The FODMAP Diet
If you’ve been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, or Googled some of your symptoms, you may have heard of the FODMAP diet. In conjunction with avoidance of other classic dietary triggers, this diet has been shown to improve bloating and abdominal pain, and can be a real life-changer for many people with IBS.
That being said, it can be very complicated and at first glance seems very restrictive.
But as many of you IBS-sufferers know, when you have IBS, part of the frustration is that it often feels like anything and everything you eat causes symptoms, and it’s totally unpredictable. You may have already tried to eliminate things like dairy or gluten and not noticed much difference. This is typically when we start to discuss elimination of FODMAPs.
What I like about the FODMAP diet, or a diet low in Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, and Monosaccharides And Polyols (FODMAPs), is that foods have been grouped into less intuitive but well-studied categories of known triggers. Meaning you may have tried to eliminate fats, or carbs, or gluten, with no consistent improvement in your symptoms, but that may be because your symptoms are caused by polyols, which you wouldn’t have know to eliminate or pay attention to.
The other thing I like about this diet is that though it initially seems (and is) very restrictive, the goal isn’t to have you avoiding all of these foods in the long term. The idea is that you eliminate all the FODMAPs at first, get yourself feeling better, and then gradually reintroduce them in a systematic fashion, one category at a time, with the hopes of identifying the shortest and most precise list of trigger foods.
So the goal is that you have the most liberal diet you can tolerate.
I usually recommend that people meet with an experienced dietician before they embark on a low-FODMAP diet, because it can be complex as you familiarize yourself with the different food groups.
Also, when I Google “FODMAP,” I find lots of charts like this one, where they haven’t separated the groups out, which makes it harder to reintroduce foods systematically. In case you want to try it your own, I actually find this Wiki link and this site very helpful.