Holistic Nutrition Practitioner


The Low FODMAP diet is often recommended for those suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). In this article, we will dive deeper into what the low-FODMAP diet looks like and how it can relieve symptoms of IBS.

What is IBS?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is the most common gastrointestinal condition. It is estimated that 13-20% of Canadians suffer from IBS. This condition presents most commonly as abdominal pain, excessive gas and bloating, a change in bowel habits such as constipation, diarrhea or an alternation of both.

What are FODMAPS?

FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols. These are a group of short-chain carbohydrates (a.k.a. sugars) that are difficult for our digestive system to digest and absorb. As they move through the G.I. tract, they attract water, ferment in the intestinal tract and produce gas. This can in turn, cause pain and bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea in those that suffer from a sensitive gut, and especially in those with IBS. These fodmaps are present in many common foods such as garlic, onion, wheat and many more.

Generally speaking, FODMAP foods are healthy and do not cause symptoms to most people. It is therefore not recommended to start a low-FODMAP diet if you don’t suffer from IBS or SIBO, since you would be cutting out important food groups which are important for overall health. However, in those who suffer from IBS or SIBO, following a low-FODMAP diet for a period of time can be helpful in diminishing painful and debilitating symptoms.

What is the low-FODMAP diet?

The low-FODMAP diet was originally created by the Monash University. Researchers found that a low-FODMAP diet was effective in improving IBS symptoms in 75% of patients. It is now the most recommended diet for both IBS and SIBO sufferers alike. To be clear, FODMAPs do not cause IBS. But they can make IBS symptoms worse.

This diet limits the amount of FODMAPs for each meal in order to mitigate IBS symptoms and the exacerbation of SIBO

Here are a few examples of high FODMAP foods to limit

  • Lactose:
    • Cow’s milk, yogurt, ice cream

  • Fructose:
    • Apples, pears, peaches, mangoes, honey, agave syrup, high-fructose corn syrup

  • Fructans:
    • Artichokes, asparagus, onion, garlic, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, beets, wheat, rye, inulin

  • GOS:
    • Chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, soy

  • Polyols:
    • Blackberries, nectaries, plums, cauliflower, mushrooms, snow peas, sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, isomalt

Here is a list of foods to focus on

  • Dairy:
    • Lactose-free milk and cheeses, almond milk, coconut milk, oat milk

  • Fruit:
    • Bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, grapefruit, kiwi, lemon, lime, oranges

  • Vegetables:
    • Bok choy, carrots, chives, cucumbers, eggplant, lettuce, olives, parsnips, potatoes, spring onions, turnips

  • Protein:
    • Fish, eggs, tofu, beef, pork, chicken, turkey, seafood

  • Nuts & seeds (limit to 10-15 each):
    • Almonds, macadamia, peanuts, pine nuts, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds

  • Grains:
    • Oats, rice, gluten-free pasta (rice, corn, quinoa, white rice), quinoa, corn flour

What can I eat on the low-FODMAP diet?

Following the low-FODMAP diet is not always easy, especially without the proper ressources. That is why I have created a 21 day low-FODMAP meal plan complete with easy and delicious recipes, breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack ideas, a grocery list and a list of all low and high FODMAP foods so you can easily modify the recipes if needed.

What can I expect on the low-FODMAP diet?

If you have IBS or SIBO and follow the low-FODMAP diet for 2 to 4 weeks, you may experience symptom relief. This diet has been shown to reduce symptoms like:
  • Bloating and gas
  • Pain and discomfort
  • Reduction in constipation and/or diarrhea
  • Improvement of overall quality of life

How to follow the low-FODMAP diet

There are 3 stages to the FODMAP diet.

Stage 1: Restriction

This stage involves completely avoiding high-fodmap foods for a period of 4 to 8 weeks. You may start seeing improvements in your symptoms as quickly as the first week. For some, it may take a few weeks to see any benefits as it can take up to 4 weeks to see a reduction in inflammation. However, this diet has been shown to be helpful in 75% of IBS patients which is a big success rate. Once you achieve a reasonable reduction in symptoms, you can move on to stage 2.

Stage 2: Reintroduction

In this stage, you will be re-introducing each category of FODMAPS individually in order to determine your tolerance levels to each FODMAP as well as which category you are most sensitive to. This stage lasts around 6 to 10 weeks.

It is important to remain on the low-FODMAP diet while you re-introduce each FODMAP in order to get a clear picture of which category you react to. It is best to be done meticulously so that once you have completed each challenge, you will be able to broaden your diet significantly with foods you are certain don’t cause you any pain. During this phase, you test specific foods for a period of 3 days and monitor your symptoms then you do not test for the following 3 days.

Many find it helpful to receive the expert guidance of a professional during the restriction and reintroduction phase. If that is something you are looking for, I offer 1:1 consultations to guide you through this difficult process.

Phase 3: Personalization

Once you have tested all the different categories of FODMAPs and have determined your personal tolerance to each one, you can now introduce the FODMAPs that you have tolerated well during the reintroduction phase. If certain challenge foods caused painful or very uncomfortable symptoms, you can keep avoiding these.

It’s important to progress to this phase and broaden your diet at this stage so that you can maintain a varied diet. If you remain on phase 1 for too long, you may end up limiting too many foods which are important to gut health as well as provide the body with important vitamins and minerals.

Complementary approaches to the low-FODMAP diet

While the low-FODMAP diet can help reduce symptoms in most people with IBS and SIBO, it is important to also work on your overall gut health in order to address the root cause of your digestive disorder. Finding the right combination of supplements and/or medication for you will be an important step in recovering from your digestive issues. Additionally, working on getting quality sleep as well as managing stress levels is as important as dietary interventions. If you require additional assistance in conquering your digestive issues, you can book a free introductory call with me.    

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