Has your doctor recommended a low FODMAP diet to control your Irritable Bowel Syndrome? Are you unsure of what FODMAPs even are, much less how to avoid them? If so, read on.

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a disorder affecting the gastrointestinal system. IBS is characterized by either diarrhea or constipation, stomach pain, and gas. The symptoms may be brought on by ingesting certain foods, stress, or other related diseases such as gastroenteritis.

Although IBS isn't curable, the symptoms can be managed. Typically your doctor will advise you to follow something called a low FODMAP diet, in order to identify what foods are causing your symptoms. The elimination phase of the diet lasts six to eight weeks. If, after that time, symptoms have subsided, the eliminated foods are then slowly re-introduced. If symptoms reappear as a food is brought back, that food may be one of your IBS triggers. If symptoms don't subsist on the diet, you may need to work closely with a dietitian to identify your unique triggers.

What is a FODMAP?

FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides And Polyols. FODMAPs are types of carbohydrates, including lactose, fructans (found in foods such as garlic and onions), fructose (found in fruit and honey), galactans (found in beans and lentils), and polyols (found in certain fruits and artificial sweeteners). These foods can be difficult to digest, and although a low FODMAP diet doesn't eliminate them completely, the idea is to drastically cut down on the amount of FODMAPs consumed.

What foods are okay to eat on a low FODMAP diet?

At first, it may seem difficult to find acceptable foods on a low-FODMAP diet. However, there are plenty of options out there. Low or lactose-free dairy, almond milk, rice milk, Greek yogurt, sherbet, hard cheeses, beef, chicken, fish, tofu, bananas, cranberries, quinoa, rice, oatmeal, bell peppers, kale, spinach, and cucumber are just a few low FODMAP options.

What foods should you avoid?

Foods that are considered high FODMAP include high fructose corn syrup, chocolate, milk, ice cream, beans, lentils, inulin, wheat, gluten, apples, plums, watermelon, sugar snap peas, onion, and garlic. You may find that it's easiest to prepare food from scratch while on a low FODMAP diet. Many packaged foods that seem safe may be hiding ingredients such as milk, inulin, or garlic powder. The same goes for foods prepared at a restaurant.

It can be difficult to eliminate FODMAPs completely. The idea behind the low FODMAP diet is simply to limit your intake of these foods as much as possible until you know what your triggers are. Talk to your doctor like one from Sound Family Health for more information.