I first came across reference to the Low FODMAP diet when I was experiencing some real tummy troubles – I’m talking serious bloating, nausea, gas and digestive issues. The symptoms were not dissimilar to someone experiencing Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or Chron’s Disease. Turns out I was dealing with a nasty parasite, but regardless, my naturopath and doctor both suggested trying the Low FODMAP diet to manage my symptoms.
While not something you would want to maintain for the long term if you can avoid it (it is a particularly restrictive diet) – it was especially helpful in managing the severity of my digestive symptoms.
So what is FODMAPs anyway?
FODMAP stands for Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols.
The problem with a diet high in FODMAPs is linked to the bodies ability (or inability, in the case of IBS, Chron’s and parasites) to absorb these molecules through the small and large intestine. A Low FODMAP diet gives your intestines a break from trying to digest foods that are only producing more gas and interrupting your natural bowel movements. If you have a particularly sensitive gut, a diet high in FODMAPs can wreak more havoc on your body than necessary, resulting in excess gas and bloating, frequent and uncomfortable bowel movements and stomach pains.
According to fodmapfriendly.com it is estimated that 35% of Australians have intolerances to one or more FODMAPs. A diet low in FODMAPs can help manage these uncomfortable symptoms.
What is involved in a low FODMAP diet?
The recommended approach to a low FODMAP diet really depends on the severity of your symptoms, and results of any tests you may have completed with your doctor. It is always recommended to commence and manage a diet like this under strict supervision from your doctor, dietician, nutritionist and/or naturopath. They will be able to assess your bodies performance and track just how much and what types of FODMAPs your body can (or can’t) tolerate.
For instance, while on the Low FODMAP diet, I could not stomach any garlic or onion without a severe reaction. However, this will not be the case for everyone. Others may experience challenges with certain fruits, vegetables or even spices! Even too much avocado can impact someone with a FODMAP sensitive body.
It is a very unique and personal diet and not something to be considered lightly or without expert advice.
How can I find out more?
Monash University has developed an incredible smartphone-friendly app – the Low FODMAP app. Within the app, you are able to search any and every food, giving you a traffic light representation of whether you can consume it under a Low FODMAP diet (red means no, orange means give it a go and green means go for your life). On top of this, there are recommended food quantities to manage flare ups, and you are able to compile shopping lists and note take your reactions to certain foods – wonderful to use when you are checking in with your health care professional.
- The information in this article is not intended as advice. Always consult a health professional before changing your diet.
Have you tried the Low FODMAP diet? Did it help you manage your stomach symptoms?
This article was lovingly written by wellness coach, Hollie Azzopardi. To find out more about her story, click here.