The Low FODMAP Diet

What are FODMAPs? 

FODMAP stands for: Fermentable Oligosaccharide, Disaccharide, Monosaccharide and Polys. These are groups of short chain carbohydrates that are not readily or properly digested and absorbed in the small intestine. Poor absorption of these foods can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort. Common symptoms associated with poor absorption of FODMAPs include gas, diarrhea, constipation, cramping and bloating.  

FODMAPs can be found in a variety of foods and can be further broken down into 6 categories. Oligosaccharides include the groups Fructan and GOS, which can be found in foods such as beans/legumes, wheat, garlic, onion, brussels sprouts, and beets. Disaccharides include lactose found in dairy products such as milk, yogurts, and soft cheeses. Monosaccharides include fructose, which is found in foods such as honey, asparagus, high fructose corn syrup and fruit juices. Polys include the groups sorbitol and mannitol, which are found in foods such as pitted fruits, mushrooms, and celery.  

What is a low FODMAP diet? 

A low FODMAP diet is a temporary elimination style diet with a goal of identifying trigger foods. This diet is NOT designed for long term use and should only be completed under the guidance of a registered dietitian or doctor. The diet starts with an elimination phase focusing on decreasing/eliminating high FODMAP intake. In this phase the goal is to reduce symptoms such as gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. Following symptom relief/resolution individuals will complete a detailed reintroduction phase to identify which categories or foods may be more triggering. Once triggers foods are established individuals and their dietitian will compile a “customized” low FODMAP diet, targeting the avoidance of trigger foods.  

Who benefits from a low FODMAP diet?  

A low FODMAP diet is highly restrictive and not designed for everyone. Currently a low FODMAP diet is recommended for those individuals with diagnosed IBS and those suffering from SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). FODMAPs are readily fermented in all guts, not just those with IBS/SIBO. However due to increased gut sensitivity and possible motility issues, FODMAPs are more likely to cause distress in those with IBS. It is important to only follow a low FODMAP diet under the guidance of a registered dietitian or doctor.  

How can a Registered Dietitian assist in this process?  

A low FODMAP diet is highly restrictive and not appropriate for everyone. Prior to starting, talk to a registered dietitian or your doctor to be sure it is right for you. While this diet may be restrictive, a registered dietitian can help ensure that you are still managing needs and receiving proper nutrition through this process. A dietitian will also be able to provide guidance on things such as meal planning, grocery shopping and eating out. Reintroduction is an imperative part of this diet process. A dietitian will assist you in proper reintroduction and identification of trigger foods. This will help transition to long term management and maintenance following a customized plan.  

If you are struggling with managing a gastrointestinal disease, and would like to discuss trying a low FODMAP diet or other dietary change, schedule an appointment with one of our GI specialists.

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