This week, dietitian, Sue Shepherd, one of the developers of the low FODMAP diet, and her team launched their FODMAP friendly app. It became readily available on iTunes just yesterday. For the most part, most of the foods on Sue Shepherd’s FODMAP Friendly app and Monash University’s low FODMAP diet app are in agreement BUT…there are some foods that yielded quite different results.
For instance, three tablespoons of chia seeds showed to be a HIGH FODMAP food in Dr. Shepherd’s app, while Monash University’s low FODMAP diet app notes 2 tablespoon of chia seeds are LOW FODMAP. Rice drink passed as low FODMAP on the FODMAP friendly app, while recent updates via research at Monash yielded rice milk as HIGH FODMAP. Serving sizes posted on the apps vary too…so do pay attention if you are using both apps and comparing foods.
If you are a rule follower and like to play by the book, the low FODMAP diet might be leaving you a bit frustrated of late. The ever-changing food lists have been a challenge for dietitians in the field and for many FODMAPers trying to prepare a low FODMAP meal in their kitchen.
Why the discrepancy? It could be testing methods vary or that the sample sizes used to test are different. Food analysis for FODMAPs is time-consuming and complex. Food is variable….growing conditions, sourcing and manufacturing can contribute to changes in food.
I have been following the diet closely for the past 7 years and I can tell you the diet is still a baby. It has much growing to do. Much more food testing. Much more clinical research to understand the long-term impact of restricting FODMAPs to our health. But, there is no question in my mind…the low FODMAP diet has been life-changing for many people who suffer with digestive distress.
And despite the ongoing food list updates with new food analysis, the diet has been therapeutic for my patients since 2009… even when the foods allowed looked a bit different then they do now. So here is my message: Stay calm. Don’t get too caught up in the low FODMAP food list nuances. Think BIG picture and pull out the majority of the FODMAP rich foods and assess the benefit to your IBS symptoms.
Remember, FODMAPs are not toxic to your body! Making a general reduction in high FODMAP food intake will be enough for most folks to notice significant changes in their IBS symptoms. If you are still troubled with symptoms despite adhering to the low FODMAP diet, you may have an overlapping medical condition that needs to be addressed, see my post here on When Diet is Only a Piece of the Pie… or you may be following the diet incorrectly! Perhaps you may be indulging in too many food products, which due to different additives and manufacturing processes, may have hidden FODMAPs in them. The food product industry is really an uncharted area of the low FODMAP diet as there are billions of food products–and only a small percentage have been officially tested for FODMAP content. You may have to do a little trial and error with your diet. For instance, if you are drinking a rice milk product and still are troubled by digestive woes perhaps switch to lactose free cow’s milk or try another brand of rice milk to see if you notice any reduction in your symptoms.
Work with a FODMAP knowledgeable dietitian to guide you. Innately, FODMAP rich foods are healthy for humans and the gut microbes that reside in our gut. Long-term, you only want to reduce your FODMAP intake to the amount necessary to manage your troublesome gut symptoms.
Some general tips for you while you navigate your way through the low FODMAP elimination phase:
- Don’t alter your diet without seeking advice from a health professional first.
- Choose mostly low FODMAP whole foods vs. food products.
- Vary your diet! Don’t eat the same thing every day.
- Eat a well-balanced low FODMAP diet! Enjoy protein rich foods (meat, fish and eggs are FODMAP free), low FODMAP grains/seeds/starchy vegetables (rice, quinoa, baked potato, 1/2 sweet potato), and a serving of low FODMAP fruit and vegetables PLUS a dose of healthy fats (olive oil, suitable nut butters)
- Work with a dietitian. Don’t try to navigate the complexities of the low FODMAP diet alone.
- Stick to the STRICT low FODMAP elimination diet for the short-term (2-6 weeks).
- Be patient.
- Focus on the foods you can eat vs. the foods that are HIGH FODMAP.
- If you are afraid about re-introducing FODMAPs back into your diet, go s-l-o-w-l-y. Small amounts over the week can be added.
- Remember FODMAP-rich foods are not bad or illegal (I hate that term!). Fructans and GOS feed healthy gut microbes that produce butyrate, a short chain fatty acid that is healthy for our colon. Incorporate FODMAP-rich foods to your personal tolerance after the elimination phase.
- A diet of potato chips and chicken are indeed, low FODMAP, but not healthy, right? Nourish your body (and gut) with nutrient dense foods such a brightly colored, antioxidant rich low FODMAP veggies and fruits.
- Keep in mind, the low FODMAP diet, is the new
kiddiet on the block. Food analysis and clinical research is ongoing. As the diet evolves, so will my resources for you here on my blog. Stay tuned…we are working on it!