FOD-what?: A Guide to Low-FODMAP

Good Morning and Happy ‘Giving Tuesday’!

Today I wanted to shed some light on the whole ‘what the heck is a FODMAP’ question, and I’m going to do it as simply as possible. 🙂  Keep in mind that just because it is low-FODMAP does NOT mean it is Paleo, and vice versa. As an added bonus, I’ll go through my Paleo AND Low-FODMAP grocery list for this week at the end of this post as a reference.

FODMAP= Fermentable Oligosaccharides Disaccharides Monosaccharides And Polyols

Phew, thank goodness for that acronym, right? Now, if you have any background in Biology you may be able to decipher that all those ‘-saccharides’ are carbohydrates (sugars).  These specific sugars, found in foods, are osmotic (meaning they pull water into the small intestine) and are not absorbed by the small intestine, causing them to pass along, in all their glory, to the large intestine to be digested.  Within your large intestine there are good bacteria to help with digestion, but unfortunately when FODMAPs are digested by these bacteria they are fermented.  So, if water is being pulled into the small intestine and fermentation is happening in the large intestine, that sounds like a bunch of unwanted bloating and discomfort, right? Ouch… And for people with Crohn’s Disease or IBD, this is big Bad News Bears for them. Here’s a breakdown of FODMAPS in the diet…

FODMAPS in the diet are:

  • Fructose (fruits, honey, high fructose corn syrup, etc)
  • Lactose (dairy)
  • Galactans (legumes such as beans, lentils, soybeans, etc)
  • Fructans (wheat, garlic, onion, inulin, etc)
  • Polyols (sweeteners containing isolate, mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, stone fruits such as avocado, apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums, etc)

But how do I know what FODMAPs could be in my fruits and veggies? They don’t come with an ‘ingredients’ list or nutrition facts label! Easy, I can help with that:

Low FODMAP friendly foods:

Fruits: banana, blueberries, boysenberry, canteloupe, cranberry, grape, grapefruit (this is slightly moderate on the FODMAP scale), honeydew, melon, kiwifruit, lemon, lime, mandarin orange, passionfruit, pawpaw, raspberry, rhubarb, rock melon, star anise, strawberry, tangelo, tangerine, pineapple.  Dried fruit is ok, just limit to smaller quantities since dried fruits have higher sugar content.

Veggies: alfalfa, artichoke, bamboo shoots, bean shoots, bok choy, celery, choka, choy sum, endive, ginger, green beans, lettuce, olives, parsnip, potato, pumpkin, red capsicum (bell pepper), silver beet, spinach, summer squash (yellow) swede, sweet potato, taro, tomato, turnip, yam, zucchini, cabbage, cucumbers, kale, radishes, rutabaga, seaweed (nori), water chestnuts, carrots.

Rice, oats, polenta, arrow root, millet, psyllium, quinoa, sorghum, tapioca, and popcorn are also on the list of low FODMAP foods.

Sweeteners: Sugar (sucrose in small quantities), glucose, artificial sweeteners not ending in “-ol”.

Honey Substitutes: golden syrup, maple syrup (fancy or grade A is best for sweetening and has less maple taste, grade B is best for pancakes), molases, treacle.

Beverages: enjoy just 1/2 cup of fruit or veggie juices at a time. Coffee and tea ok.  Limit bubbly beverages.

Condiments: be mindful of their ingredients. (No-Nos:High Fructose Corn Syrup, garlic or onion salts, sugars ending in ‘-ol’) Garlic or onion infused oils are low-FODMAP, so is dairy free butter, mustard, mayo, salad dressings made with allowed foods, pepper, salt, soy sauce, vinegar.

Seeds & Nuts: chia (one of my favorites!), flax, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, walnut, macadamia, peanut, pecan, pine, nut butters.

Moderate FODMAP foods: (I have included the recommended serving size in parentheses for your convenience)

Fruits: avocado (1/4), cherries (<3), grapefruit (1/2), pomegranate (1/2), shredded coconut (<1/4 cup), dried banana chips (<10)

Veggies: canned artichoke hearts (1/4 cup), asparagus spears (<3), beet slices (4), broccoli (<1/2 cup), brussels sprouts (<1/2 cup), butternut squash (<1/4 cup), cabbbage (<1 cup), celery (1 stick), green peas (<1/2 cup), okra (3 pods), snow peas (<10 pods), corn (1/2 cob), sweet potato (1/2 cup).

Nuts: almonds (<10), hazelnuts (<10).

High FODMAP foods: (by category)

Excess fructose: apples, mango, nacho, pear, tinned fruit in natural juice, watermelon, high fructose corn syrup, concentrated fruit sources, large servings of fruit, dried fruit, fruit juice, honey, corn syrup, fruisana.

Lactose: milk, dairy, cheeses, ricotta, yoghurt, etc.

Fructans: veggies-asparagus, beet root, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, eggplant, fennel, garlic, leek, okra, onion (all), shallots. cereals-wheat & rye in large amounts, crackers, couscous. fruits-custard apple, persimmon, watermelon.

Galactans: legumes-baked beans, chick peas, kidney beans, lentils, cashews, black eyed peas, miso, pistachios, soybeans.

Polyols: fruit- apple, apricot, avocado, blackberry, cherry, lychee, nacho, nectarine, peach, pear, plum, prune, watermelon. veggies- cauliflower, green pepper, mushroom, sweet corn. sweeteners-sorbitol, mannitol, isolate, maltitol, xylitol.

So now, think about your pantry and refrigerator.  Think about the veggies and fruits, the rice and oatmeal, the honey and syrups… Remember, do not approach any diet thinking you have to discard all contents of your pantry and refrigerator and start fresh, just recognize which foods are moderate to high FODMAP foods and enjoy them in smaller amounts. Moderation is key! If I had to cut out ALL avocados and cherries, that would be a deal breaker, and dude… John and I both are Italian and the fact that garlic is on the ‘in moderation list’ is torture, but now we just enjoy those items in smaller amounts or only cut them out during a flair up.

As promised, here’s my shopping list for this week. (strict Paleo and low-FODMAP):

Fruits: grapes, blueberries, bananas, oranges, tomatoes, limes

Veggies: carrots, cucumbers, kale, spinach, artichokes, sweet potatoes

‘Dairy’: coconut almond milk, eggs

Meat: salmon, tilapia, chicken

Other: maple syrup (grade A), coconut water, gluten free chex cereal

Low-FODMAP and Paleo is a FUN challenge. 🙂 And knowing that being strict about this diet will help John feel better (with the added bonus of helping myself as well), the more I want to dedicate to making it a seamless transition.  I’ll be the sunflower, for him, on his darkest (bad flair up) days… Help him stay optimistic when it would be so easy to feel defeated… That’s what I’m here for.

i want to be a sunflower

Be the sunflower. Stay optimistic. Find the sunlight in everything.



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