The low FODMAP diet might be for you. Do you ever feel like no matter what you eat you’re always bloated? Or that no amount of time at the gym is giving you that flat stomach?
We know about the horrors of gluten, but there may be something else causing you to feel constantly bloated. Your body can be very sensitive when it’s constantly exposed to an allergen that it doesn’t like. If you want your gut to heal going on the FODMAP diet may be for you.
Why Do I Always Feel Bloated?
Certain people are sensitive or allergic to gluten. There’s no getting around that. But there’s another very closely related type of food that could be causing the bloat.
This type of food is called FODMAP (Fermentable Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides and Polyols). I know, what the heck is that? So let’s look at what it is and how to eliminate bloating with the low FODMAP diet.
What Are FODMAP Foods?
FODMAPs are molecules found in the carbohydrate family, namely sugar (both the good and bad types).
• Fructose- some fruits (like pears, apples, apricots)
• Lactose- some dairy (like soft cheeses, milk, yogurt)
• Fructans- like onion, garlic, wheat
• Galactans- legumes (like lentils, beans, soybeans)
• Polyols- sorbitol and mannitols (like honey and agave nectar)
What Is The Low FODMAP Diet?
I always want to say FOODmap diet, but it’s FODMAP. The purpose of the diet is to relieve chronic digestive problems. People looking for an irritable bowel syndrome treatment (IBS) would be familiar with the FODMAP symptoms; bloating, cramps, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, and burping. With this diet, the idea is to eat less of the trigger foods.
As GastroLondon explains, this diet is based on combating the “poorly-absorbed sugars which are fermented by bacteria in the large bowel”. FODMAP is an acronym for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. FODMAP foods are “poorly absorbed and are fermented by intestinal bacteria with hydrogen production. Thus, by reducing the level of FODMAPs in the diet, the therapeutic aim is to reduce the level of intestinal distension.”
Basically. FODMAP foods contain sugars (fructose) that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. Since the small intestine doesn’t fully digest them, they travel to the large intestine, which treats them as a foreign substance.
What’s Going On In Your Gut?
There are billions of good and bad bacteria living in your gut. That’s why you’ll hear about the benefits of taking probiotics; to increase the count of good bacteria and properly balance the ecosystem in there. This good bacteria assists in the digesting of food, fighting infections, and regulating mood. If there is more bad bacteria than good inside of your digestive system, you’ll see the adverse reactions throughout your body.
Some common reactions are stomach issues (diarrhea, constipation, bloating, etc.), while for others it’s skin rashes or other allergic reactions. Trigger foods cause these reactions and are further exacerbated by high alcohol consumption, antibiotics, too any artificial sweeteners, or even a carb-heavy diet.
Why Do FODMAPs Cause Bloating?
FODMAP foods aren’t “unhealthy”. The problem is that they’re osmotic. This means that when these foods are digesting they pull water into the small intestine from the surrounding tissues. This causes the bloating, abdominal pain, and other digestive drama.
The fiber from the digesting food also serves itself as food for the bacteria that live in the gut. This is a process called fermentation. The digesting/fermenting food produces carbon dioxide. For you this means gas and discomfort. Awesome.
This is what is supposed to happen for normal people. The nutrients in these foods even act as prebiotics that lead to good gut bacteria. But some people just have a lower tolerance for these foods and thus feel the uncomfortable symptoms. These would be the people who should try the FODMAP diet.
FODMAP Elimination Diet
If these symptoms sound familiar to you, you might want to experiment (after speaking with your doctor) about cutting them out for two to six weeks depending on the severity. By temporarily cutting them from your diet to let your gut heal, it could be much more beneficial (and cheaper!) than medication. Plus, you can lose a lot of weight!
How To Do The Low FODMAP Diet?
So you’ve decided you can’t stand the bloating and long for a flat stomach. Here’s what to do to stay on track with low FODMAP foods.
1. Go Grocery Shopping
Get a full FODMAP diet list of what you can and cannot eat. You don’t want to be four days into the diet and feeling pretty powerful when suddenly you realize that what you just ate has garlic, or something you thought wasn’t FODMAP, in it. Get to know the list.
This will help you be well prepared. The diet is so much harder if you still have the wrong foods in your kitchen. Have the right foods readily available so you don’t get tempted by the much more accessible bad foods. Seriously, this is the main strategy for all diets. Have the good food readily available!
2. Slowly Reintroduce Foods
Very luckily, it may only be one FODMAP food that is irritating you. That’s why after the initial diet period, slowly reintroduce one food at a time and wait three days to see if you see any adverse reactions. Here’s some great FODMAP diet recipes for the interim.
Be careful about eliminating the good foods that are part of the FODMAP diet for too long. Foods like fruit and beans can be good for us and have indigestible fibers that creates latticework for good bacteria to multiply in.
3. Find Your Trigger Foods
If the symptoms return when you reintroduce that specific food, you may be intolerant to it. If when you finish reintroducing all the foods you used to eat and no symptoms return, that means your gut probably needed to rebalance and you’re good to go. Lucky you!
The downfall of most people with this diet is that they don’t stock up on the right foods. Arriving home late after work when you’re starving with nothing in the house to eat but delicious FODMAP foods, people cave. Don’t do this to yourself. Especially if you’ve already started the diet. Flat abs and your health are worth it. They are always worth it.
Good luck 😉