The FODMAP diet

The low FODMAP diet

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How a change in diet could help you find relief from the symptoms of IBS.

FODMAPs, or ‘rapidly fermentable short-chain carbohydrates,’ are key suspects in causing symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

In this dietary approach to IBS relief, foods that are likely to cause bloating in the small intestine and bowel are removed. These include foods high in fructose, lactose, fructans, galactans and polyols (including sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol and maltitol).

Although this diet appears to reduce symptoms in up to 70 percent of people with IBS, it can be tricky to stick to. There have been different versions of the diet over time, but more recent versions are also low in gluten. Seeing a specialised dietician is essential before trying to undertake a low FODMAP diet.

Causes of IBS are complex and varied, but the most evidence suggests that a problem with the enteric nervous system (which is responsible for nerve signals to the gut) is one of the main factors involved.

In IBS, it seems that nerves that regulate digestive function may be oversensitive and may cause changes in the movement of food matter through the digestive tract. This may help to explain the common symptoms of diarrhoea and constipation. It is important to realise, however, that psychological and dietary factors also play a role, which is where the low FODMAP diet comes in.

The low FODMAP diet excludes foods that:
  • Are not absorbed well in the small intestine
  • Have small molecules that draw water into the gut
  • Are easily fermented by intestinal bacteria
Foods high in FODMAPs are considered more likely to cause IBS symptoms, yet it is important to remember that these foods do not cause IBS, but merely increase symptoms.

Examples of foods high in FODMAPs and some low-FODMAP alternatives are listed in the table below. Remember, this diet is best undertaken under the guidance of a specialist.
Low FODMAP diet friendly recipes

Haloumi tacos
Muesli crunch bars
Quinoa caprese salad

High FODMAP foods

Low-FODMAP alternatives

apples, pears, nashi pears, mango, sugar snap peas, watermelon, tinned fruit in natural juice, dried fruit, fruit juice, custard apple, rambutan, persimmon, apricots, cherries, lychee, nectarine, peaches, plums, prunes.


artichokes, asparagus, beetroot, Brussels sprout, broccoli, cabbage, fennel, garlic, leeks, okra, onions, peas, shallots, avocado, cauliflower, mushrooms, snow peas

Dairy products
Milk: cow, goat and sheep (regular & low-fat), Ice cream Yoghurt (regular & low-fat) Cheeses: soft & fresh (e.g. ricotta, cottage)

banana, blueberry, grapefruit, grape, honeydew melon, kiwifruit, lemon, lime, mandarin, orange, passionfruit, paw paw, raspberry, rockmelon, strawberry, tangelo.

bamboo shoots, bok choy, carrot, celery, capsicum, choko, choy sum, corn, eggplant, green beans, lettuce, chives, parsnip, pumpkin, silverbeet, spring onion (green only), tomato

Dairy products
Milk: lactose-free, rice milk Cheese:‘hard’ cheeses including brie, camembert Yoghurt: lactose-free Ice cream substitutes: gelati, sorbet Butter

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Thanks for this article. However, IMO it needed to be more specific. I am fructose intolerant and although I am aware that there are a few different opinions "out there", I would benefit from your opinion on tolerable quantities of the higher fodmap foods. e.g. celery & corn may be tolerated in small quantities rather than listing them as a "low fodmap" as you have done in this article.