FODMAP stands for “fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols.” Yes, it’s a mouthful! This is a fancy way of summarizing the short-chain carbohydrates (fibers, sugars and sugar substitutes) that can be gas producing, bloat causing, stomach cramping and diarrhea inducing for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and certain other digestive sensitivities.
It’s reported that approximately one in seven people worldwide suffer from IBS. Studies by Monash University in Australia have shown that about 75 percent of those people experience relief of their symptoms by following a low-FODMAP diet.
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FODMAP foods can be found just about everywhere: from some fruits and vegetables to specific beans, grains, nuts, teas, dairy, alcohol and sweeteners.
Selecting more foods on the low end of the FODMAP spectrum and fewer on the high end could improve digestion and absorption if you suffer from icky gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms. Choosing green beans over asparagus, honeydew melon over watermelon, almond milk over cow’s milk, tofu over baked beans, walnuts over cashews, or quinoa over couscous are some simple tweaks that could alleviate stomach discomfort.
If you’re unsure whether a low-FODMAP diet is right for you, consult with your doctor to confirm whether you have IBS. Next, work with a dietitian to eliminate your trigger FODMAP foods (not all high FODMAP foods affect people equally) for a two- to six-week trial period. Then, reintroduce FODMAP foods in a stepwise process with your dietitian to identify troublesome foods and lay out a customized long-term eating plan.
Further resources on the FODMAP diet: Monash University FODMAP App (monashfodmap.com) and Nestlé Health Science Low FODMAP Central (lowfodmapcentral.com).
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A registered dietitian with Kroger, Molly provides private nutrition-counseling services, and has been a public speaker, radio talk-show guest, blog author and TV news presenter for Kroger. She enjoys helping customers simplify the confusing world of nutrition labels, dietary intolerances, weight management and plant-based nutrition.
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