If you have recently been diagnosed with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), your doctor or dietitian may have suggested you try the Low FODMAP Diet. They likely told you that following this specific diet may reduce your IBS symptoms. That sounds great, but now you're wondering, what is a FODMAP?
Breaking Down FODMAPs
The word FODMAP sounds ridiculous because it's an acronym. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols. If your brain just exploded don't worry, I've got you!
Before we move any further, the first thing you need to know is that a “saccharide” is a sugar molecule. These molecules can stand alone or be bonded together into “chains.” When your dietitian talks to you about “short-chain” and “long-chain” foods, they are talking about how many molecules are bonded together as they float around in your digestive system.
A monosaccharide floats around on its own as a single molecule. A disaccharide, however, is two molecules bonded together. An oligosaccharide means there could be anywhere from 3 to 10 molecules bonded together. Just so we're clear, FODMAPs are generally “short-chain” compounds.
You've been doing great, so stay with me! Polyols (the “P” in FODMAP) are long chains of sugar alcohols. These are a different kind of compound than a “-saccharide,” and normally end in “-ol.” These can be massively long; bonding together hundreds of molecules at a time.
When looking for a polyol on a food label, look for things ending in “-ol” (sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, xylitol, lactitol, and erythritol are common). Isomalt is also a polyol. This one is worth memorizing as it's harder to recognize on a label.
I thought I had this all figured out until I met with my dietitian for the first time. As it turns out the FODMAP groups are shorthand for several subgroups. Fear not, I said I've got you!
In fact, I made an illustrated guide to help you interpret what people are talking about. I thought this might be handy after my doctor, dietitian, and re-challenge booklet used three different terms to talk about the same food. Because why the heck not?
You might also like one of these:
- What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome? Wondering if your digestive issues add up to IBS? Check out this article for everything you need to know about irritable bowel syndrome!
- When to Start the Low FODMAP Diet Wondering if you should start the Low FODMAP Diet? Check out this article to find out if the low FODMAP program is right for you and a few things you should try first. x
- How to Prepare for the Low FODMAP Diet Starting the Low FODMAP Diet doesn't have to be scary! These practical tips will help you get your home and your self ready to rock the Low FODMAP Diet.
If you like this post, don't forget to share it! Follow me on Instagram @fodmapformula for more tips and recipes that are FODMAP friendly! Together we'll get the low FODMAP diet down to a science!
this is the first article / book/ resource that i have read that explains the FODMAP acronym in a layman’s term. i read one book that said it was for the layman but i could not understand half the article !!!!!
I had exactly the same problem when I started the Low FODMAP Diet! I’m so glad you found this resource helpful.
What a great resource! The cute pictures grabbed my attention on Pinterest but the way you describe everything with such care is what won me over. I’m actually beginning to understand everything, it feels great!
Cute pins get me every time! Glad I could help you understand FODMAPs a little better!!
Julie L. Schoenberg
I started a low fodmap diet yesterday. My biggest question is there a coffee creamer that’s low fodmap in the USA? I tried almond milk and it’s just not thick enough.
I took a quick peek online, but I couldn’t find any lactose-free creamers without other high FODMAP ingredients or chemicals that haven’t been tested, yet. If you’re ok with lactose at the end of your re-challenge phase, it looks like Coffe Mate’s “bliss” line may have some potential.