Many people with IBS and other gastrointestinal issues experience significant discomfort when eating certain foods, but cannot always identify exactly what is contributing to their symptoms. One dietary approach that can help to alleviate symptoms of IBS for many individuals with this condition, is a low FODMAP diet. This dietary approach appears to help digestive symptoms in nearly 70% of adults living with IBS, but should attempted only after an official diagnosis and recommendation from a physician.

What are FODMAPs?

FODMAPs are carbohydrates (sugars) found in many foods and additives. The term is an acronym for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols. They pull water into one’s digestive tract, and when eaten in excess may not be digested or absorbed well and could become fermented by bacteria in the intestinal tract.

Some examples of these carbohydrates include:

OLIGOSACCHARIDES: wheat, rye, legumes, garlic, onions (Fructans and Galactans are the main carbohydrate)
DISACCHARIDES: milk, yogurt, soft cheeses (Lactose is the main carbohydrate)
MONOSACCHARIDES: various fruits and vegetables or sweeteners (Fructose is the main carbohydrate)
POLYOLS: many stone fruits such as avocado, peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots and cherries, as well as artificial sweeteners like sorbitol, xylitol and mannitol.
Some symptoms one may experience after eating foods high in FODMAPs are:
• Diarrhea
• Constipation
• Bloating
• Gas
• Cramping
• Indigestion
• Feeling of fullness when only small amounts are eaten

A low FODMAP diet has several stages that include the elimination of high FODMAP foods, and then a gradual reintroduction of small amounts of these foods to assess an individual’s tolerance. The goal is to learn which foods can be tolerated and in which amounts, and which foods trigger symptoms. During this period, you may also need to consider additional IBS therapies, such as hormonal balance, stress management, and in cases medication to relieve certain symptoms.
If you and your doctor decide that trying a low FODMAP diet is a good choice for you, there are three phases to complete before you’re able to decide on a lifestyle that works for you. The basic outline of these phases are as follows:

PHASE 1: Eliminate high FODMAP foods for 4 to 6 weeks.
PHASE 2: Slowly incorporate them back into your diet and note which foods begin to trigger symptoms.
PHASE 3: Identify and restrict foods that have triggered unwanted symptoms and move forward with a nutrition plan based on personal tolerance.

Although this approach is extremely helpful for many patients experiencing IBS, it is important to note that most FODMAPs are prebiotics that supports the growth of good gut bacteria. That said, we do not suggest that you begin this plan without meeting all of the following criteria:
You have an official IBS diagnosis from your physician.
You have tried other avenues for symptom relief first, and this is your secondary plan.
You have planned ahead and are prepared for certain dietary restrictions.

Living PlateIf you are looking for a healthy Low FODMAP for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, we can help.  Our dietitian nutritionists can help you learn how to plan and eat a healthy diet, and can also provide you with a customized meal plan, using Living Plate, to help you get started. Click here for your 3 Day meal plan.

*You should also seek the advice of a nutrition professional who is qualified in GI health and is well-versed in the application of the low FODMAP diet.
IBS is something many people unfortunately live with daily, and here at Nutrition Link Services we want to provide you with quality care and wellness plans to help you live a lifestyle in which you are happy, healthy and thriving. Our registered dietitians are experienced in low FODMAP diets and working with a variety of gastrointestinal issues.
If you have any questions or want to set up your first wellness consultation, please feel free to contact us at wellness@nutritionlinkservices.com.

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