I have been following the low fodmap diet for 3 years and I thought I’d share some of my tips for deciphering labels at the supermarket to help you work out if something is low fodmap or should be avoided.
There are some products that are particularly hazardous for those on the low fodmap diet and these usual suspects are: muesli/granola bars, protein bars, chocolate/candy bars, chips/crisps, ice-cream, sauces and yoghurt. Now that I think about it, many processed foods can be difficult for us!
Here are my 5 tips to keep in mind when shopping:
1. Read the label carefully as food companies are clever at disguising ingredients and making out that it is healthy (I should know, I worked for them for over 10 years, so I know the tricks of the trade!)
2. Get comfortable with reading food labels, you will be doing a lot of this. They generally run in order of the % in the product, so if “date” is one of the first few ingredients it will contain a lot of fructose.
3. Be aware of which fodmap’s trigger your IBS symptoms and what levels you can tolerate. For example, I avoid fructose and polyols like the plague but I can tolerate some lactose.
4. Tune into your body and understand that there may also be some ingredients that you could be sensitive to that trigger non-IBS symptoms. For me, I know that I am also sensitive to gluten, MSG, soy and to a lesser degree corn products (lucky, aren’t I?).
5. As a general rule, try to choose the least processed foods and also those with the least ingredients. For example if I buy crisps/chips as a treat, I usually choose good quality plain salted crisps as the ingredients are usually “potato, oil, salt”. Other flavours tend to sneak in other things like MSG, onion flavour, cheese flavour etc, which becomes problematic.
Some of the common sneaky high fodmap ingredients to watch out for on labels are:
Inulin, fructo-oligosaccharides, sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, maltitol, isomalt, erythritol, fructose, agave, honey, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, dried fruits, lactose, chicory root, onion powder, garlic powder, natural flavours, cheese or milk powder, whey protein, whey protein isolate, carob and wheat and barley-based products.
Are there any other common ingredients that I have missed? Please let me know and I can update the list.
All the best,