FODMAP means fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. These terms are used to categorize those fermentable carbs that exacerbate digestive problems like stomach ache, gas and bloating because they are not properly digested by the body especially by the small intestine. In some foods FODMAP are found naturally while in others they are added as additives.
The underlying principle behind this diet plan is giving the bowels a chance to heal. This is done by consuming low FODMAP diet. Unlike other diets low-FODMAP diet is not meant for everybody. This diet is specifically made for those adults who suffer from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). It is suggested that if you are not diagnosed with IBS then you should stay away from this diet. This is due to the fact that most FODMAPs are gut bacteria friendly and they support its growth but in people with IBS they cause bloating, gas and abdominal pain.
People having IBS should choose this diet if they show any gut symptoms and are not responding to any stress management strategies. This diet can prove to be difficult for some people so before adopting this diet do not forget to consult the dietitian for better guidance. They will make sure that you get the right amount of nutrients required by the body.
A low-FODMAP diet has three stages. In first stage, all the foods having high FODMAP are avoided. The duration of this stage is 2 to 6 weeks. As everybody is different their bodies will react differently to this diet. Some people who follow this diet may show early improvement as compared to others. The next stage is started as soon as digestive problems are alleviated. If there is no change within this time period then it may be that you are not sensitive to FODMAPS. Then you need to look for other therapies.
The next stage lasts for about 8 to 12 weeks. It involves introducing high FODMAPs again in your diet so as to identify the types of FODMAPs which you can tolerate. Further, it is determined to what extent can you tolerate certain FODMAP foods by introducing you to a specific food item for three consecutive days. Then you can gradually increase the portion so that you can see to what extent you can tolerate that food. While undertaking this stage, make sure that you are seeking the guidance of a well trained dietitian who can help you in every step. Keep on following your low FODMAP diet simultaneously while you are testing your tolerance.
It should be kept in mind that people with IBS have low tolerance to FODMAPs as compared to people who suffer from food allergies.
The third and final stage is also called modified low-FODMAP diet because here the type and amount of foods which are to be restricted or eliminated are according to your personal tolerance level. Here you will restrict the food items to which you were not tolerant in the second stage. Mark your progress throughout all the stages as it will bring balance, variety and flexibility in your diet.
Later on, with the help of these findings you can make your diet plan eliminating certain foods which don’t suit you. You can introduce food one at a time to see if you are sensitive to them or not. This process can take some time but it is worth it as it will help you identify which foods worsen your digestive symptoms.
Religiously following all the steps will help in improving your quality of life and your overall health. It is recommended that you should avoid this diet if you are travelling or have a busy schedule because this diet requires full commitment and all the stages are very important as they will determine how successful this diet will be for you.
Foods with low FODMAP
Vegetables: Lettuces, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, carrot, spinach, cucumber, fennel, eggplant, broccoli, zucchini and capsicum.
Fruits: Strawberries, pineapple, papaya, bananas, grapes, oranges, lemon, blueberries and kiwi
Whole grains: Oats, brown rice, quinoa, maize, buckwheat and millet
Proteins: Chicken, tofu, fish, prawns, mutton, crab, lobster and eggs
Nuts and seeds: Pecans, chia, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, butter, peanuts and walnuts. While these nuts and seeds can be eaten in low FODMAP diet, their intake should be limited.
Oil: Olive oil and coconut oil
We never realize how the food we eat can result in various digestive problems. Eliminating a certain food from our diet can improve our health drastically .To include low FODMAP foods in your diet it becomes very important to know the difference between high and low FODMAP foods as both contain a large variety of foods. Following are the food items which are to be avoided if you are on low FODMAP diet. This knowledge comes handy when one goes for grocery shopping.
Vegetables: Garlic, onion, scallions, asparagus, beetroot, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms and beans.
Fruits: Mangoes, apples, watermelon, apricot, cherry, plum, avocados, blackberry, figs, prunes, peaches and dates.
Grains and cereals: wheat, legumes, beans, lentils, barley, semolina and rye.
Meats: Avoid all meats and fish that are prepared in onion and garlic sauces.
Nuts: Cashews, almonds and pistachios.
Dairy products: Milk, cheese, ice cream, pudding, custard and yogurt.
- Helps in managing diarrhea and constipation
- Improves Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms
- Helpful in relieving symptoms of eczema, rheumatoid arthritis and sclerosis
- Alleviates digestive problems like bloating, bowel urgency, stomach pain and gas.
- Increased quality of Life
Tips for Low FODMAP Diet
- Make a list of low FODMAP foods and check their availability in your area
- Get rid of high FODMAP foods so that you don’t get tempted
- Prepare a grocery list in advance
- This diet won’t be effective if you are under stress so try to relax
- Make sure to cook your own food as often as possible
- Make turmeric, pepper, chilies, fenugreek, basil, white rice vinegar, ginger, lemongrass, mustard seeds and saffron a part of your diet as they have low FODMAP
People who followed the low-FODMAP diet noticed drastic improvement in their digestive symptoms. However, one should not forget that this diet may show different results in different people. This diet consists of three stages so you may take up to six months to complete this diet program. Follow this diet only if you are in dire need of it and if you can dedicate you time to diet. This diet can change the lives of people who have IBS.