Are Gluten & Bread Allowed on the FODMAP Diet?

Are Gluten & Bread Allowed on the FODMAP Diet?

You might be surprised that gluten and even bread are allowed on the FODMAP Diet in certain situations. If you have IBS, this is a must read! #IBS #fodmap #calmbellykitchen

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Today I’m going to explain how gluten fits into the FODMAP Diet. Ever wonder if you have to eliminate gluten on FODMAP? Or maybe you’ve heard that bread might be okay? 

I’ll address these questions, AND I’m going to explain why you CAN eat regular bread, even if you're in the elimination phase!

This blog post comes from a live video I did on Facebook, so you can either keep reading or scroll down to watch the video!

Is Gluten Allowed on the FODMAP Diet?

This is one of the most common questions I get asked, so I’ll cut right to the chase: No, you don’t need to avoid gluten.

Gluten is a protein, while FODMAPs are carbohydrates. FODMAP's stand for fermentable oligosaccharides, monosaccharide, disaccharides, and polyols--all types of carbs. 

It gets confusing because the main sources of gluten in your diet are wheat, rye, and barley. Those all contain gluten, but they also all contain FODMAPs. Since you must avoid those grains on the FODMAP Diet, you also end up dramatically reducing your intake of gluten.

Additionally, many gluten-free products are recommended for FODMAPers. Not because you can’t eat gluten, but because those products are free of wheat, rye, and barley.  

What If I’m Gluten Intolerant?

It’s possible to have a gluten sensitivity AND a FODMAP sensitivity at the same time. Keep in mind that a sensitivity doesn’t mean you can’t eat ANY gluten at all. People who have celiac disease need to avoid it ALL THE TIME. However if you're sensitive, and there's just a little bit of gluten in your food, it's not likely to cause major issues. 

If you suspect gluten sensitivity, I recommend focusing on FODMAPs first and then gluten, or vise versa. It's hard to test too many different things at the same time. And if you’re sticking to the FODMAP Diet, your intake of gluten will be negligible anyway.

Is Bread Allowed on the FODMAP Diet?

You CAN eat bread on the FODMAP Diet! There are two scenarios where it’s okay, and I’ll explain both:

Scenario #1: You can eat small servings of bread made with regular wheat flour.      

Researchers at Monash University created the FODMAP Diet, and have the done the vast majority of food testing. According to their app, a one-ounce serving of white bread is low-FODMAP. If you buy a typical loaf at a supermarket, one slice is usually about one ounce, or 28 grams. 

If you don’t own the Monash FODMAP app, I highly recommend it--it’s the absolute best tool to understand the importance of portion sizes so can eat a wider variety of foods!

If you eat a one-ounce serving in a sitting, you're still in the low FODMAP zone. So, if you just love to have your regular piece of toast in the morning, you should be able to do that. One ounce is also the equivalent of half an english muffin. 
    
If you're in a situation where you don't have a lot of low-FODMAP food options, it's nice to know that eating one piece of white bread likely doesn’t contain enough FODMAPs to cause symptoms. There’s more flexibility in the FODMAP Diet than you might think!

Let's follow this logic a little further. 

If it's okay to have a slice of bread, then it's okay to have a few crackers, or a cookie that contains regular wheat flour. That's not going to ruin your diet in the elimination phase, or trigger symptoms for most people.

The goal is to reduce your FODMAP intake, not completely eliminate all FODMAPs (yes the terminology is confusing, unfortunately). Truly eliminating FODMAPs would be nearly impossible, since many foods allowed in the elimination phase do contain some amount of FODMAPs.

If you remember one thing, make it this: 

All the food serving sizes are guidelines--they’re your starting point. If that one-ounce slice of bread is too much for YOUR body, then that’s okay. Pay attention to how different foods makes you feel, learn from that, and adjust. 

Scenario #2: Slow-rise sourdough bread is low-FODMAP

The second way to get your bread fix is with sourdough. This type of bread is made using a “starter” and a slow-rise process, while regular bread rises with the help of yeast. 

