Hello and welcome to FODMAP Essentials! I’m Amanda and I’ve had digestive issues for as long as I can remember.
I began studying the low FODMAP lifestyle to see if it might help me. I did a lot of research and quickly became frustrated with the low FODMAP information I found online.
Every website, article or blog post just told me to buy an app. Or just told me whether foods are low or high FODMAP without any explanation.
I don’t want to rely on an app to tell me what to eat. And I certainly don’t want to take dietary advice from random websites. I want facts and data so I can make my own decisions.
Since I couldn’t find a resource like that, I started building my own.
Why I Don’t Use Food Apps
Just to be clear: there’s nothing wrong with low FODMAP apps if you find them useful. But they’re not a good option for me.
Like a lot of people with life-long digestive problems, I have a love-hate relationship with food. I’ve had many struggles with food and eating over the years. I’ve gone through long periods of disordered eating. This is why I won’t use low FODMAP apps.
My biggest concern with these apps is how they encourage people to eat ridiculously small amounts of food just to stay within low FODMAP guidelines. For example, a popular app states that pears are low FODMAP at a serving size of 5 grams. That’s the weight of 5 small paperclips.
The truth is, any food can be made low FODMAP if you reduce the portion size enough. You can also make ice cream low calorie by only eating one tablespoon. Or make soda low sugar by only drinking one ounce. Of course, those last two recommendations are silly. But everyday, people with low FODMAP apps are being encouraged to eat foods in those kinds of portions.
The severely restricted portion sizes reported on low FODMAP apps can be detrimental to people like me who already have issues with disordered eating. So, I decided early on that I wouldn’t rely on apps when navigating my low FODMAP journey.
But I quickly ran into a problem: everyone uses apps! I had a hard time finding information on low FODMAP foods that didn’t just tell me to buy the app. I realized if I wanted high-quality, factual data, I had to find it myself.
I started FODMAP Essentials to share the results of my research with other people. People like me who want actual data so they can make informed decisions and chart their own course.
Bio-individuality and Why It Matters
Another reason I don’t use low FODMAP apps is their “one-size-fits-all” approach. They categorize foods as high or low FODMAP based on criteria set by researchers doing tests in labs. But I come from a research background. I know that what makes sense in a research setting may or may not work in real life.
Just because a food is high FODMAP doesn’t mean everyone sensitive to that food will react the same way. For example, I’m sensitive to fructans, but only at fairly high levels. I can eat wheat without issue, but raw onions are a definite no for me. If I just stuck to foods rated low fructan by researchers, I’d eliminate a lot of foods from my diet for no good reason.
This is an example of bio-individuality, the idea that everyone’s internal systems are unique. There are so many factors that affect our relationship with food and how our bodies process food: our culture and upbringing, our allergies and sensitivities, our gut bacteria, and our hormone levels, among many others.
Apps that categorize foods as high or low FODMAP don’t tell us anything about how any one individual may react to certain foods. The high/low, yes/no aspect of these apps can lead to right/wrong, good/bad thinking and lead people to unnecessarily restrict foods.
This is another reason I don’t use FODMAP apps. Using apps undermines my efforts to develop healthier relationships with my body and with food. I’d much rather try different foods and feel how my body reacts than restrict the range of foods my body can experience based on what some app says.
Disclaimer: I’m Not That Kind of Doctor
While I do have a doctorate, I’m not a medical doctor. I’ve studied and taught about food mostly from a cultural perspective. I teach about foodways in different parts of the world. I’ve studied farming in rural America and how many Americans struggle to get food. I just want to be upfront about this: while I’ve always had interest in food issues, I’m not a medical doctor.
But I am a researcher. I’ve done quantitative research. I’ve taught statistics. I’m capable of reading and summarizing research articles from a variety of fields. And, if you read my blog posts, you’ll see that I cite data from a wide variety of sources, from medical studies to agronomy journals.
You can learn more about how I conduct research for this website on the data and methods page, then decide for yourself whether I’m a trustworthy source. That’s what this whole website is about: giving you information to make your own informed decisions.
If you do read the blog, you’ll notice that I often (not always) come to the same conclusions as low FODMAP apps. The difference is that I provide actual data to show how I reached those conclusions. I don’t just tell you the result, I show you the data I relied on and the thought process undertaken to get there.
My Goals for FODMAP Essentials
I created this website to share what I’m learning about the FODMAP content of foods. I figured if I’m interested in this information, other people might be, too. It’s important to take this information out of research labs and academic journals and make it available to the people who will be helped most by it.
I’m just getting started here, but my goal is to make FODMAP Essentials the most helpful resource on the internet for low FODMAPers. The first thing I want to do is create a series of food guides that examine the FODMAP content in popular foods. That project will keep me busy for a long time.
If you’ve read through all this, thank you. Thank you for reading my story and learning about what I’m trying to accomplish here. I really do appreciate you visiting the website and hope you find the information here helpful.