Food · Food Reviews

What is the Low FODMAP diet?

If you’ve already read my post explaining my disabilities or seen my anti-nausea video you’ll know that food and I haven’t always had the best relationship. I love food and food… attacks my body.

So I went on a little journey to work out what I can and can’t eat and which foods my body will actually tolerate. If you haven’t seen them already you can watch the videos in that playlist here:

So, as you know, if you have gone and watched said videos, I’ve moved from not being able to eat any kind of carbs or starchy foods to then doing the Candida diet to clear out my body (Oh God, never again!) to the Low FODMAP Diet and it has been a revolution! This new way of eating has genuinely made such a big change to my life and managing my chronic illness day to day that I can’t shout its praises loud enough.

FODMAP stands for:

Fermentable – meaning they are broken down (fermented) by bacteria in the large bowel
Oligosaccharides – “oligo” means “few” and “saccharide” means sugar. These molecules made up of individual sugars joined together in a chain
Disaccharides – “di” means two. This is a double sugar molecule.
Monosaccharides – “mono” means single. This is a single-sugar molecule.
Polyols – these are sugar alcohols (sadly they don’t lead to intoxication!)

FODMAP is an elimination diet for anyone who has digestive discomfort and issues. It can also be used for people who suffer from chronic migraines, people who have fybromaliga, people who have MS or those who have eczema. Things that are generally caused by your body reacting to certain foods.

You begin by taking out these groups of foods and then adding them back in one at a time.

Which types of foods should be avoided?

Foods to avoid include those containing: Fructose (the sugar in fruit), Lactose (the sugar in dairy), Fructans (the sugars in veg and grains), Galectins (sugar in legumes- probably my worst one) and Polyols (which are a type of artificial sugar). As a side note: polyols are artificial sugars that ends in ‘ol’. Sweeteners like sucralose or stevia are fine and it’s those I use in my recipes.

Remember that because this is an elimination diet, it’s not intended to be long term. You cut all of the FODMAPS out and then you are supposed to introduce them one at a time, stopping one before you start another. At the end of the testing period whatever doesn’t work just stays cut out.

I found that most things considered ‘high FODMAP’ don’t react well in my stomach so all of the recipes I now make are FODMAP friendly and you can eat them even if only one of the sugar types irritates your body.

Oh Sugar.

Find an extensive list of high and low FODMAP foods here, these are just the things that didn’t work (or did!) for me.

Of the various things that come under the heading of FODMAP, the things that I found that are really bad for me would probably be fructose. Lactose also not my friend. Galectins, as I mentioned, no no.

And strangely enough, polyols. They are all the things that I was eating that are sugar free, they were supposed to be totally fine for me but were not working and those obviously had the sweeteners that ended in ‘ol’. I cut those out of my life and OMG. I’m not going to say it’s completely gone, but it’s like one day a fortnight I get horrific pain rather than every single day. It really does make a difference!

In terms of high FODMAP fruits, we have pretty much anything that has a stone. But also some things with seeds, like apples and pears.

And then we’ve got the grains section this includes rye and pretty much anything with wheat in. Although wheat itself isn’t actually a FODMAP but hey, it doesn’t hurt, and then if everything is working out, you can introduce some gluten back in and if you’re fine with it, good for you! I’m not.

Now don’t worry, that was the bad stuff…

We’re moving on to the good stuff.

Low FODMAP vegetables include green beans, carrots, bok choy… Basically, if it’s not in the onion family, you’re doing well. In terms of fruits, you still have plenty to choose from including bananas, oranges and grapes.

In dairy terms, anything lacto-free is going to be good for you!

Then we get to the low FODMAP grains. Now, this is something that I personally have a little bit of trouble with, but maybe it will be different for you. These include things like, oats and quinoa… Which I struggle with terribly! I’ve found that white rice is the only remotely carby thing I can manage. That is, of course, excluding sweet potatoes which are (A) a vegetable and (B) after my wife and dogs, the love of my life.

You’re going to be okay.

Now, don’t panic if this all seems very scary, and like there are a lot of different rules. But it’s actually quite simple, as long as you have the lists of things that you can and cannot eat, which are available online in many different formats. Print them out, stick them to the fridge, take them shopping with you.

I also purchased a very handy little book which perfectly fits into my handbag

Obviously, consult your doctor first, before taking on any kind of new diet.

My promise, my pledge, is that I’m going to make a recipe for some kind of FODMAP friendly onion bhaji. One day!