During the slow rise, the bacteria in the starter consumes the sugars in the bread--many of these sugars are FODMAPs. Those FODMAPs ferment which produces gas, or bubbles, that makes the bread rise. Enough of those FODMAPs are getting consumed to make sourdough bread low-FODMAP!

To be clear, you do not have to find gluten-free sourdough bread. Just the regular stuff made with regular flour is okay. However, do make sure your sourdough bread does not contain yeast, or enzymes. If it does, then these ingredients were added to shortcut the slow-rise process and the bread will not be as low in FODMAPs.

This post covered a ton of information, so let’s recap:

  • You can eat gluten on the FODMAP diet
  • Gluten is a protein, while FODMAPs are carbohydrates
  • You can eat foods make with wheat flour (also known as all-purpose, or “white flour”) in small servings
  • Refer to the Monash App for serving size information, and use those amounts as your starting point
  • Traditionally made sourdough bread (no yeast or enzymes added) is low-FODMAP 

There really are a lot of "subtleties" when it comes to the FODMAP diet, but don't let it drive you crazy. The reality is that it's a lot more flexible and manageable than it first appears!

Top 5 Tips for FODMAP Reintroduction

Top 5 Tips for FODMAP Reintroduction

If you're starting FODMAP reintroduction, follow these tips so you're on track from the very beginning. #IBS #fodmap #calmbellykitchen

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It’s frustrating when you work really hard only to realize later that you were operating WITHOUT all the necessary information, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, I see this all too often when it comes to the FODMAP Diet.

When I ask people in the CBK community what their biggest challenges are, I hear things like:

When I finally realized X…
OR
When I started doing Y…

Psst! If you’re ready to get started, click here to receive my complete reintroduction checklist and food tracker.

While I believe it's important to cover what not to do, it's even more important to know what you SHOULD be doing to make the process as smooth as possible. That's why the goal for this post is to give you my top tips that'll make your life easier AND prevent you from falling victim to the most common reintroduction pitfalls.

Study these tips, especially if you’re just getting ready to start FODMAP reintroduction.

And if you'd rather watch, I talked through these tips on a recent edition of Calm Belly TV. (Click here to subscribe to CBK on YouTube and watch past videos!)

If you follow them from the very beginning, you won’t look back later and think, “If only I’d known…”

Top 5 Tips for FODMAP Reintroduction

#1 Choose test foods that contain only one type of FODMAP.

  • You do NOT need to test every high-FODMAP food under the sun--Instead, you’ll choose one test food from each FODMAP category. Your response to these test foods will be an indicator of your general tolerance for that category. Cool, right?
  • For example, honey is a good test food because it only contains fructose. Apples are not because they contain both fructose and polyols.
  • Use the Monash app to determine your test foods. Whenever possible, choose a test food you enjoy and want to add back to your diet!

Need a list of high-FODMAP foods organized by category? Just click here and we’ll send it directly to your inbox free!

#2 Continue to eat a low-FODMAP diet throughout the reintroduction process.

  • This ensures that you’re collecting the most accurate data about your FODMAP tolerance levels as possible.
  • Wait until you’re done testing all the FODMAP categories to permanently bring back the high-FODMAP foods you DO tolerate.

Not sure if you’re ready to reintroduce FODMAPs? Read this post that covers 3 simple ways you know it’s time.

#3 Track your data.

  • It’s helpful (but not required) to track all your food because it keeps you focused on maintaining a low-FODMAP Diet.
  • If you’d rather not track everything, you must track your test foods/amounts and any symptoms. You’ll use all this data as your guide when you start bringing other high-FODMAP foods back into your diet.
  • Choose whatever tracking method you’ll use consistently. A spreadsheet, notebook, Word doc, the MySymptoms app, or the My Fitness Pal app are all great options.

#4 Wait 24 to 48 hours before increasing the serving amount of your test food OR testing a new FODMAP category.

  • Symptoms can happen as late as 48 hours after eating a high-FODMAP food, so this ensures no lingering symptoms interfere with your next test.
  • As you get comfortable with the testing process, you’ll learn when symptoms typically show up, if you get any symptoms at all. Remember, you might discover one or more FODMAP groups that you tolerate really well!

#5 Make the testing process flexible.

