Can the FODMAP Diet really help with IBS?

fodmap diet plan

The FODMAP diet was developed in 1999 by Dr.Sue Shepard for people dealing with the uncomfortable symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, which includes abdominal pain or bloating, excessive wind (flatulence), changes in bowel pattern (constipation, diarrhoea, or a combination of both) and other types of gastrointestinal discomfort. Today, the FODMAP diet has been recognized as an effective diet therapy and consumers are able to easily access fodmap diet recipes or low fodmap diet books by searching online or visiting local bookstores.


FODMAP Diet Explained

FODMAP is an acronym for Fermentable Oligo, Di and Monosaccharide And Polyols (sugar alcohols). These are molecules found in many foods that are hard to digest for some people. What happens is these FODMAPs do not get properly digested in the stomach, or small intestine. When they reach the large intestine, they become a source of food for the bacteria that normally live there. The fermentation and digestion that occurs as a result of the bacteria feeding off of the FODMAPs is what is responsible for the IBS symptoms listed above.


Therefore, for people suffering from IBS symptoms, there are two routes when it comes to following the FODMAP diet:


1) Take FODMAPs in smaller than usual amounts. You may see an improvement in your symptoms and this will be a sign that the FODMAP diet is working for you. You can then decide if you want to stay at this intake level or further adjust your diet to control your symptoms.


2) Try the FODMAP elimination diet and stop eating all foods containing FODMAPs. When you’re ready, reintroduce small traces of FODMAPs into your diet and track your IBS symptoms in a journal. Notice how your body reacts to these foods and find your balance between enjoying FODMAP containing foods and being IBS symptom free.


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FODMAP List of Foods (not a complete list)

  • Grain Products:
    • wheat (in large amounts)
    • brown rice
    • kamut
    • spelt, rye (in large amounts)
    • barley (in large amounts)
  • Vegetables:
    • asparagus
    • artichokes (globe and Jerusalem)
    • sun chokes
    • avocado
    • broccoli
    • beetroot
    • cabbage
    • brussels sprouts
    • cauliflower
    • chicory
    • fennel
    • onions
    • garlic
    • leeks
    • radicchio
    • shallots
    • mushrooms
  • Fruits:
    • apples
    • apricots
    • cherries
    • grapes
    • mango
    • nectarines
    • peaches
    • pears
    • plums
    • prunes
    • pineapples
    • watermelon
    • fruit juices
  • Milk and Alternatives:
    • milk (fresh, powder, condensed, or evaporated)
    • custard
    • yogurt
    • ice-ceam
    • dairy desserts
    • soft unripened cheeses (such as ricotta, cottage, cream, marscarpone)
  • Meat and Alternatives:
    • legumes
    • lentils
    • chickpeas
  • Sugars & Sweeteners:
    • high-fructose corn syrup
    • corn syrup
    • honey
    • sorbitol
    • manitol
    • xylitol
    • maltitol
    • isomalt
    • inulin


Other Methods of Relieving IBS Symptoms (Non-FODMAP related):

  • Add more soluble fiber in your diet, especially at the start of your meals
    • try a bowl of oatmeal at breakfast and a cup of water
    • use a fiber supplement like Metamucil if that’s more convenient for you
  • Eat meals at regular times, spaced around 4-6 hours apart
  • Carry snacks with you to avoid getting hungry
  • Small frequent meals may be a better option if you tend to feel bloated after large meals
  • Choose lower fat foods
  • Enjoy cooked fruits and vegetables more often than raw, uncooked versions
  • Take carbonated drinks and caffeine containing drinks sparingly
  • Drink peppermint tea and chamomile tea throughout the day
  • Minimize your stress levels
  • Get adequate sleep daily
  • Try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, or tai-chi