FODMAPS explained – foods to avoid with IBS

Now you probably know quite a lot about food, allergens and healthy eating, like me, but sometimes people mention something I should look into and I’m completely stumped. More than one person has mentioned this weird acronyn to me too so I thought it was about time I looked into exactly what FODMAPS is all about.

I had assumed (wrongly) that it would include a list of processed foods and unhealthy foods which I am already avoiding due to allergies so I wasn’t prepared for what I found out.

It is nothing whatsoever to do with geography, maps etc. but it relates to certain foods which can cause digestive problems for many people, especially those with Irritable bowl syndrome (IBS) and/or coeliac disease.

It stands for Fermentable Oligosacharides Disacharides, Monosacharides And Polyols.

Right well that helped then – NOT! I only get the first word, I know what Fermentable means. But basically the foods in this group can cause bloating, constipation, diarohea and flatulence so the fermentable tells you what’s kind of going on an IBS stomach. All that bubbling, gurgling and discomfort. But what about the rest? What does it mean? Well, each word refers to a food type, so vegetables, fruit, lactose and sugar.

  1. Fermentable = The process through which gut bacteria break down undigested carbohydrate to produce gases (hydrogen, methane and carbon dioxide).
  2. Oligo-saccharides = Fructo-oligosaccarides (FOS) or Fructans. Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS).
  3. Disaccharides = Lactose.
  4. Mono-saccharide = Fructose (in excess of glucose).
  5. Polyols = Sugar polyols (eg. sorbitol, mannitol).

Now I know we Brits don’t generally discuss our bowel movements so this is a squeamish warning. Look away if you find talking about poos and farts offputting. Basically mine (my stools) used to be something to be proud of. They were regular as clock work, almost clean at the first wipe, I rarely ever farted and I often had two of these impressive movements a day. I was smug about my incredible digestion. I had worked out what foods caused my allergies, eczema etc. and worked out a healthy diet to follow.

Well let’s just say that now, quite often I am not even safe to be out in polite company. I could clear a room in seconds some evenings! I no longer look forward to a nice, big clean poo. It’s not nice. Need I say more?

So after a quick google I thought maybe this FODMAPS thing might help me. After reading the list of foods which supposedly caused the IBS symptoms I had been having, I realised I was doomed. My diet consists mostly of ALL these foods! What was I to do?

Here it is, a list of foods on the FODMAPS long avoid list!

Vegetables to avoid on a FODMAPS diet

  • Asparagus (fructose, fructans)
  • Artichoke (fructose)
  • Beetroot (fructans)
  • Broccoli (fructans)
  • Brussels sprouts (fructan)
  • Butternut squash (fructans)
  • Cabbage (fructans)
  • Celery (polyols)
  • Cauliflower (polyols)
  • Eggplant
  • Fennel (fructans)
  • Garlic (fructans)
  • Leek (fructans)
  • Mushroom (polyol)
  • Okra (fructans)
  • Onion (fructans)
  • Shallots (fructans)
  • Sweet corn (fructose)
  • Radish (fructans)
  • Sweet potato (polyol)

Fruit to avoid on a FODMAPS diet

  • Apples (fructose, polyol)
  • Apricots (polyol)
  • Avocados (polyol)
  • Blackberries (polyol)
  • Cherries (fructose, polyol)
  • Plums (polyol)
  • Lychees (polyol)
  • Nectarines (polyol)
  • Peaches (polyol)
  • Pears (fructose, polyol),
  • Persimmons (polyol)
  • Grapes (fructose)
  • Mango (fructose)
  • Watermelon (polyol, fructose)
  • Dried fruit (fructose)
  • Juice (fructose)

Other foods to avoid on a FODMAPS diet

  • Sweeteners like honey, agave nectar, maltitol, sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol.
  • Any dairy that contains significant amounts of lactose, like milk or soft cheeses. Sometimes cream and butter should be avoided too

Right so some of these I can avoid without a moments thought like the dairy, celery and sweeteners, but what about the other stuff? This is pretty much a list of what I eat every day!

The foods that I’m eating most of at the moment are the ones on a food elimination diet programme including apples, pears, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, sweet potato, brocolli…

I could cry, really. What next? Well it’s not all doom a gloom. We are all different and most people will react to a few in each group but often not all. So by avoiding them all for a week or so and then slowly trying them one at a time and monitoring things if you get my drift, it should be possible to narrow things down.

More to follow on what you CAN eat on a low FODMAPS diet if you think the above foods could be causing you problems. And also an update on whether following this advice and cutting down on high FODMAPS food diet helps me!

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About RuthS

Ruth works freelance as a copywriter and writes the What Allergy blog to share information with people who have allergies, eczema, asthma and food intolerances. was voted in the top 5 allergy blogs and Ruth also judges regularly for the FreeFrom Food Awards and FreeFrom Skincare Awards. She runs a support group for the Anaphylaxis Campaign and also writes regularly for Exchange, The National Eczema Society quarterly magazine.


  1. Ken Keene says:

    You do not mention what you were eating before (when digestion was good) and what you are eating now. If they are the same things then surely they can’t all now be a problem? Maybe it’s just one or two foodstuffs. Do you have other symptoms e.g. skin reactions? By comparing these to similar reactions from foodstuffs you know cause a problem, perhaps there will be a clue.

    I wish you luck with your scientific approach to solving this problem for the sake of those around you as well!

    • Hey Ken, I’m wondering now as my digestion is beginning to return to normal. It could be a few things so that’s great advice. I will keep a food diary for a while. Slowly testing some of the things above which I can normally eat. Pears last night, no problems. A simple diet for a week has really helped so it could have just been a stomach bug, who knows. Re symptoms, I get the whole thing, stomach, skin, nodular prurigo etc. I’m getting there so thanks for the support. I hope it won’t come to handing out pegs for people’s noses!

  2. Marilyn Chandler says:

    I am intolerant of onions and garlic – there is hardly anything shop bought that doesn’t contain them in some form or other. They aren’t always mentioned in ingredients either – ‘flavourings’ often contain them with disastrous consequences!


  1. […] FODMAPS explained – foods to avoid with IBS | what allergy? – If you get irritable bowel syndrome … (IBS) and/or coeliac disease. It stands for Fermentable Oligosacharides Disacharides, … Here it is, a list of foods on the FODMAPS long avoid list! Vegetables to avoid on a FODMAPS diet. Asparagus (fructose, … […]

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