  • If you have an event where you're unable to avoid high-FODMAP foods, take a break from testing and continue as soon as any symptoms resolve.
  • Pause your testing for vacations or holidays.
  • Plan it to fit around a busy work week or other commitments.

If you’re ready to get started, click below to get my complete reintroduction checklist. It’s what I use to make sure my clients are successful from day one. You’ll also get my reintroduction planner and tracker to help you get AND stay organized.

Click to get the FREE Reintroduction Checklist and Tracker!

Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide to the FODMAP Elimination Phase

Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide to the FODMAP Elimination Phase

Learn the 10 things you MUST do during the FODMAP Diet Elimination Phase. It may seem overwhelming but I've boiled it down to what you need to know to relieve your symptoms FAST. #IBS #fodmap

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The story usually goes something like this…

You learn about the FODMAP Diet from a doctor, and it sounds great! There’s a way to control IBS with diet alone and research shows it really works.

But hang on...you can’t eat what!?

Since you likely received little or no guidance, you’re off to search the internet. And that’s when things start looking hopelessly complicated.

Can you relate?

From conversations with the CBK community, I know you’re tired of piecing together incomplete bits of information. That’s why I wrote this Ultimate Guide. 

It’s not just about what you can and can’t eat. That’s important, but it’s only one piece of what you need to feel better as quickly as possible. 

To get the best results from the FODMAP Diet, you need a well-rounded approach AND a plan to follow. The framework below is your step-by-step plan!

If you’re just starting to explore whether the FODMAP Diet is for you, here are the essential facts:

  • The goal of the diet is to help you understand your unique IBS triggers and control your symptoms.
  • It doesn’t cure IBS, but it can make life a LOT better.
  • Research suggests up to 86% of people experience improvement in their symptoms from the FODMAP Diet.
  • Most studies focus on FODMAP for people with IBS, but it’s sometimes recommended for people with SIBO, Crohn’s disease, colitis, and other functional GI disorders.

Perhaps the most important thing to know up front is that the FODMAP Diet is NOT intended to be a lifetime diet. 

Instead, it’s a learning diet with two distinct phases:

  1. Elimination Phase - You dramatically reduce your intake of high-FODMAP foods to confirm your sensitivity to FODMAPs and reach your optimal level of symptom control.
  2. Reintroduction Phase - You strategically bring back high-FODMAP foods to learn your unique tolerance level for the different categories of FODMAPs. Most people can enjoy a wide variety of food while keeping IBS symptoms in check.

When you complete BOTH phases you know what foods to avoid and what foods don’t trigger your symptoms. You’re in control of how your belly feels without resorting to extreme food restriction.

The FODMAP Diet can seem overwhelming at first, but gaining control over your symptoms is SO worth it. 

With the 10-Step framework below, you’ll be able to get the hang of it QUICKLY so you can see the results for yourself!

Step 1: Understand the Goal of the Elimination Phase

Your job in the elimination phase is to confirm that you are indeed sensitive to FODMAPs. The happy side effects of this are 1) understanding what impacts your IBS and 2) feeling better than ever.

Here are the goals of the Elimination Phase in detail:

  • Learn how your body feels without FODMAPs (your maximum level of symptom control)
  • Discover the other factors that contribute to your IBS symptoms and learn to manage them
  • Give your body a clean slate so you can bring foods back and create your unique lifetime eating style in the Reintroduction Phase

Step 2: Download the Monash FODMAP App

Scientists at Monash University in Melbourne developed the FODMAP Diet, and their app is the largest FODMAP food database available. Since their studies into IBS and diet began as recently as 2005, there’s still a lot to learn. 

Monash is regularly testing new foods for FODMAP content and updating the app with the latest info. Since the university is not a for-profit organization, sales from the app help fund research and food testing. The app costs $7.99, but don’t let the price deter you. 

Here’s why the Monash app is an essential tool:

  • It displays FODMAP content by serving size. Many FODMAP-containing foods--including some that end up in the “don’t eat” column on other lists--CAN be eaten during the elimination phase in the appropriate serving sizes.
  • It’s the largest and most reliable source of FODMAP food data, but it also has features like filtering, a food diary, and 80 recipes with shopping lists. 
  • Your purchase supports FODMAP research--All profits from the app support continuing study!

