantaloupe, grapes, honeydew melon, kiwi, lemon, lime, olives, oranges, papaya, plantains, pineapple, raspberries, rhubarb, strawberries

Apples, apricots, blackberries, cherries, grapefruit, mango, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, pomegranate, watermelon, canned/dried fruit

Vegetables

 

Arugula, bamboo shoots, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, corn, eggplant, fennel, green beans, kale, lettuce, parsley, parsnip, potatoes, spinach, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, water chestnut, zucchini

Artichokes, asparagus, beets, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, celery, garlic, leeks, mushrooms, okra, onions, peas, shallots, snow peas, sugar snap peas

Grains

Amaranth, brown rice, bulgur wheat, oats, gluten-free products, quinoa

 

Barley, couscous, farro, rye, semolina, wheat

Dairy and Alternatives

Almond milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, rice milk, butter, hard or aged cheeses (such as cheddar, parmesan or brie)

Cow’s milk, Buttermilk, cream, custard, ice cream, margarine, soft cheeses (such as ricotta or cottage cheese), soy milk, yogurt

Nuts, Seeds, and Legumes

Almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, walnuts, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds

Baked beans, black-eyed peas, butter beans, chickpeas, lentils,  kidney beans, lima beans, soybeans, split peas

 

Ensuring balanced nutrition on a Low FODMAP diet

Many High FODMAP foods are also high in fiber, meaning people following a Low FODMAP diet may not be getting enough soluble fiber, which may help with gut health and regularity. According to the Institute of Medicine, it is recommended that adults consume a certain amount of grams of fiber per day6

 

Age 50 or younger

Age 51 or older

Men

38 grams per day

30 grams per day

Women

25 grams per day

21 grams per day

The best way to ensure you’re getting enough fiber is to fill up on Low FODMAP, high-fiber foods like bananas, blueberries, green beans, broccoli, peanuts and turnips5. Fiber supplements can also be a big help. Benefiber® Healthy Balance, which is Low FODMAP itself, contains four grams of dietary fiber per serving. It not only helps maintain digestive health, but also helps relieve occasional constipation and abdominal discomfort – without causing diarrhea*. Benefiber® Healthy Balance is 100% natural and gluten free, and can help you take control of your gut health naturally. 

Is a Low FODMAP diet right for you?

This diet can be difficult to follow and will require a time commitment in order to educate yourself about the correct types of foods to eat, prepare and pack meals and pay attention to changes in your digestion. Also, because everyone’s bodies are different, there is no guarantee that a Low FODMAP diet – or any other diet, for that matter – will help with your food sensitivity. With any change to your diet or lifestyle, also make sure you work with your physician or a trained dietary professional to ensure you are meeting all your personal health needs.7

How to get started on a Low FODMAP diet

With the support of a physician or dietary professional, your first step to begin a Low FODMAP diet is to identify and avoid as many High FODMAP foods as possible. Consider creating a food diary to help keep track of your progress as you work through the diet7. Since the diet has gained popularity recently, you can find plenty of Low FODMAP cookbooks and recipes online. You can also download a smartphone app like the Monash University FODMAP Diet app for on-the-go access to help you easily determine which foods are low and high in FODMAPs.7

Once your symptoms (hopefully!) begin to subside, which can take anywhere from two weeks to two months, you can start slowly reintroducing High FODMAP foods. Use your food diary to keep track of which ones your body can and cannot tolerate. Once you have a better sense of the amount and type of foods your body can manage well, you can personalize your diet for better control of your gut health.3, 7

Show ReferencesHide References

  1. Dugum, Mohannad, et al. “Managing irritable bowel syndrome: The low-FODMAP diet.” Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. Sept. 2016. Web. https://www.mdedge.com/ccjm/article/111918/gastroenterology/managing-irritable-bowel-syndrome-low-fodmap-diet.
  2. “Food allergies and food intolerances.” Harvard Women's Health Watch, Harvard Health Publishing. May 2011. Web. https://www.health.harvard.edu/allergies/food-allergies-and-food-intolerances
  3. Cunha, John P. “Low FODMAP Diet for IBS: List of Foods to Eat and Avoid.” MedicineNet. 8 Aug. 2018. Web. https://www.medicinenet.com/low_fodmap_diet_list_of_foods_to_eat_and_avoid/article.htm#where_can_i_get_more_information_about_low_fodmap_foods_recipes_and_meal_plans.
  4. “High and low FODMAP foods.” Department of Gastroenterology, Central Clinical School, Monash University and the Alfred Hospital. Web. https://www.monashfodmap.com/about-fodmap-and-ibs/high-and-low-fodmap-foods/
  5. Bolen, Barbara. “The Best IBS-Friendly Sources of Soluble Fiber” Very Well Health. 2 July 2018. Web. https://www.verywellhealth.com/best-ibs-friendly-sources-of-soluble-fiber-1945020.
  6. "Fiber: Daily Recommendations for Adults." Mayo Clinic. 22 Sept. 2015. Web. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983?pg=2.
  7. Bolen, Barbara. “How to Follow the Low-FODMAP Diet.” Very Well Health. 12 Nov. 2018. Web. https://www.verywellhealth.com/how-to-follow-the-low-fodmap-diet-1944680.
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