Is the low FODMAP diet suitable for me?
A restricted intake of FODMAPs is only suitable for people with several digestive disorders because the diet is complex and requires a lot of effort. FODMAP containing foods such as apples or whole grain bread are not unhealthy in general and are tolerated by the majority of consumers. However, if you are suffering from stressful digestive problems such as chronic bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhoea or obstipation, a low FODMAP diet may be suitable for you. The best way is to contact a physician or an experienced nutritionist.
Why are there different FODMAP lists?
There are several reasons for the different tables:
The FODMAP level of food products has only been tested for a short period of time. In the beginning, some foods such as blackberries for example had not been analyzed. In some lists they were classified as low in FODMAPs, just like raspberries. Today, we know that blackberries are rich in FODMAPs. The earlier classification, carried out without precise analysis, was wrong.
Rice milk is another example: It was classified as rich in FODMAPs because of its high oligosaccharide content found in analysis. In the meantime, newer and more precise measurements have shown that it is only correct that certain types of sugars develop in the production process of rice milk, because although these sugars have the size of oligosaccharides, they are composed exclusively of glucose molecules and are therefore low in FODMAPs. Many tables still list rice milk as high FODMAP.
There are also different analysis results circulating for coconut milk. These are probably dependent on the product and/or the variety. Different classifications are the logical result.
Then again, there are lists that are based on an incorrect understanding of the FODMAP concept. Low FODMAP does not necessarily mean completely wheat-free or gluten-free. Therefore, the indication “gluten-free soy sauce” is simply wrong and unnecessary!
Differences in other lists can be attributed to different eating habits and serving sizes. A defined amount of a food plays a decisive role in the classification of such food as rich in FODMAPs or low in FODMAPs. 20 g of beetroot for example are considered a low FODMAP food. This amount is used in Australia on a sandwich and is fine to eat. In Europe, however, beetroot is considered rich in FODMAPs because the usual serving size for beetroot eaten as a vegetable or a salad is 120‑200 g.
Other differences arise from deliberate simplifications and generalizations. Meanwhile, many fruits and vegetables, including tropical varieties, have been analyzed. For the sake of clarity, not every single food can be listed but is rather grouped together.
Here, tofu comes into play. Common tofu is low in FODMAPs while silken tofu is rich in FODMAPs. Considering the low amount of tofu consumed, some lists combine both variations and for reasons of safety, tofu is listed in the group of high FODMAP foods.
Erroneous or outdated knowledge in lists and books is hard to get rid of because it is often copied. An updated and thoroughly reviewed list is key. Get the list here
Are FODMAPs unhealthy?
No, FODMAPs and food containing FODMAPs are in general not unhealthy. They are well tolerated by the majority of the population and they also have a beneficial health effect on the gut microbiota (intestinal flora). Added to that, FODMAPs are present in many foods that are important to one’s health, including milk, apples or whole grain bread. Therefore, the restricted intake of FODMAPs should be considered only in the case of severe digestive problems and only for a limited period of time. Many people reacting sensitively to FODMAPs will find out during Phase 2 of the FODMAP concept that they are able to tolerate certain amounts of specific high FODMAP foods without experiencing any problems. Therefore, limiting the intake of FODMAPs for a longer period of time should only be carried out based on the person’s individual needs.
What is the difference between gluten and FODMAP?
A low FODMAP diet and a gluten-free diet have in common that no or less wheat, rye and barley is consumed.
A low FODMAP diet does not have to be gluten-free because gluten is not a FODMAP!
Gluten-free products do not contain any wheat but may contain other high FODMAP ingredients such as milk, apples or onions. Therefore, gluten-free products may be low FODMAP but they are not required to be low FODMAP. Studying the list of ingredients in key!