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!