The FODMAP diet is a relatively new dietary approach that has been gaining popularity in recent years. The acronym FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols. These are all different types of carbohydrates that can be difficult for some people to digest. The FODMAP diet is designed to help those people improve their digestion by avoiding foods that contain high levels of these carbohydrates.
The FODMAP diet can be quite restrictive, and it can be difficult to follow correctly. There are many different foods that fall into the category of high-FODMAP foods, so it can be challenging to know which ones are safe to eat and which ones you need to avoid. The most important thing is to educate yourself on the foods that you should avoid, and which ones are safe for you to eat.
There are five main groups of carbohydrates that fall under the FODMAP umbrella – oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols, which are all considered “high-FODMAP” foods. There is also another group of carbohydrates called “GOS”, or galactooligosaccharides, but these don’t cause problems in every person so they aren’t included in the “high-FODMAP” list below.
Oligosaccharides are a type of carbohydrate that is made up of 3-10 molecules of sugar. The types of oligosaccharides that are considered “high-FODMAP” foods include fructans and galactooligosaccharides.
This class of carbohydrates includes the sugars lactose, maltose, and sucrose. They can be difficult to digest for people with a sensitivity or intolerance to them.
Monosaccharides are single units of sugar, including fructose and glucose. They can be found naturally in certain fruits and vegetables as well as added sugars like honey or high fructose corn syrup (which is used as a sweetener in many processed foods).
This class of carbohydrates includes sugar alcohols like mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol. These molecules are not digested completely in the small intestine, which can cause problems like diarrhoea and bloating for some people.
Galacto-oligosaccharides are a type of carbohydrate that is made up of 3-10 molecules of sugar and galactose. They are found naturally in certain foods like legumes, cruciferous vegetables, and asparagus. They don’t always cause problems in people so they are not included in the “high-FODMAP” list below.
Some common high-FODMAP foods
The table below outlines some common high-FODMAP foods and their respective FODMAP levels.
Food Group High-FODMAP Foods Fructans Oligosaccharides: fructans Disaccharides: lactose, maltose, sucrose Monosaccharides: fructose Polyols: mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol Galacto-oligosaccharides Legumes: lentils, kidney beans, black beans Cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower Asparagus GOS Dairy products: milk, yoghurt, ice cream Processed foods: cakes, cookies, pizza crusts
If you are following the FODMAP diet correctly, you will need to avoid all-FODMAP foods. This can be extremely challenging because there are so many foods that are considered high-FODMAP.
The good news is that you don’t have to eliminate all FODMAP foods from your diet, but it does mean significantly reducing them in order to reduce symptoms. Bear in mind though, people’s tolerance for FODMAPs varies dramatically so the amount of FODMAPs someone can tolerate before experiencing symptoms can vary greatly.
It might seem kind of unfair that you have to cut out all foods containing these types of carbohydrates just because some people may not be able to digest one or two types well. The reality is that this diet was specifically designed for people with digestive disorders who are intolerant to even small amounts of certain types of carbohydrates.
If you are concerned about the amount of FODMAPs in your diet, use an app like Monash University Low-FODMAP Diet App to keep track of the daily recommended servings of high and low-FODMAP foods. Be sure to check out our post on where to find reliable information as well as a guide on how to use the app effectively, here: How To Use The Monash University Low Fodmap App Effectively.