Low FODMAP explained

FODMAP is an acronym that stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. FODMAPs are simply a group of carbohydrates found in food, but some people, like me, can’t absorb all or some of them very well. If they are not absorbed, they become a food source for the bacteria living in our digestive track. That’s what can cause all sorts of symptoms typically associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): abdominal bloating and distension, abdominal pain, nausea, changes in digestion and other gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, etc.

Monash University has a great video of what that looks like:

FODMAPs are rather complex and the avoid/allowed list is getting updated regularly thanks to the fantastic work of researchers at the Monash University and beyond. The Monash app will be extremely helpful to find your way.

Here are some examples of what foods you should avoid (Source: Shepherd Works):

  • Fermentable
  • Oligosaccharides
    • Fructans: Artichokes (Globe), Artichokes(Jerusalem), Garlic (in large amounts), Leek, Onion (brown, white, Spanish, onion powder), Spring Onion (white part), Shallots, Wheat (in large amounts), Rye (in large amounts), Barley (in large amounts), Inulin, Fructo-oligosaccharides.
    • Galacto-Oligosaccharides (GOS): Legume beans (eg. baked beans, kidney beans, bortolotti beans), Lentils, Chickpeas
  • Dissaccharides, e.g. Lactose: Milk, icecream, custard, dairy desserts, condensed and evaporated milk, milk powder, yoghurt, soft unripened cheeses (eg. ricotta, cottage, cream, marscarpone).
  • Monosaccharides, e.g. Excess Fructose: Honey, Apples, Mango, Pear, Watermelon, High Fructose Corn Syrup,
  • Polyols: Apples, Apricots, Avocado, Cherries, Nectarines, Pears, Plums, Prunes, Mushrooms, sorbitol (420), mannitol (421), xylitol (967), maltitol (965) and isomalt (953).

My Low FODMAP diet

The Low FODMAP diet is intended to be a two-phase diet of elimination and reintroduction. After an elimination of all foods with high FODMAPs (6-8 weeks), the patient would slowly and steadily reintroduce foods to test his or her tolerance levels. It’s advisable to consult a nutritionist/dietitian at this point.

That said, I haven’t. I’ve strictly followed Sue Shepherd’s great books and the Monash app, I’ve been keeping a diary and done my research. I’ve since tested a few food groups – apples, mushrooms, soy – with terrible results. Due to my joint hypermobility syndrome, testing a food group and reacting to it with pain can trigger a flare-up, i.e. the stakes are higher for me when reintroducing. I’ve steered away from testing recently to get better, but I haven’t given up yet.

I’m not a nutritionist, so I begged and stole bits and bobs from those that are. The best resources I’ve found on my quest are Dr Sue Shepherd, Monash University and the FODMAP Monash blog.

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