It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but also one of the hardest for people on a diet.

Whether you are trying to lose weight or simply need to be healthier, it can be hard to avoid high FODMAP food when everyone around you is enjoying all sorts of delicious treats. 

Many of us struggle to digest simple foods that are so regularly consumed by friends and family. If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, gas, bloating, etc. after eating then you need to take a look at giving the low FODMAP diet a try.

This article will explain everything there is to know about FODMAP, foods to enjoy, and what foods you need to avoid to stay on track.

FODMAP Foods Explained

FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-Saccharides, And Polyols. In other words, these are fermented carbohydrates that can be difficult to digest and result in gas, bloating, stomach discomfort, and other digestion issues.

A low FODMAP diet contains a list of foods that are less likely to cause gastro-distress and digestion issues compared to high FODMAP food.

We are not all affected by a FODMAP diet in the same way. There are a variety of variables that impact each individual reaction to high vs. low FODMAP foods.

  • Gut and digestive health
  • The amount of food you eat
  • How the food is prepared matters
  • Food sensitivity

According to PubMed, FODMAP carbohydrates can be classified as one of the following.

  • Oligosaccharides: Found naturally in many plants and vegetables such as onions, legumes, wheat, and asparagus. Not considered low FODMAP after 0.3 grams of fructans or galactans.
  • Disaccharides: Consist of 3 major compounds: sucrose, lactose, and maltose. Not considered low FODMAP after 4.0 grams of lactose.
  • Monosaccharides: Found in food such as honey, apples, dates, and grapes. Not considered low FODMAP after 0.2 grams more fructose than glucose.
  • Polyols: Found naturally in particular vegetables and fruits. Not considered low FODMAP after 0.3 grams of either mannitol or sorbitol.

Now, this term is a mouthful and certainly not something that needs to be memorized in order to receive the health benefits of a low FODMAP diet.

The major goal of a low FODMAP diet is to alleviate the issues caused by irritable bowel syndrome or other digestive ailments.

However, the low FODMAP diet may not necessarily be for everyone. If you do not experience IBS symptoms or other digestive symptoms from your normal diet then there may be no need for a change. Be sure to consult your doctor before making a final decision and provide medical advice.

5 Reasons To Avoid High FODMAP Foods

Foods high on the FODMAP do not definitely mean they are unhealthy. However, for many people, there are significant disadvantages to eating these foods. Below are 5 reasons why low FODMAP diets are great for many people.

1) Irritable Bowel Syndrome 

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), is one of the more common disorders amongst people worldwide. It is estimated that nearly 10% of the population has some form of IBS or other gastrointestinal disorders.

High FODMAP food can exacerbate IBS symptoms and cause extreme stomach discomfort and digestion issues. It is not normal to have diarrhea after each meal.

Eating low FODMAP foods has been shown to help in managing IBS symptoms.

Switching to a low FODMAP food can help reduce these IBS symptoms and create more regular bowel movements in many people.

2) Cut The Bloat

There are few feelings more uncomfortable than bloating after a meal. It is nearly impossible to focus on your work if you sit back feeling bloated after nearly every lunch break.

Eating a low FODMAP diet should reduce bloating and leave your stomach feeling relaxed and flat. So you can concentrate on your work and not your stomach.

3) No More Gas

We have all been there. You eat a burrito or large pizza for lunch and find yourself full of gas and feeling abdominal pain.

You may think this is normal and no big deal. However, you certainly should not need to pass gas after every meal you eat. This is a sign that your digestion is not on point and should investigate switching to a low FODMAP diet.

4) More Energy 

If you have digestive issues after each meal it may be time to try out the low FODMAP diet. If you cannot easily digest your meal and your body has to utilize a significant amount of energy and send blood to the gut to complete digestion, you may get the feeling of tiredness.

Ever eaten a large meal at lunch and found yourself struggling to keep your eyes open at the 1 PM meeting. For some people, a low FODMAP diet can clear this brain fog and produce a more consistent energy level.

5) Better Digestion Brings More Gains

If your goal is to increase your muscle mass or performance in the gym, a low FODMAP diet can help get you there.

You must adequately fuel your body with an adequate amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats to optimize your performance and overall health.

