We are constantly pushed to eat healthier foods. Avoiding foods that are high in sugars and saturated fats is said to aid in losing weight, gaining energy, and promoting long-term health. A healthier diet is often attained by eating whole, unprocessed foods. But not all healthy foods are created equal…enter FODMAPS. Drs. Peter Gibson and Susan Shepherd from Monash University noticed that some so called healthy food contain carbohydrates and alcohols that are absorbed more poorly than others. They called these carbohydrates FODMAPs, which stand for “Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols.” Everyone has a problem digesting FODMAPs, but some experience abdominal discomfort more severe than others. If you are eating well but still suffer abdominal symptoms, consider substituting these commons foods with lower-FODMAP options. Honey: Honey gets a lot of buzz because it is seen as a more natural alternative to its processed cousin, granulated sugar. Be that as it may, honey is very high in the monosaccharide fructose, which can have irritative qualities for those with fructose malabsorption. Try instead: The healthiest option is to eliminate sweeteners of any kind! However, if you must sweeten, some sweeteners are lower on the FODMAP scale because they contain more glucose, which absorbs fructose. Pure maple syrup is recommended because its fructose-glucose ratio is more balanced than honey. It is also possible to buy glucose in powder format, which has a light sweet taste. Avoid artificial sweeteners; they may contain sugar alcohols known as polyols. Cauliflower: Not many people know that some fruits and vegetables also contain polyols. Cauliflower, for example, contains polyols, which are poorly absorbed and can be irritating in large amounts. Try instead: The FODMAP content of foods can be lowered through the process of canning or pickling. The irritants are extracted into the brine, so you can enjoy pickled cauliflower if you throw out the brine. If pickling isn’t an option, carrots and bell peppers are a snack with the same satisfying crunch and are lower on the FODMAP scale. If you’re looking for a steamed side dish, bok choy has a very similar texture, and is great sprinkled with just a little salt and pepper, or a dash of fish sauce. Coconut Water: Hailed as the latest superdrink, coconut water is beloved as a great source of electrolytes which aids in quick hydration, making it a favourite among athletes. In this case, however, too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Coconut products are high in fructose which, as already mentioned, can be an irritant to those with fructose malabsorption. Try instead: A serving size of 250mL of coconut water is considered high in FODMAPs, but a smaller serving at 100mL is low. Dilute a smaller portion with water in your drinking container; it will have the same refreshing taste and hydrating qualities, but will be gentler on your tummy. Citrus fruits, especially oranges, are also excellent electrolyte replenishers. Squeeze half a fruit and a dash of salt into your water container for a homemade sports drink with unbeatable flavour. Certain Teas: One of the most ancient beverages, tea has been praised for its healing factor for thousands of years. But some varieties are prone to making us feel sick, especially in large amounts. Chai, chamomile, fennel and oolong teas are among those high in FODMAPs. Strong black tea contain moderate FODMAP content. Try instead: Like many foods, limiting your intake can be key. The FODMAP content of these beverages can be reduced by brewing a weaker tea. If that is not your thing, consider switching to a tea with a naturally lower FODMAP content. White tea, green tea, and peppermint tea are great substitutes. You could also drink fruit-based herbal teas. Onions and garlic: Essential seasonings in many cultures, onions and garlic are very high on the FODMAP scale, as they contain fructans. An added complication is that foods normally low-FODMAPs, such as chicken and some vegetables, can become an irritant when prepared with onions or garlic. Try instead: Sauté garlic and onion, then discard the bulbs. The oil will be well-flavoured, and the FODMAPs won’t extract into the oil, so it should be tolerated by most people. Alternatively, the stalk that grows from the garlic bulb, the scape, does not contain FODMAPs, and can be used as a garlic substitute. Chives or scallions can be used in place of onion. Or, learn how to season foods in other new and exciting ways, such as by using balsamic vinegar, fresh herbs, ginger, or citrus fruits. This has by no means been an extensive list of foods high in FODMAPs, but contains some of perhaps the most surprising. One thing is for sure however….educating yourself and “listening to your gut” literally can make all the difference in your well-being.

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