The FODMaP diet

I have suffered with bouts of IBS for over 10 years, however for the past 2 months I have been suffering every day. I suffer with abdominal pains, sometimes with pangs of pain in my left or right side. I was having bowel movements morning and night and found that every time I ate my stomach would bloat and I would need to empty my bowels. My doctor has given me many different types of medicine to try including Fybogel but to no avail so I am now trying out the FODMaP diet. I've haven't yet spoken to my doctor about it - is it best to do this under the supervision of a doctor or dietician? I have cut out wheat and dairy - can anyone recommend a nice tasting cheese substitute and name any supermarket that sells it? I've tried FODMaP for 3days now and my IBS symptons have eased up although I still get abdominal aches - is this usual and will they pass in time?

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25 Replies

  • I am about to see a FODMAP dietician but have done some reading about it and as I understand it you can have some ordinary cheeses even if you are lactose intolerant. Semi-firm or firm cheeses, such as aged cheddar, gruyere, Parmigiano-Reggiano, aged pecorinos, Swiss, etc. because most have absolutely no lactose. You want to avoid mozzarella (fresh and "pizza" cheese), paneer, cottage cheese, fresh ricotta & fromage frais.

    Hope this helps.

  • Thanks Dotty423 that's very helpful and a relief! I also wondered about butter or margarine - are there any types to avoid or any you can recommend? Many thanks

  • Margarine alternative

    Yes there's a dairy free one called pure its available at asda tesco etc

  • Thanks for the info! According to MONASH, mozzarella is okay.. not 100% why but that's what they say!

  • Hi. Yes you can have butter, margarine,vegetable oils, lard, dripping and garlic infused oil as a substitute for the real thing.

    Iam getting this info from a book called 'The Complete Low FODMAP diet' by Sue Shepherd and Peter Gibson. It's really good.

  • Thanks Dotty, good advice and I will get the book.

  • Hi jessk23,

    Agree with dotty423, 'The Complete Low FODMAP diet' by Sue Shepherd and Peter Gibson has excellent advice. Also go to the website for Monash University (where Sue Shepherd helped develop the diet) for further info, you can also download a brilliant app from there - great for taking with you when you shop or eat out. Patsy Catsos has also written a book which guides you through the diet step-by-step called, 'IBS - Free At Last'. Be careful of using info from anywhere else on the web/books though as much of it is just plain wrong or outdated.

    I did FODMAPs long before the NHS got behind it just using the app I mentioned and Patsy's book - it isn't rocket science. When I eventually saw an NHS dietitian about it, I didn't find its version anything like as strict or clear-cut as Monash's so stuck with that.

    The majority of hard cheeses are okay to eat as is butter, as they contain either no, or only trace amounts, of lactose, so don't be fooled into buying expensive 'lactose-free' stuff - there's always somebody out there ready to take advantage and rip you off! Also stay clear of processed foods whenever possible as they contain lots of additives (you'd be amazed at the rubbish that gets dumped in our food) which don't suit IBS-ers. Processed wheat-free bread is a good example.

    You have to to the diet in its entirety to make it work, which takes a lot of willpower and fiddling about, but worth it if it works for you!


  • Thanks Roz, that's great advice. I try to stay clear of processed foods because I have already found I react quite badly to them. I'm pescetarian and tried eating quorn but that didn't seem to work for me, think its because like the bread you mentioned above it's too heavily processed. I will get that book you and Dotty have recommended.

  • What bread do you suggest?

  • I have a breadmaker with recipes and programmes for wheat/barley/rye-free bread which I made good use of before discovering (fortunately) that I wasn't intolerant of either fructans or gluten. As an alternative, I also used to eat corn tortillas.

  • Try bread from a real bakers, also overnight bread or spelt is better. Also found a natural toothpaste is good

  • What about a suitable gluten free bread?

  • Spelt is gluten free, toothpaste paste has lots of chemicals in it and I've just found that my IBS is calmer now I us a natural one

  • What's the prpblem with toothpaste?

