Accommodating guests with a variety of dietary restrictions can be tricky for food service workers, especially when new therapeutic diets emerge. Remember back in the 2000s when the gluten free diet was not as main stream as it is today? Knowing what foods and ingredients a guest can and cannot eat can be a tricky business, especially if no one in the kitchen has received training on food intolerances and allergies. In the last few years, a new diet has emerged following scientific advances in the search of a nutritional treatment for the Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Its name alone, the low-FODMAP diet, leaves many people confused as to what it entails. This article aims to help you understand what this diet is, who it is for, and what foods are concerned.
What is the low-FODMAP diet?
FODMAP is an acronym that stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, and Monosaccharides and Polyols, which are all types of short-chain carbohydrates (i.e. sugar contained in certain fruits, vegetables, cereals, grains and legumes). The low-FODMAP diet limits short-chain carbohydrates, which are poorly absorbed in the intestine and may trigger digestive issues (e.g. bloating, cramping, diarrhea and/or constipation, painful gas). This diet is not a weight loss diet. The low-FODMAP diet helps to avoid foods that can trigger digestive issues. In fact, this diet consists of two stages. The first stage is the strict low-FODMAP diet and lasts six to eight weeks. The second stage involves gradually re-introducing FODMAP foods to help figure out exactly which FODMAP foods the person should avoid, and which ones they can tolerate.
Who is the low-FODMAP diet for?
Usually, people who follow the low-FODMAP diet are people who suffer from cramping or stomach pains that make them run to the bathroom, or people that have been diagnosed with IBS. These people will probably be able to tell you exactly which foods they can and cannot have; if you are unsure, just ask them. As this diet is increasingly getting known, this may result in an increase of guests coming to your restaurant or food service operation asking for low-FODMAP foods. Accommodating them will make your food service operation more attractive to people suffering from IBS and their entourage.
What are the benefits of following the low-FODMAP diet?
When followed strictly for six to eight weeks, the low-FODMAP diet helps improve gastrointestinal symptoms. During this period, people following the strict low-FODMAP diet need to eat a variety of low-FODMAP foods to prevent nutrient deficiencies. After this period, they can reintroduce FODMAP foods gradually. This exercise helps them identify the specific foods that trigger symptoms and allows them to reintegrate the ones they can tolerate to have more variety and flexibility in their diet.
What foods can people following the low-FODMAP diet eat?
During the six to eight week strict low-FODMAP diet, they should eat a variety of low-FODMAP foods from each food group of Eating Well With Canada’s Food Guide. Since the low-FODMAP diet limits short-chain carbohydrates, the targeted foods are sources of carbohydrates (i.e., fruits, vegetables, dairy, grains, legumes, and sweeteners). Other foods should not trigger symptoms (i.e., animal sources of proteins, oils, and fats), unless there are allergies or intolerances.
The ingredients list is a vital source of information to determine which products to serve to a clientele following the low-FODMAP diet. Below is an example of low-FODMAP chicken stock.
Low-FODMAP: LUDA Pro Chicken Stock, Gluten Free, Clean Label
Ingredients: Chicken Meat, Water, Salt, Potato Flour, Chicken Flavour (Includes Onion), Dehydrated Chicken Broth, Dehydrated Carrots, Spices, Turmeric, Rosemary Extract.
The only high-FODMAP ingredient the LUDA Pro Chicken Stock contains is onion in small amounts into the chicken flavour, and, as such, can be considered low-FODMAP, because the stock does not contain actual onions.
What foods should people following the low-FODMAP diet avoid?
During the strict low-FODMAP diet’s six-eight week phase, high-FODMAP foods should be avoided, as well as foods eaten in large quantities. Even if they are not identified as high-FODMAP, large servings of certain fruits, for example, may trigger symptoms.
Below is an example of high-FODMAP chicken soup base.
High-FODMAP: LUDA H Chicken Soup Base, Sodium Reduced, Gluten Free
Ingredients: Maltodextrin, Hydrolyzed Plant Protein (Includes Soy, Corn), Corn Syrup Solids, Corn Flour, Flavour (Includes Yeast Extract, Celery), Dehydrated Chicken, Dehydrated Vegetables (Onions, Carrots, Garlic), Chicken Fat (Includes Rosemary Extract), Spices, Silicon Dioxide, Salt, Citric Acid, Colour (Turmeric, Caramel), Disodium Guanylate, Disodium Inosinate, Sugar.
In contrast with the LUDA Pro Chicken Stock, the LUDA H Chicken Soup Base is high-FODMAP, because it contains dehydrated onions and garlic, corn syrup, and soy (in the hydrolyzed plant protein). This finding does not mean that this product is unhealthy however; it is its high-FODMAP content that makes it prone to trigger symptoms in people suffering from IBS. The LUDA H chicken soup base is sodium reduced, certified gluten free, and does not contain artificial flavour, colour, added MSG or trans fats.
Marilyne Petitclerc, MHSc, P.Dt.
Culinary Marketing Specialist
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation [CDHF]. (n.d.). Understanding Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Retrieved from CDHF. http://www.cdhf.ca/bank/document_en/15understanding-irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs-.pdf#zoom=100
Khan, M. A., Nusrat, S., Khan, M. I., Nawras, A., & Bielefeldt, K. (2015). Low-FODMAP Diet for Irritable Bowel Syndrome : Is It Ready for Prime Time? Digestive Diseases and Sciences, 60(5), 1169–1177. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10620-014-3436-4
Mansueto, P., Seidita, A., D’Alcamo, A., & Carroccio, A. (2015). Role of FODMAPs in Patients With Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Nutrition in Clinical Practice : Official Publication of the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, 30(5), 665–82. http://doi.org/10.1177/0884533615569886
Marsh, A., Eslick, E. M., & Eslick, G. D. (2015). Does a diet low in FODMAPs reduce symptoms associated with functional gastrointestinal disorders? A comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis. European Journal of Nutrition, 1–10. http://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-015-0922-1
Living Happy with IBS (https://livinghappywithibs.com/) [page viewed on June 19, 2018]