FODMAP Diet: Diet For Irritable Bowel Syndrome And Other Intestinal Diseases.

FODMAP is a diet concept that can relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and other intestinal diseases. Find out exactly what a low FODMAP diet looks like and whether the diet is right for you here.

Intestinal diseases and irritable bowel syndrome are unpleasant conditions for those affected, which can have a strong impact on health, everyday life, and even the psyche. The FODMAP diet can bring relief.

FODMAP has relatively little to do with the almost identical-sounding word “food map”. It is an acronym for fermentable oligo-, di- and monosaccharides as well as polyols, explains Dr. Katharina Scherf, head of the Functional Biopolymer Chemistry working group at the Leibniz Institute of Food Systems Biology at the Technical University of Munich.

This refers to fermentable carbohydrates, i.e. multiple, double, and single sugars, as well as polyvalent sugar alcohols such as sorbitol or mannitol. These can trigger gastrointestinal complaints in sensitive individuals.

FODMAPs are contained in various fruits and vegetables, as well as dairy and cereal products, but also in honey and agave juice, says the expert. So the FODMAP diet is about abstaining from foods with high FODMAP content for a short period of time.

FODMAP – concept

Peter Gibson and Susan Shepherd conducted a clinical study with irritable bowel syndrome patients in 2010. This found that patients’ symptoms decreased when they ate a low FODMAP diet.

In fact, FODMAPs are part of many people’s daily, balanced, and conscious diet. That’s because, usually, carbohydrates aren’t harmful at all. The study by researchers Gibson and Shepherd also found that some people digest FODMAPs more poorly than others.

Especially in irritable bowel syndrome, the diet according to the FODMAP concept works significantly better than previous dietary recommendations, but the scientific evidence is den och very thin.

FODMAP – diet or dietary change?

It concerns clearly not a lightning diet, which promises you in four weeks a perfect Bikinifigur, but around a nourishing concept that complaints in the gastrointestinal range can reduce. For people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, FODMAPs are usually not a foreign concept.

In addition, the FODMAP concept is not developed to serve as a permanent diet, cautions nutritionist Dr. Katharina Scherf. It is rather meant to reduce the symptoms, in order to find out then by means of a purposeful reintroduction of a certain food, which one tolerates and which does not. The FODMAP Diät can be divided thereby into three phases.

1 Phase: FODMAP-containing food

Since the low FODMAP diet is not an ordinary diet, different rules apply here. Unlike DASH or TLC, the FODMAP diet is not a permanent dietary change. Only 6-8 weeks – sp recommend it, nutritionists – you should adhere strictly to the guidelines of the concept and do without the FODMAP-intensive foods.

Lists of FODMAP-rich and FODMAP-poor food you find for example on

Relatively quickly you will notice that your intestine recovers and flatulence and diarrhea become less or disappear completely.

2nd phase: Change after the diet

After the first 6-8 weeks of strict dieting, slowly reintroduce foods with higher FODMAP content into your diet.

As soon as negative side effects occur after the addition of food, you should note it down as a food that is intolerable for you. In this way, you can identify the foods that are intolerable for you one by one. Keep in mind, however, that reactions to a particular food may be delayed.

Therefore, it is helpful to test the individual FODMAPs in cooperation with a nutrition expert and not on your own.

Phase 3: Is a FODMAP diet healthy in the long term?

After you have tested all FODMAP-rich foods for your symptoms, any that are well tolerated will be permanently reintegrated into your diet.

To avoid all FODMAPs permanently in your diet is not sensible, at least from a nutritional point of view, says Dr. Katharina Scherf. Important, health-promoting foods, such as vegetables and fruit generally and permanently from his diet to ban, if this is not necessary from a health point of view, rather promotes malnutrition.

FODMAPs are an important nutritional basis for many health-promoting intestinal bacteria. With a long-term FODMAP Diät it can come in the extreme case even to an impairment of the gastrointestinal microbiota (Darmflora), explains the Expertin.

FODMAP – How to find out about intolerances

Unfortunately, there is not yet a reliable testing method that you can use to find out if you have a FODMAP intolerance. The best option is to follow the 1st phase of the FODMAP concept, after which you can already see how your digestion changes. In this phase, you reduce the FODMAP-rich foods in your diet over a limited period of time (about two to four weeks). But be careful, everything else – be it eating habits or daily medication – should also be taken during the test phase. This is the only way you will know if a low FODMAPs diet makes a difference. Before doing so, however, you should talk to a nutritionist or your family doctor, who can help you with the FODMAPs diet. The second phase will then identify the so-called triggers – the FODMAPs that are causing you problems.

What is the benefit of the FODMAP concept in the long run?

Weight reduction is absolutely not the focus of this diet. The concept is particularly worthwhile for people with irritable bowel syndrome, fructose intolerance, lactose intolerance, and non-specific gastrointestinal problems such as constant cramps or flatulence.

In any case, a specialist should check whether more serious conditions are present, for example by performing a gastroscopy or a blood test.

Sports-related digestive problems – FODMAP diet can help

Long-distance runners often suffer from digestive problems during competitions. Changing your diet one to two weeks before the race can help alleviate the discomfort and thus also improve your performance. Especially when carb-loading on the eve of the competition, you should focus on rice or corn products instead of bread and wheat products.

Nine tips for a diet according to FODMAP

Planning ahead can be very helpful, especially to familiarize yourself with the different foods. You can find a concrete list of recommended foods, for example, at the German Society for Nutrition or the German Society for Gastroenterology.

Write yourself a shopping list – this may sound “old-school”, but it helps you to keep an overview. It also helps you make sure you have a balanced mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and especially vegetables in the house. Don’t forget a couple of snacks for snacking fits.

Unfortunately, you can’t avoid reading labels at the supermarket. Basically, products like fruits, honey, agave, corn syrup, wheat, and soy, as well as many convenience foods, are very high in FODMAP.

Once you have discovered a few recipes for yourself, you can prepare them in larger quantities and then freeze individual portions. This will save you a lot of time during the week and you will still have a ready-made dish in case of an emergency.

To get enough fiber, you can ideally use gluten-free bread and pasta. The increased fiber content in the products is particularly important. Foods with at least 6 g of fiber per 100g are therefore well suited. This has for example brown rice, nuts, and seeds, potatoes with skin, flaxseed, unsalted/sweet popcorn, quinoa as well as buckwheat.

Watch your calcium intake. Many avoid dairy products that are high in FODMAPs, which can cause a calcium deficiency. Plan to eat two to three calcium-rich foods daily, such as oat or almond milk.

It’s best to avoid alcohol during the diet, which saves FODMAPs and is also gentle on the gastrointestinal lining. Plenty of water is basically healthy and helps your body with digestion.

Chewing small portions slowly generally encourages conscious eating. But the smaller amounts are also easier for your body to digest. In addition, if intolerances occur, you can react more quickly.

Visits to restaurants are a particular challenge. The best way to cope with them is to find out in advance about the dishes on offer. Talk to the staff and ask for wheat-, dairy-, garlic- and onion-free dishes. It’s especially easy in restaurants where you can create your own meals. Sauces should always be served separately.

Our FODMAP conclusion

The FODMAP diet is not a diet in the classic sense, so it is not suitable for losing weight. The list of foods you can and cannot eat as part of a consistent low FODMAP diet is long.

This makes food choices very limited, which is why this diet should not be followed permanently and is only useful for certain individuals, such as IBS patients. Therefore, you should never follow a FODMAP diet on your own, but always discuss it with a doctor or nutritionist beforehand.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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