  • The fact that you want cheese implies it is probably a trigger.....when that is the case you totally steer clear. The want/craving will always be there. Stop it completely.... the need for it will pass. I would try that for 6months to year then consider a substitute. Good luck. Oh ps there is a good book on fodmaps called "ibs free at last"

  • I'm now 66 and was diagnosed in 2012 and I'm now on a dairy free diet and I haven't found any substitute for cheese so I just don't have it !!!

    I also use Pure Sunflower spread and Alpro milk and yogurt. I also only eat white bread

  • Have you tried Buscopan

  • I have to say for the last few days since cutting wheat & dairy out I do feel a whole lot better. My IBS D symptoms have greatly reduced, I occasionally still get dull pains and the occasional sharp one particularly on my sides but I have to say this is a massive improvement on how I felt a week ago. I haven't bothered with gluten free bread because I know from past experience heavily processed food doesn't agree with me and this seems to be case for a lot of IBS sufferers.

  • Feta is allowed as well. I agree with RozB that the NHS diet isn’t as strict as the Monash version, in fact I’ve just started the Fodmap diet that doesn’t exclude fructose (because I had a breath test to rule fructose malabsorption out) and I’m wondering if it’s strict enough!

    For example Monash say you should only have 2 portions of fruit per day whilst my dietician says as long as I leave an hour between portions of allowed fruit I can have as much as I like, which doesn’t sound right to me. I’m currently eating 3/4 bananas a day but I’m worried that that might be too much.

    I’m also confused about how many nuts I can have a day as the NHS booklet says a small handful of walnuts but doesn’t specify if that is per sitting or per day. If anyone knows the answer I’d be very grateful?

    Unfortunately I don’t have the technology to get the Monash Ap, but I’m considering getting one of the 2 books RozB mentioned, I just need to decide which. Can anyone tell me which one goes into the most detail about ingredients to look out for? In particular I’m unsure whether gelatine, sulphates & glucosamine are ok to have? As these are all in the supplements that I take.

    Even though I have seen a dietician I feel like I am doing the diet on my own anyway. So if I were you I’d start it yourself but still try and get a referral to a dietician for help reintroducing foods.

  • Monash says that 30g (10 halves) of walnuts per day should be okay and banana at 100g. I think you're right and that a lot of fruit on a daily basis isn't such a great idea especially if you're a D-type.

    If possible, get both of the books I recommended as they're both extremely helpful.

  • Try cutting out diary totally ......even the lactose free can often be the protein in dairy not just the lactose sugars...good luck

  • I thought as much, thanks for the confirmation Roz and for the information about walnuts. At least I haven’t been eating too much of those!

    So is that 100g banana per sitting or per day? If it's per day, is 100g of banana the total amount of fruit I am allowed that day, or can I have a portion of a different type of fruit as well?

    I can’t really afford to get both books at the moment. Which one is most likely to help me establish which niggly ingredients, such as gelatine, glucosamine and sulphates, I am allowed to have?

  • Portion sizes are always per day. I think you have to work out for yourself just how much fruit you can tolerate as we're all so different. I usually only have 2 portions daily.

    Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be that much info 'out there' about food additives although Patsy Catsos does list some in her book. I Google ingredients, such as 'does such-and-such contain FODMAPs?' - sometimes I actually get an answer but more often not. It's worth emailing Monash directly and asking them if they have a list or are working on one, they do reply if you contact them and are very helpful.

  • Thanks, I’ve never thought about doing that. You’re right-I will have to play around with the amount of fruit I eat and see what happens.

    I’m wondering now if the dietician told me that I could eat more fruit because I’m on the Fodmap diet that doesn’t exclude fructose.

    Thanks again.

  • That may well be the case, but many fruits contain other FODMAPs as well as fructose, so always check them out and see what suits you.

    Remember that it can take up to 48 hours for food to transit the digestive system, so what you ate yesterday may not be the problem, but what you had the day before... It's all a bit tricky, but you get there in the end if you persevere!

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