What the heck is a FODMAP? (A low-FODMAP diet infographic and cookbook giveaway)

We’ve talked about FODMAPs several times here, but I have the feeling at least a few people out there still aren’t entirely sure just what they are. To help, my colleagues and I at The Experiment put together an infographic that I hope you’ll read (click on the image to view in full size) and share!

What-the-heck-FODMAP.Infographic.transparent

I know this is advertorial of me, since I edited the low-FODMAP books, but I truly believe the low-FODMAP diet is a game-changer for people with long-term, otherwise unexplained digestive problems. And it’s not just me who believes it—scientists, doctors, and dietitians worldwide support the diet.

Of course, folks should get tested for celiac disease and other gastrointestinal diseases before accepting a diagnosis of IBS and trying this diet. And of course, we should continue working to figure out why exactly people have these chronic gut issues and how to solve the problem for good, but in the meantime, this regimen might help.

Along with the infographic (design credit for which, by the way, really goes entirely to Sarah Schneider, who I think did a great job, don’t you?), I’m doing a giveaway of Sue Shepherd’s brand-new book, The Low-FODMAP Diet Cookbookto help spread the word. It has recipes for every meal and everyone, and as someone who has spent many a pre-lunch hour drooling over the photos, I can tell you they’re gorgeous. Enter using the Rafflecopter below, and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

So, do you feel like you know what the heck a FODMAP is? What are your favorite low-FODMAP foods?

24 thoughts on “What the heck is a FODMAP? (A low-FODMAP diet infographic and cookbook giveaway)

  1. Laurie C says:

    This is a great explanation, and pretty, too!

  2. Two questions I just thought of regarding people who are only sensitive to some fodmaps: if these cases are so common, how do people know it’s fodmap-specific? Do people get tested for their responses to pure fodmaps (not foods containing fodmaps)? PS the infographic is very ipad friendly, if you were wondering.

    • Molly says:

      Not to be “hand-wavy” about it, but responses to various FODMAPs is a very individualized thing. For example, part of the trouble with polyols is their shape, which in some people might keep them from passing through the small intestinal lining and in others may not–I suppose that’s linked to leaky gut–and those polyols that get through to the large intestine and ferment there, causing the pain that is of course different for everyone depending on their personal pain receptors and so on (which you’d be more qualified to theorize about than I). The speed at which each molecule is fermented (which varies depending on how long they are) would also presumably play a role, again tied to specifics of people’s gut makeup. I would bet the microbiome matters too. More research is needed. :D

      However, the studies that have been done (which have been small) have involved, e.g., giving fructose, fructans, fructose and fructans, or a placebo to various subjects in the form of a drink, and differing results were shown between those kinds of FODMAPs. Fructose and fructans together caused the most symptoms, since FODMAPs cause more or less trouble depending on amount and combination.

      Otherwise, a lot of this is about trial and error. Clinical experience suggests that after a washout period of an overall low-FODMAP diet, people can reintroduce one at a time (usually in the form of a food, not pure carbs) and observe different effects. Of course, as is being suggested about gluten sensitivity by some, it could be a different part of those foods that is causing the trouble, but FODMAPs seem the most likely candidate and, if reducing them helps people, that’s a good thing even if it’s not fully understood why (same goes for gluten, IMO).

      Phew. Long comment.

  3. Jess says:

    Hi Molly,
    Thanks so much for this. I have people ask me about FODMAPs all of the time.and i will refer them to your page.
    I eat foods that are high in FODMAPs all of the time with no issues, but my mom, who also has celiac, cannot tolerate them at all.
    Jess

    • Molly says:

      Thanks, Jess! I have not rigorously done the diet yet myself but can definitely pinpoint FODMAP-containing foods that give me trouble. Cauliflower, for example, I now know not to eat if I plan to go out anywhere after dinner, ha!

      • Vik says:

        Thanks for the infographic on this conundrum-like topic! It’s annoying that a lot of FODMAP-y foods are so healthy. But, onions and garlic, even the tiniest bit, just kill me. Cauliflower, big pain too. Most of these I am ok with. My fave low-FODMAP food (rafflecopter question answered) are potatoes.

        • Molly says:

          Onions and garlic seem to be killer for a lot of people. I haven’t ever noticed a problem with them myself, BUT–and this is a big “but”–I eat them virtually every day in at least one of my meals, so I probably never give myself enough of a washout period to notice a difference. I should really give the diet a shot soon and see what happens. If nothing else I’d get a couple blog posts out of it.

