FODMAP is  an acronym which stands for fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. These  are sugars that aren’t easily absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract.

As they are not well absorbed, these sugars are not completely digested in our intestines,

 and as a result they move slowly in the  small intestine, taking up water. Then as they pass into

 the large intestine, these high FODMAP sugars are fermented by gut bacteria, which  produces gas.

 The extra gas and water cause the intestinal wall to stretch and expand. In a  person with IBS

 this creates pressure felt from the intestinal wall causing bloating and pain.


Because FODMAPs are found in many different types of food, following a low FODMAP diet  cannot be a matter of following some general guidelines.  In order to follow a low FODAMP diet it is important for a person to obtain a working knowledge of which foods to avoid and which are allowable.

One should start with knowing about some very basic items in the average American’s diet that need to be avoided.


Since most breads are wheat products, all

breads are to be avoided unless one reads the label and knows that a particular item they

wish to ingest  is a non wheat containing bread product. Rye also contains FODMAPs

and is not an acceptable alternative.


Along with milk this includes most cheeses and butter . Cream is also high in lactose and thus cream

containing products like ice cream and cream cheese need to be avoided.


In nature, meats themselves are free of FODMAPs. Therefore, red meat, pork, chicken,

turkey and fish are all good choices for those who are trying to avoid a high FODMAP diet.

In processed meats however, the ingredients will most often contain high FODMAP items

such as garlic, onions, as well as many sauces and marinades.

So, good eating choices are cooked meats in their natural state, however gravies and sauces

are commonly high in FODMAPs and need to be avoided. FODMAPS are also found in condiments and food additives that need to be identified and avoided. Again, scrutinizing labels is essential in deciding whether any non-pure meat item is acceptable.


The FODMAPs sorbitol and fructose are high in many fruits . Thus the following need to be

avoided because of their sorbitol content: apples, pears, mangoes, cherries, figs, pears,

watermelon and dried fruit. Fruits rich in sorbitol include blackberries, peaches and plums.

Many fruits contain both fructose and sorbitol. Some examples are apples, pears and cherries.

VEGETABLES-  The FODMAPs present in vegetables are fructans and mannitol . The vegetables

which contain higher levels of fructans are garlic, leeks, onions and artichokes. Vegetables

rich in mannitol include snow peas, cauliflower and mushroom


SWEETENERS CONTAINING FRUCTOSE are to be avoided. A very common label ingredient
 to be aware of is high fructose corn syrup, the main sugar sweetener in sodas and widely
placed in processed sweetened foods.  The other class of sugar sweeteners are called
sugar polyols- watch for SORBITOL, XYLITOL AND ERYTHRITOL on labels.  Honey and
corn syrup are also high in FODMAPs.
 ALLOWABLE LOW FODMAP SUGARS: table sugar, dark chocolate
and rice malt syrup.


The main FODMAP present in legumes and pulses is Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS). Legumes and pulses high in GOS are baked beans, split peas and kidney beans .
NUTS AND SEEDS  High FODMAP nuts include cashews and pistachios.
Low FODMAP nuts include macadamias and peanuts.
Most seeds are low FODMAPs.

One information resource online is called Monash University. It has produced an app for those wishing to reference the FODMAP food content of particular food items. Some of this information may be found in published scientific literature, and all of their information made available by the Monash University FODMAP Diet App .The app uses a traffic light system to rate foods as low, moderate or high in FODMAPs, rated as green,yellow or red.  The following  is a  summary of  high and low FODMAP foods.

High FODMAP foodsLow FODMAP alternatives
VegetablesArtichoke, asparagus, cauliflower, garlic, green peas, mushrooms, onion, sugar snap peasAubergine/eggplant, beans (green), bok choy, green capsicum (bell pepper), carrot, cucumber, lettuce, potato, zucchini
FruitsApples, apple juice, cherries, dried fruit, mango, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, watermelonCantaloupe, kiwi fruit (green), mandarin, orange, pineapple
Dairy & alternativesCow’s milk, custard, evaporated milk, ice cream, soy milk (made from whole soybeans), sweetened condensed milk, yoghurtAlmond milk, brie/camembert cheese, feta cheese, hard cheeses, lactose-free milk, soy milk (made from soy protein)
Protein sourcesMost legumes/pulses, some marinated meats/poultry/seafood, some processed meatsEggs, firm tofu, plain cooked meats/poultry/seafood, tempeh
Breads & cerealsWheat/rye/barley based breads, breakfast cereals, biscuits and snack productsCorn flakes, oats, quinoa flakes, quinoa/rice/corn pasta, rice cakes (plain), sourdough spelt bread, wheat/rye/barley free breads
Sugars, sweeteners & confectioneryHigh fructose corn syrup, honey, sugar free confectioneryDark chocolate, maple syrup, rice malt syrup, table sugar
Nuts & seedsCashews, pistachiosMacadamias, peanuts, pumpkin seeds/pepitas, walnuts

IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) has symptoms in common with other Gastrointestinal diseases.

One should not self diagnose IBS, but have other conditions such as coeliac disease,

inflammatory bowel disease, endometriosis and bowel cancer ruled out by a physician

before deciding on a low FODMAP  diet as correct for their condition.


Many people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome as well as those with Celiac Disease have other specific
 sensitivities to different foods which will exacerbate the symptoms of their condition.
Cell Science Systems offers the ALCAT Food Sensitivity test. Up to 250 foods can be tested and
 may be an excellent accompaniment to FODMAP awareness to more completely understand which
foods would make up the best dietary plan for sufferers of a variety of gastrointestinal
symptoms and conditions.

To read more about the many effects of underlying food sensitivities, read Food Allergies, A Hidden Culprit.

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