The low FODMAP diet can relieve painful gas throughout our gut.
But despite success easing IBS and SIBO it has some vocal critics who claim it creates new gut issues long term PLUS an unhealthy mindset.
AND it may actually miss the real cause of our food sensitivities!!
So is it worth a go or not?
Well, from my experience it has downsides but the low FODMAP food list is a useful tool for relieving stomach and gut pain as long as we don’t get dragged down into the obsessive behaviour it can inspire.
In this post I’ll share an approach to the FODMAP diet that is:
- AND positive.
It helps relieve both IBS and SIBO pain quickly whilst re-balancing our body and our gut long term.
This post does not give qualified medical advice. Inflammation can be a symptom of serious illness.
- What Is The FODMAP Diet?
- Why FODMAPs Cause Problems
- A Balanced FODMAP Diet
- Low FODMAP Food List
- High FODMAP Food List
- Low FODMAP Action Plan
To get started super quickly jump straight down to the action plan.
What Is The FODMAP Diet?
We all know excess glucose in our diet is bad but there are also other sugars in our food, the FODMAPS:
These fermentable sugars come in dairy and fibrous food broken down by gut bacteria in our colon.
They are crucial in a healthy diet but in excess cause very painful gas.
Typically the gas is in our colon and tied to IBS symptoms but if gut bacteria gets into our small intestine, FODMAPS are broken down there causing painful belching (SIBO).
The low FODMAP diet cuts right down on fermentable sugars and really can relieve IBS & SIBO pain.
But this involves eliminating loads of “healthy food” including:
- Fibrous vegetables like cauliflower
- Pulses & beans
- Fermented dairy like kefir
- PLUS all sorts of fruit from apples and apricots to avocados!!
Many people with FODMAP issues also grow sensitive to high histamine food which nutritionists often then encourage us to eliminate.
At this point your alarm bells will – quite rightly – be ringing. How on earth can good food be bad for us?
Why Do FODMAPs Cause Problems?
FODMAPs are a super important part of a healthy diet and just what our colon needs to flourish and thrive.
BUT they can become a huge issue – as all food groups can – if we saturate ourselves with them.
They can also cause trouble if we go seriously short on other food groups.
So for most of us the culprit is not fundamentally FODMAPs but saturations & shortfalls in our diet.
There are many ways to saturate ourself with fermentable sugars :
- Plant rich diet
- Wholegrain diet
- High fibre diet
- Frequent fermented food
- Probiotic supplements
- Loads of dairy.
Many of us are also on elimination diets which trigger FODMAP issues :
- Meat free diet
- Low carb diet
- Low fat
- Dairy free.
The complex chemistry of our personal saturations and shortfalls can trigger food sensitivities.
FODMAP Food Sensitivity
High FODMAP food helps good bacteria flourish in our colon. We’re told this is a wonderful thing.
But it’s a balancing act.
For example, the “good” gut bacteria lactobacillus – in kefir, yoghurt & probiotics – can control the histamine producing bacteria K. aerogenes and reduce gut inflammation and food sensitivities.
BUT l. bacillus also emits histamine.
So if we saturate ourselves with it, histamine levels rocket and we get problems with high histamine food.
We don’t really have a food intolerance we’re just saturated in histamine producing bacteria.
So it is critical to recognise the sources of our FODMAP issues.
And that involves acknowledging our healthy low-carb or vegan diet or fancy supplements we forked out a fortune for are part of the problem.
Honesty about eating is the first step in a balanced diet going forward …
A Balanced FODMAP Diet
Following a low FODMAP diet helps us avoid food that triggers pain.
But it’s a long list of food and obsessively checking ingredients on a FODMAP app is overwhelming and bottom line bad for mental health.
Followed long term it creates a new set of saturations and shortfalls.
So before eliminating all FODMAP food read these simple rules:
- Stay as big picture as possible
- Use for short term rebalancing
- Focus on whole body health.
Stay Big Picture
Use the FODMAP food lists to:
- Make swaps to 7 or so simple recipes you know well
- Plan a week’s worth of lunches
- Stock up on snacks.
THEN try to ignore the lists and get on with living. Obsessing about symptoms can make them worse.
Short Term Rebalancing
Use the food list for 2 or 3 weeks to avoid high FODMAP gassy foods.
But then include small portions of FODMAPs in well balanced meals.
Do look at the other saturations and shortfalls in your diet. Our FODMAP issues are usually tied to these e.g. vegan, low carb, supplements.
