What is a FODMAP?
FODMAP is an abbreviation for Fermentable Oligo‐, Di‐ and Mono‐saccharides and Polyols. For a good reason, you might see why we shorten it! In other words, these are short-chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols. If they are poorly digested, they can ferment in the large intestine. Fermentation can draw out water and produce carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and even methane gas which can cause the intestine to expand. Unfortunately, some people may find themselves with pain, bloating, gas, and other symptoms.
- Fructose: a sugar mostly in fruits and vegetables
- Lactose: a sugar in dairy foods such as yogurt or milk
- Fructans: like fructose, found in vegetables and grains.
- Galactans: primarily found in legumes
- Polyols: more commonly known as sugar alcohols, found in artificial sweeteners and gum (you can find them on an ingredient list as xylitol, sorbitol, maltitol and mannitol)
Who should follow a low FODMAP diet?
After eating certain foods, the body may be having some discomfort in the digestive tract. This diet can be useful for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), some autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis or eczema. Nutrition professionals may use a low-FODMAP diet to alleviate symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, cramps, or constipation related to digestion.
How to follow a low-FODMAP diet
First and foremost, a long-term adherence to the FODMAP diet is not recommended because it is highly restrictive for several weeks. During this time, food is reintroduced to see what foods are producing symptoms.
First, meet with a dietitian or medical professional to discuss what you are feeling. During your visit, if the dietitian thinks the low-FODMAP is good for you, then you can take these steps along with their help. Then, you may need to eliminate all FODMAPs from the diet for 4-8 weeks. This will give the body time to heal from the foods that may be causing issues. After that, you would introduce each FODMAP back into the diet, one at a time. For example, add fructose foods back. Then, if there are no symptoms, try another one of the FODMAPs after one week. This will help identify foods that are triggering the symptoms and then can be eliminated.
Gibson P, Shepherd S. Evidence‐based dietary management of functional gastrointestinal symptoms: The FODMAP approach. 2010; 25(2): 252-258. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1440-1746.2009.06149.x
Leech J. Diet vs Disease. Low FODMAP Diet: The D.I.Y Beginner’s Guide. https://www.dietvsdisease.org/diy-low-fodmap-diet/#What_Are_FODMAPs. Last updated March 2018. Accessed March 20th, 2018.