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Alyssa Simpson RD, CDE, CLT
Alyssa Simpson

(602) 422-9800

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

Struggling With the Low Fodmap Diet? Maybe It’s the Hidden Fodmaps

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Woman looking through a magnifying glass to find the hidden FODMAPs on her low FODMAP diet.

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Imagine a world where following the low FODMAP diet is easy…

😊 FODMAPs would be listed on labels — and not just the amount, but the specific types.

😊 Restaurants would have an icon on their menu to mark low FODMAP options.

😊 There would be a whole low FODMAP section in the grocery store.

😕 Let’s just say — we’ve got a ways to go.

In the meantime, it’s up to you to figure out where the FODMAPs hide. But I’m here to help make it easier. Let’s cover a few low FODMAP diet basics. And then show you where to look for those hidden FODMAPs that can sabotage your low FODMAP diet.

Using the Low FODMAP Diet for IBS and SIBO

When you hear the word “diet” you might think of weight loss. But the low FODMAP diet isn’t a way to lose weight or build muscle mass. It’s not even a way to “get healthy”.

The low FODMAP diet is a therapeutic approach to addressing the symptoms that come with conditions like IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth).

The low FODMAP diet centers around a family of carbohydrates that can cause digestive issues in people with underlying conditions like IBS or SIBO. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols — short-chain carbohydrates that the small intestine struggles to absorb.

If your digestive system runs like clockwork, you can likely handle eating FODMAPs without even thinking about it. But if you’ve got digestive issues, then these little carbs can ferment in your gut, feed the bad (or badly located) gut bacteria, and cause symptoms including gas, bloating, pain, diarrhea, and constipation.

The low FODMAP diet can be a total game-changer. But it’s not the end-all solution. It can make a big difference in the short-term while you and your practitioner work together to discover the underlying issues behind your symptoms. Then you add FODMAPs back into your diet and go on your merry way.

Navigating the Low FODMAP Diet

The low FODMAP diet is challenging, in part because labels and restaurants don’t help you out. FODMAPs are everywhere — both naturally occurring and added to packaged products. So you have to become a bit of a FODMAP detective to navigate this therapeutic diet.

If you scroll back through my blog over the past few weeks, you’ll find a variety of articles designed to help you utilize the low FODMAP diet with as little hassle as possible. We’ve covered:

How to eat dairy foods on the low FODMAP diet

How to eat low FODMAP at restaurants

Low FODMAP label reading

Low FODMAP desserts

Low FODMAP snacks

Cooking low FODMAP

Low FODMAP condiments

Low FODMAP fast food

If you’re already in the midst of the low FODMAP diet — or just considering it — it’s probably because you’re fed up with your digestive symptoms and are ready to do just about anything to fix them.

I get it. I work with clients every single day who feel just like you do.

My goal is to set you up for success on the low FODMAP diet. So this week, we’re going to tackle another low FODMAP diet challenge. I’m going to teach you to root out those hidden FODMAPs that hide in food so you can avoid them.

Where FODMAPs Hide

There’s no category for FODMAPs on standard food labels. And there are no grocery store shelves dedicated to the low FODMAP diet. So it’s up to you.

My first recommendation for finding hidden FODMAPs is to download a good low FODMAP diet app. You can find my favorites in the free IBS Resource Guide.

But it’s also a good idea to have some knowledge at the ready so you can eat with confidence, regardless of the situation.

Get Familiar with Low and High FODMAP Lists

There are lots of resources with low FODMAP lists. You’ll find several in my article on low FODMAP label reading. Another great resource for low and high FODMAP lists is Monash University, the creators of the low FODMAP diet. The Monash website has extensive lists of high and low FODMAP foods, along with other resources.

Know Which Types of Foods and Beverages to Look Out For

One of the tricky things about FODMAPs is that they occur naturally and are added to foods. It seems like eating something like garlic or onion should be safe because they’re “healthy”. They’re all natural right? But they’re both very high in FODMAPs.

FODMAPs are not inherently unhealthy. In fact, they’re an important part of a healthy diet and contain a variety of nutrients and fiber that can be very beneficial. If you don’t really need to eat low FODMAP, I don’t recommend it.

