FODMAP is an abbreviation for Fermentable Oligo‐, Di‐ and Mono‐saccharides and Polyols. For a good reason, you might see why we shorten it to FODMAP! In other words, these are short-chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols. If they digest poorly, they can ferment in the large intestine. Fermentation can draw out water and produce carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and even methane gas. These can cause the intestine to expand. Unfortunately, as a result, some people may feel pain, bloating, gas, and other symptoms.
- Fructose: a sugar in many fruits and vegetables.
- Lactose: a sugar in many dairy foods such as yogurt or milk.
- Fructans: like fructose in many vegetables and grains.
- Galactans: primarily in legumes.
- Polyols: sugar alcohols, in artificial sweeteners and gum. Ingredient lists may read 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. Speak with a dietitian to see if you’d benefit from the low-FODMAP diet.
How to follow a low FODMAP diet
First and foremost, dietitians don’t recommend following this diet long term. This is because it is a highly restrictive diet that is followed for several weeks. During this time, you reintroduce foods to see which FODMAPs 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, each FODMAP is introduced back into the diet, one at a time. For example, fructose foods can be started back into the diet. Then, if there are no symptoms, another FODMAP can be tried after one week. This will help identify foods that are triggering the symptoms. Once you identify symptom-triggering foods, you can eliminate them.
For more information on the FODMAP diet, follow this link from Harvard Medical School. For one-on-one counseling about the FODMAP diet, follow this link. Our dietitians will guide you through the elimination and reintroduction phases. They will give you more tips and education on how to better manage your symptoms.
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.