Foods You Can and Cannot Eat On A Low FODMAP Diet
A low-FODMAP diet is commonly recommended for patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), Crohn's Disease, and other digestive issues. Following this diet correctly may help to reduce common Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and/or SIBO symptoms like constipation, diarrhea, gas, and painful abdominal cramping.
How does the diet work? The primary focus is on eliminating problem or “trigger” foods and slowly adding them back in to see how they affect your body. It’s very similar to an elimination diet, and it can bring quick relief within 2 weeks for up to 80% of those who are suffering from gastrointestinal issues.
The health benefits of a FODMAPS diet are also great if you want to relieve symptoms related to a digestive condition such as IBS. The main overall goal is managing IBS symptoms so you can live a normal life without constant health conditions, uncomfortable symptoms, and nagging stomach pains.
However, learning how to follow low-FODMAP diets can be challenging at first. That’s why it helps to have guidance such as a chart that lists the foods you can and can’t eat on the diet, along with a good understanding of how the diet works and a solid diet plan to set yourself up for success.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic disorder that affects the large intestine (colon). It often presents with cramping, abdominal pain and bouts of diarrhea or constipation, and other uncomfortable digestive symptoms. Low FODMAP diets are the best way to combat Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and other digestive conditions because they are conditions that are usually triggered by High FODMAP food intake.
Small Intestine Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO)
Bacteria Overgrowth in Small Intestine (SIBO) is a condition where there are too many bacteria growing in your small intestines. The small intestine should be relatively free from bacteria but when there
Low-FODMAP Diet Chart: What to Eat and What to Avoid
Here’s a helpful low-FODMAP food list that includes foods from all of the major food groups to help you determine what you can and cannot eat while on the elimination phase of the Low FODMAP diet, which will allow you to manage Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Common High-FODMAP foods to avoid:
- Legumes (Kidney Beans)
- Most cow’s milk and soy milk products
- Most Lactose free milk
- Dried Fruit
- Cottage Cheese
Common Low-FODMAP food to eat on an IBS diet:
- Peanuts and all-natural peanut butter
- Real maple syrup
- Green beans
- Bell peppers
- Bok choy
- Almond milk
- Rice Milk: 200 ML per serving
- Hard cheeses
- Cheeses made from sheep or goat’s milk
- Firm tofu
- Dark chocolate
- Sourdough bread
- Fish, seafood, and plain cooked meats
- Sugar free gum
- Pine Nuts
- Macadamia Nuts
- Sesame Seeds
- Bean Sprouts
- Oat Bran
Common foods that can be eaten on a low-FODMAP diet in small amounts:
According to the Low-FODMAP Stanford pdf, the following certain foods are Low FODMAP and can be consumed occasionally in small portions:
- Canned pumpkin: ⅓ cup serving
- Pumpkin Seeds: 2 tbsp
- Broccoli: ¾ cup serving
- Avocado ⅛ of a single fruit
- Cabbage: ¾ cup
- Sweet potato: ½ cup
- Lima Beans: 1/4 cup
Click here to check out some delicious Low FODMAP recipes that we have put together for you: Low FODMAP recipes
What does FODMAP mean?
The term FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. FODMAPs are 4 different short-chain carbohydrates. These short-chain carbohydrates can be difficult for the gut to absorb, which is why they trigger IBS symptoms in some people.
- Oligosaccharides: Typically found in onions, garlic, legumes, wheat rye, and certain fruits and vegetables
- Disaccharides: Typically found in dairy products that contain lactose, such as cow’s milk, yogurt, and soft cheeses
- Monosaccharides: Typically found in fruits that contain fructose, such as mangoes and figs, as well as sweeteners like honey and high fructose corn syrup
- Polyols: Found in some fruits and vegetables and low-calorie sweeteners
FODMAPs can also feed the gut microbes in the colon and pull water into the lower intestine, leading to painful gas and contributing to other uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms.
The best way to avoid uncomfortable digestive IBS symptoms is by eliminating High FODMAP food intake which will allow you to pinpoint, which FODMAPS disagree with your body.
Does the low-FODMAP diet work?
Food is a common trigger for gastrointestinal issues. For people with food sensitivities, an elimination diet can help them identify which types of foods are trigger symptoms of digestive discomfort.
It is designed to limit or eliminate the foods that trigger IBS, also known as high-FODMAP foods.
Studies show that following this diet can decrease the gastrointestinal symptoms related to IBS in up to 80% of people and improve the quality of life for the patient.
What are the benefits of a low-FODMAP diet?
People who remove high-FODMAP foods from their diet and replace it with Low FODMAP food often notice an immediate improvement in their symptoms. Most people begin to feel better after just a few days, with significant changes occurring within two to six weeks.
Reduced Digestive Symptoms
The hallmarks of IBS include stomach pain, flatulence, reflux, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. These symptoms can affect quality of life, and sometimes even be debilitating. Studies show that this diet can reduce symptoms by up to 81%.
Improved Quality of Life
Not only does this diet improve quality of life by managing digestive symptoms, it can also increase energy levels in people who suffer from IBS.
A Low-FODMAP Diet Isn’t for Everyone
Although the low-FODMAP diet is backed by science, it’s not necessary for every patient with IBS. Following it without reason could put you at risk for nutritional deficiencies, so be sure to consult with your doctor, dietician, or nutritionist before making any major changes.
If you have a history of eating disorders or are underweight, then this diet may be too restrictive for you. Low FODMAP foods hold nutritional value as well, but you are limited to a small amount of foods which can cause a nutritional deficit.
People with IBS who are pregnant or have other dietary restrictions may do best on a modified or FODMAP-gentle diet, which involves eliminating only the very highest FODMAP foods, such as legumes, apples, dairy, wheat, and onions.
