Friday, September 24, 2010

Do You Have IBS? FODMAPs May Be the Culprit

If you've been following my blog for a while, you know I'm on a diet. It's not a weight loss diet, and it's not some stupid cleanse diet or whatever, it's a diet for my IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), and it's been a lifesaver. I posted my IBS story here (this was before I had learned about the low FODMAPs diet for IBS), and I posted a bit about the low FODMAPs IBS diet here. As it turns out this diet is becoming more and more popular throughout the world, and recently my favorite magazine; Today's Dietitian, wrote an article all about it.

Ever since I've been on this diet I have felt about 1000 times better, and my quality of life has increased tremendously, so I'm not surprised that other people are slowly starting to find this out as well. Imagine going your entire life with constant bloating and gas. It's not fun (not for me or anyone around me.....). Now I can finally say my gas is under control, and all I did was change my diet! Food really is the best medicine, but I guess it can also be your worst nightmare. Here are some important points from the article in Today's Dietitian;

What are FODMAPs?

They are short-chain carbohydrates that tend to be malabsorbed in those with IBS. The acronym stands for:







Why are these foods considered "trouble foods" for those with IBS?

The short-chain carbohydrates tend to be malabsorbed in those with IBS (and even those without it, but the side-effects aren't as bad for most people). The malabsorbed carbohydrates typically end up undigested in the colon, where gut bacteria happily ferment it and thus produce gas and bloating. Not fun.

What are some foods that contain FODMAPs and which those with IBS should avoid?

You will likely find hundreds of different food lists of "foods to avoid" on the internet, which could quite possibly lead to confusion (some people have told me this). The article in Today's Dietitian, as well as the booklet you can order (see the right side of my blog) seem to be very consistent. I have stuck with these lists.

FODMAPs exist in some very commonly consumed foods, which is why many people with IBS have trouble figuring out the exact cause of their discomfort (I've heard this before, "everything I eat causes a problem!!") . Here are some examples of problem foods;

Fruits: Apples, pears, peaches, mangoes, dried fruits

Vegetables: artichoke, asparagus, brussels sprouts, broccoli, onion, beetroot, chicory root (Inulin), beans and soy products (don't want to give up your beans and soy? BEANO can help with these!)

Grains: Wheat, rye

Sweeteners: Sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, malitol, HFCS, agave, honey

Spices: Garlic (garlic is found in many, many foods, and unfortunately it tends to cause the most severe issues in those with IBS).

** Visit this link for a more complete list (scroll down all the way once you get to the site), or order one of the helpful booklets on the right side of my blog (Or check out my latest blog post for more helpful resources) **

What are some foods that those with IBS
can enjoy instead of some of their favorite fruits, veggies, grains, and dairy products?

Fruits: Berries, cantaloupe, honeydew, oranges, ripe bananas

Vegetables (**Most of these can only be eaten in limited quantities): Squash, spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant (although eggplant does give me, personally, some problems...)

Grains/Starch: Quinoa, rice, oats, popcorn 

Sweeteners:  Stevia, sugar, brown sugar, molasses

Spices: Cinnamon, pepper, salt, cumin

Please feel free to ask me any questions about my own journey adapting to the low FODMAPs approach to IBS management, or any other questions you might have! I'll tell you upfront that it was very difficult at first, and still is (especially when I'm out to dinner or at a dinner party) but the difference it has made in my life makes it all worthwhile. The most difficult part about this diet (for me) has not been giving up wheat, but giving up onion and garlic. I just love onion and garlic! I now have to read all ingredient labels very carefully, as garlic and onion seem to appear in many sauces, specifically ALL spaghetti sauces!

Question: Have you had to make a major change in your life, which was difficult but well worth the effort?!



  1. The big changes we've made haven't been around food - but moving around a lot for schools, etc. it's been hard at times being far from family but we couldn't be more grateful for our opportunities and time together! :)

  2. I used to have a lot of problems caused by IBS but in my case I think it was more related to stress than food. Nowadays, I can eat all these avoided food and have no problem as long as I have my stress under control :)

  3. Hi Gina,
    I'm glad you posted about FODMAPS again.
    I've been on FODMAPS for about 2 weeks now and boy, do I feel a difference!! My bloating has decreased HEAPS. Here I was thinking garlic was causing me problems because of the sulphur in it- when it was fructans all along!
    I still don't know how I do with zucchini or green beans.. but I'll figure it out.

