What the Heck is a FODMAP and How Does it Affect Me?

Young woman eating a fresh apple as part of a FODMAP diet

With so many options out there, we know it can be overwhelming to decide whether or not a specific diet would be beneficial to you. It is important to understand your body as well as the objective of a diet to know if it’s the right one, especially if you have been diagnosed with GI issues. FODMAP is one option that may help alleviate symptoms and can also be used in preparation for weight loss surgery.

What is FODMAP?

This temporary elimination diet is designed to identify foods that either exacerbate or relieve the symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), and other gastrointestinal diseases. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. These are carbohydrates that are not absorbed well by the small intestine and can cause digestive issues like constipation, diarrhea, gas/bloating, and stomach cramps. FODMAPs can be found in all sorts of foods in varying amounts. Here are just a few examples:

  • Oligosaccharides: wheat based foods, nuts, rye, onion, artichokes, garlic
  • Disaccharides: lactose-based dairy products like milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt
  • Monosaccharides: fructose-based foods like watermelon, mango, apples, pears, high fructose corn syrup, honey, agave
  • Polyols: foods with mannitol/sorbitol like cauliflower, mushrooms, snow peas and sugar-free sweeteners containing isomalt and xylitol 

FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols.

How does it work?

The FODMAP diet relies on the patient tracking their eating to carefully find foods they can eat, while also eliminating foods that create uncomfortable or detrimental GI symptoms. There are just a few basic steps:

Step 1: Stop eating all high FODMAP foods

Step 2: Reintroduce one high FODMAP food at a time (with a waiting period between additions) and note any symptoms

Step 3: Limit or avoid any foods that were symptomatic 

Dr. Hazel Velso, a Johns Hopkins gastroenterologist, recommends following the low FODMAP diet for two to six weeks, and waiting 3 days in between adding each food back into your diet. 

Food you CAN eat on the FODMAP diet

It’s important to remember that this diet is temporary and there are many low FODMAP foods you can enjoy while you go through the process of determining which foods aren’t right for your body. Here are just some of your low FODMAP diet options:

  • Grains: corn-based breads/pastas, quinoa, potatoes, rice, sourdough bread, oatmeal
  • Fruits: grapes, oranges, pineapple, unripe bananas, lemons, limes
  • Veggies: lettuce, cucumber, broccoli, olives, carrots, kale, spinach, tomato
  • Protein: chicken, eggs, turkey, firm tofu, pork, seafood, edamame, chickpeas
  • Beverages: water, coffee, beer, wine, sucrose sweetened or diet drinks

For a more comprehensive list of High and Low FODMAP options, we suggest this list from the American College of Gastroenterology. Your doctor or nutritionist will also have additional resources.

Benefits of FODMAP

Once you have identified the foods that are the most troublesome to your body, the symptoms of digestive issues should lessen. IBS patients in this study showed a dramatic improvement in their IBS symptoms after following a low FODMAP diet. Another collection of studies estimated that FODMAP diet followers reduced chances of stomach pain decreased by 81%  and likelihood of bloating reduced by 75%.

The FODMAP diet is preferable to other elimination diets, like the NICE diet, for IBS. Research showed that the FODMAP diet had an overall satisfaction rate of 86% compared to just a 49% satisfaction rating for patients following the NICE diet. Another study found a 78% increase in symptom relief after a 6 week LFD (low FODMAP diet). Patients saw marked improvement in bloating, gas, heartburn, nausea, and normal stool consistency. 

Is FODMAP right for me?

FODMAP is not for everyone. But, if you have been diagnosed with IBS, SIBO, or other GI diseases, then the FODMAP diet is a therapy we feel is well-worth considering. Working with a doctor or nutritionist will ensure you are following the diet safely and correctly if it is the best option for you.  

Weight loss is likely on this diet due to the restriction of so many foods so it is not recommended for patients who are underweight. For these and other patients unable to safely try the FODMAP diet, other non-dietary therapies for GI symptom management should be considered.

Our Inland Empire weight loss doctors are here to serve you

Your quality of life is priceless and our highly experienced weight loss surgeons are here to help you enact the changes you wish to make and feel more comfortable in your body. Surgical Arts of Inland Empire offers free consultations so you can meet our wonderful team and find out if we are a good fit for your needs, risk-free! Call our Rancho Cucamonga office at (909) 579-3111 to book your personal meeting to discuss your goals and find out which weight loss procedures and therapies can best support your journey. 

Leave a Comment: