You'll be happy to know that if you chose to follow the low FODMAP diet, you CAN include wheat. The low FODMAP eating plan and the Gluten free diet are not the same thing- a popular misconception. It's mostly about portion size when it comes to eating wheat products while following the low FOMAP plan.
So why does wheat cause abdominal discomfort, gas or bloating for those with IBS? Because wheat contains fructans and GOS (these fall under the O for oligosaccharides in the FODMAP acronym). High levels of oligosaccharides can trigger gastrointestinal symptoms in some people.
So what wheat products can you include? According to Monash University, below are the suggested items and their recommended portion size.
1. White Wheat Sourdough Bread (2 slices, 109g)
Sourdough bread made from white wheat is low FODMAP. This is because the natural bacteria in the sourdough culture ferment the fructans and reduce the FODMAP content to safe levels.
Wholemeal wheat sourdough bread is also low FODMAP due to its manufacturing process (Monash App, 2016). Make sure you buy a traditional sourdough loaf that doesn’t contain added yeast. Added yeast speeds up the rising process, which means the bread will have higher levels of FODMAPs.
3. White Wheat Bread (1 slice)
Monash University have tested USA and Australian white wheat breads. These breads are low FODMAP in 1 slice serves (USA 35g serve or Australian 24g serve) White wheat bread generally becomes high FODMAP at 2 slices.
4. Wheat Bran (1/2 tablespoon)
Small amounts of unprocessed or processed wheat bran are also low FODMAP. The low FODMAP serving is ½ tablespoon and it then becomes high FODMAP at a 1 tablespoon serving.
5. Wheat Pasta (1/2 cup or 74g cooked)
You can also enjoy ½ cup or a 74g serving. This pasta does become high FODMAP at a 1 cup serving.
So, can you eat these wheat products every day?
You can enjoy the low FODMAP serving size of the high FODMAP wheat products during the elimination phase of the diet. It is recommend that you only have one serving of a high FODMAP food per meal. I also recommend you weigh your portion to ensure you're within limits. If you want to have a second serving you need to leave a few hours between. During the elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet you may find you need to limit frequency a high FODMAP food. The time it takes for a body to digest food will vary from person to person. It can take from 12-48 hours for food to pass through. It is best to monitor your symptoms and adjust your food intake as needed. For example, you might find you can tolerate 1 slice of wheat bread every two days, instead of every day.
Low FODMAP vs Gluten Free
The low FODMAP diet is not a gluten free diet so it can be difficult to understand why gluten free products are sometimes recommended. Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat endosperm (in layman’s terms, this is the type of tissue produced in seeds that is ground to make flour). Gluten- a protein- is NOT a source of FODMAPs (only certain carbohydrates are FODMAPs!!) Gluten is commonly found in wheat, rye, and barley.
Gluten free products are often recommended on the low FODMAP diet as they remove wheat, rye and barley from our daily diets. This can significantly reduce our intake of fructans and lower our overall level of FODMAPs. Some people find it easier to eliminate wheat all together to make it more simple to select food when shopping and eating out. This may not be practical for all those with IBS; it's really up to the individual. However, there are gluten free foods that are high FODMAPs such as agave, honey, sorbitol, chickpea, coconut flour...so following a gluten free plan will not benefit you if you have IBS. Only if you have Celiac Disease if it imperative you follow a gluten free diet.
This brings me to my next topic.. how to manage the low FODMAP eat plan when dining out.
If possible try and select a gluten free option on the menu and check for other hidden high FODMAPs (onions, garlic, leeks,dried fruit, sugar alcohols). This will help you avoid issues and enjoy a happy dining out experience. As a consolation, remember that small traces of wheat should not be an issue. (Generally speaking, trace contamination from wheat is only an issue if you suffer from coeliac disease.)
If you can’t tolerate the low FODMAP serving of wheat products as per above, it could be due to several factors:
Check you have been tested for celiac disease. If you have celiac disease you won’t be able to tolerate any wheat, rye or barley, or any products that contain trace gluten.
Check the product doesn’t have any added high FODMAP ingredients like fruit juice concentrate or inulin.
You might be consuming other foods that are high FODMAP that are keeping your overall FODMAP levels high. This means when you eat the safe serve of the wheat product you are pushed over your FODMAP threshold limit and experience symptoms. Having professional guidance from a dietitian will ensure you're selecting the appropriate foods.
You might be consuming a low FODMAP food in a large quantities, which is making that food high. FODMAP and influencing your tolerance levels.
Sometimes there are preservatives & seeds in breads that contain naturally occurring food chemicals. These are different to FODMAPs but can cause reactions in some people. A dietitian can help you figure out if these are causing issues.
Other environmental factors might be influencing your symptoms like illness, lack of sleep, or stress.
Again, trying to eliminate your IBS symptoms via the low FODMAPs diet is a great idea. Proceed with caution as you want avoid any nutrition deficiencies and continue to eat a well balanced nutritious diet.
Contact me for more details or if you'd like to try the low FODMAP eat plan with expert guidance and coaching.