5 Myths about the Low FODMAP Diet…Debunked!

Published on: 04/18/2023

5 Myths about the Low FODMAP Diet…Debunked!

There are several myths about the low FODMAP diet and they need to be debunked.

The Low FODMAP Diet was developed by researchers at Monash University in Australia after they identified which foods are most likely to trigger IBS symptoms. To date, it is the most evidenced-based dietary approach for managing bloating, gas, abdominal pain, and changes in bowel movements in people with IBS.

There is a lot of information online and on social media.

Unfortunately, there are also a lot of myths and misconceptions about the Low FODMAP diet. These could lead you to over-restricting your diet. It’s time we debunk them!

1.     It’s a life-long diet

This is perhaps the most common misconception. The idea that you should follow a low FODMAP diet for the rest of your life. In fact, this is just a temporary, learning diet and the “low FODMAP” part refers to the first phase of the diet when you eliminate all high FODMAP foods.

As soon as you feel better, you need to reintroduce those foods gradually and systematically to find out your personal triggers. After that, you can craft your personalized FODMAP diet.

Even then, you are not done. As symptoms wax and wane, Monash University recommends you re-challenge more foods every 3-6 months.

2.     It’s the same for everyone

I often hear people tell me their doctor gave them a handout and told them to follow the low FODMAP diet. Period. It’s not that simple!

This is not just a list of foods to avoid and foods to eat. Undoubtedly, there are foods with negligible or no FODMAPs you will include liberally. And high-FODMAP foods that you will limit or exclude temporarily.

However, so many foods are either low or high depending on their portion size. To complicate matters, there is the question of the FODMAP load in a single meal or snack.

Most importantly, every person reacts to different foods and they will end up eating a modified FODMAP diet that is unique for them. This stresses the importance of securing the help of a registered dietitian who is knowledgeable in this topic to help navigate all its complexities.

3.     It’s a gluten-free diet

This is arguably the most common of the low FODMAP diet myths to be debunked. Gluten is not a FODMAP. FODMAPs are carbohydrates and gluten is a protein. However, gluten and fructans (a certain class of FODMAPs) coexist in wheat, barley, and rye.

This is where the confusion comes in. Certainly, you will need to exclude most wheat, barley, rye, and products made with these grains during the elimination phase, in order to eliminate fructans. But you can include some low-FODMAP foods that contain gluten, such as soy sauce.

On the other hand, not all gluten-free products are low in FODMAP. Many types of gluten-free bread and other baked products often contain high-FODMAP ingredients. Some examples are honey, agave, pear or apple juice, or inulin/chicory. Products that contain these ingredients are not suited for a low FODMAP diet.

The Low FODMAP Diet is Not a Gluten-Free Diet
4.     It’s a dairy-free diet

Perhaps the other most common of the low FODMAP diet myths that need to be debunked! The low FODMAP Diet is a low-lactose diet, not a dairy-free diet. Unless you have a dairy allergy, you don’t need to avoid dairy altogether.

You can include lactose-free dairy products (milk, yogurt, cream cheese, and ice cream). In addition, you can have dairy products that naturally have minimal or no lactose. For example, hard cheeses like parmesan or cheddar, butter, and small amounts of cream and half-and-half.

5.     It’s a low-fiber diet

Finally, some people think they need to avoid all high-fiber foods. This is not true and can be counterproductive for those suffering from constipation.

Depending on which kind of motility issue you may have and your symptoms, you will need to individualize the type and amount of fiber in your diet.

There are many low FODMAP sources of fiber you can and should include. For example, canned chickpeas and lentils, low-FODMAP vegetables and fruits, low-FODMAP whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, millet, oats, etc.), and nuts and seeds.

With the help of an expert dietitian (like me), you can find the right amount and type of fiber for you and enjoy all its benefits.

Need help with starting a low FODMAP diet?

Let’s work together

Book a free IBS Clarity Call today!

Published November 12, 2018. Updated, April 18, 2023.

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I’m a registered dietitian with a passion for helping women with IBS find their way back to eating without fear of painful gut symptoms and without unnecessary diet restrictions.

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