Many celebrity diets are seen as 'fads' - but not the Low Fodmap Diet (or IBS diet). Here's everything you need to know about the latest diet trend.
The kind that promise you’ll drop pounds in days just by drinking miracle smoothies, but the Low Fodmap Diet (or IBS diet) is completely different. It wasn’t initially designed for weight loss (although this is a common side affect), but as a diet plan to help treat the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
By taking the most common foods that help sufferers avoid IBS symptoms, the diet plan alleviates medical problems whilst also being an all-round healthy diet for anyone looking for a balanced lifestyle.
What is the Fodmap diet for IBS?
Fodmap is a scientifically researched plan that was originally designed at Melbourne University in Australia by nutritionists Peter Gibson and Susan Shepherd, for both adults and children suffering with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It’s now the primary management strategy for IBS patients in Australia.
How do I start a low Fodmap diet?
Fodmap is an acronym for the types of ‘short chain’ carbohydrates that can cause problems for those with IBS. The problem with these Fodmap carbohydrates is that they are poorly absorbed in the small intestine and then enter the colon where they are fermented by bacteria and cause gas.
Whilst poor absorption happens to everyone, it is sufferers of IBS symptoms – bloating, flatulence, diarrhea – who should really consider the low Fodmaps diet as it can help to relieve some of their symptoms.
Who is the Fodmap diet good for?
The Fodmap diet works perfectly for those who are sick of suffering the symptoms of IBS and are trying to avoid flare-ups, but can also make a great eating plan for those looking to feel healthier.
A recent trial found that 7 out of 10 people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome experienced improved symptoms after trying out the Fodmap diet. So if you’re tired of living with the symptoms it’s definitely worth a try!
Dieticians are now recommending the Fodmap diet to people who have problems digesting wheat. It also aims to combat the problem of bloating, so even if you don’t have IBS the Fodmap diet can be a great plan to try for a trimmer-looking tummy.
What does a typical day look like?
Unlike diets specifically for weight loss, this isn’t about restricting the quantity of food you eat, rather just certain types of food.
You will need to reduce your intake of all high Fodmap foods for between four and eight weeks.
It should take between this time to start noticing the effects. Then you can start to reintroduce foods one by one until you track down your dietary triggers – the foods that make your symptoms worse.
There are lots of symptom trackers available online, or it could be useful to keep a food diary so that you can easily spot changes.
What are the pros?
The persistent symptoms of IBS can be completely debilitating to those who are suffering with the disease. By reducing Fodmap type foods, the symptoms can be relieved and increase the quality of life for sufferers.
Actress Kirsten Dunst previously admitted to suffering from IBS
According to the NHS website many IBS sufferers will experience feelings of depression and anxiety at some point due to their condition and this can be improved by Fodmap dietary changes.
Fodmap can be tailored to meet individuals’ needs and lifestyle preferences, and doesn’t require drugs or medication.
What are the cons?
There is some dispute over whether the Fodmaps diet can help alleviate the symptoms in the long term. Fodmaps diet is definitely not a cure for IBS, it just alleviates symptoms.
Also, as with other defined diets, it can be impractical to follow, as well as financially demanding.
It is not a quick fix either, it takes up to two months to notice the effect of withdrawing the Fodmaps from your diet and even then you need to start reintroducing types of food to track your specific triggers.
Often IBS isn’t just due to food either, it can be enflamed by stress and anxiety, which cannot be reduced by the Fodmap diet alone.
So what are the Fodmap foods I should avoid?
• Ice cream
• Soft cheeses (cottage, ricotta)
• Sour cream
• Black eyed peas
• Canned fruit
• Dried fruit
• Salad Dressing
• Tomato paste
• Artificial Sweetener
What can you eat on a low Fodmap diet?
• Bean sprouts
• Pak Choi
• Brussels sprouts
• Butternut squash
• Chick peas
• Collard greens
• Green beans
• Green pepper
• Red peppers
• Sun-dried tomatoes
• Swiss chard
• Sweet potato
• Honeydew melon
• Passion fruit
Meat & Fish
• Canned Tuna
• Wheat free bread
• Brown rice
• Coconut milk
• Pine nuts
• Potato flour
• Brown rice
• Rice flakes
• Rice flour
• Rice Krispies
• Rice noodles
What can I eat for breakfast on the Fodmap diet?
So, if sticking to the Fodmap diet, there are plenty of options for breakfast that will set you up brilliantly or the day ahead.
Oatmeal and porridge are allowed – so whip up some with some allowed fruit (strawberries, blueberries, banana) on top, and you’re good to go.
Some cereals are also permitted – such as Rice Krispies and Cornflakes, so if you’re looking for something quick, that’s a great option. Wheat free bred is also allowed for an easy start to your day – just be careful with what you spread on top of it.
If you’re struggling, we’ve got plenty of Fodmap recipe ideas available for you to browse, too.
So is the Fodmap diet right for you?