Clinic

What is a low FODMAP diet?

FODMAPs are carbohydrates found in the food we eat. Not all carbohydrates are considered FODMAPs. A low FODMAP diet is a diet low in Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols. These are complex names for a collection of molecules found in foods that are poorly digested by some people. When the molecules are poorly absorbed in the small intestine, they continue along the digestive tract, arriving at the large intestine, where they act as a food source to the bacteria that live there normally. The bacteria then digest/ferment these FODMAPs and can cause symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The low FODMAPs diet has been researched for a number of years. It has been shown to be effective in treating gut symptoms such as bloating, wind, abdominal pain and an altered bowel habit. The diet involves temporarily restricting various foods including those certain grains, fruits and vegetables.

How successful is the low FODMAP diet?

The low FODMAP diet is likely to be effective for about 70% of people with IBS. It works by improving the gut symptoms associated with IBS. There is no evidence that it works for non-gut symptoms that are sometimes associated with IBS, such as headaches and skin or joint problems.

I want to try the low FODMAP diet. What should I do?

The diet is complex and so it is important that you receive good quality advice. I have specialised training and will ensure you follow a healthy balanced diet by providing you with meal solutions and recipes for the low FODMAP diet.

There is a lot of information on the internet about the low FODMAP diet. Can I try the diet myself?

The diet is not recommended to be used without specialist dietary advice from a registered dietitian. This is for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is not as simple as following a list of ‘foods to eat’ and ‘foods not to eat’. High FODMAP ingredients are often hidden in packaged foods. You will need to learn about how to read food labels and how to make sensible decisions when eating out. Secondly, as the low FODMAP diet is relatively new, much of the information available on the internet, and from other sources, may be out of date and create confusion regarding which foods to include and which foods not to include. This makes it difficult to work out how to follow the diet. Thirdly, if you follow a low FODMAP diet without professional support from a registered dietitian, you may miss out certain foods from your diet that are essential to good health. Finally, if you do not follow the low FODMAP diet properly, it is unlikely to be effective. Therefore, it is best to get advice from a registered dietitian in the first instance.

What is involved?

Three consultations are usually required to complete the process. FODMAP containing foods are initially excluded for a period of 6-8 weeks whilst suitable alternatives are advised.  Paula will explain in detail which foods are to be avoided and supply an extensive list of alternatives. There is a specific method for reintroducing foods thereafter which identifies the individual problematic foods.

Irritable bowel syndrome is a condition that affects one in five people, many of whom suffer in silence. We are not claiming that FODMAPs are the cause of irritable bowel syndrome, but managing them in your diet provides an opportunity for reducing your symptoms and improving your overall quality of life.

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