If you’re on the low FODMAP diet, you’ve probably had moments (especially in the beginning) where you just wanted someone to tell you what to eat and what to avoid. The low FODMAP diet is nuanced — to say the least. There’s a lot more to it than just eliminating a food or two in order to address your IBS symptoms.
If you discover you’re sensitive to gluten, you choose gluten-free products. If you discover that dairy doesn’t do you any favors, you give up dairy products. But the low FODMAP diet is different. FODMAPs are all over the place, and they hide where you wouldn’t expect to find them.
FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides, and polyols. These are a group of fermentable carbohydrates that can cause digestive symptoms in people who are sensitive to them.
FODMAPs increase the amount of water in the small intestine, increase production of gas when they ferment, and can lead to increased production of short-chain fatty acids. This can all add up to unpleasant digestive symptoms like pain, gas, bloating, and disrupted bowel habits.
Many people with IBS find that a low FODMAP diet can go a long way toward helping them feel better and figuring out which foods tend to cause problems.
But FODMAPs aren’t an all or nothing thing. A food is classified as high or low FODMAP depending on the amount of FODMAPs it contains. When you’re on the low FODMAP diet, you don’t completely eliminate all FODMAP foods. In fact the amount and types of FODMAPs you eat changes over time because the low FODMAP diet happens in phases.
And the phase you’re in helps determine which FODMAPs you can eat, and how much.
What you eat on the low FODMAP diet depends on which phase you’re in. The Low FODMAP diet is a 3-stage elimination diet. During the low FODMAP diet, you cycle through these stages over a period of a few weeks: restriction, reintroduction, and personalization.
Eliminate all high FODMAP foods.
Reintroduce high FODMAP foods systematically to determine your tolerance level to each one.
Take the data you gathered in the reintroduction phase and use it to develop a long-term eating plan. This plan will include the FODMAP foods that you tolerate and avoid the ones that cause symptoms. It’s called “personalization” because the final eating plan will vary from person to person.
That being said, there are certain high FODMAP foods that are best left alone unless your practitioner has told you to add them back in. And there are certain low (or no) FODMAP foods that are safe to eat at any point on the diet.
No matter which phase of the low FODMAP diet you’re in, it’s a good idea to have some staple foods that you know you can have. These are foods that are either very low FODMAP, or have no FODMAPs at all.
These can be your go-tos when you’re eating away from home and just aren’t sure what you can have.
✅ Proteins foods — chicken, turkey, beef, lobster, salmon, tuna, shrimp, and eggs.
✅ Low FODMAP dairy products including, sour cream, cream, brie, feta, and hard cheeses like cheddar, swiss, and parmesan. Some dairy is high in lactose, but there are exceptions. As long as you’re aware of which products are low in FODMAPs, you can safely have some dairy when you eat out.
✅ Non-dairy milks — almond milk and coconut milk.
✅ Gluten-free grains — rice, quinoa, popcorn, and oats.
✅ Low FODMAP vegetables — lettuces, cabbage, kale, carrots, eggplant, green beans, green bell peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, and cucumbers.
✅ Certain fruits like strawberries, pineapple, grapes, oranges, papaya, blueberries, and kiwi. Be careful with fruit though. Because fructose (fruit sugar) is a FODMAP, there are many fruits you’ll want to avoid. While all fruits have some fructose, if the levels are low enough a fruit may still be considered low FODMAP.
✅ Butter, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, walnuts, and macadamias.
✅ Foods sweetened with table sugar or maple syrup.
✅ Beverages — including many teas (black, green, white, peppermint, and rooibos), coffee, beer, red wine, white wine, gin, and vodka.
You don’t have to give up all FODMAP-containing foods even during the elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet. But if you’re eating away from home and want to play it safe, you’ll want to avoid these red alert high FODMAP foods:
❌ High lactose dairy foods — cow’s milk, yogurt, pudding, and ice cream.
❌ Products that contain wheat, rye, or barley — bread, pasta, crackers, breakfast cereal, etc.
❌ Legumes and pulses. Beans, beans make good soup… Beans are infamous for their gas-producing quality. So they’re a no-go on the low FODMAP diet. You’ll want to avoid foods like beans, lentils, split peas, chickpeas, soybeans, almonds, cashews, and pistachios.
❌ Certain vegetables like onions, garlic, asparagus, mushrooms, red peppers, beets, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, cauliflower, leeks, and scallions. Vegetables vary widely when it comes to FODMAPs. And some veggies contain more than one kind of FODMAP.
❌ Many fruits (darn you fructose!) such as apples, apricots, berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries), cherries, grapes, mangoes, watermelon, pears, peaches, nectarines, and avocados.
❌ Certain sweeteners like honey, agave nectar, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, and polyols like sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, or isomalt.
❌ Beverages — including chai tea, chamomile tea, apple juice, orange juice, kombucha, coconut water, dessert wine, and rum.
The food lists above can help you in a pinch. If you’re dining out and not sure what’s safe and what’s not, sticking to a simple food list can really help.
But the low FODMAP diet lasts for several weeks. And you don’t want to spend all that time guessing. Yes, you’ll figure it out as you go. But what if I told you there’s an easier way? A shortcut that can take the guesswork out of your low FODMAP diet and turn you into a pro.
I’ve worked with literally hundreds of people who suffer with IBS and other digestive symptoms. And over the years, I’ve figured out the easiest way to learn and follow the low FODMAP diet. And I’ve broken it all down for you in the IBS Relief Blueprint course.
My goal is to help you feel better. But not only that — I want you to be able to address your digestive symptoms and still live your life. That’s why I’ve provided resources, food lists, specific reintroduction plans, symptom check-ins, and more. The IBS Relief Blueprint can help you navigate this complex diet as easily as possible.