By increasing your ability to digest the food you eat, it will be easier to consume more. There is no way you will be able to consume enough food to build serious muscle if every meal has your stomach in pain and running to the bathroom.

Although we are focusing on diet, the importance of physical exercise cannot be overlooked. Consistent workout routines can assist with digestion, nutrient partitioning, and increase your overall health.

4 High FODMAP Foods To Avoid

There are many high FODMAP foods that would be considered to be healthy options by most people. Calling something a high FODMAP food does not necessarily imply the nutritional or health benefits of that food.

A high FODMAP diet may just be more difficult to digest for many people compared to low FODMAP foods.

Everyone already knows to avoid junk food like candy and high fructose corn syrup. Here is a list of high FODMAP foods that you should minimize exposure to. Notice we say minimize exposure to as any overly restrictive diet will not be easily adhered to and will not work in the long run.

1) Beans

Although beans go great on your burrito or as a side at the barbeque, they can cause problems for people with IBS or digestive issues.

This includes black beans, broad beans, kidney beans, lima beans, and soybeans.

2) Wheat Foods & Rye Bread

This includes foods like bread, cereal, and pasta. For many people, this will be a tough one. Who doesn’t love their pasta?

All we ask is you give it a try and reduce your wheat food intake. Your stomach may thank you.

3) Muffins

Although most of us enjoy a good blueberry muffin, it contains high FODMAP ingredients that can be damaging to digestion.

Muffins are more of a special snack and it should not be hard to cut them out of your diet.

4) Cashews & Pistachio

Although cashew & pistachio may be one of your favorite snacks, they can be damaging to people with IBS or other digestive issues.

We will cover some healthy alternatives in a later section.

Low FODMAP Foods You’ll Love

When people think about diet, they often think about extreme restrictions.

Diet foods trigger thoughts of torture for many people where they can only eat salads and chicken breast. However, it does not need to be that way.

1) Meat

The main low FODMAP meats include beef, chicken, lamb, pork, and cold cuts. These options are more than enough to create hundreds of dishes for you and your family to enjoy…without the digestive issues.

2) Nuts and Seeds

Some healthy alternatives to cashews and pistachios include almonds, chestnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, walnuts, and more.

These are tasty snacks to satisfy your finger between meals.

3) Milk

As opposed to the high FODMAP cow and goat milk, you should opt to choose almond milk, lactose-free milk, oat milk, coconut milk, and others.

These taste alternatives will help relieve IBS symptoms for many people. 

4) Other Dairy & Eggs

Butter, dark chocolate, eggs, milk chocolate, and white chocolate are all allowed under the low FODMAPS diet. Who said dieting had to be hard!

5) Vertical Diet

Stan Efferding’s Vertical diet is a great option for anyone looking for a meal plan focused on the low FODMAP diet approach.

Stan’s diet consists of nearly only low FODMAP options such as steak, white rice, bone broth, etc. This diet was tailor-made to increase your performance while handling digestive stress management.

Unlike other low FODMAP diets, the Vertical Diet contains certain foods that actually taste good.

Stan is a strength and performance expert who holds all-time powerlifting world records while also competing as a bodybuilder. Stan competed at around 270 lbs…so it’s safe to say Stan knows all about consuming lots of food while optimizing digestion.

No One Size Diet Fits All | Low FODMAP Diet

Remember that there is no one diet that is optimal for all people. There are people who have the genetics to digest higher FODMAP foods with little to no issue at all.

If you have digestive issues and need relief, consult your doctor about the possibility of switching over to this diet. The low FODMAP diet can help alleviate gastrointestinal symptoms as well as help with managing IBS symptoms.

Bottom Line

If you’ve got digestive issues, it may be worth trying the low FODMAP diet.

For those of us who don’t know what that is, it stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols.

It turns out these are types of carbohydrate molecules found in certain foods which can cause gastrointestinal distress if eaten in large quantities or on an empty stomach. A lot of people have trouble digesting them properly so they end up causing gas, bloating, and diarrhea.

The good news is there are plenty of delicious food options with lower levels of FODMAPs to choose from! This article outlines several examples to get you started on your new diet.

Dave Shelton

Dave, founder and content producer at My Fitness System, is a personal trainer, and fitness enthusiast.

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