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Low-FODMAP Foods for IBS - what can and can't you eat?

If you are a sufferer of IBS your diet is one of the first things you need to consider and low-FODMAP foods is a good place to start. The following is my no means a defining list, but it will give you a good idea of what foods you can eat and what to avoid

Categories of low-FODMAP foods:

  1. Fruits and Vegetables:

  • Berries: Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries.

  • Citrus Fruits: Oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits.

  • Melons: Cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and watermelon.

  • Bananas: Ripe bananas (unripe bananas are higher in FODMAPs).

  • Kiwi: Green kiwi is low in FODMAPs.

  • Pineapple: Fresh pineapple is low in FODMAPs.

  • Carrots: Baby carrots and peeled carrots.

  • Bell Peppers: Red, yellow, and green bell peppers.

  • Zucchini: Zucchini (courgette) is a good choice.

  • Spinach: Baby spinach leaves.

  • Green Beans: Fresh green beans.

  • Potatoes: White potatoes (avoid sweet potatoes).

  • Tomatoes: Cherry tomatoes and vine-ripened tomatoes (avoid concentrated tomato products).

  • Lettuce: All types of lettuce.

  • Cucumbers: Sliced cucumbers.

  • Eggplant: Eggplant (aubergine).

  • Pumpkin: Butternut squash and pumpkin (small portions).

  • Ginger: Fresh ginger root.

  • Fresh Herbs: Basil, parsley, cilantro (coriander), and chives.

  1. Grains and Cereals:

  • Gluten-Free Grains: Rice (white, brown, basmati), quinoa, oats (gluten-free), and corn.

  • Bread: Gluten-free bread (check labels for FODMAP content).

  • Cereals: Gluten-free cereals (e.g., cornflakes, rice puffs).

  • Pasta: Gluten-free pasta (e.g., rice pasta).

  • Quinoa

  • Polenta

  1. Proteins:

  • Meat: Beef, chicken, turkey, pork, and lamb.

  • Fish: Most fish (avoid canned fish in brine).

  • Seafood: Shrimp, scallops, and lobster.

  • Eggs: Eggs are low in FODMAPs.

  • Tofu: Firm tofu (limit silken tofu).

  1. Dairy and Alternatives:

  • Lactose-Free Dairy: Lactose-free milk, yogurt, and cheese.

  • Hard Cheeses: Cheddar, gruyere, Emmental, and parmesan.

  • Non-Dairy Alternatives: Almond milk, coconut milk (check for additives), and lactose-free yogurt.

  1. Nuts and Seeds:

  • Pine Nuts: Pine nuts are low in FODMAPs.

  • Macadamia Nuts: Macadamia nuts are safe.

  • Peanuts: Peanuts are low in FODMAPs.

  • Chia Seeds: Chia seeds in moderation.

  1. Beverages:

  • Water: Plain water is always safe.

  • Herbal Teas: Green Tea, Peppermint tea, chamomile tea, and ginger tea.

  • Coffee: Black coffee (limit caffeine if sensitive).

  1. Condiments & Seasonings

  • Salt

  • Pepper

  • Vinegar (except apple cider vinegar)

  • Mustard

  • Soy Sauce (gluten-free)

  • Maple Syrup (limited portion)

Tofu is part of a low FODMAP diet for IBS
Tofu is part of a low FODMAP diet for IBS

Avoid High-FODMAP foods

Remember to avoid high-FODMAP foods such as onions, garlic, wheat, rye, and certain legumes. If you are vegan or prefer alternative milk, avoid Soya milk if possible. Cashew nuts are also one to avoid.

Everyone is Different!

Just remember, everyone is different and we all have different tolerances to FODMAP foods. What is good for some people is not for other and vice versa. Certain high FODMAP foods may not affect your IBS issues at all so it is important to re-introduce certain foods slowly so you can gauge what works for you and what doesn't!

What are FODMAPs?

"FODMAP" stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols. These are short-chain carbohydrates (sugars) and sugar alcohols found in many foods. When consumed, FODMAPs can be poorly absorbed in the small intestine and may ferment in the colon, leading to symptoms such as bloating, gas, abdominal pain, and diarrhea in individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or other functional gastrointestinal disorders.

Here's a breakdown of each component of FODMAPs:

Fermentable: These carbohydrates are easily fermented by bacteria in the gut, leading to the production of gas as a byproduct. This fermentation process can cause symptoms such as bloating and flatulence.

Oligosaccharides: Oligosaccharides are carbohydrates composed of short chains of sugar molecules. The two main types of oligosaccharides found in foods are fructans and galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS). Common sources of oligosaccharides include wheat, onions, garlic, legumes, and certain fruits and vegetables.

Disaccharides: Disaccharides are carbohydrates made up of two sugar molecules. The disaccharide lactose, found in dairy products, is a common FODMAP. Some individuals have difficulty digesting lactose due to insufficient levels of the enzyme lactase, leading to symptoms of lactose intolerance.

Monosaccharides: Monosaccharides are single sugar molecules. The monosaccharide fructose is a FODMAP when consumed in excess of glucose in foods. High-fructose foods such as honey, certain fruits (e.g., apples, pears), and high-fructose corn syrup can contribute to symptoms in sensitive individuals.

Polyols: Polyols, also known as sugar alcohols, are carbohydrates that have a similar structure to both sugars and alcohols. They are often used as sweeteners in sugar-free and "diet" foods. Polyols include sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, and maltitol, and they are naturally found in some fruits (e.g., apples, cherries) and vegetables (e.g., cauliflower, mushrooms).

Talk To a Specialist

By focusing on what you eat and knowing what the low-FODMAP foods are is a start, but, it is recommended that you work with a healthcare professional, nutritionist, or registered dietitian experienced in the low-FODMAP diet to ensure proper implementation and monitoring, as well as to identify and reintroduce high-FODMAP foods during the reintroduction phase of the diet.

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