Beat Digestive Problems with a Low FODMAP Diet

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low FODMAP diet

Low FODMAP plan for Digestive Health:

Digestive disorders can be extremely embarrassing and debilitating.  Conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, small bacterial overgrowth and colitis are extremely common and can be hard to get under control.  Many of these individuals struggle even with the healthiest of diets.  FODMAP is a program that works quite well for individuals struggling with digestive issues (1).

FODMAP is an acronym for Fermentable Oligo, Di- and Monosaccharides and Polyols.  These are all types of sugar based carbohydrates that are found in certain foods and are challenging on the bowel.  These sugars include glucose, fructose, galactans, polyols and lactose among others.


The Symptoms of FODMAP Problems:

Individuals who struggle to digest these carbohydrates typically experience symptoms that include abdominal discomfort, bloating, cramping, nausea and/or pain after eating foods with these FODMAPS (2).  These sugars are osmotic and pull water into the intestinal tract which accounts for the diarrhea.  Most symptoms appear within 30 minutes to two hours after eating.

These individuals have a condition called small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) in which their digestive system is loaded with pathogenic microbes (3).  The FODMAP’s are a fuel source for these microbes who release toxic byproducts as they metabolize the sugars.  The toxicity that the microbes release causes the digestive discomfort and overtime leads to many different health challenges.

The FODMAP Diet Restrictions:

The typical restrictions on a FODMAP diet include generally inflammatory foods such as gluten, unfermented soy, peanuts and often nightshade vegetables (4).  The diet also removes foods high in fructose such as lots of fruit (often lemon/lime and small amounts of berries are tolerated), honey and agave nectar.

These individuals can only consume fermented dairy in the form of hard cheeses like cheddar, Swiss, blue cheese and feta.   They do not do well with yogurts and kefir.  They can very well tolerate pasture-fed butter and ghee.  All the dairy should all be from grass-fed cows or goats.  Some individuals have a dairy intolerance typically related to the protein casein, so I recommend avoiding all the cheeses for at least the first 30 days and then you can begin to add back small amounts and see how you tolerate them.


Fructans are also known by the prebiotic inulin.  This is a non-digestible fiber that is healthy for those with normal bowel flora (5).  Fructans are found in wheat, onions, garlic, artichokes, asparagus, sugar snap peas, cabbage, shallot, leeks, cauliflower, mushrooms, pumpkin & green peppers are often not tolerated well.

Galactans are the primary carbohydrate found in beans, lentils and legumes.  These are not tolerated well by individuals with digestive problems.  Polyols include sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, maltitol and erythritol.  Other foods that have polyols include pitted fruits like avocado, apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches and plums.

The Typical FODMAP Nutrition Plan:

The typical nutrition plan for someone struggling with digesting FODMAPs is somewhat restricted but not hard to figure out.  Breakfast can include a protein shake with coconut milk, berries and collagen protein powder.  One could also do pastured eggs cooked in coconut oil with kale or spinach, herbs, fresh squeezed lemon and herbs.

For lunch these individuals could do a big salad with olive oil and pasture-raised chicken or turkey.  For dinner they could do a small salad with cucumbers and grass-fed beef  or wild-Alaskan salmon or another quality animal protein with olive oil, fresh lemon and herbs.  They could also do soups and stews with chicken, zucchini, carrots or squash and herbs.


More Digestive Health Strategies:

It is always a good idea for individuals with digestive issues to use organic bone broth and make soups and stews.  The bone broth provides raw materials that help to repair the intestinal lining and does not contain any of the FODMAP sugars.  Organ meats are also highly advisable because of their rich nutrient content.

Many individuals with digestive disorders find great success using intermittent fasting strategies such as eating one or two meals per day and doing lots of hydration during the non-eating periods.  They also remark about the great relief they get from the nagging symptoms when they follow these nutrition principles.


Life After FODMAPs:

This nutrition plan does not have to be lifelong but should go on for at least 2 weeks and up to 3-6 months or so until the digestive system heals and repairs.  The use of certain gut enhancing supplements that help to destroy pathogenic microbes and repair the gut lining will speed up the process.

Once you have done your time you can begin to add back one FODMAP category at a time to see what kind of issues you experience.  It may only be a problem with one of the categories such as the galactans.

