Day 1

What are FODMAPs? What is a Low FODMAP Diet?

You may be wondering what FODMAPs are. Or perhaps you have heard of them but are looking for more information about them and more guidance for the Low FODMAP diet. If either one of those descriptions fit you then you are at the right place. That is what this course is designed to do, to explain FODMAPs and offer an introduction to the Low FODMAP Diet. 


FODMAPs are a group of carbohydrates which are harder to digest than others. Everyone’s digestive system has to work harder to digest these carbohydrates but not everyone experiences digestive distress while doing so. And of those of us who do have difficulty digesting them, it varies which ones cause us bloating, discomfort, or other GI issues.

To break it down further, FODMAPs are Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides and Polyols. That’s quite the mouthful, right?! 

Specifically, FODMAPs fall into five categories and “are:

  • Fructose (fruits, honey, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), etc)
  • Lactose (dairy)
  • Fructans (wheat, onion, garlic, etc)(fructans are also known as inulin)
  • Galactans (beans, lentils, legumes such as soy, etc)
  • Polyols (sweeteners containing sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, maltitol, stone fruits, such as avocado, apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums, etc)” 

(Source: Stanford University Medical Center, digestive Health Center Nutrition Services handout.)

Effects of FODMAPs  

What happens when we eat FODMAPs is they draw water into the digestive tract because they are osmotic, which means they draw water to them to try to balance the water content around them. This leads to bloating and discomfort caused by the bloating. Also, because they are difficult to digest, they sometimes are not digested. When the foods are not digested then our bodies cannot absorb the nutrients from them and the food sits in our GI systems undigested. As undigested food travels through the GI system, it begins to ferment. The fermenting of the food can cause bloating, discomfort, pain, and diarrhea. 


Luckily for us the Low FODMAP diet can help. Now, at first glance, the Low FODMAP diet will seem overwhelming and even frustrating about the amount of healthy foods (and yummy foods!) that are on the “don’t eat” list. But remember, not everyone’s GI system is the same. The Low FODMAP diet is a guide to get you started and to help you find your personal trigger foods. 

I have had IBS for as long as I can remember. And when I was a child and teenager, I had a pretty good idea of what things would trigger my symptoms (greasy foods, too much dairy, stress). But as I became an adult I started developing more symptoms that could not be tracked back to a specific food. Now I know that the cause of those symptoms were high FODMAP foods. The Low FODMAP diet has been a big discovery for me. I feel like for the first time in my life I have some control over my symptoms.

Tomorrow I will share about getting started on the Low FODMAP diet and the two approaches to it, the elimination diet and the gradual approach. 

Share any comments or questions about today’s topic in the comments below. 



“Clinical trial demonstrates success of low FODMAP diet”,

FODMAP Food List,