Step 3:  Get to Know High and Low FODMAP Foods

You’ve the got the app, right? Now go through the food categories and make a list of everything you CAN eat (seriously, get out a notebook and write ‘em down). 

But don’t just create a random list--Focus on foods you already know and like, as well as a few new ones you’d be willing to add to your diet. You’re going to end up with a fairly long list! Jot down a few meals you could make with these foods.

Need a shortcut? Download my Low-FODMAP Diet Shopping List. Each underlined food is a link to a recipe on the CBK blog featuring that food. Suddenly, you’ve got a ton of possibilities.

Step 4: Create Go-To Meals

Go-to meals have just three requirements:

  1. They're simple to make.
  2. The ingredients are easy to pick up or keep on hand.
  3. Eating them makes you happy.

Now use the list you made in Step 3 or the handy shopping list to brainstorm 2 or 3 ideas. Then imagine simple variations on those ideas. For example:

  • Replace bell pepper with eggplant in a stir fry
  • Use rice noodles instead of rice
  • Swap shrimp for salmon.

When it comes to creating new meals for the FODMAP diet, don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Adapt meals you already enjoy. You don’t need to cook a brand new recipe every night unless that’s what you enjoy doing! Simple is beautiful.

Having said that, we all need a little inspiration. Here are some places to find meal ideas:

Step 5: Become a Supermarket Sleuth

Get in the habit of reading food labels. Specifically, look for any sneaky high-FODMAP ingredients that might not be obvious on first glance. 

Here are the 3 most common offenders:

  • Sugar alcohols - Xylitol, mannitol, sorbitol, maltitol, isomalt are all high in polyols. They’re found in both foods and medications.
  • Inulin/chicory - Called by both names, this dietary fiber is used in many processed foods to improve texture.
  • Natural Flavor - This term refers to food products, often in the form of extracts or essential oils, used primarily for flavor rather than nutrition. In many foods onion and garlic can fall under this term, so it’s best to avoid products that list “natural flavor” in most cases.

Step 6: Set Up Your Food & Symptom Journal

Tracking your data is essential during the elimination phase for a few reasons: 

  • Symptoms can appear up to 48 hours after eating a high-FODMAP food. Having the ability to look back over your meals will have you decoding any symptoms faster.
  • A log of your food and symptoms lets you find patterns and spot non-FODMAP irritants. For instance, you’ve been bloated lately and notice that it’s typically on days when you drink diet Coke. Maybe carbonated beverages are to blame.
  • Tracking keeps you focused on sticking to your low-FODMAP plan.

Choose any tracking method you’ll use consistently: a notebook, a Word/Google doc, or an app.

Step 7: Make a Stress Management Plan

A variety of non-food factors play a role in your digestion, with stress having the biggest impact. A stress response in your brain directly affects your gut. You know that feeling of “butterflies” in the pit of your stomach--They’re caused by stress.

Practice regular relaxation or stress reduction in your daily routine. From watching hilarious cat videos, to exercising, to meditating, all the tactics work. Find the one that feels good for you.

Step 8: Create a Dining Out Plan

It’s hard to avoid meals out, and there’s no need to stay barricaded in your house while you do the FODMAP Diet. The way to have a good experience is to be prepared.

Frequent restaurant goers may have to reduce the frequency. For example, if you eat lunch out every weekday, cut back to 2 days a week. Otherwise, creating a simple plan for going to restaurants is the key to avoiding FODMAPs and feeling great when the meal’s over.

Dining out strategies to try:

  • If you can pick the destination, research menus online to find the most FODMAP friendly.
  • Call ahead and speak to the manager about your options.
  • Check out the menu and have 2 or 3 dishes in mind so you know what questions to ask your server on the spot.

Step 9: Check In on Your Progress

Many people start seeing fewer and less severe symptoms in 1 to 4 weeks. Why the range? It’s very common to spend the first week or two getting used to a new way of eating, shopping, and cooking. 

