Low FODMAP: The Latest Food Label to Know

 Tamara Duker Freuman
  31st-Dec-1969

I sometimes wonder what my grandmother would think about grocery shopping if she were alive today. Specifically: What would she make of all the label claims and logos that adorn modern packaged foods?

Gluten-free logos. Organic certifications. Stamps of approval from the Whole Grains Council, American Heart Association and Non-GMO Project. There are "free from" claims, "no added sugar" claims, fat-free claims, "net carb" content claims and more. Which, if any, of these claims are meaningful?

The answer varies widely depending on who's doing the shopping – and eating. People who have irritable bowel syndrome, as well those who have generally sensitive stomachs, for example, are likely to welcome an emerging label: low FODMAP.

FODMAPs are an assortment of naturally occurring carbohydrates in certain fruits, veggies, grains, legumes, nuts, sugars and dairy products that can cause gas, bloating or diarrhea in susceptible people. FODMAPs are the reason that onions and garlic give some people gas, energy bars bloat the bejeezus out of some people and apples can give susceptible folks diarrhea. In fact, more and more research suggests that it's the FODMAP content of wheat – not the gluten – that's usually responsible for digestive distress in most people who don't have celiac disease but nonetheless feel better on a gluten-free diet. (If sourdough bread agrees with you more than conventional bread, this may be you.)

The low FODMAP diet, developed by doctors and dietitians out of Monash University in Australia, aims to reduce the amount of these healthy, but potentially digestively-troubling, carbohydrates in the diet in order to provide symptom relief for people affected by IBS and other conditions like small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, Crohn's disease and endometriosis.

As the low FODMAP diet gained popularity with the digestively distressed set over the past decade, a treasure trove of cookbooks, recipe sites and social media gurus followed behind. In these forums, diet veterans exchanged tips for bringing flavor to dishes without high FODMAP onions and garlic; navigating convenience products like broths, dairy foods, marinades and energy bars; and eating out safely and comfortably.

It was only a matter of time, then, until packaged food companies joined the fray. This past year, the first such pioneers launched low FODMAP certified products. At present, there are two main low FODMAP food and recipe certifying bodies, both operating out of Australia. One is the "Low FODMAP certified" label by Monash University and the other is the "FODMAP friendly" logo, also administered by one of the diet's original creators.

While these labels are far more widespread in their native Australia, a handful of American food companies – including Green Valley Organics in the dairy aisle, True Self energy bars in the snack aisle and FODY foods in the condiment aisles – have recently started carrying one of these FODMAP-related food certifications . In fact, the entire FODY brand is low FODMAP, with a mission to enhance the lives of low FODMAP dieters with a clutch collection of essential pantry items: marinara sauces, broths, ketchup, salsa, salad dressings and energy bars.

In addition, some websites and cookbooks have gone ahead and gotten their recipes certified low FODMAP by Monash University, including the newly-launched online hub of low FODMAP living, FODMAP Everyday. The site has some serious culinary street cred, as it was co-founded by Dédé Wilson, a former Bon Appetit recipe developer and co-author of "The Low-FODMAP Diet Step by Step." To be sure, developing low FODMAP recipes isn't as simple as it may seem, as the "FODMAPiness" of many foods will depend on the amount eaten; for this reason, it's particularly helpful to have a (free!) online repository of fully-vetted recipes that can be cooked with confidence. The site is also loaded with resources on low FODMAP living – including a service that converts your favorite recipe into a low FODMAP version, expert advice from the who's who of the digestive health world and a robust online community of comrades in IBS there to support one another.

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22 October, 2018