At 5 Sparrows, we're all about eating healthier to feel better. We all know that what we put into our bodies directly affects how we feel. And for some people, including those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) – an estimated 10%-15% of the US population – even routine foods and drinks can irritate the condition. The result may be painful and there may be distressing symptoms, like bloating, abdominal pain, discomfort, diarrhea, and/or constipation.
While changing how you eat won’t cure IBS, there is an evidence-based way of eating, called the low FODMAP diet that can help alleviate IBS symptoms. According to a growing body of research, the low FODMAP diet can reduce symptoms for people with IBS, and help daily life be just a bit more comfortable.
Fortunately, 5 Sparrows sugar-free products are certified FODMAP-friendly. In this post, we’ll discuss the ins and outs of the low FODMAP diet and how to decide if it’s right for you.
Let’s dive in.
What is the Low FODMAP Diet?
FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols.
When people use the term “low FODMAP diet,” they’re actually referring to a diet low in FODMAPs, a selection of sugars that can cause intestinal distress.
Here’s how Harvard Health defines it,
“The low-FODMAP diet addresses four types of fermentable carbohydrates: oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (collectively referred to as FODMAPs). While the names sound somewhat abstract, the foods found within these groups are often too familiar to those with digestive woes.”
The low FODMAP diet is very restrictive and meant to be temporary. Still, it can help people with IBS, IBS-type symptoms and/or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) identify problematic foods, and isolate foods that reduce symptoms.
The Multiphase Approach to FODMAP
People on the low FODMAP diet don’t dive into it all at once. Instead, the diet is divided into three phases, which should be supported by a FODMAP-trained Dietitian. In the first phase, high FODMAP foods are swapped for low FODMAP foods for 4-6 weeks, aiming to reduce symptoms.
In the second phase, FODMAPs are reintroduced through a series of challenges, making note of how well the body tolerates the reintroduction of said foods. The third phase is the personalization phase, during which followers create a diet that eliminates the foods that cause symptoms and build meals around foods that do not.
This multiphase approach is exactly what makes FODMAP so complex. Since the diet is so restrictive, it requires substantial knowledge of food. For example, most soymilk products you can purchase at the store are considered high-FODMAP foods. Extra-firm tofu, however, which is also made from soybeans, is considered low-FODMAP.
To complete the low FODMAP diet successfully, it’s critical to have the guidance of a FODMAP-trained Dietitian.
Who Should Try the Low FODMAP Diet?
According to Johns Hopkins, the low FODMAP diet can reduce the symptoms of IBS for up to 86% of people with the condition. While it can be effective, though, the diet is challenging during the first phase, which tends to be the most restrictive. If you’re interested in the FODMAP diet and believe you may be a candidate, talk to your doctor and FODMAP-trained Dietitian.
It’s critical to work closely with a professional as you begin this diet, since they’ll be able to ensure you’re following the diet and maintaining proper nutrition.
If you’re already underweight, you should not attempt the low FODMAP diet alone. The low FODMAP diet is not meant for weight loss. Reach out to a FODMAP-trained Dietitian to help you meet all your nutritional requirements.
What Foods Should I Limit on the Low FODMAP Diet?
The low FODMAP diet relies on swapping high-FODMAP foods, which can aggravate the gut, for low FODMAP foods. High FODMAP foods include the following:
- Dairy-based ice cream, milk, and yogurt
- Wheat-based products like crackers, bread, and cereal
- Lentils and beans
- Certain vegetables, including garlic, onions, asparagus, and artichokes
- Some fruits, including peaches, pears, cherries, and apples
LOW FODMAP Foods
While people on the low FODMAP diet should limit the above foods, they can plan meals around the following food groups:
- Eggs and meat
- Almond milk
- Grains including oats, quinoa, and rice
- Vegetables like zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant
- Fruits like pineapple, blueberries, strawberries, and oranges
- Cheeses like feta, cheddar, brie, and Camembert
What About Sugar?
Given how harmful sugar can be to your health, cutting out sugar is not a bad thing. You’ve got to be mindful of how you go about cutting out sugar, though. While they pose as health foods, most of the sugar-free products on the shelves are considered high FODMAP foods.
Stevia, on the other hand, is a low FODMAP natural sweetener. That means that even people in the initial phase of the low FODMAP diet can enjoy stevia-sweetened products like the coffee creamers we sell at 5 Sparrows.
When made with low FODMAP milk products like almond milk, a 5 Sparrows drink mix can be a healthful and approved food for FODMAP followers.
If you crave a sweet treat, you can also sweeten your favorite treats with straight stevia, which is several hundred times sweeter than sugar.
Decrease Your IBS Symptoms and Meet Your Health Goals With the Low FODMAP Diet
Intestinal conditions like IBS can be difficult to treat, and even harder to live with. And while each case is different, the low FODMAP diet has proven very successful for those who have IBS. If you’re considering starting the low FODMAP diet, you may be feeling intimidated and nervous.
And that’s pretty normal. The diet is restrictive and it requires the help of a FODMAP-trained Dietician to master. Fortunately, you don’t have to give up all your favorite foods, and you can still enjoy a sweet drink or afternoon pick-me-up with 5 Sparrows.
No matter what, our team is here to help you meet your health goals and feel better than ever before. To learn more about our sugar-free coffee creamers and other products, shop our selection today or contact us to learn more about our lineup.