Low FODMAP Foods
This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Charles Penick, MD
As people become more health conscious, interest in Low FODMAP diets has increased dramatically. In this article, we will discuss what FODMAP is, how it affects the body, and list the low FODMAP foods to eat and high FODMAP foods to avoid.
What are FODMAPs?
FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. They are sugar alcohols, and short-chain carbohydrates occurring naturally in foods or artificially added. Here is each word defined:
- Fermentable: Foods that are broken down (fermented) by bacteria in the large bowel
- Oligosaccharides: Oligosaccharides are a type of carbohydrate. They are molecules of individual sugars that are joined together in a chain. Oligo means “few,” and saccharide means “sugar.”
- Disaccharides: “Di” means “two.” Disaccharides are a type of carbohydrate that is a double sugar molecule.
- Monosaccharides: Monosaccharides are the simplest form of sugar. “Mono” means “one.”
- Polyols: Found naturally in some fruits and vegetables, this carbohydrate is also known as sugar alcohols or bulk sweeteners.
FODMAPS are poorly digested by the small intestine and can include other carbohydrates as well, including lactose, fructose, and fructans.
Why Low FODMAP Diet
A low FODMAP diet is beneficial to health for a variety of reasons. FODMAP foods are high-fiber foods that are resistant to digestion. If you consume too many of these, they begin to ferment and may cause several digestive issues. A low FODMAP diet can help improve digestive health and relieve these symptoms.
H3: Helps Improve Digestion Issues
The low FODMAP diet was specifically created by researchers from Monash University in Australia to help treat individuals diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). IBS is a gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestine. It is a chronic condition that can cause bloating, flatulence, cramps, abdominal pain, or diarrhea.
In addition to IBS, a low FODMAP diet can help with the following digestive issues:
- Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
- Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD)
- Crohn’s Disease
Removing high FODMAP foods from the diet is believed to relieve many digestive problems, including those associated with IBS.
10 Low FODMAP Snacks
Changing the diet is the first step to treating FODMAP. While this may be challenging for some, it’s important to identify the high FODMAP foods consumed and replace them with low FODMAP foods.
The following foods are top low FODMAP snacks to incorporate into your diet:
Small servings of nuts (12-13) are low FODMAP foods. A handful of almonds, peanuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, pistachios, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds are excellent choices.
The lactose in dairy products is a high FODMAP food, but lactose-free foods are FODMAP friendly. Milk and yogurt that are lactose-free are suitable low FODMAP snacks. Cheeses that are low in lactose or lactose-free, such as feta, cheddar, and parmesan, can also be consumed.
Fruits and Vegetables
While fruits and vegetables are generally considered healthy, some are high FODMAP foods. The following fruits and vegetables are low FODMAP:
- Fruits: blueberries, grapes, grapefruit, kiwi, lemon/lime, pineapple, strawberry, tangerine raspberry, cranberry
- Vegetables: Mint, endive, arugula, pepper, olive, potato, sweet potato, Swiss chard, collard greens, kale, lettuce, parsnips, sprouts
Granola bars can be eaten by themselves as a low FODMAP snack. A healthier option is to add gluten-free rolled oats and monk fruit sweetener with a few nuts or seeds and lactose-free milk or nut milk.
Popcorn is a naturally low FODMAP food. An acceptable FODMAP serving is 56 grams of popped popcorn, 7 cups. Note: “regular” sweet corn is not a low FODMAP food because it contains higher amounts of the sugar alcohol sorbitol.
While some snack bars contain ingredients that would keep them off the low FODMAP list, there are some that meet the low FODMAP criteria. Avoid snack bars that contain honey, chicory, or inulin.
Here are a few top FODMAP snack bars:
No-Bake Energy Bites
No-bake energy bites have become popular with many diet plans. A bonus is they are also a low FODMAP food. Here is a low FODMAP no-bake energy bites recipe to try:
No-Bake Low FODMAP Peanut Butter Brownie Bites
- Rolled oats (gluten-free) -1 cup
- Unsweetened peanut butter – ½ cup
- Mini chocolate chips – 1/4 cup
- Pure maple syrup – 1/4 cup
- Cocoa powder – 2 tablespoons
- Chia seeds – 2 tablespoons
- Salt (optional) – 1/4 teaspoon
- 1 pan with parchment
- Add oats and peanut butter to the food processor. Pulse until mixed
- Add maple syrup, chocolate chips, chia seeds, and cocoa powder (add more maple syrup if too dry)
- Take a small amount of mixture into your hand and roll it into a 1 – inch sized ball, and place it on a pan
- Repeat until pan is full
- Place in freezer until no longer sticky
- Place on container then place in fridge or freezer for storage
- Before serving, let thaw for a minute or two if frozen
Olives are a popular FODMAP food that you can add to many different recipes. For example, olives can be used in a mozzarella recipe:
- Mozzarella balls – 8 ounces
- Pitted black olives – 2 ounces
- Pitted green olives – 2 ounces
- Garlic-infused olive oil – ¾ cup
- Shallot infused olive oil – ¾ cup
- Red pepper flakes – 2 teaspoons
- Lemon & herb seasoning – 1 teaspoon
Add ingredients to an airtight container and refrigerate overnight. Serve at room temperature.
Pumpkin seeds are low FODMAP foods but should be limited to 2 tablespoons per day. They can be eaten alone as a light snack or baked on a cookie sheet pan for 45 minutes at 300 degrees.
Sardines are good sources of protein, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids. They can also be added to toast:
- Olive oil – 1 tbsp
- Red chili -1 (chopped and deseeded)
- Lemon zest and juice – 1 lemon
- Canned sardines -2 x 120g cans
- Brown gluten-free bread – 4 slices
- Chopped parsley – small bunch
- Heat oil in a frying pan
- Sizzle the red chili and add lemon zest
- Add sardines and heat until warm
- Toast the bread
- Stir parsley into the sardines
- Add a squeeze of lemon juice and serve
High FODMAP Foods to Avoid
Most foods with high FODMAPs are generally healthy, but for those with digestive issues, they should be avoided. The following high FODMAP foods should be avoided when having problems with digestion:
- Brussels Sprouts
- Ice cream
IBS affects between 25 and 45 million people in the United States. Symptoms can include bloating, flatulence, diarrhea, cramps, or abdominal pain. Diet can play a key role in many digestive issues, and low FODMAP foods can help relieve symptoms for those suffering from IBS or other digestive problems.