Why is your Low FODMaP food list different than one I saw posted online?

Recently, one of our subscribers asked this question.  It is a very good question because when you are first learn about IBS and getting started with the Low FODMaP approach to eating for IBS, you want to be careful not to eat the wrong foods.  However, the internet is full wrong information.   Several websites provide information about IBS and lists foods that they feel are “Friendly” or “Unfriendly”.  But many of these lists are inconsistent with each other.  So it begs the question– Why is our Low FODMaP Food List different than one you might have seen on another website?

There are two main reasons for this.

1) The other lists are simply not correct.

Since the Low FODMaP approach to improving IBS has become more common, many people who have suffered from IBS have started their own blogs and webpages without the expert advice of a professional.  Many of them have just reiterated what is published on other websites.  Some of this information is accurate whereas some if it is not. And some authors have concocted their own list from a variety of sources that simply are not accurate.   So, it is important that you only rely on sources you trust.

2)  The serving size has been reduced to make it FODMaP FriendlyFODMaP Chart 1

Almost all foods that contain carbohydrates contain FODMaP’s.  Some in large enough quantities where any serving size is too much and those foods belong on the “FODMaP Unfriendly” list.  Other foods, contain a moderate amount of FODMaP’s and these foods were originally placed on the “FODMaP Unfriendly” list but have been moved to the “FODMaP Friendly” side of the chart at a reduced serving size.  So in theory, at a reduced serving size, that particular food does not have enough FODMaP’s in it to cause symptoms so long as you do not eat a larger portion size or eat other foods that contain FODMaP’s at the same setting.

Unfortunately, I think this is a big disservice to those that are trying to be strict in following the Low FODMaP IBS Diet because those foods still have a moderate amount of FODMaP’s in them and could trigger symptoms by themselves.  Unfortunately, many people thought that the list of foods on the FODMaP Friendly list was “too limiting”.  So to accommodate this, some researhers have tried to move some foods from the “Do NOT Eat” list to the “OK to Eat List”.

However, FODMaP’s are cumulative.  If you eat too many at one setting, you will get IBS symptoms.  So, if you eat two different foods that have moderate amounts of FODMaP’s at one setting then added together, there are simply too many FODMaP’s and you are likely to have a flare-up of your IBS.  And, at the same time, you will be confused because you– FOLLOWED THE RULES!

So, my suggestion is to keep it simple.

Stick with healthy proteins and fats in moderation and add carbohydrates to your diet as tolerated but simply stick to the ones that you know are safe for you.

As I have said many times before, if there is any concern about a single food item, then test it for yourself to determine your own individual tolerance.  Then and only then will you know if it is FODMaP Friendly for you!

Dr. D

About W. Travis Dierenfeldt, MD

Dr. Dierenfeldt is a board certified gastroenterologist who has a special interest in IBS. He has written "Low FODMaP IBS Diet: 10 Rules for Living with IBS" and "Low FODMaP IBS Diet: 6Weeks to a Calmer Stomach". He created an online educational program "6 Weeks to a Calmer Stomach" to assist those with IBS in improving their symptoms!
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