FODMAPs: Mapping your Way to Gut Comfort
Submitted by: Emily Seferovich
Edited by: Marcia Bristow MS RDN CD
Navigating the shelves of a grocery store can be risky business for someone with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or Crohn’s Disease. Many foods plunge these individuals into a flurry of symptoms ranging from painful bloating and cramping, to uncomfortable gas and irregular bowel movements1,2. Luckily, there may be a solution, and it goes by the odd name of FODMAPs.
FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Pylols; although spelling it is certainly a mouthful, these are all complex terms for a simple concept. The FODMAP eating plan limits foods that contain the five sugars that cause the common symptoms associated with IBS and Crohn’s. The first of these sugars is fructose, which can be found in foods like fruit, honey, corn syrup, and high fructose corn syrup. The second is lactose, a sugar in unprocessed dairy foods such as milk. fructans are found in wheat, garlic, onion, and inulin. galactans are found in legumes such as beans, lentils, and soybeans. The last group is the polyol group, present in stone fruits such as avocado, apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, and plums. While many of these tasty foods promote health, limiting their consumption can help reduce uncomfortable symptoms that accompany IBS and Crohn’s Disease3.
Foods that fit well in the FODMAPs eating plan include oatmeal (a good source of fiber), eggs, meats, tofu, lactose-free, or dairy-free milk substitutes (such as almond, soy, or coconut milks). Gluten-free grains (such as corn, quinoa, spelt, rice, etc.…), fruits such as bananas, blueberries, or cantaloupe, and vegetables such as bell peppers, carrots, eggplant and green beans also fit well into a FODMAPs eating plan. Experts from Stanford University encourage FODMAPers to adhere to food lists to help them stay on track (you can find a link to one below).
One way to determine which of the FODMAP sugars is triggering your symptoms is to try the diet for several weeks (six weeks is typical). Afterwards, add each of the high-FODMAP groups back into your diet one-by-one to identify which of them are resulting in discomfort. During the trial weeks, you can try a few delicious FODMAP-approved snacks, such as corn tortilla and cheddar cheese quesadillas, fruit smoothies blended with strawberries and lactose-free milk, or oatmeal topped with almonds, banana, and blueberry! If you’re willing to take the challenge, FODMAPs could become an effective way to help diminish the symptoms of Irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s Disease.
For a link to a FODMAP food list, visit: http://ow.ly/MLHQ8
Scarlata, Kate RDN. The FODMAPs Approach — Minimize Consumption of Fermentable Carbs to Manage Functional Gut Disorder Symptoms. http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/072710p30.shtml. Accessed May 10, 2015.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. Crohn’s disease – Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/crohns-disease/basics/definition/CON-20032061. Accessed May 10, 2015.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. Irritable bowel syndrome – Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome/basics/definition/CON-20024578. Accessed May 10, 2015.
- lowfodmapdiet.pdf. https://stanfordhealthcare.org/content/dam/SHC/for-patients-component/programs-services/clinical-nutrition-services/docs/pdf-lowfodmapdiet.pdf. Accessed May 10, 2015.