Gluten May Not Be Causing Your Digestive Issues, But These Foods Are

FODMAP is a term that I've seen but had no idea what it stood for. As much as I love working out, I am actually very stubborn when it comes to my diet.  I eat what I want (I have an undying love for McDonald's), with no regard for the long-term effects it has on my body and overall health. But after researching FODMAPs and how they're connected to discomfort when digesting, I realized that I should pay closer attention. 

I spoke to Brooke Alpert, nutritionist and author of The Diet Detox, and asked her to give me a basic lesson on FODMAPs. What foods are considered low FODMAPs? What foods are considered high? What does FODMAP mean? From explaining what it is to giving a list of foods that have it and don't, she laid it all out for me. Scroll down to learn more about FODMAPs and low-FODMAP foods. 

What does FODMAP mean?

FODMAP stands for the following: fermentable oligo-saccharides di-saccharides mono-saccarides and polyols. "FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates (sugars and fibers) that are poorly absorbed in the gut, which can cause gas, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)," says Alpert.

FODMAPS are a natural component of many carbohydrates that we eat, which is why they can be hard to avoid. But Alpert also says it's completely fine to eat them, but for some people it may cause discomfort. "When we eat FODMAPs, they attract water into the gut, which can cause diarrhea," she says. Then, when they enter the large intestine, our gut bacteria ferments them, producing gas. This leads to bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or stomach pain in people with IBS."   

Foods Low In FODMAP

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If you're looking to decrease your intake of FODMAP foods, Alpert says these are the foods to eat:

  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Swiss Chard
  • Eggplant 
  • Pumpkin
  • Blueberries
  • Orange
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Brown Rice
  • Brie
  • Camembert
  • Feta
  • Swiss cheese

Foods High in FODMAP

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According to Alpert, foods that are high in FODMAP contain high lactose, excess fructose, high fructans, and high polyols. Here's the breakdown of which specific foods contain it. 

High lactose:

  • Ricotta
  • Milk
  • Ice cream
  • Yogurt

Excess fructose:

  • Asparagus
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Cherries
  • Agave 
  • Honey

High fructans:

  • Artichoke
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Beans
  • Rye wheat

High polyols:

  • Sorbitol
  • Xylitol
  • Mannitol (sweeteners)

What is a Safe Amount To Eat? 

There's not really a straightforward answer to this because the right amount really depends on how well each person is able to digest FODMAP foods. "Some people can safely and comfortably eat foods high in fructose (a subgroup of FODMAPs), while someone else might not tolerate those same foods well. Most people without IBS can tolerate FODMAPs well without discomfort," says Alpert. 

She also warns that a low-FODMAP diet isn't something that's supposed to be followed permanently; the purpose of a low-FODMAP diet is to identify which foods you're sensitive to and which ones you're okay with. "For two to six weeks, all high-FODMAP foods are eliminated during the first phase of the diet. After that, FODMAPs are reintroduced gradually into your diet to help you determine your tolerance to each type and amount of FODMAPs during the re-challenge phase," she says. "Once you have discovered which high-FODMAP foods trigger your body and which are tolerable, you can return to following a balanced diet and only avoid certain high-FODMAP foods that you cannot tolerate."  

Next up, read up on what beauty products our editors keep in their gym bags. 

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