Getting help from an expert or support group can speed up your results--I aim to get clients done in 6 weeks--but 8 to 12 weeks is typically the ideal amount of time to achieve the goals of the elimination phase (see Step 1). 

You also need to assess your progress along the way. Here’s when I recommend checking in with yourself:

  • 4 weeks in: Do you have a good rotation of meals? Are you compliant with the diet or are you getting stuck? How much symptom improvement have you noticed?
  • 6 weeks in: Ask the same questions as week 4.
  • 8 weeks in: If you’ve stuck with the diet, you should notice at least a 50% improvement in your symptoms. Some people will feel 70, 80, or 95% better. It will vary, but any of these numbers is a meaningful difference!

Step 10: Move onto Phase 2 When You’re Ready (but don’t wait too long)

Here’s how you know it's time move from the Elimination Phase to the Reintroduction Phase:

  • You have consistent improvement in your symptoms
  • You’ve recognized how stress and other lifestyle factors impact your digestion
  • You’ve gotten comfortable eating a low-FODMAP Diet 

Read more about when you’re ready to reintroduce FODMAPs in this post.

When you reach this point (woohoo!), it’s time to start the reintroduction phase--You bring back high-FODMAP foods strategically to discover your personal tolerance level for each FODMAP category.

When you’re ready to start reintroduction, there’s the danger of getting stuck in “elimination limbo.” That’s when you know it’s time identify your IBS triggers but the anxiety about eating food that might give you symptoms holds you back. 

This fear is common, nearly everyone experiences it. Remember the ultimate goal of the FODMAP Diet: To identify your IBS triggers so you can have the maximum level of symptom control AND the most variety in your diet.

The 10 steps in this post are the essential actions you need to relieve symptoms FAST and get the greatest return for your effort.

Remember, it's not just about banning a list of foods if you want to experience the greatest improvement in IBS symptoms.

How to Manage Holiday Eating (& beat stress) on the FODMAP Diet

Learn 5 tips for holiday eating on the fodmap diet, and 3 ways to manage stress. Keeping your IBS in check while enjoying Christmas and Hanukah celebrations is possible! Click through to read more! #fodmap #IBS

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The holidays are right around the corner. That often means busy schedules, travel, long to-do lists, and plenty of festive food. 

This is all GOOD stuff, but it can also make sticking to the low-FODMAP Diet harder. Luckily, there’s a way to set yourself up for success, even if there’s a house full of Christmas candy calling your name.

To avoid having IBS get in the way of your holiday fun, you just need to plan ahead.

There are two key areas to focus on if you want to feel great throughout the holidays: Smart eating and stress management. 

I talked about each key area in its own edition of Calm Belly TV, my live show I stream on the Calm Belly Kitchen Facebook page. You can also read the tips and strategies below.

You don’t need to use every single tip! Cherry pick the ones that speak to you and your situation. If you want to learn more about any of these tips, be sure to watch the video.

You also don’t need to spend much time creating your plan. Here's what I recommend:

  • Write down the strategies you’ll use (be specific about how and when you’ll put them to work)
  • Include any of your OWN strategies and stress-busting techniques that have helped you in the past
  • Look over your list in the coming days--especially before any big events--so you put your planning into action

By the way, these tips work ANY time of year when you need a little extra help, not just in December!

Top 5 Tips for Holiday Eating on FODMAP

  1. Take a break - If you’re doing the reintroduction phase, pause your testing over the holidays; if you’re doing the elimination phase it’s okay to take a short break to enjoy some of your favorites. Remember moderation and then get right back to eating low FODMAP.
  2. Be selective - Choose the one or two high-FODMAP foods you love most at parties or special occasions and eat a small serving without feeling guilty. 
  3. Eat strategically in your downtime - Eat low-FODMAP day before, the day of, and day after a holiday event. Taking a little extra care makes room to enjoy those higher FODMAP favorites in moderation.
  4. Eat turkey (or whatever protein is being served as the main course) - Any type of large roast is a smart choice. Eat an “inside piece” if you think it’s been seasoned with high-FODMAP ingredients.
  5. Bring dessert - You’ll likely have some options to choose from in the main meal (see #4), but dessert can be tough and missing out isn’t fun. Search Pinterest for low-FODMAP or gluten-free versions of things like pumpkin bars, cranberry crisp or bars, brownies, and cookies. Note that gluten free desserts are not always low-FODMAP; however, they will not contain wheat which is the main high-FODMAP ingredient found in many desserts. If you love to cook, bring a side dish too! 

