Goodbye Gluten-Free and Hello Low FODMAPs

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Irritable bowel syndrome, IBS, is a chronic functional gastrointestinal disorder with symptoms that include abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea...just think the alphabet of symptoms A, B, C &/or D! Unfortunately, as many as 13-20% of Canadians at any given time are affected by IBS and the lifetime risk for a Canadian to develop IBS is 30%! That’s a lot of people!

Hello Low FODMAP Diet!

With no medical tests to confirm or rule out a diagnosis of IBS, people are left to manage their dysfunctional symptoms without much guidance...until now. Have you heard of the low FODMAP diet? And no, I didn’t just misspell FOOD, the diet is really called FODMAP! Like our alphabet of symptoms, each letter is an acronym for something: Fermentable – Oligosaccharides – Disaccharides – Monosaccharides – And – Polyols. Don’t worry about memorizing or understanding these confusing words, just know that these are small groups of carbohydrates that don’t get absorbed in the small intestine, which is where they should be absorbed. So, these unabsorbed small groups of carbohydrates move past the small intestine into the large intestine where water comes rushing in and the natural bacteria found in our large intestine starts to eat or ferment the unabsorbed carbohydrates causing IBS symptoms such as pain, bloating, constipation or diarrhea. Whew! Glad that science talk is over!

So, now what? Good news! By following a low FODMAP diet, 75% of people with IBS, will have relief from their symptoms. Yah! Although, please note that FODMAPs are not the cause of digestive disorders such as IBS, they only trigger gastrointestinal symptoms.

When reducing FODMAPs in the diet, it is important to replace restricted foods with nutritious alternatives and ensure that your diet is healthy and well-balanced. A re-introduction of FODMAP foods should be done gradually to help identify which FODMAPs can be tolerated over the long term.

High FODMAP Foods

Curious about which foods are high in FODMAPS and should be avoided? Here’s a quick glimpse at some of the high FODMAP foods: garlic, leeks, onions, wheat, barley, rye, chickpeas, lentils, milk, yogurt, and apples.

Low FODMAP Foods

So, what can you eat while following the low FODMAP diet? Lots of carrots, celery, tomatoes, potatoes, gluten-free bread products, lactose-free dairy products, firm tofu, bananas, blueberries, maple syrup and more!  

In a nutshell - if you experience IBS-like symptoms, the plan is to remove ALL possible trigger foods (high FODMAP foods) until you are symptom free. After you are symptom free, you slowly reintroduce high FODMAP foods back into your diet to determine which foods are causing the issues. Sounds confusing? Because it is!

The low FODMAP diet is best implemented under the supervision of a qualified health care professional, such as a registered dietitian. This diet is still relatively new and an evolving area of nutritional science, so, long story short even as a dietitian we still find this diet confusing!

Questions? I'm here!

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