In real life, people become detectives after hours upon hours of work as police officers, hustling at a police training academy, earning a college degree and proving skills and experience.  To become a low-FODMAP diet detective, you won’t need to do all of those things.  However, if you are trying out the low-FODMAP diet on your own or with a dietitian, like detectives, you will need to build skills and experience.

The skills will come from learning about which foods contain low and high FODMAPs, and what are suitable low-FODMAP portions.  Your experience will build every time you set off for grocery shopping, order from a menu, cook at home, and make your way through your low-FODMAP journey.  Through all phases of the diet, you will learn which foods or possible environmental scenarios trigger your symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

So without further ado, today I am going to show you how to become a High-FODMAP Detective.

What’s High-FODMAP, What’s Low-FODMAP?

First, so you can compare, let’s start off with a handy chart with some examples of food groups high in FODMAPs and foods low in FODMAPs. (This chart does not include the full list of low and high-FODMAP foods).

This chart above does not list all foods that are high and low in FODMAPs.  It’s just meant for you to get a quick understanding of some of the foods highest in FODMAPs and those lowest in FODMAPs.

When studying up on low and high-FODMAP foods it’s essential to pay close attention to the published research and testing from Monash University and the FODMAP Friendly program.  This way you will see how some foods are high or low in FODMAPs depending if they are ripe or unripe, depending on the quantity or even the type consumed, or also how a food has been grown or processed.

Some examples are as follows (based on published research from Monash University and FODMAP Friendly, September 22, 2017 – the information below may change as foods are sometimes re-tested by Monash and FODMAP Friendly):

Vegetables –

Broccoli stalks are high in FODMAPs, however, broccoli heads are low-FODMAP at 1 cup (Monash & FODMAP Friendly).

Fruit –

Unripe guavas are high-FODMAP, while ripe guavas are low-FODMAP (Monash).

Yes, you can have bananas on the low-FODMAP diet, however, you will need to go by the published research by Monash University and FODMAP Friendly as they have different findings from their testing of bananas.  If you head over to my Grocery List, you will see the following information on serving sizes for Bananas:

According to MONASH 

  • 1/3 medium ripe banana (common) is LOW, 1/2 is HIGH
  • 1/2 medium ripe sugar banana is LOW, 3/4 medium is MODERATE
  • 1 medium unripe banana (common) LOW
  • 1 medium sugar banana LOW
  • Banana, dried -10 chips are LOW

According to FODMAP Friendly

  • 1 fresh, firm banana, 150g LOW
  • 1 fresh, ripe, large, 150g is HIGH-FODMAP
  • 2 sugar lady fingers, 150g is HIGH-FODMAP

 

Bread –

2 slices of sprouted multigrain bread (tested in the USA) are high, but 1 slice sprouted multigrain bread is low-FODMAP.

Pasta –

1 cup cooked wheat pasta is high-FODMAP, while a 1/2 cup cooked wheat pasta is low-FODMAP.

 

Which App to Choose?

The Monash University app has been confusing for many people mostly because upon opening the app and looking through the food lists when seeing the red circle, or red traffic light, people automatically assume that a food is completely high in FODMAPs.  That is not always the case.  In the examples below, you will see a list of vegetables from Monash and “Beetroot” on the left with a red traffic light on the right.  Many people see the red traffic light and think they have to avoid the food.  However, if you open up this particular listing for beetroot, you will see 4 slices (41g) is high-FODMAP, but that if you have 2 slices (and no more) that it becomes a low-FODMAP food.

 

FODMAP Friendly simply lists foods as having a PASS or FAIL based on the FODMAP Friendly criteria, and they also list the correct serving size for each rating.  According to them, beetroot (1/2 cup or 75g) gets a PASS or is low-FODMAP.  For each individual food, they then also break down each food into specific FODMAP sugars, which also have their own PASS/FAIL assessment.   The percentages listed for the total fructans, excess fructose, sorbitol, lactose, mannitol, and GOS are rounded to the nearest 10% and represent the specific level of FODMAP sugars within a particular food.  0% is 0 and 100% is the maximum amount of sugar contained to still be considered “FODMAP Friendly.”  These percentages can be very useful for patients with IBS who are more or less sensitive to particular sugars.  Take, for example, someone who can only handle very small amounts of fructose.  They may have to be very careful in how much fructose they consume, and that’s how the percentages come into play.  The same goes for someone who is lactose intolerant.  They may still be able to consume foods that contain lactose but at very small amounts.  Parmesan cheese is an example of a low-FODMAP cheese because it has trace amounts of lactose (less than 0.5-gram lactose).  Natural, aged, or hard low-FODMAP cheeses such as Cheddar, Parmesan, and Swiss can be digested by many people with lactose intolerance.

