Low-FODMAPs: the Next Gluten-Free?

I have become spam. My family and friends think I was hacked because I sent them an email saying “I lost 10 pounds in just one week!” But I actually did lose ten pounds in a week . . . and here’s how you can, too!

I’ve been gluten-free for almost four years. I’m sensitive to about 4ppm (to label a product “gluten-free,” it has to test only at under 20ppm), which means I don’t eat out and if it’s not naturally gluten-free (even if certified g-f), it’s probably not coming home from the store with me. Despite my strict regimen, over the years, I’ve found myself thinking there’s something else going on. I originally discovered my gluten issues through research, so I figured it was time to do some more, and that new research led me to FODMAPs, or, as they’re commonly never called by anyone but food scientists, “Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols.”

After a week on a low-FODMAP diet, I’d lost 10 pounds (insert bright flashing tape measure here!) Those who try low-FODMAP diets tend to be IBS sufferers or those with clear IBS symptoms, but there are many like I who, without clear answers, read about it and decide to try it (despite the warnings to consult first with “my” dietitian). Americans aren’t talking much about FODMAPs yet, and that’s due to many factors, chief among them the fact that (1) it was developed on the other side of the world, (2) it’s incredibly restrictive, and (3) it’s not what I call a “terminal” diet (in other words, you don’t eliminate FODMAPS, you reduce foods high in FODMAPs for a period of time and reintroduce them to determine sensitivities [and adapt from there], an approach which isn’t as appealing for many since it’s not as clear-cut and resolute [read: simple to understand] as a static elimination diet).

There’s a lot of interesting reading out there, so I won’t bore (or disgust) you with my intestinal woes or a lot of information here, but I am interested in whether the low FODMAP diet will make a splash in the U.S. in the coming year. Food scientists and nutritionists might look at it and dismiss it as just another Atkins, but given the changing attitudes toward food allergens in America, especially the connection that many consumers are beginning to admit between gut health and overall well-being, the chances are good that this diet will find purchase (and promotion) in the states, especially since the diet isn’t branded (Dr. Sue Shepherd, its “discoverer,” was wise not to call it the “Shepherd Plan”).

There are a lot of reasons the low-FODMAP diet might not gain popularity here, chief among them the fact that the following American-loved items contain high levels of FODMAPs: garlic, onions, apples, milk, and HFCS. I don’t know whether FODMAPS will enter the American vernacular, but I think it will, and at the very least, I’m curious to see how it unfolds. Check back with me in a year, and in the meantime, if you, too, want to shed the pounds, email me and I’ll be happy to tell you about this one amazing trick I found on the internet!