Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Our FODMAP path to healthier living

Some of you may remember me mentioning that Sion had been suffering with some digestive problems late last year. He had a whole host of blood tests and even an ultrasound to rule out any nasties, but unfortunately a definite diagnosis was never given. Last month his symptoms flared up again and after a liver function test came back as abnormal we braced ourselves for the "urgent but routine" appointment his doctor had made for him.

Thankfully he now has a diagnosis of IBS, which while uncomfortable at times, is at least a manageable condition with diet and medication as necessary. His doctor gave him a list of foods that follow the FODMAP principle of diet. As a sign of support and to keep our weekly food bill reasonable I am happily now following this principle too.

Here comes the science bit (from this website);

FODMAPs are a collection of short chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols found in foods naturally or as food additives. FODMAPs include fructose (in excess of glucose), fructans, galacto-oligosaccharides, lactose and polyols (eg. sorbitol and mannitol). A diet low in FODMAPs (“a low FODMAP diet”) is scientifically proven and is now used internationally as the most effective dietary therapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and symptoms of an irritable bowel, including excessive wind (flatus), abdominal pain, bloating and distension, nausea and changes in bowel habits (diarrhoea and/or constipation). A low FODMAP diet has also been proven with solid scientific research to reduce symptoms of fatigue, lethargy and poor concentration.

FODMAP is an acronym that stands for:
Fermentable – meaning they are broken down (fermented) by bacteria in the large bowel
Oligosaccharides – “oligo” means “few” and “saccharide” means sugar. These molecules made up of individual sugars joined together in a chain
Disaccharides – “di” means two. This is a double sugar molecule.
Monosaccharides – “mono” means single. This is a single-sugar molecule.
Polyols – these are sugar alcohols (however don’t lead to intoxication!)

You can see a list of the key foods to avoid and enjoy here

The main foods that we now avoid are onions and garlic (except for the green part of spring onions), most green vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus & cabbage, stoned fruit (plums, peaches, nectarines), wheat and lactose containing dairy products such as cream and ice cream.

There are lots of foods that Sion can eat; sweet potato and pak choi are fast becoming favourites. We are learning what textures and flavours can substitute the "bad" list and how we can continue to enjoy the meals that were firm favourites before Sion's diagnosis.

Now I have the space to cook and the light to take better pictures, over the coming weeks I will put up recipes of meals that we are able to enjoy. I am by no means an expert and would advise people to check with their GP before significantly changing their diet. However, with a few simple changes we have both noticed a change for the better over the last few weeks.


  1. I have several food intolerances and keep thinking I should look into this but loads of my favourite foods are FODMAP, was it hard to adjust?

  2. Hi Lisa, thanks for your comment. We've found it pretty easy to adjust, but we didn't eat much wheat beforehand which is one of the hardest things to cut out! The 2 biggest culprits are onions (except for the green part of spring onions) and garlic, so maybe try just cutting those out first to see if your symptoms improve. Let me know what are your favourite foods and I'll try and help with alternatives :)

  3. A very interesting post! My husband has IBS but neither of us has heard of this diet! He doesn't eat wheat any more though which has helped massively. I'll be interested to hear how it goes for you both. #MMWBH

    1. Hi Maddy, I'll do an update in a few weeks. It already seems to be helping both of us :)

  4. What an interesting post. My ex husband has UBS and from experience with him having it, it's not to pleasant, poor man. I must mention to him about removing wheat from his diet as that's something he would eat rather a lot of. Thanks for linking up to #madmidweekbloghop

    1. Hi Deborah, Yes that would be a good start - the other food that we have cut out is onions. It's made a massive difference to us both.