What is the FODMAP Diet?


FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols.

These are the scientific terms used to classify groups of carbs that are notorious for triggering digestive symptoms like bloating, gas and stomach pain.

FODMAPs are found in a wide range of foods in varying amounts. Some foods contain just one type, while others contain several.

The main dietary sources of the four groups of FODMAPs include:

Oligosaccharides: Wheat, rye, legumes and various fruits and vegetables, such as garlic and onions.

Disaccharides: Milk, yogurt and soft cheese. Lactose is the main carb.

Monosaccharides: Various fruit including figs and mangoes, and sweeteners such as honey and agave nectar. Fructose is the main carb.

Polyols: Certain fruits and vegetables including blackberries and lychee, as well as some low-calorie sweeteners like those in sugar-free gum.

The benefits of a low-FODMAP diet have been tested in thousands of people with IBS across more than 30 studies


Reduced Digestive Symptoms

IBS digestive symptoms can vary widely, including stomach pain, bloating, reflux, flatulence and bowel urgency.

Stomach pain is a hallmark of the condition, and bloating has been found to affect more than 80% of people with IBS

Needless to say, these symptoms can be debilitating. One large study even reported that people with IBS said they would give up an average of 25% of their remaining lives to be symptom-free

Fortunately, both stomach pain and bloating have been shown to significantly decrease with a low-FODMAP diet.

Evidence from four high-quality studies concluded that if you follow a low-FODMAP diet, your odds of improving stomach pain and bloating are 81% and 75% greater, respectively

Several other studies have suggested the diet can help manage flatulence, diarrhea and constipation

 Stage 1: Restriction

This stage involves strict avoidance of all high-FODMAP foods.

People who follow this diet often think they should avoid all FODMAPs long-term, but this stage should only last about 3–8 weeks. This is because it is important to include FODMAPs in the diet for gut health.

Some people notice an improvement in symptoms in the first week, while others take the full eight weeks. Once you have adequate relief of your digestive symptoms, you can progress to the second stage.


Stage 2: Reintroduction

This stage involves systematically reintroducing high-FODMAP foods.

The purpose of this is twofold:

To identify which types of FODMAPs you tolerate. Few people are sensitive to all of them.

To establish the amount of FODMAPs you can tolerate. This is known as your “threshold level.”

In this step, you test specific foods one by one for three days each


Stage 3: Personalization

This stage is also known as the “modified low-FODMAP diet.” In other words, you still restrict some FODMAPs. However, the amount and type are tailored to your personal tolerance, identified in stage 2.

It is important to progress to this final stage in order to increase diet variety and flexibility. These qualities are linked with improved long-term compliance, quality of life and gut health