But if you’re struggling with IBS and/or SIBO, temporarily avoiding even natural FODMAPs can help you feel better while you and your practitioner work to address the root cause of your symptoms. If you’re looking for a practitioner who can help with this, you can book a consultation call with me.

Beverages Where FODMAPs Hide

FODMAPs are often used as sweeteners. You’ll want to check the labels on:

Vitamin water — often sweetened with fructose

Kefir — a probiotic-rich dairy beverage often high in lactose with added high FODMAP prebiotic ingredients like inulin, or chicory root..

Alternative milks — Soy milk made from whole soybeans can be problematic. Soy protein is better. In any plant-based milk, watch out for fructose, inulin, and chickpeas.

Cow’s milk — Regular cow’s milk is high in lactose. But many stores offer lactose-free options.

Sodas — Regular sodas are usually sweetened with HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), which is high FODMAP. Diet sodas are likely a better bet, but you’ll still want to check the label to see which sweeteners are used. Watch out for polyols (mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, maltitol, and isomalt).

Seasoned Nuts and Bars Can Be High in FODMAPs

Here’s another example of foods that are generally considered healthy, but can be problematic on the low FODMAP diet. There are varieties of nuts that are safe. But be careful with mixed nuts, which might include some high FODMAP varieties. And if your nuts are flavored, don’t forget to check the seasonings. Some roasted and seasoned nuts may contain high FODMAP ingredients like garlic or onion.

Nutrition or granola bars may contain high FODMAP ingredients like inulin, chicory root, honey, agave syrup. Also watch out for high FODMAP dried fruits like apple, apricot, dates, mango, pear, pineapple, or raisins.

Gluten Free Products Aren’t Always low FODMAP

Gluten free does not equal low FODMAP. Yes, by eliminating wheat, you are cutting out a high FODMAP ingredient. But that doesn’t mean that additional high FODMAP ingredients haven’t been added in. Look out for things like pear or apple juice concentrate, honey, soy flour, or bean flours.

Gravies, Sauces, and Dressings Often Hide FODMAPs

These items are a FODMAP minefield. I recommend you use your low FODMAP app here. It’s the easiest way to sort through the options. Or you can find low FODMAP products made by a reputable company like Fody Foods.

If you’re eating in a restaurant, keep in mind that many sauces and gravies will have high FODMAP seasonings like onion and garlic, along with high FODMAP thickeners like wheat flour, and high FODMAP sweeteners. Also look out for “spices” or “dehydrated vegetables” as these likely contain garlic and/or onion.

Gum, Mints, and Candy Can Contain High FODMAP Sweeteners

I know. It feels like you’re not actually eating anything. But these products can be high in FODMAPs. They’re often sweetened with polyols (mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, maltitol, and isomalt).

As you get further into the low FODMAP diet and start adding FODMAPs back in, the small amounts of these ingredients may not bother you. But it’s best to avoid these products during the elimination phase. If you’re not sure how to navigate the phases of the low FODMAP diet, check out my IBS Relief Blueprint course.

Supplements Can Contain FODMAPs Too

Supplements are a sneaky source of FODMAPs that many people overlook. Watch out for FODMAPs in supplement blends, vitamins, and even probiotics and digestive aids. The biggest culprits are supplements you actually taste — like chewables, gummies, and liquids. These are often flavored with polyols.

And when you’re searching for the right probiotic, watch out for added prebiotics — substances added to help feed the beneficial bacteria. Often these prebiotics are high FODMAP like inulin, chicory root, and fructooligosaccharides.

Get Some Help Figuring Out the Low FODMAP Diet

I’ve helped over 1000 people improve their IBS symptoms. And the low FODMAP diet is often a part of that equation. After tons of research, study, and experience with my clients, I’ve got the low FODMAP diet down to a science. Yes, it can be really complex and confusing. But it doesn’t have to be.

That’s why I created the IBS Relief Blueprint course. I took all my best info and resources and combined them into an easy-to-digest (pun intended) format of short videos, resources, cheat sheets, food lists, and more.

Don’t make the low FODMAP diet any harder than it has to be.

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