FODMAPS (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols) are the fermentable parts of our food that can be transformed into gas.
While very beneficial in the long-term, they can produce painful bloating in an imbalanced, unhealthy gut.
A low-FODMAP diet is not a long-term solution as it deprives the body of the significant benefit of these fermentable gut-healthy nutrients.
It's important to clarify - food sensitivities are not food allergies. Allergies can include digestive symptoms but are mostly accompanied by an allergic reaction e.g. itchy rash, hives, swelling of the tongue, mouth or face, difficulty breathing etc. Common food allergens include milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans.
Food sensitivities primarily cause digestive symptoms. The body is able to slowly re-sensitize itself to non-allergenic foods over time.
But some people may need to reduce or eliminate these with a "low-FODMAP" diet in a period of 2-6 weeks in order to reduce gas and inflammation.
Once symptoms are reduced to a manageable level, FODMAPs should be slowly and systematically reduced in order to identify specific sensitivities and manage the process of de-sensitization.
Step 1: Restrict FODMAPS for 2-4 weeks
Using the table below, identify and eliminate high-FODMAP foods from your diet. Low-FODMAP recipes are readily available on the internet.
If you are FODMAP sensitive, you should see an improvement in your digestive symptoms within two weeks. If you would like to extend this time to up to four weeks to see if you feel further improvement, you can.
Observe your symptoms for this entire period, prior to starting your FODMAP restriction, during your FODMAP restriction, and after.
For your reference, here is a sample list of some Low-FODMAP and High FODMAP foods.
This is not an exhaustive list, nor are all Low-FODMAP foods recommended (e.g. animal products, sweeteners). They are simply presented according to their FODMAP contents.
Step 2: Gradually reintroduce FODMAPS back into your diet.
The following protocol is adapted from "Re-challenging and Reintroducing FODMAPs," Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology (2017) by Lee Martin, MSc RD.
Test the categories (in the table below) one at a time, one day at a time. For example
- Day 1 = 15 almonds
- Day 2 = 20 almonds
- Day 3 = 25 almonds
- Day 4 (chickpea day 1) = 2 tablespoons chickpeas
- Day 5 (chickpea day 2) = 2 tablespoons chickpeas
- Day 6 (chickpea day 3) = 2 tablespoons chickpeas
- Continue with green peas (days 7-9)
- Day 10 (bread day 1) = 1 slice bread
- Day 11 (bread day 2) = 2 slices bread
- Day 12 (bread day 3) = 3 slices bread
And so on. This will allow you to slowly identify and isolate which categories and which foods cause the most issues and require a slower ramp-up phase.