You may notice us talking about the low FODMAP diet on a weekly basis around here. This is one of the main strategies I use to help people relieve digestive distress. I usually get loads of questions from clients and readers about following the diet, so in this article we answer your burning questions:
1. What is the Low FODMAP diet?
The low FODMAP diet is an evidence-based approach to reducing symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). For over then years, researchers have been conducting studies to show over 80% of people suffering with IBS feel significantly less symptoms (like gas, bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation) once following the diet for 4-8 weeks.
FODMAPs is an abbreviation that stands for:
Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols.
These complex names are for groups of poorly absorbed, short-chained sugars. Many individuals cannot digest or absorb this molecules, but for those with IBS, they symptoms are experienced much greater.
2. Do I have to follow this diet forever?
Nope. The low FODMAP diet, as with other elimination diets, is meant to be followed for a short period of time. Once you eliminate these foods that are most likely triggering digestive symptoms and start to feel better, you can add these high FODMAP foods back into your diet.
You do not need to cut out all foods that are high in FODMAPs for the rest of your life.
3. How do I know when to add foods back in?
This is a great question! The low FODMAP diet has been designed to follow along with the coaching and support of a Registered Dietitian. A registered dietitian is a nutrition expert with at least four years of university training in nutrition, an internship, and is regulated with a governing body. When working with an RD, you will come up with a custom plan on how long to follow the diet, how to get the best results and when to add foods back in. Most people begin the reintroduction/challenge phase after 4 to 12 weeks.
4. It seems like many high and low FODMAP lists contradict each other! Where do I get a true list of foods to eliminate and include in my diet?
You’re right! Many lists out there are incorrect. This is because the lab at Monash University in Australia is constantly updating their list as they test new foods. To truly stay up-to-date and get an accurate list of low FODMAP and high FODMAP foods use the low FODMAP app from Monash University.
5. Do I have to completely eliminate dairy foods?
Every body is different and responds to foods differently. To follow the low FODMAP diet you do not need to cut dairy foods out completely, but instead choose lactose-free dairy foods. This includes lactose-free cow’s milk, yogurt, and many cheese including cheddar, feta, and mozzarella cheese.
These foods still contain very small amounts of lactose. If you find that you are very sensitive to lactose or dairy foods, you may eliminate completely. Make sure to include other calcium rich foods like almond milk, salmon, almonds, etc. so you get enough of this nutrient.
6. What about medications, supplements and probiotics?
This is the most common question I get asked, and it’s a good one! Make sure that your medications are free of high FODMAP ingredients. I usually recommend clients avoid probiotics while they are making changes in their diet so they can truly find out if and what foods are causing digestive symptoms. Be cautious of probiotics as some formulas will contain milk or inulin which are high in FODMAPs.
7. Should I avoid gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. You do not need to eliminate this while following the low FODMAP diet. However, wheat, rye, and barley are high in the FODMAP “Fructan”, so should be avoided or consumed in very small quantities.
Choosing gluten-free foods may help you stick to the diet, but these foods can contain OTHER high FODMAP ingredients like milk, honey, inulin (chicory root), etc. so be sure to read the labels and use a trusted source for your FODMAP list (as mentioned above).
8. Are there any books that are good for IBS or following the Low FODMAP Diet?
Absolutely! The two best, most up-to-date resources for dealing with IBS and implementing the low FODMAP diet are:
The IBS Master Plan by Stephanie Clairmont, RD (that’s me!)
The Complete Low FODMAP Diet by Sue Shepherd, PhD and Peter Gibson, MD
Do you have more questions about the low FODMAP diet? We would love to answer them! It can be confusing, but you’re not alone 😉
Much love & good eating,
Stephanie & the Team