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HELP! Can someone explain what a FODMAP is ???

HELP! Can someone explain what a FODMAP is ???

I recently had a client come in and tell me that she had been to her Doctor and had an endoscopy and been advised that she needed to see me to start on the “MUDFLAPS” diet.

Now I never profess to know everything, but genuinely had not any clue what she was talking about. It was only after some pointed questioning around symptoms and her history that I realised she was talking about FODMAPS.

It is probably the question I get asked most at BBQs, on the sidelines at sports matches or from friends and family so I thought I would try to simplify it here for you.

FODMAPS stands for Fermentable Oligo-saccharides, Di-saccharides, Mono-saccharides and Polyols…. So in English they are simply a group of Carbohydrates, (primarily dietary sugars), found in a number of foods we eat every day.

The problem with this group of carbs is that in for some people, their small intenstine, (which is where we break down our foods), is unable to fully do its job and these foods pass through to the large intenstine not properly digested and become fermented by bacteria creating the symptoms associated with what is commonly referred to as IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Aside from the IBS symptoms which are never fun, people who have this response to FODMAP foods are also not absorbing all the nutrients from their food.

Examples of FODMAPS include: fructose (fruit sugar, honey, high fructose corn syrup); Lactose (milk protein, sugar polyols (sorbitol and mannitol found in some fruits and vegetables but also often present in artificial sweetners), fructans (found in wheat, rye and onions and garlic) and galacto-oligosaccharides  (found in beans and legumes).

It is important to distinguish between FODMAPS and “gluten free”. Gluten is actually a protein found in breads, pastas and flour and is not considered a FODMAP. Bread can often be an issue for FODMAP sensitive individuals because of the Fructans not the Gluten.

Confused yet???

I am not surprised, it is a very confusing area and can be quite daunting, not to mention painful and occasionally embarrassing for sufferers.

The good news is that it can be “cured”, I put that in inverted commas because it is not a magic pill situation rather a very evidence based protocol which your Accredited Practicing Dietitian can take you through.

So how do we do it? Essentially I design a nutrition plan which is very low FODMAP and assist clients with label reading to identify sneaky FODMAPS. The plan is continued for 2-6 weeks or until the person is symptom free.

How long will it take? Is a common question. Unfortunately, that is the million dollar question as each person is different and responds differently. I always say to people that I wish I could jump in their bellies and that would make thing a lot easier!  Usually, I expect people to start seeing some reduction in symptoms over the first two weeks.

Once a person is symptom free we start to “challenge” them with various FODMAPS again in a very controlled, careful way. My goal is to get people to have a broad a diet as possible and ultimately identify which FODMAP causes their symptoms!

My last word is to say that you don’t have to live with IBS, please go and see a dietitian who can step you through the process and get you back to feeling great!