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After eating a meal, many people experience cramps, stomach bloating, and, sometimes, diarrhea. When it occurs frequently, doctors often recommend changing the patients’ diets to one called the FODMAP diet. FODMAP means fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols.

Essentially, the foods that cause some people to have digestive issues have short-chain carbohydrates or sugars in them. The diet involves eliminating these foods from the diets of sufferers, and then slowly adding them back in one at a time. This identifies foods that cause stomach distress.

How Long Should Foods Be Eliminated?

Eliminating high FODMAP foods only needs to take place for three to six weeks. It will reduce symptoms and excess bacteria in the small intestine. After eliminating foods and reducing symptoms, foods can start being reintroduced, one every three days, into patients’ diets.

If symptoms come back, the food that was reintroduced can be left off their diets or eaten in limited amounts. Some of the high-FODMAP foods that can cause symptoms are:         

  • Dairy-based ice cream, milk, and yogurt         
  • Bread, crackers, and cereals made with wheat         
  • Beans and lentils
  • Some vegetables including artichokes, asparagus, garlic, and onions
  • Some fruits include apples, cherries, peaches, and pears

What Is Okay to Eat on the FODMAP diet?

Instead of eating the foods listed above, substitute these low-FODMAP foods:        

  • Meat and eggs
  • Cheeses such as brie, cheddar, feta, and Camembert
  • Rice, quinoa, oats
  • Almond milk
  • Vegetables including potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini
  • Fruits including grapes, strawberries, blueberries, oranges, and pineapple

Who Should Try This Diet?

People who have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) should try this diet to find out if it reduces their symptoms. Research has found that people who have tried it have experienced an 86% reduction in their symptoms.

People with IBS or SIBO, or frequent stomach problems, should consult a doctor and ask if the FODMAP diet could help relieve their cramps, bloating, and diarrhea. If it does, the diet will be worth the effort.