What Do Those Letters Stand For?
The low FODMAP diet, in a nutshell, is a diet low in fermentable carbohydrates. The acronym stands for fermentable oligosaccharides (fibers, gluten), disaccharides (lactose), monosaccharides (free fructose) and polyols (artificial sweeteners). It was developed for people who suffer from digestive troubles, particularly Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), so the diet advises a reduced intake of foods that trigger bloating, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and gas. High FODMAP foods include the usual suspects: bread, pasta, dairy, beer. But there are also a few unlikely culprits as well, including blackberries, garlic, cashews, and watermelon. The can and cant’s are complicated, so we suggest downloading an app like Monash University’s.
The Fermentation Process = Bloat
High FODMAP foods cause intestinal discomfort for some individuals because these short-chain carbohydrates are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. Instead of being digested there and used for energy like other carbs, they travel largely intact to the colon, where these carbohydrates are rapidly fermented by colonic bacteria. This fermentation process can make you feel horrible.
Related Read: How To Banish Bloat For a Flatter Stomach
Will a Low FODMAP Diet Actually Reduce Bloat?
To reduce gastrointestinal problems, all signs point to yes. A pilot study found that three out of four patients reported their IBS symptoms drastically reduced when following a strict FODMAP diet. A University of Virginia School of Medicine study reports similar findings: “the FODMAP diet may have once been a craze, but now with an increasing body of evidence behind it, is definitely credible and valuable.”
But Will You Lose Weight?
Nutritionist Jessica Katz, RD, CDN, with a practice on the Upper East Side, says, “It depends.” Like most diets that restrict certain foods, it’s all about how you put it into practice. “Some clients will initially lose weight,” Katz says, “by virtue of eliminating foods and food groups, such as wheat and many processed foods.”
Because the low FODMAP diet is individually tailored, when people are paying close attention to their diet (and recording food intake), they tend to eat better. But to generalize that the low FODMAP diet is a good way of shedding pounds is a bit irresponsible. For example, red meat is low FODMAP and we all know what happens with too much red meat intake. “There are easier ways of losing weight,” she says. “I would not recommend the low FODMAP approach as merely a weight loss diet.”
Related Read: 10 Best Foods For Skin and Hair
Find a Nutritionist—Do It Right
Bottom line: even if you don’t suffer from IBS, cutting out high FODMAP foods can help if you feel bloated, gassy or mildly uncomfortable after meals. Katz, who used to struggle with gastrointestinal issues herself, is a fan. “The great thing about a low FODMAP diet for people who have digestive issues is that it’s ultimately intended to liberalize your food intake in the long-term,” she says, adding, “it’s easier to institute alongside a dietician.” To find a qualified nutritionist/dietician to help tame that bloated belly, search Charlotte’s Book.
Try This Low FODMAP Hot-Weather Recipe
Summer means gorgeous fresh vegetables and swimsuits. What better time to try out a bloat-reducing low FODMAP recipe? This one, a Gazpacho from FODMAP Living, is delicious.
- 1 cup peeled cucumber, chopped
- 1 cup red bell peppers, chopped
- 6 vine ripe tomatoes (approximately 1½ pounds)
- 3 bunches green onions (just the tops!), chopped
- 2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3 cups high-quality, organic tomato juice
- Juice of one lime
- ¼ cup rice or white wine vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoons coarse ground black pepper
- fresh basil leaves, sliced (for garnish)
Coarsely chop cucumbers, bell peppers and tomatoes. Finely chop green onion (remember to use just the tops!). Whisk together the cumin, tomato juice, vinegars, olive oil, salt and pepper. Add vegetables and tomato juice, stirring well. Chill at least 2 hours before serving. Enjoy!