What the heck is a FODMAP, and how do you lower it in your diet? Good question.
FODMAPs are carbohydrates that are resistant to digestion, which means they stick around until the far reaches of your intestine. When they get there, they feed gut bacteria which causes them to ferment. This fermentation process gives off gas inside the digestive tract, causing a painful food baby bulge and other unfortunate symptoms like gas and diarrhea. Yikes.
If you’re struggling with IBS, significant bloating, or stomach cramps, this diet could be the first step in getting your digestion back on track. Score!
How the diet works
When working on digestive health, I usually prefer to focus on what to eat more of instead of what to cut out. However, in the case of the low FODMAP diet, pretending that the following categories of foods are dead to you for a period of 4 weeks can be very effective:
Lactose: dairy products, including milk, cheese, and ice cream
Fructose: apples, mangoes, pears, sweeteners, corn syrup, dried fruits, honey
Fructans: artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, onion, garlic, watermelon, chicory root, wheat, and rye
Galactans: all beans, legumes including peanuts, and lentils
Polyols: sugar alcohols, cauliflower, mushrooms, avocado, cherries, peaches
“But what if I don’t want to cut out those foods from my diet?”
Don’t worry. After the initial 4-week period, you can start adding foods back into your diet, but use baby steps. Choose one of the categories above and have a small amount of just one food from that category. The next day, try a different food from the same category. Spend a few days trying the foods listed in increasing amounts and take note of how you feel. If your original symptoms return, it’s likely that you’ve discovered a problem child and you should steer clear. Continue this process with the other categories until you figure out which foods can remain BFFs and which ones are, as I said before, dead to you.
Need more motivation?
Research has shown that as many as 75% of people with IBS felt significant improvement in their symptoms using this approach, and chances are you will be able to eat many of the foods listed above without issues. It’s also important to mention that the low FODMAPS diet is a short-term approach used to help you determine who your true (food) friends are. After you’ve gone through the weeding out process, you’ll know who to avoid hanging out with in the future. Just think of it as spring cleaning your Facebook friend list; it’s not super fun, but you feel lighter once it’s done!
If you want to have a bit more guidance while you give the low FODMAP diet a try, I’d love to help you out. Head to my Work With Me page to schedule a free Discovery Session so that we can chat about your goals and get to work.