Want to lose weight, beat stomach bloating, and ease any other digestive upsets? Yeah, me either! Seriously though, it is possible by taking on a low FODMAP diet (I’m currently doing it and love the results so far). Here’s what you need to know.
- What is a FODMAP?
FODMAPs stands for Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and PolyolS.
In simpler terms: they are molecules found in sugar that are poorly absorbed by the small intestine. They go by the names of fructose, lactose, fructans, galactans, and polys (I’m sure you’ve heard of at least one of these terms).
- Why are FODMAP’s a problem?
When you digest foods, your body utilizes some of the trillion (healthy) bacteria in your gut to break down food. All of these bacteria have a different function, and in a perfect world would be at the exact levels you need them to be at. Unfortunately in today’s world many things effect these levels including antibiotics, artificial sweeteners, binge drinking (drinking 4 or more drinks within 2 hours) and a diet high in bread and pasta. If any one type of bacteria gets either overgrown or depleted you can be left with weight gain, slow digestion, and bloating/discomfort. These foods also require your body to draw in water to digest and can ferment (gross?), which can overall leave you with abdominal pain, bloating and/or diarrhea.
- Where can you find FODMAP’s?
There are 5 types of FODMAP’S
Fructose: found naturally in apples, pears, and honey. Also found in (non-diet) sugary beverages, applesauce, agave nectar, watermelon, sweet wines (like Moscato), dried fruit, sweet sauces (like BBQ or Sweet and Sour), maple syrup, and many fruit juices.
Lactose: found commonly in chocolate, milk, ice cream, coffee creamer, butter, yogurt, and soft cheeses like cottage cheese.
Fructans: found naturally in garlic, onion, cauliflower, mushrooms, and asparagus.
Galactans: found naturally in beans, lentils, and soybeans.
Polyols: found in apricots, apples, snow peas, peaches, plums, nectarines, watermelons, alcohol high in sugar, and cherries.
*Most people can tolerate these foods in small amounts but in larger quantities can cause bloating, discomfort, and gas.
- How to participate in the low FODMAP diet?
It’s pretty simple, avoid all of the above foods for 2 to 6 weeks (this part you can base on relief of symptoms such as gas and bloating) any additional weight loss will also be expected. Once symptoms have subsided you can reintroduce one food from one FODMAP group every three days. If symptoms return, you may have a food intolerance and should consult your physician.
- What can I eat?
As long as you avoid (as much as possible) the foods listed above, you can eat as you regularly would. Foods that are typically low in FODMAP’s are blueberries, strawberries, kiwi, oranges, banana, lettuce, spinach, tomato, red pepper, carrots, green beans, rice, corn, oats, gluten-free breads, gluten-free pastas, lactose-free dairy, hard cheese (cheddar, Parmesan) almond milk, and sugar.
- What to expect?
While weight loss is not guaranteed, it has been suggested to lose a modest 2-8 pounds (depending on the length of your diet) from resisting these foods alone. At the end you will have at the very least re-balanced your digestive bacteria so they are fit to properly digest your food, and look less bloated. In the future you should more easily digest food and have less weight gain (of course if you go back to eating high levels of all these foods it is likely you will upset your gut bacteria again).
- Anything else I need to know?
*** You should always consult your physician if you are contemplating starting any diet.
*** You should avoid this diet if you have any chronic GI issues that your doctor has already previously determined weren’t caused by a more serious disorder, like Celiac disease.
I’ve been on this diet only 5 days and I swear it’s helped with bloating (my clothes seem to fit better). On top of that with all of the crap cut out of my diet I feel like I have more energy! Bonus!!!