Low FODMAP diet for sensitive stomachs: What to know

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Digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affect millions of people worldwide, causing symptoms like bloating, gas, abdominal pain, constipation, and diarrhea. For many, managing these symptoms is a daily struggle.

The Low FODMAP diet, developed by researchers at Monash University in Australia, has emerged as a highly effective strategy for reducing these uncomfortable symptoms.

This diet targets specific types of carbohydrates that are difficult to digest and are known to cause discomfort in sensitive individuals.

What are FODMAPs?

FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols) are short-chain carbohydrates that are not absorbed well in the small intestine.

When these carbohydrates travel to the large intestine, they are fermented by bacteria, producing gas and drawing in water, which can lead to bloating, gas, and pain.

The main idea behind the Low FODMAP diet is to minimize the amount of these fermentable sugars in your diet to ease these symptoms.

Foods to Avoid and Eat

The Low FODMAP diet involves a three-phase process: elimination, reintroduction, and personalization. During the elimination phase, you avoid foods high in FODMAPs for 4-6 weeks. These include:

  • High FODMAP fruits: such as apples, cherries, pears, and peaches.
  • Vegetables: such as onions, garlic, mushrooms, and cauliflower.
  • Dairy products: that contain lactose like milk, soft cheeses, and yogurt.
  • Wheat and rye products: in large quantities.
  • Legumes and pulses: such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas.
  • Sweeteners: like honey and products with high fructose corn syrup, as well as sugar alcohols such as sorbitol and mannitol.

Low FODMAP foods that are generally safe to eat include:

  • Fruits: such as bananas, blueberries, grapes, and oranges.
  • Vegetables: like carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, and tomatoes.
  • Dairy alternatives: such as lactose-free milk and hard cheeses.
  • Protein sources: like eggs, meats, and fish that have no added high FODMAP ingredients.
  • Grain products: such as gluten-free bread, rice, oats, and quinoa.

Benefits of the Low FODMAP Diet

Research has consistently shown that the Low FODMAP diet can significantly reduce symptoms in about 70% of people with IBS.

Studies indicate that this diet decreases overall gastrointestinal distress, improves quality of life, and helps individuals identify specific foods that trigger symptoms. The diet is recognized and recommended by gastroenterologists and dietitians worldwide.

How to Follow the Low FODMAP Diet

Successfully following the Low FODMAP diet typically requires:

  1. Education and planning: Learning which foods contain high levels of FODMAPs and planning meals that fit within the diet’s guidelines.
  2. Elimination phase: Strictly avoiding all high FODMAP foods for a set period, usually 4-6 weeks.
  3. Reintroduction phase: Gradually reintroducing high FODMAP foods one at a time to identify which ones trigger symptoms.
  4. Personalization phase: Adjusting your long-term eating habits based on what you’ve learned about your body’s responses to different foods.


Before starting the Low FODMAP diet, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider or dietitian to ensure it’s right for you, especially since the diet can be complex and restrictive. It’s also crucial not to stay in the elimination phase indefinitely as it can restrict important nutrients.

In conclusion, the Low FODMAP diet offers a promising approach to managing IBS and other related digestive disorders. By identifying and avoiding specific dietary triggers, individuals can significantly reduce their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

With careful planning and guidance, the Low FODMAP diet can be a valuable tool in the management of gastrointestinal issues.

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