    I love pumpkin, but butternut squash is the one i tolerate best.
    (Which is good because it's the yummest :)

    Eggplant gives me problems too- I wonder if it contains some other FODMAP-like thing they havent discovered yet?


    1. I believe the eggplant may be causing you some problems because it is a night shade veggie. I have problems with it, and many ppl with IBS have a problem with nightshades as well. Also, people who have autoimmune diseases are told to avoid nightshades as well. Other nightshades include: bell peppers,tomatoes, chipotle, paprika

    2. I saw on another website that eggplant WAS included in the high FODMAP foods ??In addition it does cause solanine, a naturally occurring chemical found in the eggplant foods...

  4. i don't like that word "diet" i don't think you're on a diet haha i think it's just the way you eat! its your lifestyle :) umm can i tell you everytime you talk about FODMAPS i pronounce it FOODMAPS hahaha just thought i needed to share that ;)

  5. Thanks for sharing more about the FODMAPS diet. I haven't had any patients diagnosed with it but I do feel like I would be better prepared if I do.
    I am sure even though you miss certain foods, it is worth it to not have gas and pain.

  6. Bless your heart! I don't think I could live without garlic!! Literally!

  7. LOl I'm with Julie- I totally say FOODMAPS, it took reading her comment to be like shoot it's not that lol. Good thing I never said it aloud!

    Anyway FODMAPS freaks me out to be honest because I have already overhauled my diet once and it was very hard, but like you said worth it. I still suffer from bloating and gas though, but now I think it would be even harder to give up some of the foods you have given up because I have become even more reliant on those on my new diet (for example apples, mango and wheat). So, I remember reading your post about wheat free vs. gluten free, but I just want to review you basically cannot eat ANY bread right? I honestly don't know if I could do that and still be happy- is that terrible? I'd almost rather tolerate some bloating, it doesn't bother me on most days I'm just used to looking a little bit pregnant- and unbuttoning my pants with a long shirt on hahaha. Terrible I know, but I really like live on bread. I feel like FODMAPS is kind of like the take everything Kelly loves and get rid of it diet.

    Anyway, after that WHOLE rant I MAYYYYY actually try this diet at some point since it has worked so well for you...I wish my body could just tolerate all foods thought :(

  8. Great review of the diet. I hate when internet lists are not accurate and confuse people more than help them. Even with gluten free foods I have seen conflicting information. I think it is great that Today's Dietitian covered this. I am sure this is one we will here more about professionally in the future. Especially if it gets results and less GI upset.

  9. I have that article bookmarked to read (I thought of you when I saw it). I put onion and garlic in almost everything I cook. If I had IBS, that would definitely be the most difficult foods for me to give up.

  10. I think you're a great example of someone who has made major dietary changes and experienced huge can definitely be a testimony to your patients and clients. I remember reading about the FODMAPS diet but haven't actually seen anyone on it. I'm sure that some people who think they have other allergies/intolerances may actually need to give this a try.

  11. Amazon launched two new Kindle e-readers priced at $139 and $189 late Wednesday, with the cheaper version a Wi-Fi-only e-reader and $10 less than the Wi-Fi-only Nook.

  12. I've had serious bloating lately and I have no clue what it is! I tried cutting out wheat, didn't work. I cut out all the irritant fruits and veggies and still nothing! Its like a mystery I swear! but this was very interesting!

  13. I have awful IBS problems too, and have never been able to find what foods (if any) causes it. Perhaps I should give this a try. Of course all of my favorite vegetables and fruits are on the trouble foods list. I'm very surprised about the garlic. That I would not have expected at all. Thanks for all the information!

  14. Do you know of the connection between Type A, insightful, goal-oriented and sometimes anxious women and IBS...yep, research is showing how our natural dispositions don't only impact our hearts, but our guts as well.
    Baths, yoga, and mindfulness therapy are all effective at treating IBS as well.
    Thanks for sharing about this.

