Low FODMAP Diet: A Comprehensive Guide
Do you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn's Disease, ulcerative colitis, or other food intolerances? If so, then the Low FODMAP diet might be for you.
The Low FODMAP diet is the most recommended diet by doctors and dietitians for people with chronic digestive health issues. The Low FODMAP diet was created by researchers at Monash University and is designed to manage IBS and related conditions by eliminating certain foods that are difficult to digest. The diet is effective in reducing IBS symptoms in up to 80% of people who try it.
This article will discuss what this diet consists of and whether it can help improve your quality of life.
A Beginner's Guide to the Low-FODMAP Diet
The Low FODMAP diet for IBS is a clinically proven and researched dietary approach that can help with managing IBS symptoms. FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates that can cause gastrointestinal distress and other negative gut symptoms in people with a chronic digestive condition.
The meal plan involves eliminating foods that are high in FODMAPS from the diet and gradually reintroducing them to see which one's trigger symptoms.
Low FODMAP Diet Resources
For those looking for resources on the Low FODMAP diet, the Monash FODMAP website is the gold standard for education and recipes. Monash University also has an app for smart phones that has tons of great features that will help you accomplish the Low FODMAP diet and determine which foods are high or Low FODMAP.
Our website, modifyhealth.com, also has a wealth of information on the low-FODMAP diet, including a food list, recipes, and fully prepared Low FODMAP meals.
We also recommend helpful dietitian websites and blogs such as world renowned FODMAP dietitian Patsy Catsos’ blog – IBS – Free at Last!
Main Goal of the Low FODMAP Diet
The goal of the Low FODMAP diet is to identify which foods trigger IBS symptoms and then avoid eating these certain foods to limit digestive discomfort.
After a few weeks in the elimination or restrictive phase of the diet, many people find they can start reintroducing some higher FODMAP foods back into their diets one at a time to see how they tolerate them.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to the diet, so it's important to work with a registered dietitian who can help you personalize the diet for your own needs. Luckily, we have dietitian support here at ModifyHealth or you can find a Monash University certified dietitian by visiting their website.
Conditions that the Low FODMAP diet treats
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a condition that is characterized by abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and/or diarrhea. Irritable bowel syndrome is the most common digestive disorder in the United States with approximately 25-45 million people suffering from this condition. People with IBS can typically use the Low FODMAP diet to ease their IBS symptoms.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a condition that causes inflammation in the digestive tract. An estimated 3-5 million people in the US suffer from IBD. Some common symptoms of IBD include abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhea, weight loss, and anemia.
Crohn's disease is a type of IBD that affects any part of the digestive tract, like the small intestine and/or large intestine. Crohn's disease can cause severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, and anemia.
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth
SIBO is a condition caused by the overgrowth of bad bacteria in the small intestine. Some common side effects of SIBO are gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, and nutritional deficiencies.
What is a FODMAP?
FODMAP stands for fermentable, oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. These are all types of carbohydrates that can be difficult to digest for some people with IBS and/or other digestive conditions. FODMAPs are found in a wide variety of foods, so it can be tricky to determine which ones you should avoid.
For example, a common FODMAP ingredient that is abundant in processed foods is high fructose corn syrup. High fructose corn syrup is not good for your overall health and many people with IBS cannot process this ingredient.
The Basics of a Low FODMAP Diet Plan
Here are some basic principles of the diet that you need to know about before starting:
- If possible, work with a dietitian to guide you through the diet.
- Avoid or limit high-FODMAP foods which we will discuss more of later.
- Craft your diet in the elimination phase around only Low FODMAP foods.
- Use lactose-free dairy products if you eat dairy.
- Drink plenty of water because it can help prevent dehydration and constipation.
- If you're taking a probiotic supplement, make sure it's low in FODMAPs.
- If you're not sure where to start, ask your doctor or dietitian for advice on creating a personalized diet plan.
