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Foods for IBS
Understanding FODMAPs and why you shouldn’t eat some foods.
By now you’ve likely heard that you should avoid high FODMAP (Fermentable Oligo-saccharides, Di-saccharides, Mono-saccharides and Polyols) foods if you have IBS. FODMAPs are short chain carbohydrates found in foods. People with IBS don’t absorb or digest this type of carbohydrate very well, and so the carbs ferment in the gut and cause the characteristic symptoms of IBS (i.e. bloating, diarrhea, constipation, cramping).
By eating low FODMAP foods, you will likely experience improvement in your symptoms. The low FODMAP diet is recommended for a 6-8 week period. After following this plan, you may slowly reintroduce some foods and see how you react to them. If you don’t experience more symptoms, you can continue to eat those foods. For best results, you should consult a dietician.
1. Eggs, meats and fish
Eggs, fish, turkey, chicken, lamb and shellfish are all good choices. Although beef and pork are low in FODMAPs they are high in fat and so should be consumed in moderation.
Homemade meals are the best, as many semi-prepared meats contain high fructose corn syrup and other sugars that should be avoided if you have IBS. Some meat alternatives like beans, lentils, soybeans are high FODMAP foods and should not be included in your diet.
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2. Low FODMAP Dairy
Most dairy products are high in lactase, which can aggravate the digestive symptoms. However, you can still enjoy those dairy foods that are low FODMAPs, like lactose free milk and cheese, hard cheeses such as cheddar, Colby or Swiss, mozzarella, feta and yogurt.
You can also consume milk alternatives such as almond, coconut, rice milk, as well as tempeh and tofu. Avoid high lactose dairy such as buttermilk, chocolate, creamy sauces, ice cream, milk, cottage and ricotta cheese as well as sour cream.
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3. Gluten Free Grains
Wheat is a high FODMAP food, but it is safe to eat grains with gluten free/spelt grains like corn, oats, potato, quinoa, rice or tapioca. Most grocery stores carry gluten free products like bagels, biscuits, cereals, breads, noodles, tortillas, crackers and more. Avoid foods that include wheat, barley, and rye because they contain gluten, which can irritate the digestive tract in some IBS sufferers.
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4. Certain Fruits
Fruits contain high amounts of carbohydrates, and some of those carbs are FODMAPs. There are many you can eat, though. Good choices are bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, cranberries, grapes, kiwi, lemon and lime, mandarins, orange, pineapple, rhubarb, strawberries and tangerines.
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5. Certain Vegetables
When it comes to vegetables, there are even more options. Alfalfa, bok choy, carrots, cucumbers, eggplants, kale, lettuce, pumpkin, radishes, potatoes, squash, seaweed, spinach, tomatoes, zucchini, and water chestnuts are all typically safe.
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6. Unsweetened Drinks
The best beverages are – again – the ones you make at home. You can make smoothies from fruits and vegetables that are low in FODMAPs, and limit your consumption to half a cup at a time. Water with a slice or lemon or cucumber is also a great choice and can be consumed freely. Coffee and tea should be consumed in moderation. On the other hand, most sodas and fruit juices contain high fructose corn syrup and should be completely eliminated from the diet.
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7. Spices and Herbs
Food will always taste better if you add some spices and condiments. IBS-friendly seasonings include salsa, most spices and herbs, cooking oils, maple syrup without high fructose corn syrup, mustard, mayonnaise, onion, olives, pesto, and seeds (china, flax, pumpkin, sesame). Avoid salad dressings and limit hummus, honey, molasses, and artificial sweeteners like isomalt, mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol.
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Generally speaking, you should choose more often clean, homemade foods and limit the consumption of processed foods. It is important what you eat, but how you eat as well. Avoid eating quickly, or when tired and/or stressed. Chew your food well, and enjoy your meals with family, in a calm, relaxed environment. Pay attention to your plate, and avoid eating when you watch TV or talk on the phone.
Low FODMAP diets suggest a low consumption of wheat or other gluten based grains, not a complete elimination of them. However, you could also try to eat 100% gluten free for a few weeks, and see if you notice further improvements. Some people with IBS experience significant benefits from a gluten free diet.
Besides paying attention to FODMAP content of foods, you should also keep a food journal, as you may be sensitive to other foods. Write down what you eat every day and how your symptoms respond.
Read more about finding the best foods for IBS over at NewLifeOutlook.