Taking the low FODMAPs approach to Irritable Bowel Syndrome

FODMAPs are found in everyday foods and by managing your IBS symptoms through the low FODMAP diet, you can improve your quality of life.
In this article

All about irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most commonly diagnosed gastrointestinal disorders and can have a significant impact on your quality of life.1 It causes symptoms like:

Stomach cramps




The exact cause of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is unknown1,2 but it is believed to be linked to food moving through the gut too quickly or too slowly, sensitive nerves in the gut, stress or a family history of IBS.2 Assessing your diet is the first step to managing your symptoms.3

The low FODMAP diet, what it is and how it works

Get to know the FODMAPs before you start

FODMAPs stand for oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols.1d,e FODMAPs are poorly absorbed by the small intestine drawing more water into the colon. They are rapidly broken down by the colon bacteria, causing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).1

Take the following steps to ease those symptoms

The low FODMAP diet consists of two phases. In the first phase you will eliminate foods that are high in FODMAPS for 6 to 8 weeks. Keep a diary to track your symptoms. If your symptoms are successfully controlled, you can start the second phase, which is less strict. In this phase you will gradually add high FODMAP foods back into your diet while maintaining adequate symptom control.1

Step 1 – Elimination

Take out high FODMAP foods

Step 2 – Reintroduction

Add certain FODMAP foods back into your diet and monitor your symptoms

Step 3 – Personalisation

Create a diet plan that provides IBS symptoms relief

List of high FODMAP foods to eat and avoid1

Oligosaccharides (fructans/galactooligosaccharides)


Avoid – artichokes, asparagus, beets, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, fennel, garlic, leeks, okra, onions, peas, shallots

Alternatives – bamboo shoots, bell peppers, bok choy, carrots, celery, chard, chayote, chives, choy sum, corn, eggplant, green beans, lettuce, parsnips, pumpkins, spring onions (green part only), tomatoes; onion and garlic substitutes: garlic-infused oil


Avoid – watermelon, apple, white peaches, persimmon

Alternatives – Bananas, blueberries, cantaloupes, carambola, durian, grapefruit, grapes, honeydew melon, kiwi, lemons, limes, mandarin, oranges, passion fruit, pawpaw, raspberries, strawberries, tangelos

Wheat and rye (when eaten in large amounts)

Avoid – bread, pasta, couscous, cookies, crackers, biscuits

Alternatives – gluten-free and spelt bread and cereal products


Avoid – chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, baked beans, soy beans

Alternative – canned chickpeas

Disaccharides lactose

Avoid – milk (cow, goat, sheep), yogurt, soft cheeses, custard, ice cream

Alternatives – gluten-free and spelt bread and cereal products

Monosaccharides (fructose)


Avoid – apples, Asian pears, pears, clingstone peaches, mango, sugar snap peas, watermelon, canned fruit in natural juice; large total fructose dose: concentrated fruit sources; large servings of fruit, dried fruit, fruit juice

Alternatives – as listed above under oligosaccharides


Avoid – fructose, high fructose corn syrup

Alternatives – any except polyols


Avoid – honey

Alternatives – Maple syrup, golden syrup



Avoid – avocados, cauliflower, mushrooms, snow peas, sweet corn

Alternatives – as listed above under oligosaccharides


Avoid – apples, apricots, Asian pears, cherries, longon, lychee, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, prunes, watermelon

Alternatives – as listed above under oligosaccharides


Avoid – isomalt, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol

Alternative – sucrose, glucose

It is important to note that you’ll need expert help when starting the low FODMAPs diet. A dietician can help you with setting up an eating plan and helping you discover what works for your body and what triggers your IBS symptoms.

  • Remember that the low FODMAP diet isn’t for life
  • Discuss your progress with your dietician or healthcare professional. After 6 to 8 weeks, they can help you with gradually reintroducing high FODMAP foods
  • FODMAPs are found in everyday foods
  • Take it slow and don’t put too much pressure on yourself
  • Get the support of friends and family
  • Plan ahead as going to a restaurant can be stressful. If possible, get the menu beforehand
  • Preparing meals can become tricky but get creative and have fun with trying out new recipes