If you experience symptoms such as abdominal pain and distention, bloating, gas, constipation, and/or diarrhea with no specific cause, then you may be suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. Recent statistics report that one in seven adults has been diagnosed with IBS. If you have IBS, then you know that it can cause a lot of discomfort and affect daily living. It has been found that eliminating certain foods such as gluten-containing foods or dairy products may be helpful to some with IBS. However, others may still experience uncomfortable symptoms even after eliminating such foods. Some people have found that following a diet such as the low FODMAP diet helps to reduce IBS symptoms and provide a more comfortable way of life.
What is a low FODMAP diet?
A low FODMAP diet eliminates foods that contain:
- Fermentable foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and kombucha
- Oligosaccharides such as beans, peas, lentils, onions, and garlic.
- Disaccharides such as lactose-containing foods like milk, cream, ice cream, cottage cheese, pudding, and any milk-containing products such as certain soups, dressings, and sauces.
- Monosaccharides such as honey and foods containing high fructose corn syrup.
- Polyols such as apples, plums, pears, peaches, watermelon, cauliflower, mushrooms, snow peas, and sugar alcohols, to name a few.
IBS and the low FODMAP diet
The small intestine has not been found to handle FODMAP foods very well. In turn, consumption of such foods can cause gas and increase the amount of fluid in the bowel. Such fluid and gas can cause the pain, discomfort, and diarrhea associated with some cases of IBS. Although not all FODMAP-containing foods may cause symptoms for all people with IBS, common triggers of IBS include:
- Fruits such as apples and watermelon.
- Vegetables such as beans, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower.
- Wheat products
- Dairy products
- Fatty foods
- Gums, beverages, or foods sweetened with high fructose corn syrup or sugar alcohols such as sorbitol or xylitol.
- Other foods such as those that contain caffeine such as chocolate, soda, and coffee.
If you have IBS, then you should stick to the following IBS-friendly foods.
- Lactose-free dairy products such as lactose-free milk, plant-based milks such as almond or coconut milk, or hard cheeses such as feta or aged sharp cheddar.
- Fruits such as bananas, pineapple, berries, kiwi, lemon, lime, and oranges.
- Vegetables such as lettuce, potatoes, zucchini, squash, carrots, cucumbers, olive, and eggplant.
- Proteins such as beef, chicken, fish, firm tofu, eggs, and limited quantities of plant-based proteins such as almonds, peanuts, and walnuts.
- Gluten-free grains such as gluten-free pastas or bread, rice or rice noodles, quinoa, corn, or corn flour.
After restriction of high FODMAP containing foods for about six to eight weeks, you may be able to introduce some FODMAP-containing foods into your diet if they do not cause you any symptoms. If you are finding it difficult to determine which foods are your triggers, it may be best to visit your healthcare provider such as your doctor or a registered dietitian to get further support and assistance. They will be better able to help you pinpoint which foods you should avoid to reduce symptoms. They may also be able to recommend specific food allergy tests or other labs that may be done to help determine which foods are causing your body problems.
A low FODMAP is best applied when supervised by a healthcare provider and is not meant to be used as a weight loss plan. Additional IBS and low FODMAP information can be found on the Casa de Sante website as well as recommendations for low FODMAP products that can help make your low FODMAP regimen flavorful and enjoyable.