The Low FODMAP Diet: What Is It & Should You Be Following It?

Are you following a low FODMAP diet?

Studies indicate that 1 in 7 people are affected by Irritable Bowel Syndrome or ‘IBS’, which is characterised by altered bowel habits (constipation, diarrhoea, or both) and digestive symptoms like bloating, cramping and gas.  Whether they know it or not, many people living with IBS are triggered by certain foods, particularly a group of foods known as ‘FODMAPs’.

The Low FODMAP diet: what is it, and should you be following it?So what are FODMAPs?

The word FODMAP is an acronym which stands for ‘Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides and Monosaccharides And Polyols’. These long, funny words are the names of some small carbohydrates that rapidly ferment in the gut, which is normally beneficial for our guts, but if you’re particularly sensitive to them can lead to all sorts of uncomfortable symptoms. FODMAPs are found in a wide array of plant foods, including wheat, pears, cashews, milk and onion.

The Low FODMAP diet: what is it, and should you be following it?Is a low FODMAP diet right for me?

This depends on whether or not you regularly deal with any of the above mentioned digestive symptoms. If you do, it may be worth exploring a low FODMAP diet trial to see if removing FODMAPs provides some relief. However, a low FODMAP diet is not a long-term diet, so if you do notice benefit you’ll need to assess which particular foods are triggering your symptoms.

The Low FODMAP diet: what is it, and should you be following it?The low FODMAP diet is not a weight loss diet, nor is it necessarily nutritionally complete, so if you don’t find any benefit from following it there’s absolutely no need to.

If you are experiencing digestive issues the best thing to do is to seek the help of an Accredited Practising Dietitian, who can assess whether or not a low FODMAP diet may be right for you, and walk you through the process of eliminating FODMAPs and then re-introducing them in a calculated way to see which ones and how much of a load you’re reacting to. Then they can guide you towards a long-term, modified FODMAP diet to ensure you avoid your trigger foods but also obtain all of the nutrients your body needs for optimal functioning.

The Low FODMAP diet: what is it, and should you be following it?I’m not sensitive to FODMAPs, but I do want to improve my gut health. What can I do?

If FODMAPs don’t affect you, funnily enough the best things to eat for long-term gut health are in fact FODMAP-rich foods. Being easily fermented in the intestine means they provide lots of fodder for our gut bacteria to feed on, which keeps our microbiome happy and leads to all sorts of beneficial health effects both physically and mentally.

Are you or anyone in your life avoiding FODMAPs? Tune in to my next blog for ideas on how to follow a low FODMAP diet in winter!


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