Benefits of Low FODMAP Diet
The benefits of following a Low FODMAP diet are vast and can have a significant impact on your quality of life if you suffer from IBS, IBD, Crohn's disease, SIBO or any other gastrointestinal disorders. You may experience the following:
- Less abdominal pain
- Improved digestive symptoms
- Less bloating symptoms
- Less flatulence and constipation
- Fewer episodes of diarrhea
- Increased quality of life
- Improved bowel function
Tips for Following a Low FODMAP Meal Plan
A Low FODMAP diet is a great way to reduce negative symptoms for people with IBS, IBD, Crohn's disease or SIBO. The food list can be helpful with the meal plan, but it's not easy for everyone to understand the foods that are allowed or prohibited.
There are several mistakes' people make when trying to adhere to this type of diet. Luckily, we have several tips for creating a Low FODMAP meal plan that may help reduce your symptoms.
- Before starting the diet, make sure you consult a healthcare provider.
- Start the day with a breakfast containing Low FODMAP foods. This can be helpful to ensure one does not go hungry during the rest of the day. This is also important because hunger can lead to overeating or reaching for an off-limits snack.
- If you're having trouble following the diet and don't notice any improvement in your digestive health, consult a doctor or dietitian.
- Some recipes and websites offer a Low FODMAP meal plan. It's important to find ones that fit your personal preferences and dietary needs. ModifyHealth makes it easier to stick with the Low FODMAP diet plan in the long run by providing you with Monash certified Low FODMAP meals and dietitian support.
- Avoid potentially high FODMAP food like onion-infused oil, garlic, soy sauce, processed foods, packaged foods, and legumes. Instead, focus on incorporating vegetables, green beans, and fruits into your meals. It is also important to be mindful of portion sizes.
- Make sure to drink plenty of fluids. This is especially important while following a Low FODMAP diet as dehydration can lead to further digestive problems. Water, tea, and coffee are all good options.
- Limit eating out at restaurants, particularly during the elimination phase, to prevent eating potentially problematic foods. It can be difficult to find meals that meet the Low FODMAP requirements and it's also hard to know how the food was prepared. You can order fully prepared, Monash certified Low FODMAP meals from modifyhealth.com
- Keep a food journal. This will help keep track of what foods are eaten during each meal or snack throughout the day. It also helps with identifying patterns of any digestive symptoms.
- Going forward, it is important not to return to old habits. This means avoiding high FODMAP foods even if they are normally allowed on a regular diet plan. The Low FODMAP food list should still be followed for at least two to six weeks before adding back in some of the higher FODMAP food.
For more information on the Low FODMAP diet, please visit Monash University's website as they have a wealth of resources to help with meal planning. You can also visit modifyhealth.com for more Low FODMAP resources.
How do I get started on a Low FODMAP diet?
A Low FODMAP diet is a great way for people with IBS to manage their symptoms. There is scientific evidence backing this diet and many resources are available including an app called Monash University Low FODMAP Diet App that can help you do this. This will give you a better understanding of which foods need to be avoided on the diet and which ones are safe to eat. Here’s a guide on how to get started.
First, you need to determine if a Low FODMAP diet is right for you by consulting with a healthcare provider. The next step is to eliminate high FODMAP foods from your diet for two to six weeks. During this time, keep a food diary to help identify any patterns you may observe in your symptoms.
Gradually introduce Low FODMAP foods back into the diet, one at a time and over two to three days each. Pay attention to how you feel before eating them and after taking the food. If there are any symptoms, avoid them for six months to give yourself more time to heal.
Once you’ve reintroduced all the FODMAPs, you should understand which FODMAPs cause negative gastrointestinal symptoms. This is where you can develop your new diet based around avoiding foods that contain the FODMAPs that you digestive system cannot tolerate.
For a more in-depth guide on how to get started on a Low FODMAP diet, click here.
Low FODMAP Foods
Foods on a Low FODMAP diet can be delicious and healthy. They are also great for overall digestive health since they contain soluble fiber that can help improve the function of the gastrointestinal tract and reduce constipation, diarrhea, nausea or gas. There are many different foods that you can enjoy on the diet. Here is a list of Low FODMAP foods:
Common Low FODMAP foods:
- 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
Common High FODMAP foods to avoid
Here are some foods that you should avoid due to the amount of FODMAPS they contain:
- Legumes (Kidney Beans)
- Most cow’s milk and soy milk products
- Most Lactose free milk
- Dried Fruit
- Cottage Cheese
For more information on what you can and cannot eat on a Low FODMAP diet, click here.
