The FODMAPS Approach

FODMAPS is an acronym and it stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides (eg. Fructans and Galactans), Disaccharides (eg. Lactose), Monosaccharides (e.g. excess Fructose), and Polyols (eg. Sorbitol, Mannitol, Maltitol, Xylitol and Isomalt).

These are all types of carbohydrates – sugars and starches fermentable by gut flora – and all have certain characteristics in common

  • They may be poorly absorbed in the small intestine and we therefore need the right levels of beneficial bacteria, in the right places in the gut, to digest them fully

  • They are the favourite foods of the bacteria which live in the large intestine and in some people in the small intestine too. When bacteria eat FODMAPs, a lot of gas is produced

  • FODMAPs can act as a sponge by drawing and holding excess fluid in the large intestine

Symptoms typically experienced by sufferers of this type of carbohydrate malabsorption are watery (sometimes explosive) diarrhoea, constipation or both.

Championed by Australian dieticians Jacqueline S Barrett, Professor Peter Gibson and Dr Jane Muir based at the Box Hill Hospital and Monash University, this diet involves avoiding foods containing FODMAPS and helps determine which types of carbohydrate are not tolerated by an individual. A period of exclusion of all FODMAPS before a careful re-introduction of each type of carbohydrate in turn can result in significant relief for some people. This dietary approach is increasingly being used in the treatment of IBS symptoms and is reported to be working well for many IBS sufferers.

Where are FODMAPs found?

A few examples of food sources for each of the FODMAPs are listed below

Foods containing Lactose

Milk, ice-cream, custard, other dairy desserts, condensed and evaporated milk, milk powder, yoghurt, margarine, soft un-ripened cheeses (e.g. ricotta, cottage, cream, mascarpone).

High Fructose Foods

Honey, Apples, Mango, Pear, Watermelon, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup Solids

Foods containing Galacto-Oligosaccharides

(GOS):Legumes (eg. baked beans, kidney beans, borlotti beans), Lentils, Chickpeas

Foods containing Fructans

Artichokes (Globe and Jerusalem), Asparagus, Beetroot, Chicory, Dandelion leaves, Garlic (in large amounts), Leek, Onion (brown, white, Spanish, Onion powder), Raddicio lettuce, Spring Onion (white part), Wheat (in large amounts), Rye (in large amounts). Look for
Inulin and Fructo-oligosaccharides in lists of ingredients: they are also found in onions, asparagus and bananas.

Foods containing Polyols

Apples, Apricots, Avocado, Cherries, Lychee, Nectarines, Pears , Plums, Prunes, Mushrooms, Sorbitol (e420), mannitol (e421), xylitol (e967), maltitol (e965) and Isomalt (e953).


We use FODMAPS fairly frequently at IBS Clinics as many IBS sufferers have some degree of carbohydrate malabsorption.

Although the diet can initially feel daunting, the personalised guidance we give on meal choices helps most of our clients do very well. In some cases this diet has afforded almost complete symptom relief, whilst others have experienced 40-50% improvement. Further investigations and interventions are warranted for this group of patients.

To find out more and learn how we can help you, please contact us