Labels can be challenging to navigate at the best of times, but particularly on a low FODMAP diet because FODMAPs are found in virtually all food groups. This updated guide is here to help you for your next grocery shop!
First of all – when you are looking at a food product, the ingredients list shows the ingredients in weight order i.e. the ingredient present in the largest quantity will be listed first and so on. Be particularly careful if a typically high FODMAP food is listed in the first few ingredients. On the other hand, if it’s listed lower down on a very long ingredients list, or is present in the lowest quantity (i.e. at the end of the list), it may be safe from a FODMAP perspective. The main exceptions to this rule are onion, garlic (including in powder form), and purified forms of FODMAPs such as inulin, fructooligosaccharide (FOS) or galactooligosaccharides (GOS). Even very small amounts of these ingredients will contribute significantly to the overall FODMAP load of the food.
Oligosaccharides – GOS + fructans
There has been an explosion of low or no sugar products entering the market over recent years. While they might have benefits from a general health perspective, they often use polyols to sweeten these products in very high doses. Be particularly careful of the ingredients list when purchasing foods that are ‘low sugar’ or ‘no sugar’ if you are someone who cannot tolerate polyols.
Companies making gut health related claims often add ingredients such as inulin, chicory root, chicory root fibre, Jerusalem artichoke powders, fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and galactooligosaccharides (GOS) to boost the prebiotic fibres in that product. While prebiotics stimulate the growth of beneficial gut bacteria via fermentation, in some individuals with IBS, this can cause unwanted symptoms such as gas, bloating and abdominal distension.
From our experience testing protein powders, we have found extracting pure proteins presents challenges for food manufacturers and these products are often high in FODMAPs.
While many gluten free products are lower in FODMAPs, we have found a number (e.g. GF pasta) also contain high FODMAP ingredients such as soy flour or lupin flour, which increases FODMAP content.
Our app has generic ratings of food items where between 3-10 items of the same food product have been pooled and tested to provide a FODMAP rating. While we may not have the specific brands that you eat, there may be a very close match that is unbranded. Use the safe portion size as a guide and go from there!
Products displaying the Monash University Low FODMAP Certified™ stamp have been laboratory tested and meet our strict low FODMAP criteria in the serving size recommended on the pack. For your convenience, all certified products are listed in our app under the ‘Low FODMAP Certified Foods/Meals’ categories, as well as the relevant general food category in the ‘Food Guide’ section of the app.
As we continue to add more foods to our testing wish list, there are a number of foods that we may have not tested yet. We encourage you to test your own tolerance to these foods and let your symptoms guide you from there.
Foods that are packaged and processed are often found in the middle of the supermarket, while fresh foods are found along the outside perimeters. Fresh foods are easier to navigate when it comes to FODMAPs – use these to make big batches of sauces such as pesto, pasta sauce or curry pastes that can be frozen and used for a later date.
While convenient, the information provided by barcode scanning apps is not regulated and often inaccurate. These apps also do not take into account important factors such as serving size and the effect of food processing when determining if a product is likely high or low in FODMAPs.