As you've likely already discovered, the things that you eat can have a direct effect on how you feel. Sometimes you'll eat something and feel like you can conquer the world afterwards, while other times you'll eat something that makes you feel less than stellar. And while feeling off doesn't always mean that there's anything wrong, if you're dealing with frustrating, painful, and potentially embarrassing stomach troubles, it might be because of what you're eating. Between allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities, it can be hard to know what's what, but the signs your stomach troubles are caused by a FODMAP sensitivity are important to know because you first might suspect something like a lactose or gluten intolerance, when it's really something else. FODMAPs deal with many more foods, so if you have a sensitivity to them, cutting out gluten or lactose likely won't be enough.
Even the idea of FODMAPs might be confusing or brand-new to you, unless you already know you have a FODMAP sensitivity or a doctor or dietitian brought it to your attention before. If you have a FODMAP sensitivity, it means that your body doesn't correctly absorb certain kinds of carbohydrates, namely some fibers and sugars, Leigh Tracy, RD, LDN, CDE, a registered dietitian at Mercy Medical Center, tells Romper by email.
"FODMAP is an acronym that stands for the certain kinds of carbohydrates that get malabsorbed — fermentable oligosaccharides, disacharides, monosaccharides, and polyols," Tracy explains. "These carbohydrates are found in a variety of foods and beverages including onions, garlic, honey, agave nectar, milk, wheat, barely, apples, and some nuts and beans." They're also found in other kinds of fruits and vegetables, some grains, other legumes, and sweeteners.
An elimination-style, low-FODMAP diet might be able to help you determine if your stomach issues are caused by a sensitivity, as well as give you greater clarity as to which foods might cause them — and how much results in a reaction. "The low-FODMAP diet has its pros and cons," Drew Johnson, co-founder of The Gut Program, tells Romper in an email exchange. "The diet can be hard to learn how to start and maintain, however, it is not a diet that you need to stay on forever. In fact, the diet is designed to help you heal your gut and ID the foods that are causing issues with you. It was not designed to be on forever. Once you ID the foods that cause you issues you can avoid them completely, or as your gut heals you can try them in low doses."
If you have certain health conditions, you might also be more likely to have a FODMAP sensitivity. "FODMAP sensitivity is common for people with SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), IBS, Crohn’s disease, and colitis," Amanda Malachesky, a functional nutrition practitioner, tells Romper by email.
If you think you have SIBO (or any other condition), you should speak to your doctor about it. Jennie Miremadi, MS, CNS, LDN, an integrative clinical nutritionist, tells Romper by email that she advises clients who have reactions to high-FODMAP foods to get tested (in the case of conditions that have tests that can be done, like SIBO).
Knowing which signs you need to look out for can help you determine if you might benefit from addressing a potential FODMAP sensitivity or not.