While you’re no doubt familiar with some of the diets we cater for here at ChefDine, such as the Keto or Paleo Diet, perhaps you know a little less about another emerging dietary trend: low FODMAP diets. This post will go over what FODMAPs are, where they’re found and how they might affect you.
What are FODMAPs?
FODMAPs are a group of sugars found in our food which have been found to cause poor digestion and digestive discomfort.
FODMAP is an acronym that stands for:
- Oligosaccharides (eg. Fructans and Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS))
- Disaccharides (eg. Lactose)
- Monosaccharides (eg excess Fructose)
- Polyols (eg. Sorbitol, Mannitol, Maltitol, Xylitol and Isomalt)
Fermentable carbs are those that are easily fermented, or broken down, by our bodies. However, for some people, they are poorly absorbed by the small intestine where they are fed upon by the bacteria that live in our gut. This leads to the release of gas which then results in bloating, flatulence, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, nausea, and other symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
The increased attention that FODMAPS are receiving has helped many people who frequently suffer from digestive problems to identify the cause and make adjustments to their diets, vastly improving their health as a result.
Overview of Foods Containing FODMAPs
Let’s take a brief look at some of the foods which contain FODMAPs and that should be limited or avoided on a low FODMAP diet:
This group is comprised of food that contains fructans or galacto-oligosaccharides. Foods which contain fructans include onions, spring onions, shallots, leeks, garlic, artichokes, as well as wheat barley, and rye. Those that contain galacto-oligosaccharides include legumes such as baked beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, and lentils.
Now, while beans are pretty notorious for causing bloating and an upset stomach, members of the onion family – less so. However, a while back, when I worked as a trainer at a residential bootcamp, one of our guests requested that we cook her meals without onions because they tended to make her nauseous. At the time, it was the first I’d ever heard of something like that, but now it makes a lot more sense.
Here, the main offender is lactose, the infamous sugar found in dairy products such as milk, ice cream, yoghurt, cheese, etc.
Luckily, the spotlight has been shone on lactose intolerance for quite a while now, so many of us (including me) are aware of it and have made the necessary adjustments to our diets.
This group consists of food that contains excess fructose like apples, pears, mangoes, watermelons, honey, and foods containing high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). If you’re consuming a lot of HFCS, say through soft drinks, I strongly suggest you start to reduce your intake. Not will you see your digestive health improve, if your body isn’t fond of monosaccharides, but your overall well-being should also increase drastically.
Polyols are known as ‘sugar alcohols’ and although mostly artificially made, are also found naturally in some foods. They’re famed for the fact they’re low-calorie, sugar substitutes, so they often find their way into ‘sugar-free’ or ‘low-sugar’ foods. The most common polyols you’ll find as ingredients are Sorbitol, Mannitol, Maltitol, Xylitol and Isomalt. Foods which contain polyols include apples, pears, apricots, nectarines, peaches, plums, and cherries. Some of you may have noticed that I’ve listed apples and pears again after being including them above when I discussed monosaccharides. So, if there’s something about apples and pears that doesn’t seem to agree with you, now you know why!
Also, it’s important to note that Polyols are known to cause diarrhoea, in particular. If they’re not absorbed very well by your body, they suck water into your intestines and cause stomach upsets. Now, one of the places which you’re sure to find polyols is in sugar-free gum. If you ever felt a little queasy after eating lots of gum, it’s all down to the polyols.
What do I do next?
If while reading this article, any of this sounded all too familiar, begin by steering clear of the foods that you suspect are making you feel poorly. If you start to feel better, you now know the causes of your symptoms and can eat around them. Next, consult a professional, namely a registered nutrition, to see if are any other foods that are affecting you to a lesser degree – then begin eliminating them.
Lastly, if you discover a low FODMAP diet is the way to go and want help with food prep, let us cook for you. We’ll make sure you get a variety of delicious, healthy meals which are free of ingredients that irritate your digestive system.