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Learning About the Low-FODMAP Diet for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

What is the low-FODMAP diet?

A low-FODMAP diet is a way to find out what foods give you digestion problems. You stop eating certain high-FODMAP foods for about 2-8 weeks. Then you add them back to see how your body reacts.

This is called a "challenge diet." A dietitian or doctor can help you follow this diet.

FODMAPs are carbohydrates. They are in many types of foods. FODMAP stands for the following:

  • F ermentable
  • O ligosaccharides
  • D isaccharides
  • M onosaccharides
  • A nd
  • P olyols

If you have digestive problems, some of these foods can make your symptoms worse. When you are on this diet, you can still eat certain fruits and vegetables. You can also eat certain grains, meats, fish, lactose-free milks, fats, oils, and infused oils. You can flavour your foods with single herbs and spices. This helps to avoid mixed spice blends that may contain garlic and/or onion seasonings.

What is it used for?

If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you can ease your symptoms by not eating some types of foods.

High-FODMAP foods can be hard to digest. They pull more fluid into your intestines. They are also easily fermented. This can lead to bloating, belly pain, gas, and diarrhea.

The low-FODMAP diet can help you figure out what foods to avoid. And it can help you find foods that are easier to digest.

This diet can help with symptoms of some digestive diseases. But it's not a cure. You will still need to manage your condition.

How does it work?

You will work with a doctor or dietitian when you start the diet.

At first, you won't eat any high-FODMAP foods for a few weeks.

Go to www.monashfodmap.com to learn more about this diet. You'll also find links to an app for your phone or other device. You'll find low-FODMAP cookbooks there too.

Adding certain foods back in steps helps you to work out how your body responds to each FODMAP and eventually a mix of FODMAPs. A healthcare provider can help you work out the type and amount of foods to add back in, and help you to track your progress.

Keep a food journal. You can visit AHS.ca and enter "Bowel and Symptom Journal" into the search box . You can write down the foods you try and note how they make you feel.

After a few weeks, you may have a better idea of what foods you should avoid and what foods make you feel your best.

What are the risks?

There is some risk of not getting some of the vitamins and minerals you need while following the low-FODMAP diet. However, this risk is low as you’ll be eating this way for only 2 to 8 weeks.

This diet may limit your fibre intake. Try to plan your meals to include low-FODMAP sources of fibre, such as:

Food

Amount

Fibre (g)

Chia seeds

2Tbsp (30 ml) 7.4
Flax seeds, whole2Tbsp (30 ml) 5.8
Quinoa, cooked1 cup (250 ml) 5.5
Lentils, canned1/2 cup (125ml) 4.2
Flax seeds, ground 2Tbsp (30 ml) 3.9
Brown rice, cooked1 cup (250 ml) 3.1
Oats, dry30g (1/3 cup)
(amount to make
175 ml (3/4 cup)
cooked)
2.8
Oat bran, dry2Tbsp (30 ml) 1.3

What foods are on the low-FODMAP diet?

To see food lists to guide you through the low-FODMAP diet process, see Low FODMAP Eating. Or visit AHS.ca and enter "Low FODMAP" into the search box.

This list doesn't include all high and low FODMAP foods. For a complete list, you can buy the FODMAP diet app. Or search Low FODMAP in any search engine.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter L235 in the search box to learn more about "Learning About the Low-FODMAP Diet for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)".

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