What Is a Fodmap Diet & What Is It For?

11/24/2021 | 5 min. read

Healthy Directions Staff Editor

Healthy Directions Staff Editor

If you are trying to understand the functionality of a Fodmap diet, then first, you need to know what exactly Fodmap is. 

Fodmap is an acronym for “fermentable oligosaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols.” All of these are various carbohydrates that are known to cause intestinal discomfort. They are mostly found in different types of sugars embedded in all sorts of foods. 

The foods don’t necessarily have to be unhealthy. In fact, many of these sugars are naturally occurring, meaning you can find them even in fruits and vegetables. 

Because everyone has a different body, some of us are totally accepting of these foods. In contrast, others may be experiencing mild to extreme discomfort caused by the carbohydrates in this wide range of fodmap-high foods. 

The symptoms can include cramping, gas, stomach bloating, constipation, and diarrhea, but the goal of the Fodmap diet is to help alleviate some or all of that discomfort.  

Play It Safe 

Before even considering the application of the Fodmap diet, it is essential to seek the counsel of a doctor or dietitian first. Everyone has a different body. Therefore, good and bad reactions to this diet can vary from person to person.

How To Apply

The Fodmap diet is an elimination diet, meaning that it mainly focuses on which foods should be taken out of your usual routine. It follows three simple steps: 

  1.  Stop eating foods high in any Fodmap sugars for a period of time (You may have to do some research on the foods you usually eat and their ingredients). 
  1. Begin to slowly reintroduce the foods into your diet once again, one by one. As you do this, you can Identify which foods cause discomfort while you give your body time to react to each food. 
  1. Avoid or allow yourself certain foods now that you have identified which ones can cause discomfort.  

Be Mindful of How Your Body Reacts 

The concept of the Fodmap diet is not complicated. It uses the process of elimination to pinpoint which foods tend to give you the most trouble and which foods give you the least. 

But it’s important to realize that this process is being tested via your own body. This means that there can be risks involved without the proper consultation. Everything from your body type, allergies, and any medical conditions can play a role in how your body reacts to this diet. 

After receiving your doctor’s approval, it is perfectly safe to start the Fodmap diet. Still, even then, you may be subjecting yourself to further discomfort, depending on how many Fodmap carbohydrates you are exposing yourself to at once. 

What Are The Pros and Cons of The Fodmap Diet?

It is essential to ask your doctor or a specialist if the fodmap diet is right for you. An “additive” diet could introduce new foods into your diet, which are meant to be healthier and aid in gaining or losing weight. 

Benefits 

 

  • Increased awareness of disagreeable foods
  • Reduction or alleviation of numerous symptoms
  • Avoid the need for medication
  • Improves overall physical health

 

Risks

 

  • Cultivate preexisting eating disorders 
  • Potentially disrupts nutritional intake
  • Increased levels of discomfort during the diet  

 

Overall, elimination diets like the fodmap diet aim to take foods out of your routine, eventually, which can improve or upset your whole system.

Fodmap Food Watchlist 

Fortunately, many of the foods known to have caused discomfort have already been recorded. You will need to identify which food categories bring the most amount of discomfort to you in particular. 

Once a category has been tracked, then you can potentially eliminate entire categories at once. 

Foods with high amounts of fructose, lactose, and fructans are definitely important to keep track of. Foods that contain polyols are worth tracking, as well as foods with galactooligosaccharides. You may notice some patterns arise as you track these foods. 

For example, some of these foods tend to only cause symptoms when consumed in large quantities, and therefore some of these foods are safe enough to eat in low quantities. Other foods might appear throughout more than one category, which could potentially complicate your tracking procedure. 

Lastly, it’s important to note that sometimes food ingredients cause the biggest problems -- like the items usually found in packaged, store-bought foods and meals. 

So if you are on the fodmap diet, it is vital to research and check the ingredients label on any foods you are purchasing, especially for the first time.

Foods to Avoid 

 

  • Fructose: Juices, apples, grapes, figs, watermelons, mangoes, pears, asparagus, peas, zucchinis, corn syrups, honey
  • Fructans: Wheat, rye, barley, bread, tortillas, pasta, cereals, crackers, garlic, onions, asparagus, artichokes, beetroot, chicory root, broccoli, leeks, cabbage, radicchio lettuce, okra, pistachios, shallots
  • Lactose: Milk, buttermilk, condensed milk, evaporated milk, milk powder, ice cream, yogurt, custard, cottage cheese, cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, ricotta cheese, margarine
  • Galactooligosaccharides: Legume beans, red kidney beans, soybeans, soy milk, oat milk, lentils, chickpeas, cashews, pistachios, hummus, freekeh
  • Polyols: Avocados, lychee, apples, apricots, cherries, nectarines, pears, peaches, plums, prunes, mushrooms
  • Ingredients: Sugar alcohols, isomalt, sorbitol, maltitol, mannitol, xylitol 

 

Safe Foods To Eat

 

  • Dairy: Lactose-free dairy, brie cheese, camembert
  • Fruits: Unripe bananas, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cantaloupe, honeydew melons, grapefruit, kiwi, lemon, lime, mandarins, oranges, passionfruit
  • Vegetables: Alfalfa, bell peppers, bok choy, carrots, celery, cucumbers, eggplant, ginger, green beans, kale, lettuce, chives, olives, parsnips, potatoes, radishes, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, yams, water chestnuts
  • Grains, Nuts, & Seeds: Almonds, peanuts, macadamia nuts, pine nuts, sesame seeds, corn, oats, rice, quinoa, sorghum, tapioca
  • Miscellaneous: Meats, fish, eggs, all fats and oils, most herbs and spices, maple syrup and molasses, stevia, water, tea, coffee

 

Takeaway

Dietary changes can have a major impact on your body. By making healthy changeswith the Fodmap diet, along with stress management techniques and proper medication assigned by your doctor, you’ll be on the right track to finding the best methods that work for you. 

 

Sources:

FODMAP Diet: What You Need to Know | Hopkins Medicine 

The Elimination Diet | FAMMED 

A Multi-Faceted Approach to Weight Loss: A Case Report | NIH 


Healthy Directions Staff Editor