The Low FODMAP Diet was developed by The Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. It was the team at Monash that first provided evidence that not only could the Low FODMAP Diet reduce/improve IBS symptoms, but it was far more effective than all the other previous dietary treatments for IBS.
The “diet” is based around the evidence that certain carbohydrates and sugars are malabsorbed by those with IBS. FODMAP is an acronym which stands for the various short-chain carbohydrates & sugars found in a wide range of foods that can be poorly absorbed by IBS sufferers. Namely, it stands for Fermentable Oligo-saccharides Disaccharides Mono-saccharide Polyols. (Say whaaaat??)
Ok, so I guess that still doesn’t really help break it down into layman’s terms. Essentially, the Low FODMAP diet works by restricting intake of FODMAPs (being forms of carbohydrates and sugars that are hard to digest) which has been shown to be beneficial for many people suffering from IBS.
At this point, I’d like to stop calling it a diet, as I really hate that word. It inherently means being deprived and while yes, you’re restricting your intake of FODMAPs (and therefore foods that include them), it doesn’t have to feel like that. Once you become accustomed to it, implement it into your everyday life and see the benefits and an improvement of your IBS symptoms, it will feel nothing like being deprived. Instead, it will feel like a victory, having finally found foods you can eat without problems! So from here on out, I will call it the Low FODMAP Food Plan, as I see it as a plan for life when getting the right variety of food groups providing a balanced diet and when approved by your doctor or dietitian (otherwise, staying on the Low FODMAP Food Plan long term could result in deficiencies or intolerances to FODMAP foods that did not exist previously).
Now I know it would be great for me to go on here to provide a list of all the foods involved in the Low FODMAP Food Plan to make it so much easier for everyone reading this. However, that would be nearly impossible and almost certainly would break some kind of copyright laws. Also, with the way the plan works, it’s not only about what foods you can/cannot eat, but about the quantity of each food you can have a) at any given sitting and b) on any given day.
Don’t feel too bad though, as the Monash University has made it quite easy and affordable to obtain this information. If you go to their website HERE you can purchase their Low FODMAP diet booklet when paying by credit/debit card, or go to their website HERE for the order form to purchase the booklet by check. The current booklet is the 5th edition and was just updated in 2015. Depending on where you live, the booklet should cost no more than $15 (which includes shipping). It contains starter shopping lists of foods that are ok (and not ok), a daily guide for what foods to eat, recommended recipes and also a Low FODMAP guide for vegetarians. It also contains a guide at the back of the book with a wide variety of foods, including serving sizes, using a “green light system” to show whether they are low or high in various FODMAPs.
In addition to the hard copy booklet, there is also an iphone and android app that is beyond helpful (especially when at the grocery store) and is available to you right away while you wait for the hard copy booklet to arrive in the mail (mine took ~1 week. Remember, it’s coming from Australia). The app does not seem to have quite as much as the booklet (it seems the recent additions to the booklet were not yet added into the app), so it’s best to have both tools on hand, but the phone app truly is a lifesaver when you’re out shopping and to hold you over until the booklet arrives. Like the booklet, the app also has a guide broken up into categories of foods, where you can see what foods are ok, which are ok in moderation, which are never ok, the maximum acceptable amount to consume of the various foods in any given sitting and how to structure your food groups throughout the day (and how much to have of each). The iphone app is $9.99 and the android app is $9.00. There are also numerous books out there about the Low FODMAP Plan and some recipe books as well, but I have not personally read any of them and so can’t speak to which of them would be the most helpful.
I purchased the iphone app first and the booklet about a week later and have been on the Low FODMAP Food Plan for almost a month now. I went from being sick at least 2-3 days a week for several months to not having been sick once since starting it. As if that isn’t wonderful enough, I also have more energy and feel better overall (those few months I was not only getting sick to my stomach but was run down and exhausted all the time from being sick so much). There is no doubt in my mind that this change resulted from following this food plan, since the changes took effect almost immediately.
For those of us who have both IBS AND GERD (or Acid Reflux), though, the Low FODMAP Food Plan in itself is not sufficient, as there are many foods that are tolerated on it that would give most people with GERD or Acid Reflux some serious symptoms. To make matters worse, there is nowhere online that I have found that provides recipes suitable for both IBS and GERD/Acid Reflux. Trying to figure out these kinds of recipes for yourself can be a daunting task, especially when you’re already trying to completely change your diet around. Don’t feel overwhelmed or discouraged, though, because this blog is here to do a lot of the work for you! As of 8/7/15, the recipes on here include numerous recipes that are Low FODMAP, GERD/Acid Reflux/Heartburn safe and most are also gluten free, lactose free and/or fructose free. All of these recipes are categorized as “tummy friendly.” There are also plenty of notes within each tummy friendly recipe to guide you as far as what else to eat (or not eat) on days you have them.
Naturally, before any major dietary changes you must see your doctor to make sure it is safe for you to do so. Once you get the green light, get the Monash University Low FODMAP app on your smartphone and order the booklet from their website so you always have it with you to help you make the right food choices; and use this blog as a resource for meal planning ideas for yourself and even for entertaining guests! No one that has had any of my recipes thought they were based around dietary restrictions, and I always try to make them as visually appealing as possible. I hope that the tummy friendly recipes on here can help you easily navigate through your dietary restrictions so that you find relief from your IBS and GERD/Acid Reflux symptoms soon!
If you need more information on IBS, GERD, the connection between IBS & GERD and/or tips for shopping with dietary restrictions or you would like to see what a symptom-free day consists of for me (things I have to do/not do, eat/not eat in order to have them), check out the other Digestive Health Pages: The IBS Lowdown, The Word on GERD (& Acid Reflux/Heartburn), The IBS & GERD Connection, Shopping w/Dietary Restrictions and What a Symptom-Free Day Looks Like.