Focus on balance going forward.
Whole Body Health
We are NOT just what we eat.
Rather than obsessing about food :
- Move lots often but don’t over do inflammatory high stress exercise
- Do physical work daily
- Stick to these good sleep habits
- Lift your spirit with singing, humming, meditation, yoga, prayer, whatever floats your boat.
These all tell our mind we are OK so our mind can in turn tell our gut – via our vagus nerve – to stand down.
Now we are ready finally to look at the FODMAP food lists …
Low FODMAP Food List
Use the low FODMAP food list to re-balance your favourite meals with ingredients from each food group:
Help your gut further by:
- Eating small meals slowly
- Chewing well
- Avoiding excess fasting
- Drinking plenty of water.
Meat, Fish & Eggs
Meat, fish & eggs are low FODMAP.
Sadly, it is harder to rebalance FODMAPs without these as most plant proteins are high FODMAP.
Nuts, Seeds & Pulses
Most nuts & seeds are low FODMAP and valuable in a balanced daily diet as protein but keep helpings small:
Enjoy a little handful of these nuts:
- Brazil nuts
- Chestnuts (big helpings good)
- Pine nuts
And a teaspoon or so of seeds:
- Caraway seeds
- Chia seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Sunflower seeds
Pulses are high FODMAP but 1/4 of a can of lentils should be fine.
Low FODMAP Vegetables
It is easy to skip veggies when anxious about painful gas but there’s loads of low FODMAP veg to enjoy and we need plenty every day.
Low FODMAP Leafy Greens
Green leafy veg are nutritional power houses. Enjoy 75g helpings of these:
- Arugula (Rocket)
- Bok choy
- Broccoli heads
- Cabbage (not Savoy)
- Collard greens
- Lettuce of all sorts
- Swiss chard.
Don’t obsessively weigh for each meal. Learn to eyeball 75g / 2.5 oz.
Low FODMAP Root Vegetables
Not all root veg are high FODMAP. 75g of these add fab phytonutrients:
- Pickled beetroot
- Rutabaga / swede
- Spaghetti squash
- Sweet potato
Other Low FODMAP Vegetables
A good range of veg is great for gut health so add these into the mix:
- Bean sprouts
- Bamboo shoots
- Corn (canned but not cobs)
- Green beans
- Green pepper
- Oyster mushrooms
- Red cabbage
*You may be sensitive if you are saturated with histamine secreting bacteria like lactobacillus.
Low FODMAP Fruit
A couple of small daily helpings of these fruit provide plenty of vitamins without sending FODMAPs soaring:
- Kiwi fruit
- Lemon juice
- Lime juice
- Pineapple (fresh not canned)
Low FODMAP Dairy
If you have IBS type issues your gut may be happier with low lactose dairy plus small helpings (40g) of:
- Creme fraiche
- Hard cheese
- Single cream
- Sour cream.
But SIBO can be triggered by excess lactobacillus bacteria from dairy and probiotics so if you have painful burping stay off dairy for 2 or 3 weeks to rebalance levels.
Lactobacillus secretes histamines which trigger food intolerance, so if you have snowballing sensitivities and have been saturating yourself with kefir, yoghurt, blue cheese and probiotics, take a break!!
But if you do a dairy break, make good the shortfalls with other magnesium rich food.
Low FODMAP Fats & Oils
All common fats and oils including butter are low FODMAP
Low FODMAP Carbs
Carbs as ever are complicated!!
Lots of FODMAP advice says go gluten free. But gluten is not a sugar and sensitivity may be due to:
- Histamine imbalance
- Bad bread full of dodgy flour improvers and preservatives
- Stuffing ourselves with it!!
To complicate things further good white bread, pasta & rice can:
- Relieve SIBO symptoms
- Reduce IBS triggering cortisol levels caused by a low carb diet!!
So use the list below of low FODMAP carbohydrates with great care:
- Corn bread
- Corn flour
- Millet bread
- Rice bran
- Oat bran
- Spelt bread
- Spelt sourdough
Listen to your body and be cautious of the gluten-free bandwagon.
