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The FODMAPs Diet

The FODMAPs Diet

A couple years ago I saw some blog posts popping up about the FODMAPs diet. I didn’t think much of it since I wasn’t looking for any digestive help at the time. Over the past year one of my good friends has been following it with success and it sparked my interest. I looked into the diet protocol further and it does make a lot of sense. In fact, looking back at some of the foods I reacted to the most in terms of pain and bloating, I can see a lot of those were high-FODMAPs foods.

So What is a FODMAPs Diet?

Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols are carbohydrates that may not get digested and absorbed easily in the digestive tract. If you have good digestion, these carbs are absorbed in the small intestine. If you have poor digestion, these carbs travel through to the large intestine where bacteria ferment them, causing bloating and other digestive problems. If you have bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine, they may also ferment there causing similar symptoms.

The FODMAPs diet basically encourages you to reduce the amount of high-FODMAPs foods you eat, and stick mainly to the low-FODMAPs choices. These carbohydrates are found in various fruits, vegetables, dairy and grain products. You can see a list here of foods to eat and foods to avoid(pdf). Note that meat and oils are not on the list and can be eaten in any amount.

How does it differ from SCD/GAPS?

SCD and GAPS are based on the idea that all di-saccharides and poly-saccharides feed bad bacteria in the gut. For someone with healthy digestion, the proper good bacteria are in place and should handle correct digestion of carbohydrates without bad symptoms. In someone with an imbalance of bacteria, the digestion process is compromised and these types of carbohydrates can’t be properly digested and absorbed. Avoidance of the complex carbohydrates reduces symptoms of bloating, diarrhea, constipation and pain. SCD allows all fruit since the carbohydrates are simpler and should digest and absorb without feeding bacteria, however FODMAPs seems to show otherwise.

FODMAPs focuses on certain carbohydrates that don’t digest and absorb as easily, while allowing ones that do. Some fruits and vegetables are not recommended, while most grains are. The FODMAPs diet, having a long list of foods that should be limited, is not considered as restrictive since you can still have most grains, a decent variety of fruits and vegetables, and some sugars.

What can I eat on FODMAPs?

  • Most berries, bananas, melons, oranges, lemon, lime
  • Lactose-free milk products (ie: SCD yogurt, hard cheeses, butter)
  • Gluten-free grains
  • Herbs
  • Meats and eggs
  • Most vegetables

What should I stay away from on FODMAPs

  • Apples, pears, mango, watermelon, blackberries, cherries, apricots, honey
  • Onions, garlic, leeks, cabbage, broccoli, asparagus, beets, artichoke
  • Gluten, wheat, rye
  • Legumes, beans, soy
  • Liquid milk, soft ripened cheeses

What does this mean for someone on SCD?

While on SCD, some people use foods like honey and applesauce as staples. I did, eating honey with yogurt and having applesauce everyday as a snack. It might be good to focus on other fruits as sweet snacks such as bananas, common berries, melons and oranges. Note that meats, eggs, dairy and oils are treated similarly on both diets.

If you really feel like you are not sensitive to things like rice and potatoes, you might do well on FODMAPs instead of SCD. I think it would be much easier to follow FODMAPs than SCD, and would provide more options for getting enough calories.

Following either diet until symptoms are reduced enough that you can eat again without discomfort is the first step. Regardless of which diet you choose, you need to be doing extra steps to improve and restore your digestion. Probiotics, bone broths, lots of nutrient-rich foods, reduced stress, and lots of sleep would be some good choices to make.

Other Resources

SCD Lifestyle: http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/09/fodmap-diet-a-fad-diet-or-helpful-for-everyone/
Strands of my Life: Low-FODMAPs Recipes www.strandsofmylife.com/category/low-fodmaps/
Mark’s Daily Apple: www.marksdailyapple.com/fodmaps/
Chris Kresser: http://chriskresser.com/fodmaps-could-common-foods-be-harming-your-digestive-health

Kat

I have been following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet since January 2008 to recover from Celiac disease. As part of the diet, I don’t eat grains, sugar or potatoes and prepare all my meals from scratch.

9 Comments

  1. I have to agree with you here Kat. Especially the point regarding more calories following
    FODMAPS. So many of us have run into problems with adrenal fatigue from going to low carb. Could you take a second and elaborate on your experience with adrenal fatigue. In the past did Ray Peat or Matt STones approach help you? Did it take time to raise your own temperature. Did you have food intolerances from low-carbing? We have all heard Ann Marie’s experience and would love to hear your experiences as well.

