Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Low FODMAP diets

6-minute read

Key facts

  • A low FODMAP diet reduces foods which contain fermentable sugars from your diet.
  • It can help some people avoid abdominal (tummy) pain and other symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • A low FODMAP diet reduces foods such as garlic, dairy, onions and apples to try and avoid triggering IBS symptoms.
  • If you are considering a low FODMAP diet, speak to a dietitian to ensure you still get adequate nutrition.
  • A low FODMAP diet should not be followed permanently as it’s not nutritionally adequate.

What is a low FODMAP diet?

FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. These are the chemical names of 5 naturally occurring sugars that are not well absorbed by your small intestine.

In some people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), these sugars can trigger symptoms, such as:

These symptoms can affect your life, make you feel uncomfortable and cause embarrassment.

A low FODMAP diet has 2 stages.

  1. In the first stage you temporarily reduce foods which contain these sugars. This helps you to identify if your symptoms are triggered by one of these sugars.
  2. In the next stage you learn how much of these foods you can eat before your symptoms appear. This way of eating is often followed permanently. This can help people with IBS control their symptoms.

How was the low FODMAP diet developed?

The low FODMAP diet was developed by researchers at Monash University in Victoria, Australia.

The researchers identified which foods are low in FODMAPs and high in FODMAPs. This helps people with IBS identify how much of these foods they can eat.

Which foods are high in FODMAPs?

Many foods contain FODMAPs. Some of these foods are:

  • garlic
  • onions
  • apples
  • green peas
  • some marinated meats
  • dairy products (e.g., milk and yoghurt)
  • chickpeas
  • wheat, barley and rye-based bread

People with symptoms of IBS may find it helpful to limit the amounts of high FODMAP foods they eat. And increase the amount of low FODMAP foods they eat.

Low FODMAP foods include:

  • red capsicum
  • oranges
  • grapes
  • eggs
  • plain cooked meat
  • oats
  • rice
  • dark chocolate
  • peanuts

For a complete list of high and low FODMAP foods, visit the Monash University FODMAP website.

They also have an app which helps you identify low FODMAP foods — Monash FODMAP app.

What if I want to start a low FODMAP diet?

If you are considering a low FODMAP diet, you should consult a dietitian. They can:

  • advise you on which foods to eat and which foods to avoid
  • help you reintroduce certain foods back into your diet so you can figure out which foods trigger your IBS

How to follow a low FODMAP diet

A low FODMAP diet is not a lifetime diet. It’s usually recommended for 2 to 6 weeks at a time. This will let your IBS symptoms get better. You should see a dietitian before following a low FODMAP diet.

If your symptoms have improved, you can start to reintroduce one FODMAP food at a time. This is called a ‘FODMAP challenge’. Each challenge lasts around 3 days, during which you can record any IBS symptoms you have. FODMAP challenges will help figure out which foods trigger your IBS symptoms.

Based on this information, you can then follow a diet that:

  • includes FODMAP foods you can tolerate
  • restricts the foods that trigger your IBS symptoms

Some people find that they only need to avoid some high FODMAP foods, not all of them.

If your symptoms have not improved on the FODMAP diet you should see a dietitian for advice on other therapies.

Possible side effects of low FODMAP diets

There are a wide range of foods you may need to modify if you have IBS. So while you’re on the first stage of a FODMAP diet, your levels of certain nutrients may drop. These include:

Because of this, it’s important that you see a dietitian. They can suggest low FODMAP alternatives to ensure you still get adequate nutrients. You may also need to take vitamin and mineral supplements in the short term.

Will a low FODMAP diet work for me?

Before you begin a low FODMAP diet, you should work with your doctor. They can help make sure that what you have is IBS and not another condition such as:

Sometimes, IBS symptoms can be triggered by things other than FODMAPs in the diet, such as:

Your dietitian can help you identify if these other things are an issue for you.

If you follow the low FODMAP diet and your symptoms don’t improve, speak to your dietitian. They can suggest other therapies, including stress reduction and fibre supplements.

Resources and support

For more information about a low FODMAP diet:

If you have IBS, you can seek support from the Irritable Bowel Information and Support Association of Australia.

CHECK YOUR SYMPTOMS — Use the Symptom Checker and find out if you need to seek medical help.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: January 2023


Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

How IBS is Treated | IBS Natural Treatment | IBS Clinic

How IBS is Treated: It can be dejecting to hear that there is no way of ‘curing’ IBS, but that does not mean that symptoms cannot be minimised and managed.

Read more on Mindovergut.com website

Food Intolerances Associated with IBS | IBS Symptoms | IBS Clinic

Food Intolerances Associated with IBS: Fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols are short-chain carbohydrates

Read more on Mindovergut.com website

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) | Dietitians Australia

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and how can dietary strategies help improve its uncomfortable symptoms?

Read more on Dietitians Australia website

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) - Better Health Channel

Irritable bowel syndrome can't be cured with medications or special diets but avoiding individual triggers can help prevent it.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Differentiating between IBD and IBS – Crohn’s & Colitis Australia (CCA)

For more than 30 years, Crohn’s & Colitis Australia has been empowering the more than 100,000 Australian's living with Crohn’s disease or IBD.

Read more on Crohn's & Colitis Australia website

Irritable bowel syndrome: causes, symptoms and treatment - myDr.com.au

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that causes symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhoea and/or constipation.

Read more on myDr website

Gluten-free diets | Dietitians Australia

A gluten-free diet is the foundation of managing coeliac disease. The popularity of gluten-free diets and products has grown in recent years. Internet searches for gluten-free diets are now the third most popular searched-for diet. This growth in popularity comes from claims that not eating gluten helps with a range of illnesses, even in people who do not have coeliac disease. But there is very little evidence that a gluten-free diet benefits everyone.

Read more on Dietitians Australia website

Gluten-free diet - Better Health Channel

Gluten sensitivity can be managed with a gluten-free diet.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Nutrition – Crohn’s & Colitis Australia (CCA)

For more than 30 years, Crohn’s & Colitis Australia has been empowering the more than 100,000 Australian's living with Crohn’s disease or IBD.

Read more on Crohn's & Colitis Australia website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Queensland Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.