Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may affect up to 23% of the population worldwide, according to research. I was 14 when I was diagnosed (something every teenager wishes for!) and spent many years struggling to work out what triggered my symptoms. Then the Low-FODMAP Diet came along, and started changing things in a big way.

So what exactly is it?

The Low FODMAP Diet is a type of elimination diet developed by researchers at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, designed to help people suffering from IBS and a sensitive gut. Research has shown that over 70% of people with IBS who follow the diet see a significant improvement in their symptoms.

What actually are FODMAPs?

FODMAPs are a collection of short-chain carbohydrates (sugars) that some people may have trouble absorbing properly in the gut, which can trigger symptoms such as stomach pain, gas, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation in those of us with IBS. Lovely.

FODMAP is an acronym that stands for:

Fermentable
Oligosaccharides
Disaccharides
Monosaccharides
And
Polyols

I know — it’s a lot to take in, but really these words are just scientific names used to describe the different sugars that some people may have trouble absorbing. Fermentable is the word used to describe the process where bacteria in your gut consume these sugars (FODMAPs) to produce gas and other nasty symptoms.

What foods are FODMAPs found in?

FODMAPs are found in a range of foods including apples, pears, cauliflower, sweet potato, beans, avocado, mushrooms, onions, garlic, beans and milk, as well as foods made from wheat, such as pasta, bread and biscuits. FODMAPs aren’t found in proteins or fats — so foods like chicken, fish, eggs and oil are all OK.

How does the diet work?

There are three stages to a Low-FODMAP Diet.

  • Stage 1 — ELIMINATION: High-FODMAP foods are avoided for 4 to 8 weeks
  • Stage 2 — REINTRODUCTION: If your symptoms have improved in the elimination phase, you’ll start reintroducing FODMAPs one at a time. It’s likely that you won’t be sensitive to all FODMAP groups, and this is where you’ll work out which ones are problematic for you (I can do most dairy for example, but my gut really doesn’t like onions)
  • Stage 3 — PERSONALISATION: In this stage you return to as normal a diet as possible, avoiding just those FODMAPs that trigger symptoms for you

What you have to remember is that this diet is not about being incredibly restrictive longterm. The ultimate goal is to eat and live as freely as possible with the least restrictions you can get away with — the more FODMAPs you can return to your diet without triggering symptoms, the healthier your gut is likely to be.


Find more information herehere and here.

To note: Everybody is different and this a diet that worked for me.The information and advice on www.shecanteatwhat.com is not intended to replace the services of trained health professionals or be a substitute for medical advice. Have a chat with your doctor or GP! I was advised to start with an elimination diet first under supervision of my dietician and then to add certain foods back in to work out what foods, and what amount of certain foods, I could and couldn’t handle.