Your Low-FODMAP Diet Plan: How to Get Started
Before you try the diet, work with your doctor to confirm that you actually have IBS and that the Low-FODMAP Diet Plan is right for you. Serious conditions like Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer, and celiac disease can mimic IBS symptoms, so proper diagnosis is essential.
There are three stages to the diet. It’s best to work with a registered dietitian or nutritionist when you’re first starting out because FODMAPs can be hard to identify. Nutrient deficiencies could also become an issue without professional guidance.
Phase 1: Elimination
Phase 1 begins with removing all high-FODMAP foods from the diet. A dietitian can help you choose appropriate substitutes for your favorite foods. One of the greatest challenges will be staying on track when you’re away from home, such as when you’re eating out, at work, or traveling.
Planning ahead for various scenarios will be extremely beneficial. Make a list of what to buy and stock your kitchen with low-FODMAP foods in advance. Don’t forget to plan ahead for those times when you’ll be away from your own kitchen.
This phase lasts for two to four weeks.
Meal delivery services like ModifyHealth are ideal for the Elimination phase. ModifyHealth’s Monash University Low FODMAP certified meals help make transition to this diet easier. The meals are heat and eat (no preparation) and you can have the confidence knowing that the meals you are eating are certified to only contain Low FODMAP ingredients. Go learn more at www.modifyhealth.com
Phase 2: Reintroduction
Phase 2 is the reintroduction phase. The primary goal here is to identify the foods that trigger your symptoms. The best way to approach this phase is to start with a list of the highest-FODMAP foods, plus foods that you suspect are triggering your symptoms.
Work your way down the list by reintroducing each type of food one at a time. For example, one day you might reintroduce lactose by drinking some cow’s milk. Another day, you might reintroduce fructose by eating a serving of watermelon.
Pay attention to how your body reacts to each of the reintroduced foods. If milk triggers your symptoms, you know that foods that contain lactose are a problem for you. Use a food journal or app to keep track of your progress and symptoms.
It’s best to wait at least 24-48 before reintroducing the next food and keep portions small to reduce the chances of triggering severe symptoms. This phase generally takes 6 to 8 weeks to complete.
Services like ModifyHealth can also be helpful in this stage as their meals can be used as a baseline while you test FODMAP food categories. ModifyHealth also offers optional dietitian support to guide you through the Reintroduction phase.
Phase 3: Personalization
During this phase, you will continue to personalize your low-FODMAP diet plan by emphasizing foods that you tolerate well and limiting or eliminating foods that trigger your symptoms. This phase is all about experimenting.
Many people will find that they don’t have to avoid any single food completely. Foods that aren’t as well tolerated can often be eaten occasionally or in small amounts. The goal isn’t to have a FODMAP-free diet, but simply to reduce FODMAPs enough to control your symptoms.
Commonly Asked Questions About the Low-FODMAP Diet
What is FODMAP intolerance?
The term FODMAP intolerance usually refers to an individual who finds that high-FODMAP foods trigger the symptoms of IBS, like constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and gas.
Does a low-FODMAP diet promote weight loss?
A low-FODMAP diet is not designed to promote weight loss. This diet low is a type of elimination diet that has been designed to reduce the gastrointestinal symptoms of IBS by eating Low FODMAP foods to pinpoint which High FODMAP foods trigger digestive issues.
Which foods contain fructans?
According to FODMAP diet experts at Monash University and Stanford Healthcare, fructans are found in onions, garlic, and wheat.
Can I eat bread on a low-FODMAP diet?
Yes, you can eat bread. Many people find that bread made from sourdough, corn, and millet, as well as gluten-free bread, are well tolerated, especially in small servings.
Can vegetarians follow a low-FODMAP diet?
While the diet can be vegetarian, it will be more challenging. Most people who follow this diet find that legumes can trigger their IBS symptoms, so vegetarians will need to find other plant-based protein sources like nuts, seeds, tofu, and tempeh.
Overcoming the Obstacles of a Low-FODMAP Diet
Some of the primary concerns on a low-FODMAP diet are meeting nutritional needs and learning how to follow the diet itself. Many high-FODMAP foods are healthy, which makes it difficult to learn what you can and cannot eat.
These issues come head-on when patients attempt to start a low-FODMAP diet low without professional guidance. If you are looking for guidance on what to eat on a low-FODMAP diet, download the Monash Low FODMAP diet app. Monash University is the creator of the Low-FODMAP diet and their app is the gold standard for anyone new to the Low-FODMAP way of eating.
Should you try a low-FODMAP diet?
If you have IBS, it’s worth talking to your doctor to see if you should try a low-FODMAP diet. For many people, a Low FODMAP diet can drastically improve IBS-related gut symptoms and improve their quality of life.
That being said, a low-FODMAP diet isn’t for people with eating disorders, those with dietary restrictions, those trying to lose weight, or those who are pregnant. These people should speak with their doctor about alternatives like a FODMAP-gentle diet and nutrition and microbiome support. We also don't provide medical advice and suggest you should meet with your doctor or a GI specialist to determine if this diet is right for you.
ModifyHealth Can Help You
Interested in making the Low FODMAP diet simple and easy? Join ModifyHealth’s Low FODMAP meal plan where you can receive home-delivered, Monash University Low FODMAP certified meals and optional dietitian support to guide you through each phase of the program.
ModifyHealth is on a mission to allow people to be proactive about their health by using food as medicine. We believe that a balanced diet, exercise, and rest can help eliminate many chronic conditions that Americans suffer from today.
Visit www.modifyhealth.com to learn more about our delicious Low FODMAP meal plan and optional dietary support.