If you wake up in the morning with a seemingly flat belly, but end up looking six months pregnant come 3pm– I’ve got some good news for you: The low FODMAP diet could provide relief from the embarrassing bloating caused by Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Here’s how.
FODMAPs – say what?
Here’s a quick science lesson: FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. It’s a mouthful, but basically these are sugars that are poorly absorbed and become fermented in the large bowel. This fermentation process can trigger pesky symptoms like bloating, pain and toilet troubles in those with IBS.
FODMAPs are widespread throughout the food supply. They’re found in lots of grainy foods (bread and pasta), dairy foods (milk and yoghurt) and many fruits and vegetables. Proteins and fats, on the other hand, are typically FODMAP friendly.
It’s worth mentioning, though, that cutting out all FODMAPs for good isn’t the way to go – as you can probably tell, that would be way too restrictive. Instead, the low-FODMAP diet is a short-term approach to help you understand the root of your bloating and other symptoms.
The idea is that you go on a strict low-FODMAP diet for a short period of time to allow your symptoms to settle, and then you systematically test each different type of FODMAP to find your tolerance to it. After the challenge phase, you liberalise your diet according to your thresholds.
If that sounds tricky, you’re not wrong – so the help of an experienced dietitian is highly recommended.
But to help get you get a head-start, here’s a list of twenty-five low-FODMAP swaps you can make that might just help ease the pain (or at least the pressure on your belt buckle):
- Swap for wholemeal or multigrain bread for plain gluten free bread
- Swap plain flour for buckwheat flour
- Swap couscous for quinoa
- Swap freekeh for rice
- Swap garlic for garlic-infused olive oil
- Swap onion for onion-infused olive oil
- Swap a whole spring onion for just the green spring onion tips
- Swap cabbage for kale
- Swap butternut pumpkin for Japanese pumpkin
- Swap broad beans for bean sprouts
- Swap sweet corn for canned baby corn
- Swap leek for ginger
- Swap cauliflower for parsnips
- Swap blueberries for strawberries
- Swap cherries for grapes
- Swap mango for paw paw
- Swap apples for dragon fruit
- Swap regular cow’s milk for lactose-free milk
- Swap yoghurt for lactose-free yoghurt
- Swap oat milk for calcium-fortified almond milk
- Swap almonds for macadamias
- Swap cashews for peanuts
- Swap dried lentils for canned lentils
- Swap silken for tofu for firm tofu
- Swap honey for maple syrup
Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based Accredited Practising Dietitian. You can connect with her at www.honestnutrition.com.au or on Instagram @honest_nutrition.