As the name would suggest, a low-FODMAP diet aims to reduce the portion of FODMAPs you consume. This helps relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or small intestinal bacteria overgrowth (SIBO). Meanwhile, it shows you the benefits of eating foods that your body can properly digest.
The first steps for starting a low-FODMAP diet remove any high-FODMAP foods from your diet and substitute those with low- or no-FODMAP alternates. Naturally, this raises a common set of questions:
- What foods are low FODMAP?
- What are the high-FODMAP foods I should avoid?
- Are all high-FODMAP foods bad for me?
Borrowing from my own low-FODMAP diet experience and the resources that have helped me through my journey, this guide discusses the foods you can and cannot eat while practicing a low-FODMAP diet. I’ll also share other considerations for how to stay on a low-FODMAP diet successfully.
Portions and a FODMAP-Friendly Diet
Before getting specific about which foods are naturally high or low in FODMAPs, it’s essential to understand that the effects of FODMAPs are cumulative.
It can take your body anywhere between 12 and 48 hours to fully digest and process your food, so you can react to eating too much of a FODMAP within that period.
This means you could be eating low-FODMAP foods and portions but still have a reaction if you are eating a triggering FODMAP too frequently. Journaling the food you eat is important (particularly in the earlier months of the diet) so that you can revisit your list to see what individual food or combination of foods could be causing your symptoms.
Monash University discusses serving size and FODMAPs more in this post, and I strongly recommend you download their app to understand the FODMAP-friendly portions for different foods.
High-FODMAP Foods to Avoid
When following a low-FODMAP diet, there are some common high-FODMAP foods that you should avoid, or at least heavily limit in your diet.
Building on the concept of portions in a low-FODMAP diet, some people can consume high-FODMAP foods in small amounts, and only if the triggering FODMAPs are not additionally consumed through other foods within an (approximate) 48 hour period. During the elimination phase, though, these high-FODMAP foods should be removed entirely from your diet.
Exact reactions and tolerances will vary from person to person, but the naturally high-FODMAP foods to avoid include:
- Wheat-containing products
- Garlic, including garlic salt and garlic powder
- Onions, including onion powder and pickled onions
- Fruits including apples, apricots, cherries, figs, mangoes, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, and watermelon
- Vegetables including asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, leeks, mushrooms, and snow peas
- Legumes including beans (baked, broad, butter, kidney, soy), chickpeas, lentils, and split peas
- Sweeteners including agave nectar, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, and added polyols like sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, or isomalt
- Dairy including cottage cheese, cream cheese, milk, and yogurt
- Beverages including Chai and chamomile teas, coconut water, dessert wines, and rum
For a more detailed look at which FODMAPs are present in each of these foods, check out this sheet.
Low-FODMAP and FODMAP-Free Foods
Looking at the above list of high-FODMAP foods may cause an initial sense of despair, knowing that each of these must be eliminated to restore your gastrointestinal health. Don’t worry, though; there are plenty of delicious low- and no-FODMAP foods you can enjoy.
Again, the key is to understand which FODMAPs are present in each of these foods, and you must follow the recommended portion sizes to keep the FODMAP levels low.
Here are just a few of the low-FODMAP and FODMAP-free foods you can enjoy, barring any food allergies:
- Vegetables and legumes, including black beans, broccoli, carrots, celery, cucumber, green beans, ginger, kale, lettuce (butter, iceberg, radicchio, red coral, romaine, rocket/arugula), olives, potato, pumpkin, squash, spaghetti squash, tomato, and zucchini
- Fruits, including unripe bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, grapes, lemon, lime, orange, pineapple, raspberry, rhubarb, strawberry, and tamarind
- Meats and poultry, including plain beef, chicken, lamb, pork, turkey, and cold cuts/deli meats
- Fresh fish and seafood, as long as nothing else is added
- Bread, if it is wheat-free, gluten-free, corn, rice, potato flour, or sourdough
- Rice, including white, brown, basmati
- Rice-based foods, including rice bran, cakes, crackers, flakes, and flour
- Seeds, including chia, Egusi, hemp, poppy, pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower
- Alcohol with limited intake, including beer, clear spirits, whiskey, and wine
- Select soft drinks and sodas
- Coffee and tea, including black, chai, fruit, herbal, green, and peppermint (with some strength restrictions)
- Dairy, including butter, eggs, milk (almond, hemp, macadamia, oat, rice), and select yogurts
- Cheese, including brie, camembert, cheddar, cottage, feta, goat, mozzarella, and parmesan
For a more complete list of low-FODMAP foods, IBS Diets has a printer-friendly chart that exhaustively covers which foods are high and low in FODMAPS.