  2. @Tibbs I was mostly feeling better from the digestive issues and adrenal fatigue before finding Ray Peat, and Matt’s newer stuff. I was underweight though so I was already trying to get more calorie rich food and carbs so in a way their approach did work. I first started with raw cream with lots of honey and salt added. Then I started eating more fruit, bananas especially, and then eventually added in rice and potatoes.

    My food intolerances did not get worse from low-carb, they got better. My digestion improved so much on low-carb. Cycling low carb for the digestion benefit, then higher carb for the energy worked well. It took a couple months to notice significant improvement in temperature, especially hands and feet staying warm. I really think it was a matter of getting enough calories rather than any specific amounts of macros.

    I don’t think I got adrenal fatigue from low-carb. I was on a mostly high-carb diet (but low in overall calories + malabsorption issues) when I really ran into problems.

  3. Thank you Kat. That was really clear and concise. Like i mention earlier i believe FODMAPS way of eating is a better choice. Not only calorie wise but like you mentioned it is far less restrictive. Dont get me wrong both SCD and GAPS are helpful initially, however are not practical choices as far as long term. I think people searching for diets as a tool to help with digestive issues need to realize a couple of important facts. The first is one may never attain perfect digestion. Secondly, there simply isnt one perfect diet. While incorpating the basics you mentioned above bone broth probiotics etc, a person needs to take a little information from credible sources like Chriss KResser and paul J (perfect health diet) Its nice to see Steve & Jordan coming clean and helping people see that while SCD helps its not a cure all. Kat i really believe people would chime im and create alot of traffic here if you spoke more about your own health. Where you are today? What you eat? Whole foods of course but what else? People love hearing of anothers journey before they put any stock in their advise

  4. @Tibbs FODMAPs is great if it works for someone, but it won’t work for everyone. If someone has SIBO they likely won’t get enough relief from this diet.

    Majority of the posts on this blog are and will be about my own health. I’m healthy right now, great digestion, eating whatever I want (gluten-free) including junk foods. I’ll be speaking to my transition off SCD a bit more in future posts. I wish when I had started SCD I had more people to look to who were off it and doing well. I plan on sharing more so that people don’t feel like they have to use the diet as a long-term solution, but as a tool to get better and move on to the next step in healing.

  5. It’s really nice that your healthy but still coming back to post to give others some help and guidence. Do you still eat that scd yogurt. I ate it for quite sometime but stand to eat it any longer. Love the picture of you eating yogurt in Hawaii. I’m searching for a good quality probiotic instead of yogurt. Any suggestions? Do you still drink Keifer? I had some grains but never could get them to grow and multiply. Do you think that was the biggest thing to help you? You mentioned in older post you were drinking like 2 cups a day?

  6. @The may Last time I made the yogurt was about 2 months ago. I do love it! I just made it so much over the years that I’ve cut down for convenience. I do well on store-bought natural yogurts.

    I find that the easiest probiotic food to keep around is sauerkraut. My best batch ever was one I forgot about in the back of the fridge for over a year, it was delicious.

    I liked the kefir but I’m not sure it was ‘the thing’ that helped the most. I’m not sure any one food or part of the diet was the best. For me it took time, eating lots of good foods, changing up my diet when needed and getting lots of rest that ‘did it’.

  7. Hi Kat – I’ve recently switched from SCD to Fodmaps and it’s working for me. No prob with oatmeal and quinoa, really ups my carbs. Everyone should pay attention to their individual responses to food in a diet, not the diet as a complete whole. Thanks for this post!

  8. Hmmm. I have been on low FODMAPS for several months. At first, my IBS improved, then worsened. I started adding more allowed starch/fiber such as rice, potatoes & oatmeal and my symptoms got worse & worse. Finally was given likely diagnosis of SIBO, and now am combining SCD & low FODMAP. Having fantastic results for last 3 weeks. It’s very difficult to know when & how to start adding foods, but for now, I’m just enjoying feeling normal for the first time in 2 years.

  9. In SCD, Sorbitol is not ‘legal’. Apples are ‘legal’ to eat in the SCD program, yet contain lots of Sorbitol. This is true of peaches and plums too. Any comments??
    THANKS, Randy

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