If you’re experiencing unexplained bloating, especially after certain meals, in this day and age, the diagnosis is likely one of two things: a sensitivity to high-FODMAP foods or SIBO, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. I look forward to addressing my solution to SIBO in an upcoming post soon. However, for those needing to overcome a FODMAP sensitivity what follows is a list of foods to avoid and also a list of foods to embrace.
This short term dietary protocol can help your body to heal. Read more about combining a low-FODMAP diet with the GAPS Diet for total gut healing.
Here is a definition of FODMAP:
FODMAPs is an acronym (abbreviation) referring to Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. These are complex names for a collection of molecules found in food, that can be poorly absorbed by some people. When the molecules are poorly absorbed in the small intestine of the digestive tract, these molecules then continue along their journey along the digestive tract, arriving at the large intestine, where they act as a food source to the bacteria that live there normally. The bacteria then digest/ferment these FODMAPs and can cause symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome include abdominal bloating and distension, excess wind (flatulence), abdominal pain, nausea, changes in bowel habits (diarrhoea, constipation, or a combination of both), and other gastro-intestinal symptoms. (source)
While there are other FODMAP lists available, many of them apply to those eating diets of processed foods, not whole foods, healing foods, or sustainably-sourced foods. The lists also vary some site to site. So for my clients with high-FODMAP sensitivities, for those needing not just a NO list but also a (Paleo-friendly) YES list, and for those looking for more complete lists, these will hopefully be helpful.
I’ve put the YES list first– all you can eat while you heal, a bit of encouragement before reading about potential limitation. My YES list is also gluten and grain-free, as all grains will likely impede any intense gut healing.
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The nature of FODMAP sensitivities is that you may not react to all high-FODMAP foods. However, by eliminating them all and than patiently reintroducing them one by one, after 2-6 weeks without, you’ll begin to rebuild your diet.
On a personal note I used to be sensitive to all high-FODMAPs. Now I am sensitive only to the Polyols like xylitol, which many healthy people are. My abstinence from the below list lasted much longer than 6 weeks. I spent perhaps a year on the low-FODMAPs. But, it worked. While I once avoided favorites like onion, avocado and winter squash, fearing I’d never be able to eat the foods again without bloating, I can now eat them all without reservation.
I recommend focusing on healing your gut, while being on the restricted diet. As long as you’re restricted, it’s a good time to get well.
YES Foods (foods to enjoy)
- Organic or grass-fed meat: beef, buffalo, chicken, canned albacore tuna, canned salmon, eggs (organic, grass-fed, or soy and corn-free), fresh fish, lamb, pork, shellfish, turkey, Applegate farm cured meat (nitrate-free, humanely raised), Applegate farm grass-fed hot dogs
- Lactose-free dairy (okay for some): fully cultured (for 24 hours) yogurt, real sour cream (like Nancy’s brand), hard cheeses: aged cheddar, parmesan, and Swiss, cultured cheeses: brie, Camembert, and blue cheese
- Soaked and sprouted nuts and seeds, in moderation, and their milks, homemade (but no pistachios or cashews, which are high-FODMAP foods)
- Certain fruits: bananas, berries (except blackberries), cantaloupe, coconut (in small amounts), grapefruit, honeydew, kiwi, lemon, lime, mandarin, orange, tangerine, but all fruit in moderation
- These vegetables: alfalfa, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, bell peppers, bok choy, chives, cucumbers, carrots, eggplant, endive, lettuce, leafy greens, parsley, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkin, rhubarb, all winter squash (for some), spinach, sweet potatoes, taro, tomatoes, turnips, yams, zucchini, the green part of green onions, small amounts of garlic, most fresh herbs, ginger
- Miscellaneous: arrowroot, weak coffee, tea (for some), most spices and dried herbs, as long as they are pure (no other ingredients), homemade broth, grass-fed butter or ghee, natural olives only (no ferrous gluconate, no vinegar, just olives, salt and olive oil, and citric acid okay), homemade aioli made with olive oil, onion powder (small amounts of dried onion may be okay for some), extra-virgin olive oil, black or white pepper, sea salt (must be “sea salt”), NuNaturals brand dextrose-free stevia, mustard powder, apple cider vinegar (for some)
NO Foods (foods to avoid)
- Cheeses that aren’t aged and also the following dairy: buttermilk, milk chocolate, cottage cheese, ice cream, creamy/cheesy sauces, milk (from cow, sheep or goat), sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, soft cheeses (cream cheese, ricotta), sour cream (most commercially made preparations), whipped cream, yogurt (most commercially made varieties)
- Many veggies: artichokes, asparagus, beets, leeks, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cassava, cauliflower, celery, cho cho, choko, fennel, garlic, green beans, mushrooms, okra, onions, radicchio lettuce, shallots, snow and snap peas, taro, winter squash, especially butternut (for some), the white part of green onions, yellow summer squash
- Many fruits: avocado, apples, applesauce, apricots, blackberries, canned fruit, cherimoya (custard apple), cherries, dates, dried fruits, figs, guava, lychee, longon, mango, nashi fruit, nectarines, paw-paw, pears, papaya, peaches, persimmon, plums, pomegranate, prunes, raisins, rambutan, sultanos, tamarillo, watermelon
- Legumes; Nuts and Seeds: black beans, black eyed peas, cashews, chickpeas, hummus, kidney beans, lentils, peanuts, pistachios, soy products; processed almond meal, sesame seeds (for some), tahini
- All grains: corn, high fructose corn syrup, wheat variations: einkorn, emmer, kamut, spelt, wheat flours: bromated, durum, enriched, farina, graham, semolina, white flours, barley, rye
- Miscellaneous: black tea, chamomile and other herbal teas (for some), chai, chicory root, dandelion, carob, inulin, agave, chutneys, honey, jams, jellies, molasses, pickles, relish, pre-made sauces or salad dressings, artificial sweeteners: maltitol, mannitol, isomalt, sorbitol, xylitol (including cough drops, gums, mints sweetened with these), all juices, wine, beer. It is best to avoid almost all prepackaged foods.
If you don’t see a favorite food listed above on either list that’s probably because experts still disagree as to whether that food will cause fermentation in sensitive individuals. Foods like pineapple are best to avoid initially and may be “challenged”/reintroduced when you suspect your gut health has improved.