Serve sizes are key when it comes to following the low-FODMAPs diet. But before we get into the nitty gritty of FODMAPs serve sizes, lets take a quick look at what the low-FODMAPs diet is all about.
A low-FODMAPs diet recap
FODMAPs, stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. These are types of carbohydrates that are not absorbed properly. In sensitive people this can cause symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) including abdominal bloating and pain, gas and diarrhoea.
Most sensitive people do not react to all FODMAPs. So the aim of the low-FODMAPs diet, is to work out which ones are triggers, and how much is a trigger. This is done via elimination, in which only low-FODMAPs foods should be consumed. Following this, a ‘challenge’ phase is commenced to test each type of FODMAPs. After this, reintroduction begins, and eating can normalise, with the knowledge gained of which foods and how much are triggers for YOU.
So, why does serve size matter?
Because the low-FODMAPs diet is not a FODMAPs-free diet.
This means that many low-FODMAPs foods still contain some FODMAPs. So a food might be low in FODMAPs, but that doesn’t mean you can eat as much as you like. Eventually, you might eat a moderate or high amount even if the food itself is low in FODMAPs at a certain portion.
FODMAPs serve sizes are not the same as serves recommended in our Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (AGTHE). The AGTHE helps us to choose foods for a healthy diet, while the low-FODMAPs diet helps those of us suffering from IBS to find our triggers. To make sure we eat healthy while choosing low-FODMAPs, it is important to keep this in mind.
The MONASH app traffic light system
The MONASH “FODMAP” mobile app is a fodmappers best friend.
The app provides detailed info about which foods are low, moderate and high in FODMAPs. It uses a traffic light system to make it easy for you to choose low-FODMAPs foods. You can then select foods to find out more information, including the safe serve size, and how much is too much.
The traffic light system work as follows –
These foods are low or even no FODMAPs. This means that even in large serves these foods are generally safe. Check the serve size to be sure.
These foods contain moderate amounts of FODMAPs, so they should be limited. Sometimes, a small serve size of these foods is actually low-FODMAP, and can be tolerated. But for simplicity, it is best to start out choosing green foods only.
These foods are high in FODMAPs and should be avoided while undertaking the low FODMAPs diet. Like the yellow foods, small serve sizes of some of these foods can be tolerated. But again – it can get a little confusing. So when starting out, it is best to avoid foods from the red column. Never fear – it doesn’t mean that red foods are off the menu for good.
So, it isn’t quite as simple as green, yellow and red. Here’s some simple examples of how serve size comes in –
Cherry tomatoes have a ‘green’ traffic light on the FODMAPs app. Selecting them and reading further tells us that 1 low FODMAPs serve = 4 cherries. It also tells us that 13 contain moderate FODMAPs and should be avoided on the low-FODMAPs diet.
Butternut pumpkin has a ‘yellow’ traffic light. When starting out – it’s best to avoid yellow foods to avoid confusion and eating too much FODMAPs. But selecting butternut pumpkin and reading further tells us that it is LOW FODMAPs at a serve of 1/4 cup! When getting more confident with serve sizes – this can help to add variety to your diet.
How many different foods can I have at one time?
You can choose many ‘green’ foods at one meal – and you should! Creating a healthy meal involves choosing a healthy carbohydrate like starchy veg or rice, a selection of non-starchy veg and some lean protein! Plus dairy and fruit. And lets not forget that the nutrition recommendation for vegetables from the AGTHE is 5 serves per day! To meet this goal, having a few serves of ‘green’ traffic light vegetables is essential. Plus, as long as you stick to the serve size, you can have the same foods more than once in a day, at different meals.
Some foods don’t contain any FODMAPs. You will see this in the app – ‘FODMAPs were not detected in this food.’ These include whole food groups that don’t have any carbohydrate, like lean meats and eggs. It also includes other specific foods – like carrots! You could have as much as you like without over-doing it on FODMAPs. But this doesn’t mean you should forget portion size altogether, and the AGTHE can help with this.
A final note
The MONASH app currently costs $9.50. It is well worth this cost. But if you aren’t using the app – you can get hold of a written list of low, moderate and high FODMAP foods.
Remember that the FODMAPs diet is about finding out what kind of FODMAPs and serve sizes you can tolerate. It can be a challenging process, and it shouldn’t be forever.
By: Ellie Wiltshire
Image sourced from Pinterest