What the FODMAP!?!
"What are FODMAPs?"
OK, let's start with FODMAPs – what are they? They're a type of carbohydrates found in a range of foods.
More specifically, FODMAP is an acronym for:
- Oligosaccharides (Fructans & Galacto-oligosaccharides)
- Disaccharides (Lactose)
- Monosaccharides (Excess Fructose)
- Polyols (Sorbitol & Mannitol)
What foods have FODMAPs?
FODMAPs are found in a lot of different foods, in varying quantities.
There are commonly known culprits like onion, garlic, wheat, apples, honey, dates, and milk.
There are random curveballs like watermelon, asparagus, cauliflower, beans, avocado, and mushrooms.
And then it gets even more complicated with things like broccoli that are both high FODMAP and low FODMAP, depending on which part you eat (FYI head of the broccoli = fine, stalks = bad).
How do you know if you're intolerant to FODMAPs?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is extremely common – it affects ONE IN FIVE PEOPLE! Symptoms vary but watch out for the following:
1. You're often bloated or have tummy aches
If you're intolerant to FODMAPs, they're not absorbed properly in the intestines. This often causes bloating and stomach muscle spasms.
2. Eating healthy food makes you feel worse
FODMAPs are mostly found in healthy foods – vegetables, fruits, grains. So if eating lots of these foods gives you a stomach ache, the issue could be FODMAPs.
3. You're struggling to identify the culprit
Your gut reacts to lots of different meals but you can't figure out what's causing it. FODMAPs are in so many different foods so it's often hard to pinpoint the culprit – even more so when you factor in FODMAP stacking.
4. Your toilet trips are not so regular
You frequently need to rush to the toilet with diarrhoea or you struggle with constipation. FODMAP intolerance affects everyone differently so either of these may be an indicator.
What's the low FODMAP diet?
The low FODMAP diet was developed by Monash University. It is the best proven way to manage the symptoms of IBS and helps 75% of sufferers.
The low FODMAP diet involves identifying your specific triggers and eliminating those from your diet. It does NOT mean cutting out all FODMAPs forever – that would be a sad way to live but it would also be bad for your health.
There are three phases of the low FODMAP diet:
1) Elimination phase
This part involves removing all FODMAPs from your diet but only for 2-6 weeks. It's basically like a reset. Most people's symptoms improve during this phase.
2) Reintroduction/challenge phase
After you've reset your gut, you introduce the FODMAPs one at a time to see if they trigger a reaction. These are Fructose, Lactose, Fructans, Polyols and Galacto-oligosaccharides (they're different to the FODMAP acronym, yes). This step takes 6-8 weeks.
It would look like this:
- Drink ½-1 glass of milk for up to 5 days in a row: if your symptoms worsen = likely intolerant to Lactose
- Eat 2-4 slices of regular bread for up to 5 days: if your symptoms worsen = likely intolerant to Fructans
3) Personalisation phase
Once you know what your trigger FODMAPs are, you only need to eliminate those from your diet. You're free and recommended to eat everything else!
This is where the Monash FODMAP app comes in handy. It contains hundreds of foods that have had their FODMAP levels tested. You can toggle your individual intolerances in the settings so that it filters foods that are safe (green light) or unsafe (red light) for YOU!
It looks like this:
And then... it will tell you which foods to avoid using the traffic light system (i.e. green is good to go, red will likely make your tummy explode).
Are Fodbods safe to eat on the low FODMAP diet?
Fodbods are safe to eat during all phases of the low FODMAP diet, as well as being a fantastic source of energy and nutrients.
When you see the FODMAP Friendly and Monash FODMAP logos, you can trust the food has been laboratory tested and certified as low FODMAP (for that serving). No label inspection required, regardless of what your triggers are.