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FODMAP 101: A beginner's guide to the FODMAP diet

You may have seen the term low-FODMAP on various recipes we have (like this delicious eggplant parmesan) and wondered what on earth does that mean?!

Welcome to the beginner's guide to what in the world FODMAP is!

In sciency terms - FODMAP is an acronym for fermented oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols, the types of carbohydrates that some people have a harder time absorbing which can cause digestive distress.

In more public-friendly terms - FODMAP stands for those foods of destruction, mass aching, and putrid bathrooms. Not for everyone though. More on that later.

Examples of foods that are low FODMAP (aka have fewer of these types of carbs):

  1. Eggs, tofu, and meat

  2. Some cheeses like brie and feta

  3. Plant-based milk like almond milk

  4. Rice, quinoa, and oats

  5. Eggplant, potatoes, cucumbers. zucchini, lettuce

  6. Grapes, oranges, strawberries, blueberries

Examples of foods that are high FODMAP (aka have more of these types of carbs):

  1. Cow milk, yogurt, ice cream

  2. Wheat-based products like bread and cereal

  3. Beans and lentils

  4. Artichokes, asparagus, onions

  5. Apples, peaches, pears, blackberries

  6. Onions and garlic


How Does The Low-FODMAP Diet Work?

The Low-FODMAP diet is an elimination and reintroduction-based diet consisting of 3 steps.

Step 1: Replace high FODMAP foods with low FODMAP foods for about 2 to 6 weeks.

For example, if you normally eat cereal in the morning, swap it out for a hearty oatmeal option. By eliminating the foods that could be causing symptoms you allow your body to recuperate from the triggers which creates an almost "blank slate" for you to experiment with in step 2.

Step 2: If symptoms have improved in 2 to 6 weeks, slowly reintroduce higher FODMAP foods into your diet to see how your body reacts to them.

Some foods are only high in one of the FODMAP categories, so starting with those and monitoring symptoms for about 3 days for each food can help determine possible sensitivities to each category. Some foods are higher in multiple so if you reintroduce those first, there is no way of knowing which category caused a problem (if there is one). This step can certainly take a while and will require a lot of patience and symptom tracking.

Step 3: Relax restriction and include tolerable foods and restrict symptom-causing foods.

The long-term goal here is to establish a custom diet that includes as much variety as your body can handle and limits foods that exacerbate your symptoms. If your body can tolerate apples enjoy! If one scoop of ice cream sends you to the bathroom for an entire weekend, save it for the most special of occasions. The power in this step is knowing your body and what affects it so you aren't crying on your bathroom floor at 3 AM wondering why oh why is this happening to you.

Who Is Low-FODMAP For?

This is not a weight-loss-oriented diet. While weight loss may happen, it is not the goal.

This diet is ideal for people who suffer from gastrointestinal issues like IBS and SIBO.

When some people eat high FODMAP foods they experience symptoms like:

  1. Cramping

  2. Diarrhea

  3. Constipation

  4. Stomach Bloating

  5. Gas and Flatulence

  6. Changes in bowel habits that are directly related to diet

Not everyone will have all of these symptoms or the same symptoms. If you experience any of these or similar gastrointestinal discomfort please inform your doctor.

While this diet has produced great results for people who are suffering, it is absolutely one that should be done under the guidance of a registered dietitian. There are too many variables and too many restrictions for most people to have success without accidentally eating food they should eliminate or not eating enough of the foods they can eat during step 1. Also, having the support of someone with extensive knowledge during step 2 to ensure you are reintroducing and assessing foods accurately is invaluable. The goal is knowledge and a future of controlled symptoms so you can live your best life!

If you read this and think "wait a minute ... I cry on the bathroom floor at 3 AM because I can't keep food down or have a normal bowel movement," I want to say first of all, so sorry you are suffering! Secondly, Danielle would LOVE to talk and get to know you better. You can click HERE to schedule a FREE 30-minute discovery call to figure out how she can help you on your journey to health and a happy gut!

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