  15. Hi there, I've just found your great looking blog!

    I have IBS(!) and I have to say that since I've taken onions and garlic out of my diet I have seen MAJOR improvements. And soy and legumes- defo a problem. I also try to limit my fruit intake. However, that's enough for me- I'm really not up for limiting my diet any more than this (I'm gluten-free also). In fact, I'm considering adding dairy back in as I thought my IBS may be down to that but I'm not so sure anymore...


  16. I was diagnosed with IBS at 8. Only then it was called "spastic colon". It wasn't until the last few years that I really bucked down and sorted out what I should stay away from. I've always known that anything fried or battered was a no-no, but I've discovered other foods as well. Pears and apples cause me terrible discomfort. I zeroed in on pears first and haven't touched them in over a year. I was OK with apples as long as I only ate one say once a week. Very recently I've discovered that they have to go, too. Sad, but I'd rather not feel sick! Any form of artificial sweetener is also out for any shape or form. I am OK with agave and honey, though. I'm sure that as time goes by I may have to eliminate other foods, too. This post really grabbed my attention and I will be looking more into the FODMAPs "diet". Thanks, Gina!

  17. Hello all, great blog Gina... I'm just starting down this path of a restricted diet for IBS symptoms, ironically, linked to my efforts to get healthier by lifting weights... the problem started when I took Zyban for smoking cessation. I quit smoking but developed some kidney and bowel symptoms, enough to I think contribute to an overgrowth of bacteria in the bowel, and two months later I am still trying to manage this.

    Until this settles down at least, for now I am sensitive to all the usual culprits -- all the listed fruit and vegetables, wheat, honey, sweeteners ending in -ol, milk products (including multivitamins and particularly, calcium supplements). One additional item that I have discovered causes prolific problems for me -- and those around me -- is inulin, which is in most of the supposedly healthier protein bars and shakes. I read somewhere that it is not usually included in these FODMAP lists because it is a long-chain polymer while the other carbs that are most seriously problematic for IBS are short-chain. Another shocker to me was that by drinking too much water before and with my meals, this can prompt my stomach to basically dump the whole meal before it is fully digested, so that it ends up fermenting in the small bowel just like the FODMAPs.

    Fun and games... but it`s great to finally start to get a handle on things. It has been very touch and go getting to the gym this whole time.

  18. Oh -- and I have found that soy products are also problematic. I guess they come from beans, natch!

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  21. This just might be the key to all my problems too! I'm so glad I found this (via Julie Golean!). SO HAPPY. I'm going to have to do a little more research and trial and error but at least it's worth a try!

    Garlic and onions... :( And brussel sprouts... so sad. lol I LOVE them. At least I can have my kabocha.

  22. The list of foods to avoid contains many super foods and other healthy and beneficial vegetables and fruits, especially garlic and onion. I have struggled with IBS in the past and have successfully overcome it by cleaning out the colon and re-balancing intestinal flora. I can now tolerate these healthy fruits and veggies with no problem, even raw. As is the way with natural medicine, get to the root of the true problem, work to correct that instead of avoiding the apparent 'cause' of the problem and live more comfortably and free of a lot of dietary restriction (within an all natural, healthy diet, of course). See a Naturopath, a natural doctor (ND), who can help you overcome IBS. IBS does not have to be a chronic illness. Also very important to address the stress in your life and the behavior you have learned to cope with it.

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  24. Ive recently been instructed to start following a low fodmap diet, I'm also a vegan and cannot tolerate ANY soy. Would you happen to know any websites I can use for recipe help as I am very restricted.
    Thank you so much!

  25. I started this diet and it has helped a great deal. My only problem is that I've lost a lot of weight. I have to say that I look too thin now. I wanted to know how do I maintain my weight on the low fodmap diet? Also, does anyone else have this same issue?
    Thanks =0)

  26. Has anyone who started eliminated these problematic foods gone through SEVERE detox/die off symptoms?? Each time I try to go off, whether it be fast or super slow, I get such severe symptoms and my digestion almost shuts down! Makes it almost impossible to function! Have had a few docs try and help, but they don't quite know what to do either. (All the usual, "try detox back daily with epson salt, drink more water, do enemas, rest more, etc etc) Anyone experience this ?