 

Time to Really Read Labels

Most people are accustomed to reading labels for fat, carbohydrates, sugar and protein content, but they are not familiar with how to spot the FODMAPs.  Now it’s time for you to really read those labels!  IBS affects between 25 and 45 million people in the United States {IBS.org}, and an estimated 35% of the Australian population have intolerances to one or more FODMAPs.  In the U.S., about 2 in 3 IBS sufferers are female, and on this brisk day in September 2017, a much smaller number know of the low-FODMAP diet (that’s you, hooray!  But please spread the word to your brothers and sisters with IBS and share this blog post!).

For those of you following the low-FODMAP diet or for those just curious as to how to spot FODMAPs, I am going to teach you now.

Here are examples of where you may find FODMAPs on different types of food labels, prepared foods, and restaurant menus:

FOOD LABELS

Bread – Whether you’re buying gluten-free bread or low-FODMAP servings of other breads (2 slices millet, 100% spelt sourdough, 1 slice white wheat), you may find these high-FODMAP ingredients on the label: wheat, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS),fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), honey, agave, inulin/chicory root, coconut flour, einkorn flour, or raisin bread.

Alcohol & Drinks – first of all, avoid carbonated water and other beverages as the carbonation can lead to painful bloating.  Secondly, avoid sodas, sports drinks or other drinks made with: high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), fructose, sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol, maltitol, honey, agave, chamomile, large servings of fruit (such as a smoothie).  Kombucha tea is OK at 180ml or less.  Avoid rum and dessert (sticky) wine.

Cakes, Cookies, Crackers – avoid those made with wheat, HFCS, fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), honey, agave, milk or white chocolate, dried fruits, fructose, cashews, pistachios, (more than 1 tablespoon almond butter or 10 almonds is high-FODMAP), blueberry jam, sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol, maltitol and more.  Crackers and breadsticks can also contain wheat, garlic, onions, garlic powder or onion powder too.

Protein Powders & Drinks – avoid those made with whey protein concentrate that does not come with a lactose-free claim.  Avoid inulin/chicory root.  Fructose.  Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS).  Monk fruit sweetener (still not tested). Pea fiber (not tested).  Sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol, maltitol.  Soybean lecithin (is considered safe though not tested yet).  Garbanzo bean sprouts or flour, adzuki bean (not tested as of this post), lentil flour or sprouts, some gums (not xanthan gum) have been thought to irritate those with sensitive guts.  Carrageenan may also be a gut irritant for some people as well.  And…please avoid Shakeology, Ensure Plus®, Isagenix, Iconic Beverages, ALOHA Daily Good Greens Whole Nutritional Food Powder and many others as they contain far too many ingredients that are questionable or high-FODMAP.  Keep your protein powders simple.  I like Jay Robb Unflavored Egg White Protein Powder and BiPro Whey Protein Isolate.

Smoothies – Avoid smoothies that have been made with more than one serving of low-FODMAP fruit, apple juice, orange juice, pear juice; regular milk, kefir or yogurt, soy milk made from soybeans; high-FODMAP fruits such as feijoas, lychees, mangoes, unripe guavas, peaches, tamarillos or other high-FODMAP fruits.  High-FODMAP protein powder (see above).

