Variations of this question are frequently asked of me on my blog, twitter and facebook. There is rarely a straight yes or no answer. I thought I would take a moment to share the considerations that go into answering this sort of question.
- Compare all such questions to the goal of the IBSFree diet: "Each person should eat the most varied and nutritious diet he or she can tolerate." An elimination diet is a short term learning diet, not meant to be a permanent, long list of rigid food rules.
- Is the person in question doing a short term experiment like the elimination phase of the IBSFree diet? (OK, there are some food rules for a short time at the beginning of the process. In this case the answer may be, if in doubt, do without, after all, its only for a couple of weeks)
- Is the person in question trying to eat a "low FODMAP diet" over a more extended period of time (In that case the answer may be try a small amount and see how it goes, or for some high nutrient value foods, eat as much as possible without triggering symptoms)
- Do we actually have the facts about the FODMAP nutrient data in the food or are we guessing?
- What portion size is in question?
- What is the FODMAP load of the rest of the meal?
Because there are so many variables, there can be many different answers to the question about whether a certain food is allowed/OK/suitable. Here is an example:
Is 1/4 cup of home-made applesauce OK in a recipe for a loaf of bread? If the questioner is on a short term elimination diet, then the answer is just plain no. Applesauce has excess fructose, and is not suitable for the elimination phase of the diet. But, if the person has figured out through the challenge process that he or she has fructose malabsorption and has to limit fructose in the diet long term, and if he or she is only going to eat one piece of the bread, which cuts the portion down to a couple of teaspoons per slice, and if the rest of the recipe and the meal is low in FODMAPs and since it would be a nutrition plus to be able to eat a little bit of apple, then yes, give it a try! Moniter tolerance and adjust in future as needed.
Remember there are two main ways to reduce the FODMAP load of your meal, snack or recipe:
1. Choose lower FODMAP alternatives (would mashed banana function equally well in the above recipe?) or
2. Reduce the portion size of the FODMAP-containing ingredients(s) until the amount of FODMAPs consumed is very small (have a smaller slice of the bread next time if it was poorly tolerated, reduce the amount of applesauce in the recipe, etc.)
Hope this helps!