A 7-Day Low FODMAP Diet Plan
If you are looking for many recipes to treat your irritable bowel syndrome, then you’re in the right place! The following will provide step-by-step instructions on what foods to eat and avoid while managing IBS through an elimination diet.
Day 1 - Monday
Breakfast: a simple bowl of oatmeal with fruit or lactose free yogurt and toast with peanut butter.
Lunch: an avocado or egg salad sandwich on whole wheat bread.
Dinner: chicken served over brown rice pilaf with steamed broccoli for a side dish.
Day 2 - Tuesday
Breakfast: Eggs or toast with gluten free peanut butter.
Lunch: Turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread or a salad with grilled chicken or fish.
Dinner: Tomato sauce with ground beef over whole wheat noodles. You can also have steamed vegetables on the side.
Day 3 - Wednesday
Breakfast: Toast or an English muffin with avocado or eggs.
Lunch: Tuna salad or grilled chicken over brown rice pilaf.
Dinner: Pizza. Use whole-wheat thin crust along with tomatoes instead of sauce for your toppings to cut back on excess fructose. You can also have a side salad or steamed veggies.
Day 4 - Thursday
Breakfast: Oatmeal with fruit or yogurt and toast with peanut butter.
Lunch: Chicken noodle soup along with crackers to cut back on excess fructose intake.
Dinner: Grilled fish served over brown rice pilaf with green vegetables for the side.
Day 5 - Friday
Breakfast: Eggs or an English muffin with peanut butter.
Lunch: Turkey bacon and sliced tomato sandwich over whole wheat bread along. Fresh fruit like apples or grapes for dessert. This helps to cut back on excess fructose intake.
Dinner: Grilled steak served over brown rice pilaf topped with steamed broccoli.
Day 6 - Saturday
Breakfast: Lactose-free Yoghurt or poached eggs with toast as snacks throughout the day. You can also enjoy coffee or tea or lactose-free milk or sweeteners.
Lunch: Take the leftovers from last night's dinner.
Dinner: A hearty soup made with vegetables and chicken sausage.
Day 7 - Sunday
Breakfast: Pancakes or waffles with fruit, green tea, or black tea.
Lunch: A simple sandwich with cheese and lunch meat on whole-wheat bread.
Dinner: A Low FODMAP version of your favorite dish - whatever that may be. You can take a lactose-free yogurt with it.
Is the Low FODMAP diet bad for you?
Always consult with a healthcare provider first to ensure the Low FODMAP diet is right for you. Some people argue that the Low FODMAP diet is bad because of the elimination of so many types of foods from your diet. The goal of the Low FODMAP diet is expand your diet and not limit it long-term.
Ultimately, only you can decide if the diet is right for you. If you are experiencing significant digestive issues, then the diet may be worth trying. Just be sure to talk to a physician or registered dietitian before starting the diet, as they can help make sure you are still getting all the nutrients your body needs. If you need dietitian support, then click here.
In general, the Low FODMAP diet should only be followed for a short period as the main goal is the identify your specific trigger foods and then expand your diet. Once your digestive issues have improved and you've determined which FODMAPs you have trouble digesting, you can start customizing your new diet.
Who should avoid a Low FODMAP diet?
People with IBS, SIBO, IBD, and Crohn's disease may benefit from the diet, but people who don't suffer from one of these gastrointestinal disorders most likely don't need the Low FODMAP diet.
Pregnant women shouldn't try out the diet without consulting their doctors first since it could reduce nutrient intake for both mother and baby during pregnancy which isn't safe.
Easiest Way To Start A Low FODMAP Diet
Once you've been diagnosed with a digestive condition by your doctor or dietitian, the easiest way to start the diet is by using a Low FODMAP meal delivery service like ModifyHealth.
ModifyHealth delivers fully prepared, chef-crafted Low FODMAP meals right to your front door with FREE shipping. ModifyHealth helps you put your Low FODMAP diet on autopilot so you can get the symptom relief and results that you deserve. To see our Low FODMAP meal menu, click here.