HOW TO: Label Reading for Low FODMAP
Something that can be an overwhelming and daunting part of following the low FODMAP diet, especially during the strict elimination phase is grocery shopping and selecting suitable products. It can be difficult to decipher what exactly is in a product and whether it is high or low FODMAP and safe for you to eat without triggering a flare. Here are some handy tips that may help take some of the stress out of grocery shopping.
TIP 1: ALWAYS CHECK THE INGREDIENTS
It is super important to make sure you’re reading the ingredients list on all products!! The ingredients list can generally be found on the back or side panel of a product. Ingredients are listed in order from highest volume to lowest volume. This means that although a product may contain an ingredient that is high FODMAP, if it is further down on the ingredients list, it may be in a dose that is safe to eat.
The ingredients list also often contains allergy notice which can be very important!!
TIP 2: BE AWARE OF COMMON HIGH FODMAP INGREDIENTS
The ingredients list can be a confusing place, filled with big and confusing additives and preservatives which are often misunderstood. Knowing which ingredients to look out for will save you time & stress! Here listed are some common ingredients that are known to be high FODMAP. If these ingredients are in the first few ingredients, it’s an indication that the product is most likely high FODMAP and should be avoided.
TIP 3: STAY ON THE LOOK OUT FOR LOW FODMAP GREEN FLAGS
Monash University and Fodmap Friendly certifications can make it easy to identify FODMAP approved products. These are two symbols that are often found on the front or under the ingredients panel of low FODMAP products. They indicate that laboratory testing has been carried out to determine that the product is low FODMAP. Both symbols are equally as reputable – one symbol is not rated more highly than other. So, if a product contains either or both symbols, you can rest assured that it is safe for consumption. They can also be used if you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to study the ingredients list!
TIP 4: USE YOUR APPS!
There are many apps available that can be used to help better understand specific ingredients or products. They are laid out in an easy to follow layout and rely a lot on visual elements which is great if you don’t like a lot of reading! The Monash University FODMAP app is one of the most comprehensive apps available however it does have an initial purchase price of $12.99. However, there are other great, apps available that serve a similar purpose like Spoonful and FODMAP friendly app which are cheaper or free.
One of the keys to the success of the low FODMAP diet is knowing your food products and what is safe for you to eat. Having the knowledge of label reading is an amazing and important tool to have in your toolbox in order to help you achieve that success. By knowing your way around labels and what to look for, this can remove the stress and feelings of overwhelm that surround grocery shopping and allow you to feel safe and in control of your low FODMAP journey.
A note on the author
Hey, I'm Abby! I’m a fourth-year Dietetics student studying at the University of the Sunshine Coast. You can follow me at my Instagram @nutritionbyabby where I post simple, evidence-based dietary information, tips and tricks.