I get this question A LOT...followed by: Why were you on the low fodmap diet? Are you still on the low fodmap diet? Should I be on the low fodmap diet?
So, let's get down to business.
What is the low FODMAP diet?
First I'll let you know what the low fodmap diet ISN'T. It's not a long term diet. It's a short term, highly restrictive diet designed to help you figure out your trigger foods. The diet should only be practiced in it's extreme form for 6-8 weeks. The Monash website (aka the low FODMAP bible) actually says that it should only be adhered to strictly for 2-6 weeks, however, it took my body over a month to start feeling any effects. This could have been for two reasons - either my body was so inflamed it needed that time to heal or the stress of thinking about what I should // should not be eating was taxing on my system and it took time for my mind, and there for my body, to chill out a bit. The body and mind at 100% connected if you weren't already aware.
Now onto what FODMAPs are. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols. Say what? Yes it's a mouthful hence the term FODMAP. To better explain this, let's break it down into the 4 main groups of FODMAPS:
- Oligosaccharides - sources include: wheat, beans, peas, pulses, some vegetables, and inulin and fructooligosaccharides (food additives)
- Disaccharides - the main source of this one is dairy
- Monosaccharides - the top contributor here is fructose, common sources include: apples, honey, sugar snap peas, etc.
- Polyols - these are also known as sugar alcohols. Soribitol and xylitol fall in this category along with peaches, plums, most mushrooms, cauliflower, and more.
The different foods, mainly carbohydrates, that fall into these categories can cause abdominal pain, discomfort, bloating, and bowel issues when digested. Choosing low//lower FODMAP foods can give the body a break from the discomfort and allow you do slowly reintroduce foods to pinpoint the culprit(s). Sometimes it is a group of these sugars and sometimes (in my case) it's just a handful of foods that don't jive.
A complete list of high and low fodmap foods can be found over on the Monash App (aka the best $8 you will ever spend at the App Store).
So now you're probably wondering...
How does the low FODMAP diet work?
Answer - it's a three step process. You start the diet full force (with the help of a dietician or nutrition professional, please do not attempt by yourself!) for approximately 6 weeks. Then, comes the re-introduction phase. You will work with your dietician or healthcare provider to slowly bring in higher FODMAP foods and track results. Last, you can create an adapted // adaptable diet. You will have an understanding of your triggers and be able to choose to exclude them (or not!) depending on your day-to-day life and taste preference. For example, I have a slight issue with garlic and onion and therefore choose not to cook with them at home, but will order dishes with them when I'm out to eat - this lady's gotta live LOL. If I get a little bloated and have a fun night out, it's not the end of the world. Watermelon on the other hand, I just avoid all together. There are so many other phenomenal fruits and melons in particular, there is no need for me to indulge there.
Is the low FODMAP diet for you?
That's a great question and not one for me! I would contact your dietician, functional medicine doctor, naturopath, etc. and ask them. Its not something to be taken lightly as it restricts many quality fruits, vegetables, and nutrients in general.
Why did I go on the low FODMAP diet?
You can read about my entire gut health journey here, but the short story is that I was really bloated (like 8 months bloated by the end of the day). It was debilitating and no way to live life. By going on the low FODMAP diet and off the pill, I noticed a huge difference in my mobility, bloat levels, and overall mental health.
Am I still on the low FODMAP diet?
No. I am on my adapted version of the diet. I found apples, beets, and watermelons to be major triggers for me, so I avoid those at home and try to (to the best of my abilities), when I'm out. There are other foods such as those in the allium family (onions and garlic in particular) that I have a small tolerance for. I won't not eat them, but I choose the moments I eat them carefully and it's definitely not a day to day thing for me -- that being said, I don't avoid them all together.
I hope this gives you a better look into what the low FODMAP is and isn't! Please feel free to leave a comment or message me directly if you have further questions.
P.S. I recently wrote an article for mind body green all about my experience on the low FODMAP diet if you'd like to read more.