Scientific studies have shown that a low-FODMAP diet can significantly relieve irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms for many sufferers. This complete guide to the low-FODMAP diet is intended as a resource only. A low-FODMAP diet is used to help symptoms of certain gastrointestinal conditions and should only ever be undertaken with the supervision of your doctor or relevantly-qualified dietitian. The strict elimination phase of the diet is intended to be followed for two to six weeks only, followed by long-term transition onto a modified diet that lets you return to enjoying high-FODMAP foods you can tolerate.
What is IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome is a ‘functional gastrointestinal disorder’. This means it causes changes in the function of the gut but doesn’t have any features such as ulcers, inflammation, thickening of digestive tissues, lumps and bumps or abnormal blood tests – all of which would indicate a different condition. Read more
Food triggers for IBS
People with IBS often know that certain foods will trigger their symptoms. It has been shown that dietary change is the major way in which people with IBS attempt to help themselves. Read more
What are FODMAPs?
FODMAPs are part of the food group, carbohydrates (starchy food). They’re the favourite food for bacteria that live naturally in the digestive system. Read more
Is a low-FODMAP diet suitable for you?
You might benefit from a low-FODMAP diet if:
• You’ve been diagnosed with IBS by your doctor
• You have symptoms of IBS and no other medical cause has been found
• You’ve been diagnosed with bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Read more
What can I expect from a low-FODMAP diet?
There are three stages to the low-FODMAP diet: elimination, food challenges and food reintroduction. Read more
Your 12-week low-FODMAP plan for IBS
Before you get started on this diet, it’s crucial to speak with your doctor. There are many conditions that have similar symptoms to IBS. There may be other reasons, including medication interactions, that mean changing your diet may be best supervised by a specialist dietitian or doctor. Again, this information is produced for education only and is not intended as medical advice or diagnosis.
Weeks 1-4: Elimination
The aim of the elimination stage of the diet is to reduce the total number of all FODMAPs in the diet and give your digestive system some rest. Read more
For ideas for a low-FODMAP menu plan see below.
Weeks 5-12: Food challenges
So far, you’ve been avoiding all FODMAP food groups. Now it’s time to test the individual FODMAP groups. There might be some you’re not having a reaction to. Read more
Weeks 13 onwards: Food reintroduction
Now you’ve completed the food challenges you should have a list of which FODMAP groups you reacted to and you’re ready to start reintroducing those. Read more
Stage 1: Elimination low-FODMAP menu plan
• Try porridge oats made with water and lactose-free milk or milk substitute. Top with cinnamon and brown sugar, banana or blue berries
• Make your own muesli with oats, seeds, nuts and gluten-free grains. Serve with lactose-free yoghurt or milk, blueberries and kiwifruit
• Gluten/wheat-free bread, toasted, with margarine and marmalade
• Omelette or eggs and gluten/wheat-free toast or bread.
• Sandwich made with gluten/wheat-free bread. Try fillings such as ham, lettuce, tomato, tuna mayonnaise, hard cheese, small amount of avocado and smoked chicken.
• Homemade low-FODMAP carrot, buttercup pumpkin or other soup with gluten/wheat-free bread.
• Frittata or Spanish omelette
• Baked potato with mince, hard cheese or tuna mayonnaise
• Leftover main meals
• Chicken stir fry, served with rice noodles or rice
• Baked/ poached/ grilled fish with rice, potato, fries or small amount of kumara and low-FODMAP vegetables
• Bliss balls – but check the ingredients and number of serves suitable first
• Rice cakes with peanut butter or cheese and marmite
• Plain rice crackers
• Sunflower, peanut and almond mix
• Gluten/wheat free baking such as lemon and poppy seed loaf
• Carrots, cucumber (peeled) and cherry tomatoes with dip
• Hard-boiled egg
For more low-FODMAP meal ideas check our low-FODMAP recipe collection.
Keeping a symptom diary will help you keep track of how the low-FODMAP diet is helping you. Keep track of individual symptoms and score them out of three every day (0= none, 3 = severe).
Do I really need to avoid onions and garlic?