Watch the video to learn more!


Top 3 Tips for Managing Holiday Stress

Tip #1 - Remind yourself that the people who love you want you to feel good.

This small mindset shift takes care of the stress that can come up around social meals. If you find yourself fielding questions about your food choices, remember that it's coming from a place of concern and curiosity, not disapproval or anger. 

Still awkward? Memorize a go-to response to explain FODMAP: For example, “Certain types of carbs cause digestive problems for sensitive people, so I’m cutting them out of my diet for now.”

Tip #1 also helps when feelings of guilt come up because you’re not following a certain food tradition, or you fear disappointing people by changing the holiday menu.

Tip #2 - Organize a non-food activity to have fun and spend time with loved ones.

For example, build a snowman with your kids or go hiking instead of baking 5 batches of cookies.

When food does play a part in social events, shift the focus to something else like a game or a craft project everyone can participate in.

Tip #3 - Lean on your go-to meals more than ever.

When you’re busy or stressed, don’t make meal planning yet another item on your to-do list. Instead, rely on the handful of meals that are familiar and friendly to your digestive system to keep IBS symptoms in check. Give priority to meals that provide leftovers to help you save time. No need to test drive new recipes or make something from scratch every night.

Watch the video to learn more!

These are my top tips that I've seen work for clients who I'm coaching through the FODMAP Diet. But I bet you have more tips of your own, so use them all! 

The specific strategies don't matter as much as staying consistent, taking a few minutes to plan ahead, and remembering what works for YOU so you can repeat it.

Cranberry Sauce with Clementines and Ginger (Low-FODMAP recipe)

Cranberry Sauce with Clementines and Ginger (Low-FODMAP recipe)

Fresh cranberries are low fodmap, and here they're combined with pumpkin pie spice, clementines, and ginger to make a delicious side dish for your Thanksgiving meal! #fodmap #IBS

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When it comes to Thanksgiving (or any holiday really), we all have our “must-have” dishes. The two or three foods that, if they aren’t on the table come turkey day, we feel let down.

For me one of those must-have dishes is cranberry sauce. I LOVED the canned stuff when I was a kid. You know, the one that came out like a jelly log? I was probably in my 20s the first time I had it made from fresh cranberries.

But once I did taste the real thing, there was no going back! I've made creative versions of it with pears and cardamom or jalapenos and curry powder in years past. Nothing wrong with plain, but I love to jazz it up.

I’m thrilled that cranberries are low-FODMAP (They haven’t been officially tested, but Monash University has stated that 4.6 oz of fresh cranberries is low FODMAP.). That meant I could create yet another version this year. I kept it simple this time around - just cranberries, sectioned clementines, ginger and pumpkin spice.

The traditional Thanksgiving meal is a pretty great one for FODMAPers. You’ve got your cranberry sauce, turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing (you will NOT feel let down by the cornbread stuffing recipe I shared last week!)...and probably a few others I'm forgetting.

I’d love to hear your Thanksgiving must-haves! Leave a comment and let me know.

Cranberry Sauce with Clementines and Ginger (Low-FODMAP recipe)

I use a little less sugar in my cranberry sauce than most recipes. Feel free to increase it by 1/4 to ⅓ cup if you like yours on the sweeter side. You can also adjust the spice level up or down to suit your tastes. If you don’t have fresh ginger, substitute ½ tsp of ground ginger. 

Makes 8 to 10 low-FODMAP servings

INGREDIENTS

12 oz cranberries
2 clementines, sections separated and halved crosswise
2/3 cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup water
1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
¼ tsp salt

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer on medium-high heat, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until cranberries burst and liquid thickens, 15 to 18 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking. Cool and refrigerate in an airtight container. May be made up to 3 days ahead.Serve chilled or at room temp.