The low FODMAP diet is designed to help decrease unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms, such as gas, bloating, and cramping. For some, it may improve stool consistency as well. This diet was designed my researchers in Australia and is used internationally to treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). It has ben shown to be the most effect diet for managing IBS symptoms. The low FODMAP diet can also be used by those that have not received an official IBS diagnosis but suffer from similar symptoms.
So what is a FODMAP?
FODMAP is an acronym that stands for: Fermentable Oligo-saccharides, Disaccharides, And Polyols.
These are short-chained carbohydrates that are generally undigested in our small intestine and can be fermented (degraded by bacteria) in our large intestine. This process produces an unwanted byproduct: gases such as hydrogen and methane. This excess of gas in the intestines can lead to bloating and cramping in those of us with a gut that isn’t functioning properly (ex. IBS). These undigested carbohydrates can also cause water to enter into the intestines, which can lead to diarrhea for some.
The Low FODMAP diet is a temporary diet that seeks to limit dietary intake of FODMAPs for a period of time, usually 4-8 weeks. After which, each of the different FODMAP categories is challenged to determine which is a trigger for your gut specifically. Once this phase is complete you will finally have an understanding of which foods worsen your symptoms! You will then liberalize your diet to include foods that are not issues for you. You can also choose to occasionally have foods that do cause you symptoms if you want.
Before starting this diet, it is important to speak with a Registered Dietitian that is familiar with treating digestive issues. Your dietitian can work with you to decide the best course of action to alleviate your symptoms and whether or not the low FODMAP diet is right for you. This will also help ensure you have the best up to date information available and can be monitored for possible nutritional inadequacies, as this diet is quite restrictive.
If you are in Canada I can help! I am a registered dietitian that specializes in the low FODMAP diet and the treatment of IBS. I am available for in-person appointment in downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba. Click here to book an appointment. If you are not in Winnipeg I am available for online and phone appointments. To request one of these appointments click here and fill out the contact form. Unfortunately I am not available to counsel those in Alberta, British Columbia, or Prince Edward Island.