This is the ingredient list for a gluten-free loaf. The idea this is healthier than plain bread is insane …
INGREDIENTS:Water, Rice Flour, Tapioca Starch, Maize Starch, Yeast, Rapeseed Oil, Thickener: Cellulose; Psyllium Husk Powder, Potato Starch, Humectant: Glycerine; Sugar, Egg White Powder, Iodised Salt (Salt, Potassium Iodate), Thickener: Hydroxypropyl Methyl Cellulose; Rice Starch, Wholegrain Maize Flour, Caramelised Sugar, Spirit Vinegar, Preservative: Calcium Propionate; Thickener: Sodium Carboxymethylcellulose; Rice Bran, Preservative: Sorbic Acid; Grape Juice Concentrate, Thickener: Methyl Cellulose; Acid: Acetic Acid; Thickener: Xanthan Gum; Acidity Regulator: Sodium Carbonate
High FODMAP Food List
Skipping high FODMAP food for just a few weeks can re-balance our digestive system and relieve pain.
But remember we’re not eliminating for good. After the quick break slowly add small helpings – less than 50g – into well balanced meals.
High FODMAP Vegetables
Sadly, some common veg are high in FODMAPs and big gas triggers.
After skipping for 2 to 3 weeks combine small portions with low FODMAP veg in your fave recipes:
- Broccoli stalks
- Brussel sprouts
- Butternut squash
- Mange Tout
- Mushrooms (button, porcini & portobello)
- Red Pepper
- Savoy cabbage
- Snow peas
- Spring onions
- Sugar snap peas
- Sun dried tomatoes
Keep going easy on garlic, onions and tomatoes as many of us normally drown ourselves in them!!
Explore other flavourings including these gut healthy natural antibiotics.
High FODMAP Fruit
The high FODMAP fruit list is TBH a bit of a shocker if you love fruit.
But remember you are NOT giving up for ever, just a few weeks:
- Bananas (ripe)
- Dried cranberries
- Goji berries
When you add these high FODMAP fruit back in try to enjoy them in yummy low FODMAP combos e.g
- Apple & cheddar
- Avocado & sourdough
- Grapes in salads
This is what all traditional diets always did. So channel your granny and think peaches and cream!!
High FODMAP Dairy
These fermented dairy products are high FODMAP and can trigger pain:
- Milk (unless lactose free)
But IBS and SIBO symptoms can be tied to a l. bacillus shortfall on a vegan or low fat diet in which case you may need to add them in.
Again we have to start from our personal saturations and shortfalls and use the FODMAPs lists smartly.
One size really does not fit all.
High FODMAP Nuts
Small helpings of most nuts are great but go easy on high FODMAP:
Pulses & Beans
All beans and pulses are high FODMAP. So skip for 2 to 3 weeks.
Then enjoy in small portions – typically a quarter of a can – in a balanced meal with food from all low FODMAP food groups.
A few beans are very high FODMAP and may continue to aggravate:
- Baked beans
- Navy beans
- Soya beans
- Split peas
Generally canned beans are gentler on our gut than dried beans.
High FODMAP Carbohydrates
Now those pesky carbs again!!
Some people have gluten sensitivity but don’t assume you have. Listen to your body and remember plain white additive-free wheat products can sometimes help with:
- SIBO symptoms
- Low carb cortisol saturation.
If you have been saturating yourself with “healthy” whole grains going easy on these high FODMAP carbs for a weeks can give relief:
- Almond flour
- Cous cous
- Multigrain bread
- Oatmeal bread
- Pearl barley
- Pumper knickel bread
- Rye bread
- Spelt flour
- Wheat bran
- Wholegrain bread
- Wholewheat bread
Add them back in slowly in well balanced meals with protein, fat AND – if your blood sugar levels will support this – some starchy carbs.
OK now we have absolutely everything we need to know to put our low FODMAP diet into action …
Low FODMAP Action Plan
- Boost overall wellbeing with:
- More low stress movement
- Great sleep (use these tips)
- Song, prayer & smiles!!
- Look honestly at your current diet and acknowledge out of whack:
- Make simple low FODMAP swaps to your standard weekly meal plan.
- Tweak favourite meals for a better balance of low FODMAP:
- Skip high FODMAP food for 2 to 3 weeks to rebalance your gut.
- Skip high histamine food if issue.
- Eat small meals slowly, chew well.
- Drink water all day. Don’t glug!!
- Gently add small portions of high FODMAP foods back into meals.
And remember balance is best and always combine high FODMAPs with low FODMAPs from all food groups.
I do hope this simple low FODMAP diet plan helps you ease stomach and gut pain so you can enjoy food and get on with living again.
For more simple healthy living tips explore these posts:
- How To Sleep Better
- Perimenopause Health
- Reduce Inflammation Fast
- Anti-Inflammation Diet
- Natural Headache Relief
- Back Pain Relief
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