Swapping High-FODMAP Ingredients for Low-FODMAP Alternates
Although a low-FODMAP diet can feel very limiting at first, there are plenty of substitutions for high-FODMAP foods that are just as tasty and much better for your digestive health:
|Instead of this high-FODMAP food…||Use this low-FODMAP substitute instead!|
|Apple||Unripe banana, blueberries, limes, oranges, or strawberries|
|Cauliflower||Bean sprouts, carrot, eggplant, kale, tomato, or zucchini|
|Onions||Green onion tops or Asafoetida powder (also known as hing)|
Asafoetida powder is typically made with wheat, making it unsuitable for those on a gluten-free diet.
|Sweeteners like honey or agave||Maple syrup|
|Dairy milk||Almond, hemp, macadamia, oat, or rice milk|
Make sure your oat milk says it’s gluten-free if wheat is an issue for you.
|Wheat-based bread||Gluten-free, wheat-free, or sourdough bread|
Note that most sourdough bread isn’t gluten-free, but Bread Srsly is for those of us who can’t eat wheat.
FAQs About FODMAPs and Food
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about a low-FODMAP diet and finding low-FODMAP foods. Do you have a question that still isn’t answered after reading this guide? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll update this post.
Are all gluten-free foods also low FODMAP? Is the low-FODMAP diet a gluten-free diet?
No and no, again.
Not all gluten-free foods are low-FODMAP. Wheat, rye, and barley are all high-FODMAP foods, so a gluten-free diet does eliminate those. But gluten-free products often have added inulin, apple fiber, fructo-oligosaccharides, or oligofructose (among others) to boost their nutritional value and fiber. And all of these make the gluten-free bread no longer FODMAP friendly.
The low-FODMAP diet is not a gluten-free diet, as many people on a low-FODMAP diet can tolerate small amounts of gluten.
Are peas low FODMAP?
Most peas contain moderate to high levels of FODMAPs even in low portions, meaning you should avoid most peas. This includes black-eyed peas, chickpeas, split peas, snow peas, and green peas.
Swap peas out for low-FODMAP vegetables like bean sprouts, carrots, eggplant, kale, tomato, spinach, or zucchini.
Are potatoes low FODMAP?
Yes, potatoes are low FODMAP, as long as you eat less than half a medium potato, or 2 ¾ oz. Sweet potatoes are also considered a low-FODMAP food at ½ cup.
Remember, portion size is critical with a low-FODMAP diet, and be conscious of what you are adding to your potato for flavor.
What are low-FODMAP foods high in fiber?
Because a low-FODMAP diet eliminates many fruits and vegetables, followers of a low-FODMAP diet should find fiber from different foods. Some high-fiber, low-FODMAP foods include:
- Chia seeds
- Green beans
- Skinned vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and eggplant
How much garlic is considered low FODMAP?
Unfortunately, garlic is too high in FODMAPs to be consumed without the risk of triggering your IBS symptoms. That said, you can cook large pieces of garlic in oil without the fructans leeching out (just don’t try that with water) or purchase garlic-infused oil.
What breads are low FODMAP?
Gluten-free bread, millet bread, and sourdough are your best options when following a low-FODMAP diet. Just ensure they aren’t made or mixed with any high-FODMAP ingredients. You can learn more about which breads you can eat on a low-FODMAP diet here.
What nuts are low FODMAP?
Almonds, Brazil nuts, chestnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, and walnuts are all considered low FODMAP (with some serving size restrictions, no surprise). Avoid cashews and pistachios as they are high FODMAP.
What alcoholic drinks are low FODMAP?
Alcohol is known to irritate the gut, meaning it can cause a flare-up of IBS symptoms, and many alcoholic beverages contain wheat or sugars that you should avoid on a low-FODMAP diet.
In general, you should avoid these high-FODMAP alcoholic drinks, primarily due to the sugar content:
- Dessert wines
That said, there are many low-FODMAP alcoholic drinks you can enjoy:
- Beer, if kept to 12 ounces and only if you are not triggered by consuming gluten or wheat-based foods
- Red, white and sparkling wines are generally low-FODMAP, keeping to 5 ounces
- Gin, 1 ounce
- Vodka, 1 ounce
- Whiskey, 1 ounce
My favorite low-FODMAP alcoholic beverage is a bourbon margarita, and you can even use my recipe to give it a try. If you’re questioning whether you should try a specific alcohol while following a low-FODMAP diet, use the Monash University FODMAP Diet app for more tailored information and recommendations.
Is cheese low FODMAP?
The good news is: yes, some cheeses are OK while following a low-FODMAP diet! Lactose is the main issue with cheese, as many of us are lactose-intolerant to some extent, and it is one of the common FODMAPs.
- Blue cheese
- Cottage cheese
- Cream cheese (potentially moderate FODMAP levels)
- Goat cheese
- Monterey Jack
- Mozzarella (Italian-style)
- Quark (potentially moderate FODMAP levels)
- Queso Fresco (potentially moderate FODMAP levels)
- Ricotta (potentially moderate FODMAP levels)
- Soy cheese
However, one small note about cheese for those of us who have issues with gluten and wheat. While blue cheese is usually gluten-free, its mold cultures may be grown on wheat or rye bread in some cases. Check your cheese label for wheat, barley, rye, etc. to be safe.