Many individuals with digestive problems at some point in their life notice they always function better by minimizing their exposure to FODMAPs.  Many others find that the main culpurate is lactose or fructose.  By staying on a low lactose or fructose diet they are able to keep their digestive system under control.


Sources For This Article Include:

1. Gibson PR, Shepherd SJ. Evidence-based dietary management of functional gastrointestinal symptoms: The FODMAP approach. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2010 Feb;25(2):252-8. PMID: 20136989
2. Carbohydrate Intolerance Link Here
3. Medline Plus Small bowel bacterial overgrowth Link Here
4. IBS Diets – FODMAP Food List Link Here
5. Slavin J. Fiber and Prebiotics: Mechanisms and Health Benefits. Nutrients. 2013;5(4):1417-1435.

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  1. Such a helpful article!! Thank you! You mentioned supplements for the gut… Is there a particular supplement that helps address the SIBO specifically? Maybe Probiotics (s. Boulardii) or Enzymes (HCL)?? I find that one drop of lemongrass essential oil in water can help reduce epigastric pressure when I have eaten a trigger, but would like to have an effective strategy to overcome the SIBO (maybe by avoiding these foods?)! Thank you so much for clarifying!

  2. Christina, yes there are many products that help with SIBO. I like to have people do a bone broth fast for 3 and up to 14 days. Meanwhile, they supplement with either Terra Firma from Beyond Organic or the Max GI product here

    These products have specific compounds, essential oils and probiotics in them that help to destroy bad microorganisms and enhance healthy microorganism count in the gut.

  3. love love lovee ur articles. great info on ur website :)) It’s my favorite website for recipes lol
    Do u think suero viv is better to fast on or bone broth? Im making some tomorrow 🙂

  4. I too like your posts, but, find many posts by medical specialist very generalist when dealing with GIT issues. “If you follow the principles” your gut will get better in time.
    For 7 years I have had gut issues, salicylates, LG, parasites Blast and D Fragilis, treated with massive abx which have wiped out permanently any flora and I cannot rebuild this flora as varified by pathology testing. Probiotic, prebiotics, I am severely reactive to, bone broth I have lived on for 3 years, sometimes for days on end, I make my own which turns out to be beautiful jelly. I also have fodmap issues, phenol, amine, salicylate, all in the severe range. My specialist dietician struggles to give me foods to sustain myself, I am loosing weight, now 14 kg. I take probiotics, vitk, vitd, glutamine, apo lactoferrin, nac, magnesium, all which are reactive, vitb12 inj, fish oil. I live on high saturated fatty meats as per gaps, zucchini, carrot, celery, spring onions (green only) and water. When I read all the posts on “Do this” and you will get better, I just cry as I have tried these all, so strictly over the past 7 years and still no relief, the pain, girgling and gas/bloating at night is so disruptive I am constantly sleep deprived and live a lousy life waiting simply to die so it will be all over, so pardon my cynicism when I read all these so called helpful posts to relieve gut issues, they may be useful for minor issued, anything more complicated is just a bad space to be in. I have also had 24 FMT with no success in replanting microbiome – cheers

    1. So sorry to hear about your condition Silvio! None of my articles are written with the idea that these strategies work for everyone, just for most population groups. Everyone is different and unfortunately, there are many factors that must be addressed to get well. We are praying for you and believing the best for you!

  5. Can I make homemade bone broth with onions & strain them out of the finished broth & assume the fructans will not be present? I use a onion & garlic infused olive oil that is sold as FODMAP friendly. So I assume the fructans are in the physical onion & not in the juice that make cook out of the onion? Do you know? Thanks!

    1. Hey Alison that is a great question. Fructans are water soluble so unfortunately that could still pose some problems. They are not fat soluble which is why the infused oil is FODMAP friendly. I hope that helps!

  6. Hello Dr. Jocker,
    Great article! Thank you very much.
    What is recommended for a vegetarian facing chronic constipation with gas and bloating?

    1. Hey Vidhu, I’d start by supplementing with HCL, Ox Bile, and digestive enzymes. Also increasing dietary fats and drinking plenty of water (away from meals). Magnesium supplementation would help as well. If it continues then you will want to look into running some functional lab work!

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