The FODMAP Diet: Your Ultimate Guide [in-depth guide + free resources]

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Welcome to the Ultimate Guide to the FODMAP Diet, presented by Calm Belly Kitchen.

It is my hope that this guide is a resource for everyone who has been struggling to control their IBS symptoms, wondering about the best diet for IBS, and curious to know more about the low FODMAP diet.

First things first: What does FODMAP stand for?

FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols.

To put it simply, FODMAPs are a type of carbohydrate that are not fully digested by people with IBS and other gastrointestinal conditions.

How eating a diet high in FODMAPs affects people with IBS:

  • FODMAPs cause excess water to be pulled into the small intestine

  • Since they’re not fully absorbed, they travel through the gut where the healthy bacteria in the large intestine use them for energy

  • These bacteria trigger fermentation of the FODMAPs, resulting in gas production

  • Gas causes your intestines to stretch leaving you bloated and uncomfortably full

  • The highly sensitive nerves in your intestines trigger pain and discomfort

  • Excess water and gas production lead to constipation, diarrhea, or a mix of both

While some people may have a mix of symptoms, others may only experience diarrhea, or mostly constipation, or exclusively bloating. It varies from person to person, with no clear explanation of why you’re prone to a certain symptom.

FODMAPS are found in all kinds of foods, most of them otherwise healthy.

  • Oligosaccharides are found in garlic, onions, leeks, beans, artichokes, dried fruits, plums, watermelon, wheat, rye, barley, pistachio and cashew nuts, as well as inulin (also called chicory root), a plant fiber often added to vitamins and supplements and low-fat foods like yogurt.

  • Disaccharides are found in high-lactose foods, such as milk and yogurt.

  • Monosaccharides are typically found in foods with excess fructose, such as asparagus, sugar snap peas, apples, fresh figs, cherries, mangoes, pears, watermelon, honey, agave and high fructose corn syrup.

  • Polyols are found in fruits and vegetables like apples, peaches, blackberries, mushrooms and snow peas, as well as sweeteners like mannitol, sorbitol, maltitol, xylitol and isomalt.

(Want to know what you CAN eat? We’ll provide a list of low-FODMAP foods in Chapter 3, as well as some excellent resources for finding and avoiding them on-the-go!)

The FODMAP diet was first developed by Monash University, in Melbourne Australia. Back in 2005, they published their first paper on the topic, and since then, their contributions to the field of gastrointestinal health have become the gold standard in IBS treatment.

What Monash University researchers discovered was that for people with IBS, eating foods that contained too high of a quantity of FODMAPs triggered IBS symptoms.

Who is the FODMAP Diet for?

The FODMAP diet is often recommended for people with IBS, but it’s also helpful for a variety of GI conditions.

Recognized as a first-line therapy for IBS (meaning it’s the first treatment IBS patients should try), the FODMAP Diet requires no medication and is about as risk-free as you can get.

It’s also highly effective. A 2016 study in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Gastroenterology stated:

“Up to 86% of patients with IBS find improvement in overall gastrointestinal symptoms as well as individual symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal distention, and flatulence following the diet.

Other gastrointestinal problems that might benefit from the FODMAP Diet include SIBO, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s Diseas

It definitely takes a bit of learning and changing your approach to food, but the benefits far outweigh the effort you’ll put in...

Benefits of the FODMAP Diet:

  • Offers a long-term solution for managing your individual symptoms, not a quick fix or one-size-fits-all plan

  • Helps you learn what foods trigger your symptoms and what foods don’t, so you can stop stressing over every bite

  • Helps you identify other factors that contribute to your symptoms so you can have as much control and relief as possible

Maybe, the greatest thing about the FODMAP Diet is that the goal is not long-term restriction. Rather, think of FODMAP as a temporary learning diet where the goal is as much variety as possible while controlling your symptoms.

In the next chapter will dive into exactly how the FODMAP Diet works. It’s a fascinating learning process where the subject is YOUR unique body!