The Simple Guide to the FODMAP Diet

September 21, 2023

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Written by Marusa Zamorano, MD, General Surgeon Specialised in Abdominal Surgeries, endoscopies and proctology

Have you ever heard about the FODMAP diet? If digestive discomfort is a regular visitor in your life, this could be the game-changer you’re looking for. So grab a pen and take some notes for later on 🙂

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FODMAP Diet isn't for everyone so check with your doctor

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What Exactly is FODMAP?

Let’s start with the basics. FODMAP is an acronym that stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols. Quite the mouthful, right? Simply put, FODMAPs are a collection of short-chain carbohydrates that can be troublesome for some people’s digestive systems, especially for those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). They can cause symptoms like diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gas, and even abdominal pain.

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The Troublesome Foods: High FODMAP Examples

Identifying high FODMAP foods can be a bit challenging at first. To get you started, here are some examples:

* Fructose-Rich Foods:

Think apples, pears, watermelon, asparagus, sugar snap peas, and even some sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup and honey.

* Lactose-Loaded Items:

This includes delightful treats and staples like custard, ice cream, milk, cheese, and yogurt.

* Polyol Packed Foods:

Some fruits like apricots, nectarines, peaches, and plums are culprits, as well as veggies like cauliflower. Some sweeteners, such as sorbitol, also fall under this category.

* Fructan Favorites:

These can be found in veggies like Brussels sprouts, garlic, and onion, and even in grains like rye and wheat.

* Galactan Go-tos:

If you’re munching on chickpeas, various legumes, lentils, or even nuts like pistachios and cashews, you’re having galactans.

How to Go Low FODMAP

Starting a FODMAP diet has nothing to do with making swift and drastic changes and for best results, it’s advisable to connect with a dietitian who can guide you through it. Here’s a rough roadmap:

* The Elimination Phase:

Here, you’ll swap out high FODMAP foods with low FODMAP alternatives for about 2-6 weeks.

* The Reintroduction Phase:

Slow and steady is the best way to go! One by one, reintroduce FODMAPs to your diet. Add one every three days, spreading this phase over 8-12 weeks.

* The Maintenance Phase:

This is where you strike a balance. Understand which foods your body is okay with and which ones make it protest. Aim for a harmonious relationship between FODMAP-rich and low-FODMAP foods.

Does Everyone with IBS Benefit from this Diet?

The short answer: No, not everyone. While many individuals with IBS find relief with a low FODMAP diet, it isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. It might alleviate certain symptoms like bloating or gas, but it’s not a guaranteed cure for everyone.

What to do When the FODMAP Diet Doesn’t Work.

It’s essential to remember that the FODMAP diet isn’t intended as a forever plan. If you don’t notice any improvements after giving it a fair shot, it’s crucial to reintroduce foods and aim for a varied diet. The long-term goal is always about balance – improving symptoms without compromising on nutrition.

In a nutshell, while the FODMAP diet might seem intimidating at first, with patience and the right guidance, it can be a useful tool in managing digestive discomfort. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any significant changes to your diet. And remember, every person is unique – what works for one might not work for another. Stay patient, stay informed, and here’s to a happier gut!

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