Following a low-FODMAP eating plan may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to feel that way. With a little know-how or the help of a dietitian (plus today’s access to a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and dairy and wheat alternatives), you can still enjoy all of your favorite dishes.
What Is A Low-FODMAP Diet?
FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols, which are short-chain carbohydrates that can trigger digestive symptoms in people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Different FODMAPs are found in a variety of foods. Oligosaccharides are found in foods like wheat, rye, garlic and onions. Disaccharides are in milk products and soft cheeses. Monosaccharides are found in fruits and sweeteners that are high in fructose, while polyols lurk in some vegetables as well as fruit and artificial sweeteners.
People who follow a low-FODMAP diet either avoid or only eat small amounts of FODMAPs that they find worsen their IBS symptoms. Not all FODMAPs cause issues for all patients. In some cases, none of them do. The goal is to first identify which FODMAPs can be tolerated, and then permanently reduce or avoid those that trigger digestive symptoms with a low-FODMAP eating plan.
Who Should Follow A Low-FODMAP Diet?
IBS affects between 25 and 45 million Americans, according to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD). Many of those people find the low-FODMAP diet beneficial in managing their symptoms. The diet often does not eliminate symptoms entirely, but it can drastically reduce them for many people with IBS. Because FODMAPs contain prebiotics that are important for gut health, a low-FODMAP diet is only recommended for patients with diagnosed gastrointestinal conditions.
What Foods Should I Avoid On A Low-FODMAP Diet?
- Fruits high in fructose and sorbitol (such as apples, cherries, mangos, pears, watermelon, plums, peaches and dried fruit) should be avoided. Vegetables high in fructose or mannitol are also FODMAPs. Examples include onions, leeks, garlic, cauliflower, asparagus, green peas and sugar snap peas.
- Wheat, rye and barley grains; breads; and cereals are all high-FODMAP foods that should be avoided or reduced. Gluten-free alternatives are often a good option. Staples like rice, oats, quinoa and sourdough bread can all be eaten.
- Cow’s milk, soy milk and all products made from these milks (such as ice cream and yogurt) are high in FODMAPs. Lactose-free and milk alternatives (like almond or coconut milks) can be consumed, along with butter, feta, brie, camembert and hard cheeses.
- Meat eaters don’t have to change a whole lot. Red meat, poultry, eggs and seafood are FODMAP-free, while processed, pre-seasoned or marinated meats made with high-FODMAP ingredients should be avoided.
- Most seeds and nuts are low-FODMAP, with the main exceptions being pistachios and cashews.
- Polyols are found in artificially sweetened food and drinks, along with high fructose corn syrup and honey. Alternatives include table sugar, maple syrup and rice malt syrup. Chocolate lovers can indulge their sweet tooth with dark chocolate.
What Does A Low-FODMAP Eating Plan Look Like?
Low-FODMAP diets require some substitutions and/or moderation when it comes to particular foods. On the whole, patients following a low-FODMAP diet can eat most of the foods they have always enjoyed. Here are some sample meals to give you an idea of what a low-FODMAP diet can include.
- Lactose-free yogurt with granola and fruit
- Overnight oats made with lactose-free milk and optional plant protein powder, a pinch of cinnamon and fruit
- Scrambled, fried or poached eggs or an omelet or frittata with vegetables and optional wheat/rye/barley-free toast or as a breakfast burrito with avocado
- Oatmeal, quinoa or buckwheat porridge with low-FODMAP extras like peanut butter, maple syrup and certain fruits
- Smoothie made with low-FODMAP ingredients, such as a milk alternative or lactose-free milk, plant protein powder, greens, unripe or small banana, and ice
- Oat and banana pancakes with maple syrup
LUNCH & DINNER:
- Hearty soups like Mexican tortilla, Thai chicken with rice noodles, tomato or pumpkin
- Salads paired with lean protein or seafood
- Oven-roasted chicken, beef, lamb or pork roast with vegetables
- Grilled chicken, brie and sourdough sandwich with roasted cherry tomatoes
- Rice noodle dishes like shrimp pad Thai
- Power bowls filled with healthy options like greens, roasted vegetables, brown rice and lentils
- Cauliflower pizza (or other low-FODMAP crusts) with toppings like marinara sauce, bell peppers, tomatoes, olives and mozzarella cheese
- Pasta dishes such as carbonara, primavera and ragu made with low-FODMAP gluten-free pasta
The team at GastroIntestinal Specialists, A.M.C., treats multiple conditions and diseases of the GI tract. Our Board-Certified physicians have over 150 years of combined experience in providing quality care that you can trust. To schedule an appointment, call (318) 631-9121 or click here.