  4. Tony Azersky says:

    I’ll admit, I didn’t really know what they were until reading the infographic :(

    • Molly says:

      Well, that’s what it’s for! I have watched soooo many sets of eyes glaze over the moment I launch in to trying to explain FODMAPs. :P

  5. Heather Lisk says:

    This looks great! I know I should try FODMAPS, but I’m afraid..,

  6. lisamims says:

    I’m so glad you are talking about FODMAPS. Gluten was easy, in terms of knowing I couldn’t eat it–but to be really o.k., digestion-wise, I had to be gluten, lactose, and low fructose. (Apparently most people with celiac have acquired lactose and fructose malabsorption.) It took most of a decade to figure that out.

    When you get your celiac diagnosis, they should hand you a secondary list and say, “And if you’re not better after a year, try omitting these as well.”

    It does mean that there is only a list of about 300 things I can actually eat–but I just stay within the list, and I don’t have to think or talk about it.

    Thank you for talking about FODMAPS!

    • Molly says:

      Thanks, Lisa! I’m glad you’re glad. I agree with you about the secondary list at diagnosis (although I would also go for some better education about gluten at diagnosis, combined with more rigorous follow-up care that would give doctors the opportunity to find out whether people still aren’t feeling better and give them new directions then).

      I think we are getting steadily closer to the point when low-FODMAP will be a de rigueur recommendation among docs and dietitians. Maybe if we all keep talking about it we’ll get there faster!

  7. Maria says:

    This is such a neat and meaningful project you are involved in Molly! I’ve found these things by trial and error over the years, but FODMAPS, well, maps it all out. :) I think it would be great and very useful to have a cookbook, too.

  8. I can’t eat fermented products.I will pay more attention to some of the others.

  9. Jenna O says:

    My favorite FODMAP food is Eggs Florentine.

  10. jsherwin2013 says:

    I learned about FODMAP two years ago when my doctor recommended I try it. From what I learned, the diet originated in Australia.

    • Molly says:

      That’s right! They’re way ahead of us down under. My company printed the North American editions of the FODMAP books written by the experts. I got to “Americanize” and help revise and update them. :)

  11. Danielle H. says:

    This is a very simply stated info graphic, thank you! I use low FODMAPs in combination with the SIBO diet to keep my reactions to good to a minimum. It’s difficult to remember it all at times and I would love to win the cookbook to help give me more ideas! :o)

  12. Katie S. says:

    Great infographic!! I’ve struggled with gut issues for a long time, bloating, discomfort, diarrhea, constipation. My primary care provider diagnosed it as IBS and just told me to avoid gluten and dairy. While that improved my symptoms somewhat, I still had intermittent issues. I finally went to a naturopath and she recommended a low-FODMAP diet. I had no idea what it was, but did some research and gave it a shot. I felt so much better! My symptoms subsided and I lost a ton of inflammation weight. I felt more clear headed and energetic to boot! It’s hard to find low-FODMAP food when eating out, as almost everything contains garlic and onion. I’m hopeful that more people will come to appreciate the merits of this type of eating and start catering to it more in restaurants and packaged foods at the grocery. I’ve started making my own chicken stock at home and it is pretty easy as well as incredibly delicious. Trader Joe’s sells a garlic infused olive oil that doesn’t contain FODMAPs because the solids have been removed and the bad guys aren’t oil soluble. Its a great substitute in recipes and salad dresses to add the zest of garlic.

    • Molly says:

      Thanks for the infused oil tip! Sue recommends garlic-infused oil quite a few times in the cookbook, so you’ll be ahead of the game if you win (or buy) it. I’m so glad the diet is helping you. Very interesting to hear you had to go to a naturopath to hear about it. I do think the medical establishment is finally starting to catch on, but being an establishment, it’s naturally slow to adapt.

  13. Mary Kate says:

    Molly, the info graphic is amazing!

    I did a modified FODMAPs oriented elimination diet after my initial IBS diagnosis, and a few of the foods are problems for me, but overall, I tolerate at least some of every group but the disaccharides (all dairy is my enemy, gut-wise). The only way to know is really really learning to pay attention.

    I did think garlic was going to be out, but it turns out that most of my garlic dishes also had dairy or a lot of fat in them. I’m glad to have it back!

  14. lisamims says:

    I bought both books a month ago. I knew I was fructose sensitive–and that meant that there were a bunch of foods that I was afraid of. Well guess what–after reading both books I discovered that there is a lot more that I can eat than I thought. These are incredibly useful, livesaving books. Thank you!!

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