FODMAP foods for IBS, definition, and facts
- FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols, which are short chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols that are poorly absorbed by the body, resulting in abdominal pain and bloating.
- FODMAPs occur in some foods naturally or as additives.
- If you eat a lot of these foods you may have symptoms and signs like:
- A list of examples of certain foods and drinks that should be avoided on a low-FODMAP diet are some vegetables and fruits, beans, lentils, wheat, dairy products with lactose, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners.
- A list of examples of foods and drinks to eat on a this diet are certain vegetables and fruits, lactose free dairy, hard cheeses, meat, fish, chicken, eggs, soy, rice, oats, quinoa, non-dairy milks, and small servings of nuts and seeds.
- This diet cuts out many common foods that may contain high FODMAP foods. They are eliminated or severely limited for 3-8 weeks, then gradually reintroduced into a low-FODMAP diet to see if they cause symptoms (elimination diet). It is not meant to be a permanent solution because it is very restrictive, but it may work well enough to be a treatment for people with gastrointestinal (GI) problems.
- This type of dietary meal plan often is used to help with digestive symptoms from many different conditions, including, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), and other functional GI disorders.
What are FODMAPs?
FODMAPs are short chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols that are poorly digested by the body. They ferment in the large intestine (bowel) during digestion, drawing in water and producing carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and methane gas that causes the intestine to expand. This causes GI symptoms such as bloating and pain that are common in disorders like IBS.
FODMAPs are in some foods naturally or as additives. They include fructose (in fruits and vegetables), fructans (like fructose, found in some vegetables and grains), lactose (dairy), galactans, (legumes), and polyols (artificial sweeteners).
These foods are not necessarily unhealthy products. Some of them contain fructans, inulin, and galactooligosaccharides (GOS), which are healthy prebiotics that help stimulate the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. Many of them are otherwise good for you, but in certain people, eating or drinking them causes gastrointestinal symptoms.
What is a low FODMAP diet?
A low FODMAP diet cuts out many common products that contain certain foods. The
principle behind the diet is to give the gut a chance to heal, especially
if you have GI problems like IBS. People with GI disorders may use this diet as
part of their treatment.
This diet may be difficult to follow, and it is advisable to contact
your health care professional or a dietician to make sure that you are on the right track and
getting enough dietary nutrients that you can consume.
Will a low FODMAP diet help IBS or other diseases?
- Low-FODMAP diets are often used to help with digestive problems from many different conditions, including IBS.
- These foods cause irritable bowel syndrome, but they also may aggravate IBS symptoms. A low FODMAP diet often is recommended for IBS treatment.
- Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
- Functional GI disorders other than IBS
It is believed that a meal plan that includes low FODMAPs also may help ease symptoms from other health conditions, such as:
After your doctor makes the diagnosis of your bowel disease or syndrome, (for example, IBS, IBD, or microscopic colitis), he or she may suggest a low FODMAP diet.
Symptoms and signs that you may be eating too many high FODMAP foods
FODMAPs are not absorbed well in the small intestine. They increase the amount of fluid in the large intestine (bowel) and they produce more gas.
Symptoms and signs that suggest you may be eating products high in these short chain carbohydrates are:
- Abdominal distention
- Abdominal pain
- Diarrhea (similar to IBS symptoms)
- A feeling of fullness after eating or drinking only a small amount of food or liquid.
A diet low in FODMAPs may help relieve these problems, particularly in people with IBS.
What's Triggers Your IBS Symptoms?
IBS or irritable bowel syndrome is a recurrent disorder of the colon. IBS triggers include:
- Menstrual pain
- High FODMAP foods
List of low FODMAP foods to eat
A list of common low FODMAP foods that are good to eat on a low FODMAP diet include:
- Alfalfa sprouts
- Bean sprouts
- Bell pepper
- Green beans
- Bok choy
- Bamboo shoots
- Fresh fruits
- Honeydew melon
- Dairy that is lactose-free, and hard cheeses, or ripened/matured cheeses
including (If you are not lactose intolerant, you may not need to avoid
dairy with lactose.)
- Feta cheese
- Beef, pork, chicken, fish, eggs
- Avoid breadcrumbs, marinades, and sauces/gravies that may be
high in FODMAPs
- Soy products including tofu, tempeh
- Rice bran
- Oat bran
- Corn flour
- Sourdough spelt bread
- Gluten-free bread and pasta
- Gluten is not a FODMAP, but many gluten-free products tend to
be low in FODMAPs.
- Non-dairy milks
- Almond milk
- Rice milk
- Coconut milk
- Tea and coffee (use
non-dairy milk or creamers)
- Fruit juice not from concentrate
- Nuts and seeds
- Pine nuts
- Walnuts (fewer than 10-15/serving for nuts)
- Pumpkin seeds
In some cases, portion sizes make a difference as to whether a
product has enough high FODMAPs to cause symptoms. For example, a serving of almonds is
a good choice that is in these short chained carbohydrates, but eat more, and you could have
List of high FODMAP foods to avoid
Many foods considered high in FODMAPs are healthy foods otherwise, but they
can cause symptoms in some people with a sensitive gut; particularly people with IBS or other bowel diseases and disorders like SIBO.
Print both of these lists of foods and drinks for easy reference.
A list of common foods that you should avoid (especially if you have IBS) include:
- Some vegetables
- Snow peas
- Sweet corn
- Brussels sprouts
- Fruits, particularly "stone" fruits
- Dried fruits and fruit juice
- Beans and lentils
- Wheat and rye
- Dairy products that contain lactose
- Soft cheese
- Ice cream
- Cottage cheese
- Nuts, including cashews and pistachios
- Sweeteners and artificial sweeteners
- High fructose corn
- Agave nectar
- Isomalt (commonly found in sugar-free gum
and mints, and even cough syrups)
- Sports drinks
- Coconut water
What is a FODMAP elimination diet?
- This diet consists of severely restricting or eliminating those particular foods and drinks, but only for a short period of time because it may not meet all the nutritional dietary requirements you need. It can be very restrictive and it is not recommended as a permanent diet.
- This meal plan may not provide any benefits for healthy people, and because it restricts many healthy foods it should only be tried if medically necessary, and prescribed by your doctor or other health care professional.
- For 3-8 weeks, foods and drinks that contain FODMAPs are limited or avoided. After that, individual foods can be introduced back into the diet, one at a time, to see whether that particular food or drink causes symptoms. If it does, you know you need to avoid that type of product. If no symptoms occur after consuming a particular food or drink for a week, it may be considered safe to continue to eat.
Where can I get more information about low FODMAP foods, recipes, and meal plans?
More information, recipes, resources, and lists of products to eat, and avoid, on this type of diet for IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) or other bowel diseases.
IBS - Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Symptoms, Diet, Treatment
Medically Reviewed on 8/8/2018
Medically reviewed by Margaret Walsh, MD; Board Certificate; Pediatrics
DietvsDisease.org. "The Beginner's Guide to a D.I.Y Low FODMAP Diet." Updated: Feb 17, 2017.
Harvard Health Publications. "Try a FODMAPs diet to manage irritable bowel syndrome." Updated: Jul 29, 2015.
Monash University. "The Monash University Low FODMAP diet." Accessed: Feb 07, 2017
The IBS Network. "What are FODMAPS?" Accessed: Feb 07, 2017