FODMAP refers to fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. The FODMAP diet was developed by a doctor several years ago in the belief that it would be helpful for people with irritable bowel syndrome.
I’m not a big fan of the diet. Many patients that I’ve worked with have been on FODMAPs. I’ve seen some successes, but they’re very limited. I’ve seen more failures than anything. Here are ten things to keep in mind about the FODMAP diet.
1. The FODMAP diet is not a cure-all for IBS or any other kind of gut problem. What you would be doing is taking aggravating carbohydrates out of the diet. You are removing a trigger but not the underlying cause.
2. The FODMAP diet is not a gluten-free diet. Some people seem to think that the FODMAP diet is gluten-free. That’s incorrect.
3. You don’t’ need to eliminate all fiber on a FODMAP diet: Some people think the point of the FODMAP diet is to reduce your fiber intake as much as possible. But fiber is not really the issue; it’s the sugars. However, many FODMAP foods are also high in fiber, so when you cut them out, you lose out on that valuable component of the diet. Make sure you get enough fiber while you’re on a FODMAP diet. For example, kiwi fruit, a small amount of oats, pumpkin seeds, and quinoa are all allowed on the FODMAP diet and can provide the fiber that is so important to your GI tract.
4. The FODMAP Diet should be a short-term approach. Do not go on the FODMAP diet for months at a time. When it was first introduced, it was designed as a two to six-week solution to reduce IBS symptoms.
5. Oils and fats are permissible on the FODMAP diet. I still get emails from people who have come to believes that being on the FODMAP diet means taking butter, oils, and other fats out of the diet. FODMAP is not a low-fat diet.
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6. Think about social events and plan in advance, so you know there will be food for you to eat.
7. If you’re considering going on the FODMAP diet, don’t do it until you’ve had a comprehensive stool analysis. In my experience, over 50% of IBSD cases have levels of harmful bacteria that need to be addressed. It could be Citrobacter, Klebsiella, or Pseudomonas. There could be a problem with yeast as well. Clean up your gut, and it may be that you don’t even need to go on the FODMAP diet.
8. Don’t become the FODMAP police. That means don’t walk around telling people what they should or should not be eating.
9. Work out was causing the IBS before going on a FODMAP diet. Was it too much alcohol? A stressful lifestyle? Antibiotics?
10. Customize the FODMAP diet to your likes, dislikes, and symptoms. If you’ve treated the findings on the stool test and still have symptoms, a trial of the FODMAP diet is a reasonable option. But, focus on removing the foods that give you the most trouble. It’s fine to be on a partial FODMAP diet if that’s what works for you.