The term ‘FODMAP’ is such a buzz word at the moment. When you actually start to look into it though, it can prove to be very confusing!
FODMAP is actually an acronym for the scientific names of certain sugars in our diets. These sugars are in many every day foods that are staples of a healthy diet. When we eat these sugars they travel all the way through to the last part of the gut, where they are fermented and used as an energy source for the good bacteria in the gut. Due to this effect they are an essential part of our diet.
For some people however, a heightened sensitivity of the gut to the presence of these sugars, can cause many uncomfortable and distressing symptoms. Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS as it is typically called, describes a collection of symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain, and altered bowel habits. Many people with IBS find that adopting a low FODMAP diet can help to ease and control these symptoms.
So if you are thinking about trying the Low FODMAP Diet, what do you need to know, and what foods do you need to avoid?
Before You Start!
Before you go down the Low FODMAP track it is imperative that you see your doctor first. The symptoms of IBS are quite general, and can also be symptoms of other more serious medical conditions. Therefore, it is a must that you check in with your doctor to have these other causes, such as coeliac disease for example, ruled out!
What’s In and What’s Out?
Learning which foods are high and which are low in FODMAPs is quite an extensive task! Below is just a little summary of the main foods on either side to get you started.
Low FODMAP Foods
Lactose free milk
High FODMAP Foods
Wheat containing bread
Often overlooked is the fact that the Low FODMAP Diet is actually only supposed to be a short term eating plan. The idea is that you follow the elimination phase where you choose low FODMAP foods only for a period of 4-6 weeks. Hopefully in this time symptoms will improve! Then you can begin to systematically reintroduce foods which are high in FODMAPs to determine which foods cause a response. It is very unlikely that you will react to all high FODMAP foods, so this process of reintroduction is very important to keep diet restriction to a minimum in the long term.
Luckily the Low FODMAP Diet has now gained such popularity, that there are many great resources to help you navigate the diet. Monash University conduct extensive research in this field, and are continuously testing new foods for their FODMAP content. They have developed a fantastic app which contains all of this information, and lots of great recipes. It is also available in a book if you prefer.
Working together one on one with a dietitian can be really helpful as they can tailor the diet to suit your lifestyle. Dietitians can also help guide you through the reintroduction phase and develop a long term plan for you to manage your intolerances (online go to daa.asn.au to find a dietitian close to you).
image: Cook Republic