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Alyssa Simpson RD, CDE, CLT
Alyssa Simpson

RDN, CGN, CLT
(602) 422-9800

Sibo Doctor Approved
certified gastrointestinal nutritionist
Sibo Doctor Approved
certified gastrointestinal nutritionist

Low FODMAP Diet Label Reading 101 — My 3 Best Tips

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Woman reading a food label with a question mark bubble above her head, not sure if the product in the box is low FODMAP.

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Navigating the low FODMAP diet can sometimes feel like deciphering the Rosetta Stone, especially when FODMAPs aren’t clearly spelled out on food labels. Sticking to the low FODMAP diet would be so much easier if those pesky carbohydrates were as easy to spot as “sugar” or “protein”.

But you can learn to use labels to your low FODMAP advantage. No, FODMAPs aren’t specifically listed. But with a little knowledge and practice, you can become a pro at identifying FODMAPs in the ingredients list — and even estimating the amount of FODMAPs per serving. So let’s dive in and smooth out your low FODMAP journey.

Low FODMAP Diet Label Reading Tip #1: Ingredient Order Matters

Ingredients are listed in order from the most used, to the least. So if you’re looking at a label and see a high FODMAP food listed in the first few ingredients, then you can bet there is a significant quantity of that FODMAP. And that food is probably best avoided.

But if you’ve spent any time on the low FODMAP diet, you know it isn’t an all or nothing proposition. Portions matter. Sometimes having a tiny bit of a higher FODMAP food won’t cause problems. So if you find a higher FODMAP ingredient at the end of the ingredient list, it’s possible that you could eat that product without experiencing symptoms. If you’re in the elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet though, check with your practitioner before you eat even small amounts of a high FODMAP food.

You may notice that some labels will say “less than 2% of” and then list some ingredients. Generally, if a high FODMAP ingredient is listed here, it probably won’t cause problems because there’s a very small portion. But watch out for garlic, garlic powder, onion, onion powder, chicory root, and inulin. Even in tiny amounts, these FODMAPs can cause issues.

You also may not need to worry too much about high FODMAP foods used as coloring (like beet juice). There’s such a small amount present that it’s unlikely to cause you problems. And the majority of preservatives are low FODMAP as well.

But it’s always a good idea to have a conversation with your practitioner and pay attention to your symptoms to make sure that a food works for you.

Low FODMAP Diet Label Reading Tip #2: Get Familiar with High FODMAP Food Lists

Since FODMAPs aren’t specifically marked on labels, you have to get your information from reading the list of ingredients. So it’s up to you to make sure you’re aware of which foods are high FODMAP.

I’ll list some of the most common high FODMAP ingredients below. But, your best bet (especially in the beginning of the low FODMAP diet) is to find a good low FODMAP app. I suggest my favorites in my free IBS Resource Guide.

Here’s a fairly comprehensive (though not exhaustive) list of common high FODMAP ingredients to look out for:

Sweeteners

Found in soda, sports drinks, baked goods, snack bars, cereal, bread, gum, etc.

Fructose

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)

Honey

Sugar alcohols (usually end in -ol) including sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, erythritol, and isomalt

Fruit juices including pear, apple, peach, and cherry

Fruit pieces (like in cereal or yogurt)

Agave

Isomalt

Molasses

Fruit juice concentrate

Fibers

Found in high-fiber foods, yogurt, protein powder, bars

Fructan

Inulin

Chicory

Flavor Enhancers

Found in savory foods like sauces, broth, chips, dips, etc.

Garlic

Garlic powder, salt, granulated garlic, etc.

Onion

Onion powder, onion salt, etc.

Leeks

Shallots

Celery

Mushrooms

High FODMAP Flours

Found in breads, baked goods, cereal, sauces, etc.

Wheat

Rye

Amaranth flour

Barley flour

Rye flour

Soy flour

Coconut flour

Sourdough breads made with wheat or spelt may be safe for the low FODMAP diet

Fruit

Found in yogurt, cereal, snack bars, etc.

Dried fruits, including apple, dates, fig, mango, pear, pineapple

Mango

Pear

Cherries

Nectarines

Peaches

Plums

Watermelon

Fruit juice concentrate

Dairy Products High in Lactose

Found in cheese, yogurt, ice cream, etc.

Lactose

Milk

Milk solids

Milk protein concentrates

Dry milk powder

Buttermilk

Whey

Whey protein concentrate

If the carbohydrates and sugars are <1 gram, a product with the above ingredients can be considered low FODMAP (provided there aren’t any other high FODMAP ingredients listed).

Low FODMAP Diet Label Reading Tip #3: Understand What “Spices” and “Natural Flavors” Mean

In the US, not everything has to be specifically listed on a label. Sometimes you’ll see “spices” on the ingredient list. The good news is that companies are not allowed to include garlic or onion as unlisted spices. So typically, if you see “spices” on the label, the product is safe for the low FODMAP diet as long as it doesn’t contain other high FODMAP ingredients.

But be careful! If the product lists “natural flavors” in the ingredients, then it may contain garlic or onion. And they’re not required to list them specifically. You probably don’t need to worry about seeing “natural flavors” on sweet products though because they’re not likely to contain garlic or onion.

If there’s a product you really want that has “spices” or “natural flavor” on the label and you’re just not sure if it’s okay, I recommend you reach out to the company and ask.

Become a Low FODMAP Diet Pro

Tackling the low FODMAP diet on your own isn’t a great plan. It’s easy to mess it up — especially during the reintroduction phase. And I’d hate for you to do all that work without figuring out which FODMAPs you actually can eat comfortably.

And the low FODMAP diet can be frustrating — especially in the beginning. Yes, you’ll figure it out as you go. But if you’d like to skip the hard part of figuring everything out and go straight to low FODMAP pro, I’ve got just the thing.

I’ve mapped out the low FODMAP diet step-by-step in the IBS Relief Blueprint course. You get access to resources, food lists, specific reintroduction plans, symptom check-ins, and more. I created this course to help you navigate this complex diet as easily as possible.

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