What is the FODMAP diet anyway?

If you’ve been blessed with a well-oiled digestive system, chances are you’ve never heard of the low-FODMAP diet. But if you’re among the 15 per cent of Aussies who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBA) symptoms, such as wind, constipation and diarrhoea, it’s time to get acquainted with a way of eating that many experts believe could dramatically improve them.

What foods can I eat on the FODMAP diet?

The plan cuts out foods that are high in FODMAPS, a term used to describe molecules that are digested poorly by some people, explains dietitian Dr Sue Shepherd, founder of the diet. But don’t let FODMAP’s complex names of ‘fermentable, oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols’ confuse you. Scientific jargon aside, FODMAP foods include apples, onion, wheat, milk, legumes and mushrooms.

How does FODMOP work?

The low-FODMOP diet has two phases best done with the guidance of a dietitian, says Julie Masci, director of New Life Nutrition. First, you eliminate trigger foods for 6-8 weeks, then gradually reintroduce them to identify which cause the most grief. The best bit? The plan reduces symptoms in 75 per cent of people, according to a recent UK study.

Is it hard to stick to?

“This diet doesn’t last forever, so focus on what you can eat,” suggests Masci. A typical day is balanced and filling – think gluten-free bread and cereal, meat and low-FODMAP fruit and veg. Severe IBS? Talk to your GP. Otherwise, find a qualified dietitian via daa.asn.au