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March 06, 2017

What to Know Before Starting a Low FODMAP Diet Plan

Maple-bacon breakfast sausage with fried egg

If you suffer from some post-meal tummy trouble (bloating, constipation, gas or abdominal pain) after eating a plant-heavy meal, a Low FODMAP diet plan might be the solution.

Hold on, you say. What’s a FODMAP?

FODMAP is an acronym for the group of saccharide-containing molecules that can be poorly digested. The acronym stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides (fructans, galacto oligosaccharides), Disaccharides (lactose), Monosaccharides (fructose) and Polyols (artificial sweeteners).

If these molecules are not properly absorbed in the small intestine, they continue to the large intestine where they act as food for gut bacteria. This produces gas, bloating, constipation and many of the other symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

What to Avoid on a Low-FODMAP Diet Plan

For some people, only a certain type of saccharide is a problem. Before cutting out all of them, you may wish to experiment with reducing one group at a time. Here are the biggest offenders:

High-fructose foods: Honey, apples, pear, watermelon, all tropical fruits, anything with ‘fructose’ on the label

Fructans: Artichokes, garlic, leeks, onions (including onion powder), scallions, shallots, wheat, barley, rye, inulin

Lactose: Milk, ice cream, custard, condensed/evaporated milk, yogurt, soft cheeses (eg. ricotta, cottage cheese, cream cheese, mascarpone)

Galacto-Oligosaccharides (GOS): baked beans, kidney beans, navy beans

Polyols: Apples, apricots, avocado, cherries, nectarines, pears, plums, prunes, mushrooms, sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, maltitol, isomalt

If you discover that all of the FODMAPs give you trouble, here’s a morecomprehensive list of what to avoid.

Eat This, Not That: Low-FODMAP Swaps

Ready to get started on a Low FODMAP diet? We've got you covered. Try our Low FODMAP meal plan or adjust your favorite recipes with these FODMAP swaps.

Vegetables and Legumes

Instead of high-FODMAP foods like beets, cauliflower and artichoke, swap in lower saccharide options like bean sprouts, chard, collards and eggplant. Peppers are also a great, versatile option. If you’re craving something a little starchier, try up to ¼ cup of butternut squash or up to ½ cup of sweet potato.

In place of baked beans, black eyed peas and lima beans, which can cause tummy trouble, swap in lentils or chickpeas, up to ½ cup per day.

Fruit

In place of high fructose tropical fruit, apples and pears, experiment with berries, cantaloupe, honeydew, kiwifruit and grapes. All citrus, including mandarins, clementines and lemons, are low-sugar flavorful options, too.

Condiments, Sweeteners and Spreads

Many commercially prepared sauces and condiments contain high amounts of sugar and often, high fructose corn syrup. Instead of flavoring with things like jam, honey, xylitol and agave, use peanut butter, maple syrup or rice syrup. While carob powder isn’t low-saccharide, there’s good news: 90% dark chocolate and cacao powder are safe!

For savory dishes, in place of things like gravy, consider using gluten-free soy sauces (tamari), worcestershire, wasabi, shrimp paste, mustard, miso or rice wine vinegar.

Dairy

If dairy is to blame for your digestive problems, you may wish to reduce consumption of ice cream, soft cheese, cream and sour cream. Instead, swap in hard cheeses like Parmesan or Swiss, cultured cottage cheese and butter. When it comes to milk, hemp and almond versions tend to work well.

Grains

Good news! While gluten is a common problem for people with issues breaking down FODMAPS, almost the entire gluten-free gamut might be fair game. Even if you’re parting ways with wheat and high-starch grains like white rice, consider substituting quinoa, oat and rice bran, buckwheat, brown and wild rice or up to ½ cup of oatmeal daily. Craving bread? Optimize your digestion with a gluten-free sourdough.

Got your shopping list? Here are our favorite Low FODMAP brands.

- Amy Height

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