*Please note – if any of the high-FODMAP ingredients are listed on a food label near the end, that means they are present in smaller quantities than whatever ingredients are listed first on the label.  If there is a food product that you really want to try with FODMAPs listed near the end of the list, you can always test a small amount of a product to understand your own tolerance level.  Everyone is different in how we react or do not react to FODMAPs.  If you want to take the safer route on the low-FODMAP diet, go for products that are certified low-FODMAP or only have low-FODMAP ingredients listed.  PLUS the fewer ingredients on a label, the less likelihood your gut will be irritated.  Try and stick to whole, low-FODMAP foods as much as possible for a happier gut 🙂

Yogurt – you know by now that lactose-free yogurt (not regular yogurt, unless small amounts of Greek yogurt) is low in FODMAPs.  When buying lactose-free yogurt, avoid any that include these ingredients: high-fructose corn syrup, honey, agave, inulin/chicory root, high-FODMAP fruits such as cherries, blackberries, peaches or other high-FODMAPs.

SUPPLEMENTS

Yes, FODMAPs can even be found in supplements.  Avoid supplements made with: fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS),fructose, inulin, inulin syrup, inulin powder, chicory root, sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol, maltitol. Look at the image below and you will see inulin is used in both of the fiber supplement products.

 

PREPARED FOODS

Did you know that many supermarkets will prepare or buy prepared soups and salads (such as potato salad, chicken salad, tomato soup) with wheat flour?  Many prepared sauces, marinades, soups, salads and even prepared meats like sausages (and more foods) contain one or several different FODMAPs such as: onions (raw or cooked), garlic (raw or cooked), onion or garlic powder, wheat, wheat flour, croutons, large amounts of raisins or cranberries (both are OK just at 1 tablespoon), milk, buttermilk, cream, custard, evaporated milk,  and don’t forget high-FODMAP vegetables.  Just ask the deli counter staff for a list of ingredients.  They can usually just print it up for you.

ORDERING OFF THE MENU

When out to eat, honestly the best way to keep things uncomplicated is to order foods without sauces and marinades, without dressings, croutons, etc.  Just ask for your meat to be prepared bare or with butter, any oil, herbs, spices, mustard etc.  Get a side of steamed low-FODMAP vegetables.  If everyone is having dessert, ask for some low-FODMAP fruit or bring along a bar of dark chocolate!  Here are examples of high-FODMAP items found on menus:

  • Wheat or other high-FODMAP buns or breads
  • More than one sachet of ketchup
  • Sausage or other prepared meats made with breadcrumbs, dried fruit
  • Fried foods fried in wheat or garbanzo bean or other bean flours
  • Pasta or other Italian dishes usually made with garlic and onions, artichokes, ricotta cheese.  Wheat rolls or bread. Tiramisu.  Pizza is high-FODMAP – gluten-free may be OK but you’ll need to hold the sauce and any high-FODMAP toppings (Pizza Hut uses Udi’s gluten-free pizza crusts)
  • Indian dishes made with heavy cream, chickpeas*, lentils*, marinades.  Avoid daal, cucumber raita, Saag paneer (potential high-FODMAP cheese, and dish is made with garlic).  Chutneys may be OK if you stick to 1 tablespoon.
  • Asian foods made with wheat noodles, onions, garlic or other high-FODMAP vegetables, garlic sauce, chili sauce or paste, sriracha, hoi sin sauce, curries, and more.

Want more tips on Dining Out Low-FODMAP?  Click here for my guide

STRESS

OK, so you can’t find FODMAPs in stress, however, I wanted to bring up stress as an important thing to monitor during your low-FODMAP journey.  Paying close attention to what foods you eat is certainly paramount, and keeping tabs on your stress level is the other part of the equation.  Keep a Food & Symptom diary so you can monitor not only food and drink intake, but also bowel movements and your stress level for the day.  Maybe a stressful meeting at work, an argument with your partner, traffic during your commute (or many other daily stressors) set off your gut.  Download my free infographic on the BRAIN GUT CONNECTION to learn more about what goes on between your brain, gut and gut brain.  I think it’s exciting stuff, and it will most certainly help you to think about taking care of the whole you – gut, body and mind.

 

Don’t forget to follow me on social media and sign up for my newsletter!

Follow/like/comment on FacebookInstagramTwitter and Pinterest.

Be good to yourself and your gut!

Colleen Francioli

Certified Nutritionist Consultant

Founder FODMAP Life & BonCalme