Can I eat out on a low-FODMAP diet?
Do portion sizes matter on a low-FODMAP diet
How to spot FODMAPs on food labels
Tips for FODMAP shoppers
Shopping for low-FODMAP foods
Banish boring low-FODMAP meals
FODMAP content of milks
Foods to eat or avoid on a low-FODMAP diet
|Fruit||avocado, 1/8 or less |
banana, fresh or dried (not too ripe)
coconut, fresh, ½ cup or less
coconut, dried, ¼ cup or less
cranberries, dried, 1 tablespoon or less
kiwifruit, gold or green
longon, 5 or fewer
lychee, 2 or fewer
pomegranate, ¼ cup or less of seeds or ½ small or less
beetroot, 2 slices or less
broccoli, head not stalk
broccolini, stalks not head
brussel sprouts, two or less
butternut squash, ¼ cup or less
cabbage, Savoy or green, ½ cup or less
capsicum, any colour
celery, 5cm or less
choko, less than ½ cup
corn, ½ cob or less
fennel less than ¼ cup
gumara, less than ½ cup
leek, green leaves only
lettuce, all types
mushroom, oyster only
spring onion, green part only
taro less than ½ cup
leek, white part
onions, white, brown, shallots, spring onion (white part)
onion and garlic salts and powders
legumes, chickpeas, red kidney beans, baked beans, borlotti beans
peas, fresh and frozen
pumpkin except buttercup
sugar snap peas
|Dairy and dairy alternatives||almond milk|
coconut milk, drinking, less than ½ cup per day
coconut milk, canned, ½ cup or less
coconut milk, canned for cooking
goats’ milk yoghurt
hard or ripened cheeses, Parmesan, cheddar, Edam, Gouda, mozzarella, brie, camembert, feta
oat milk, ½ cup or less
soy milks made from soy bean extract
soy yoghurt (without added Inulin)
|cows, goat and sheep milk, including A2|
cow and sheep yoghurt
cream, sour cream
condensed, evaporated and butter milks
coconut milk with added inulin
soy milk made from whole soy bean
soft cheeses that have not undergone a ripening process, Ricotta, cottage cheese, Haloumi, cream cheese
|Carbohydrates||almond meal flour, ¼ cup or less|
bulghar, less than ¼ cup cooked
gluten-free breakfast cereal, without fruit and apple concentrate
green banana flour
rice noodles, crackers and cakes
spelt sourdough, 2 slices or less
spelt, organic, sieved
wheat and gluten-free breads – avoid soy bread
wheat and gluten-free premixed flours
wheat and gluten-free flours
wheat and gluten-free pasta
wheat and gluten-free biscuits
soy flour/soy grits
wheat-based breakfast cereals
worn cereals (unless gluten free)
muesli with wheat flakes and fruit
|Proteins||beef and lamb|
chickpeas less than ¼ cup
nuts, no more than 10 nuts of any type
pork, bacon and ham
dried or canned beans, except lentils
processed or marinated meats with onion salt/ powder or garlic
|Sweeteners and sugars||boiled sweets|
golden syrup, less than ½ tablespoon
jam, marmalade (from allowed fruit list)
syrup, molasses, treacle, rice, maple
high fructose corn syrup
jam made from fruits to avoid
|Drinks||water, hot, cold, mineral, tap|
decaffeinated fruit, herbal, peppermint teas
caffeine drinks, less than 3 cups a day
cocoa powder/drinking chocolate
drink sensibly vodka, gin, whisky, small amounts of dry white wine
|chicory drinks and chicory containing coffee substitutes|
fructose containing sport drinks
beer, wine, cider, rum
As your digestion heals, so your tolerance of FODMAP foods should improve. It’s worth re-challenging your FODMAP triggers every 3-4 months. You may find your tolerance gradually improves over time.
Stress can also be a trigger for IBS. Healthy Food Guide editor, Jenny de Montalk, shares some tips for how to cope with day to day stress.
Avoiding your individual low-FODMAP triggers while following a balanced Mediterranean-style diet will help keep you healthy. Here’s how to do it.