You might have seen the term FODMAP either on this site, from your doctor or elsewhere on the Internet and wondered what it means (or maybe it’s me that’s just curious/nosy when I don’t understand things!) Before I start I must make it clear that you should never try any diet without the supervision of a doctor/registered dietician and this is a very specific diet for certain circumstances.
I first came across the term when I developed my health issues and as part of managing my symptoms my doctors recommended a diet which was low in FODMAPs, nightshades (tomatoes, white potatoes, aubergine/eggplant -!: peppers), caffeine and alcohol. In addition I also removed all dairy, gluten and artificial ingredients as through an elimination diet we’d established I’d developed problems with these.
The low FODMAP diet was developed by the Monash University in Australia and is designed to help manage IBS symptoms.
FODMAP is an acronym for the names of a set of specific types of carbohydrates that can be difficult for some to digest. This isn’t just carbohydrates in the sense you might initially think the list of foods to avoid include certain fruits, vegetables, drinks and so on
Find out more from the Monash University website.
In my opinion a diet such as this shouldn’t be considered a long term solution but should be used to manage symptoms whilst the root cause of IBS is found and eliminated. I think it’s important to resolve the underlying digestive health issues you have rather than just treat the symptoms. Some people recommend following this for a set period of time – say one month and then if you see an improvement in your symptoms challenging each of the four categories of FODMAP in turn to see if all four cause you problems or just a subset eg you can just have a problem absorbing fructose for example. Check with your doctor/dietician if this is what they want you to do. If they do it will probably be similar to an elimination diet so you might want to check out my Top 5 Tips to Surviving an Elimination Diet
When I was first was asked to follow this diet I was very overwhelmed. I wanted to shout at the doctor ‘don’t you understand I LOVE FOOD’. I had just finished a really strict elimination challenge and was looking forward to going back to a more normal diet (minus the foods that I reacted to in the elimination challenge) and here she was saying I was going to have to continue with more restrictions. It obviously wasn’t her fault, but I felt pretty alone and wasn’t really sure where to start. My health was very poor though, so I knew that if there was any chance it would help, I’d do it. I managed to hold it together in the consulting room, had a little tantrum and cry on the way home and when I got home pulled myself together and did the only thing that makes sense when confused and turned to Google for help. I found the information on the Internet to vary greatly in quality and also a lack of consistency around what foods are and aren’t recommended. So please be careful using anyone else’s lists as some are most definitely wrong/out of date. This is understandable as the university is constantly testing new ingredients/products and therefore things get updates and there are many things that haven’t been tested. I bought the app from the university which they keep up to date so the information should be pretty recent.
If you’re in the same situation and embarking on a low FODMAP diet you can check my guide to low FODMAP foods and drinks and look out for recipes on this site tagged low FODMAP. Any modifications will be mentioned in the notes section. I’ll do my best to keep any recipes on this site up to date, though please do double check you are comfortable with all ingredients before you cook any recipes from this site.
As always if you have any questions ask them below or drop me an email.