Healthy You - Every Day

Do You Know About the FODMAP Diet?

Registered dietitian Suzanne Ickes explains how a FODMAP diet might help if you have irritable bowel syndrome

FODMAP Diet - Suzanne Ickes, registered dietician, explains how it can help you.

Suzanne Ickes is a registered dietitian with Sodexo. She shares information about the FODMAP diet and how it may help you.

Do you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? The symptoms are bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation. People with IBS frequently feel frustrated as there seems to be no rhyme nor reason as to why or when symptoms will occur. Frequently symptoms occur after eating; however, it is difficult to figure out what caused it, leaving you feeling frustrated. Symptoms can be so debilitating that people find themselves limiting social outings and being afraid of eating.

Monash University of Australia has been researching this for years and developed the FODMAP diet. FODMAP is an acronym that identifies categories of short-chained carbohydrates that can cause digestive problems in people with IBS. Those short-chained carbohydrates make up the FODMAP acronym: fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. These types of carbohydrates are found in a range of foods. Examples include:

  • Fructans: Wheat products, onions and garlic
  • Galactans: Chickpeas, beans and broccoli
  • Lactose: Cow, goat or sheep milk and some dairy products made with them
  • Fructose: Honey, soda and other products with high fructose corn syrup, and fruit like mangos and watermelon
  • Sugar alcohols: Cauliflower, mushrooms, apples, pears, and gum and other products with artificial sweeteners like sorbitol and xylitol

Because these foods are so varied, it is difficult to understand what is going on. Apples, onions, garlic, mushrooms, milk and wheat seem to have nothing in common, but they can all cause problems for someone with IBS. 

Another thing that makes identifying troublesome foods tricky is not just what you eat but quantity or what you eat with it. The FODMAP diet works by initially limiting foods known to contain short-chained carbohydrates and then gradually adding back foods to find out what you can and cannot tolerate. While the FODMAP diet itself is not a cure for IBS, it does reduce or eliminate the symptoms in 70% of people.

Also, following the FODMAP diet may not be required forever. If the gut heals, a regular diet may one day be in the cards. Working with a registered dietitian is the best way to navigate this diet plan.

Heart Tip Diabetes Self-Management Education Program

Diabetes and Metabolism Center

Our diabetes and metabolism center provides education and support for people with diabetes to help you live a healthy life.

Explore More Articles