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FODMAP Diet Explained

The FODMAP diet is a dietary approach developed to manage symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a chronic gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestine. FODMAPs are certain types of...

The FODMAP diet is a dietary approach developed to manage symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a chronic gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestine. FODMAPs are certain types of carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine and can lead to digestive symptoms such as bloating, gas, abdominal pain, and diarrhea or constipation in people with IBS.

What is FODMAP?

The FODMAP diet involves eliminating high-FODMAP foods from the diet for a period of time, typically 2-6 weeks, and then gradually reintroducing them to identify which specific types of FODMAPs trigger symptoms in an individual. The acronym FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols, which are different types of carbohydrates found in many foods, including wheat, onions, garlic, beans, lentils, certain fruits, and artificial sweeteners.

The goal of the FODMAP diet is to identify and eliminate trigger foods to reduce gastrointestinal symptoms and improve quality of life for people with IBS. It is important to work with a registered dietitian to ensure that the diet is nutritionally balanced and that all necessary nutrients are being consumed.

What foods are allowed in a low-FODMAP diet?

The following is a list of low-FODMAP foods that are typically allowed in the initial elimination phase of the diet:

  • Proteins: meat, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu
  • Dairy: lactose-free milk and yogurt, hard cheeses (cheddar, Swiss, parmesan), butter
  • Grains: gluten-free bread and pasta, rice, oats, quinoa, corn
  • Fruits: bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, grapes, oranges, pineapple, strawberries
  • Vegetables: bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, lettuce, spinach, zucchini
  • Nuts and seeds: almonds, peanuts, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
  • Sweeteners: maple syrup, brown sugar, stevia

It's important to note that portion sizes and combination of foods can also affect the tolerability of certain foods. It's recommended to work with a registered dietitian to ensure that the diet is nutritionally balanced and tailored to individual needs.

What foods should you AVOID in a low-FODMAP diet?

In a low-FODMAP diet, certain foods are restricted or avoided during the elimination phase. The reduction of the intake of FODMAPs that can trigger gastrointestinal symptoms. The following is a list of high-FODMAP foods that are typically avoided or limited during the elimination phase:

  • Proteins: canned legumes, tofu made with soybeans, processed meats
  • Dairy: milk, ice cream, soft cheeses (ricotta, cottage, feta), yogurt with added sweeteners or fruit
  • Grains: wheat, barley, rye, spelt, and foods made with these grains such as bread, pasta, and crackers
  • Fruits: apples, pears, mangoes, cherries, watermelon, peaches, and other stone fruits
  • Vegetables: onions, garlic, asparagus, mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli, sweet corn
  • Nuts and seeds: cashews, pistachios, hazelnuts, sesame seeds
  • Sweeteners: honey, agave nectar, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners (sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol)

It's important to note that the restriction of these foods is temporary and is only necessary during the elimination phase. The goal is to identify specific FODMAPs that trigger symptoms in an individual so that they can reintroduce suitable foods back into their diet while minimizing symptoms. It's recommended to work with a registered dietitian to ensure that the diet is nutritionally balanced and tailored to individual needs.

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