You can sometimes use the Nutrition Facts panel on a food package to figure out whether something has FODMAPs in it or not. Let's use Kikkoman Soy Sauce as an example.
First place to check is the list of ingredients at the bottom of the panel. If the product has added sugars, fibers, or polyols, or food ingredients that contain them, you will see them listed in the ingredients. This sauce contains water, wheat, soybeans, salt and sodium benzoate. Hmm. Suspicion is raised because it contains soy and wheat. But does it really contain FODMAPS?
Next place to check is total carbohydrates per serving of the food. All FODMAPs, by definition, are carbohydrates. "Total carbohydrates" on the Nutrition Facts Panel is the sum of the sugars, fibers, sugar alcohols and "other" carbohydrates (usually starches). If the total carbohydrates are zero, then one serving of the product is likely to be fine to eat on the FODMAPs elimination diet.
- Lactose and fructose would show up on the nutrition facts as "sugars".
- Fructans and galactans would show up on the nutrition facts as "fiber".
- Polyols (sugar alcohols) are harder to spot. If the product makes a claim on the label about sugar, and sugar alcohols are present in the food, they must be listed on a separate line. If not, they are lumped in with "other carbohydrates" which are often not listed on the food label at all.
In our example, the total carbohydrates listed on the food label are "zero". One serving of this food contains little or no FODMAPs, less than .5 grams of total carbohydrate according the FDA Rounding Rules. Is that low enough? It's low enough to slip under the guidelines for everything but polyols. If the food really did have .49 grams of polyols per serving it might be enough to trigger symptoms for some people.
How can we make an educated guess whether or not this food might contain polyols? Polyols enter our diet as natural components of certain fruits and vegetables, and sweeteners added to food. Let's have one more look at the ingredients. There are no added sweeteners and no fruit or vegetable ingredients.
I conclude it is a very safe bet that this brand of soy sauce can be eaten during the elimination phase of the FODMAPs diet. You can use the same reasoning for other foods. Please comment if you have any brand name foods you can recommend to the rest of us!