If you’re following a low FODMAP diet but haven’t heard of the FODMAP Friendly Food Program, and their app, then it’s time you did. The FODMAP Friendly food program holds the only Certification Trademark registered around the world for certifying FODMAP levels in foods. This is significant because as a Certification Trademark, the rules have been approved by the relevant regulatory authorities to ensure that publicly available objective standards are applied consistently to the products bearing the Certification Trademark. This was co-founded by Dr Sue Shepherd and Timothy Mottin.
Here’s how the FODMAP Friendly Food Program works…
- A food manufacturer applies to the program to have a specific product tested for FODMAP content.
- The product is sent to an approved food testing laboratory that tests it for all of the FODMAPs. This laboratory is independent to both the FODMAP Friendly Food Program and the food manufacturer, ensuring that there’s no bias in the test results.
- If the food item is found to be low FODMAP, with minimal amounts of all types FODMAPs, the food manufacturer is approved to use the FODMAP Friendly logo on their packaging. The low FODMAP food also gets added to the FODMAP Friendly app.
- To maintain the certification, the food manufacturer is not permitted to change the product formulation, ensuring that the certified food remains low FODMAP in subsequent batches. If they do make changes, the product needs to be retested.
- To ensure that approved products continue to meet the criteria required to use the certification Trademark, products are randomly audited by the FODMAP Friendly Food Program.
- Only products that are approved by the FODMAP Friendly program can use the FODMAP Friendly logo on their packaging since it’s a Government Registered Certification Trademark.
Okay, so that’s how the program works, but how does it make your life easier when you’re following a low FODMAP diet? Here’s how…
1. The FODMAP Friendly Food Program stops you from making mistakes.
The best thing about the FODMAP Friendly Food Program and the Certification Trademark is that you don’t have to try and work out whether a food is low FODMAP based on other claims present on the food packaging. For instance, labels may claim that a product is ‘fructose friendly’, ‘dairy-free’, ‘lactose-free’, ‘gluten-free’, or ‘grain-free’, but this doesn’t tell you anything about the overall FODMAP load. A good example of this is a lactose-free yoghurt that includes inulin as a prebiotic, where the inulin makes the yoghurt high FODMAP even though it’s lactose-free.
But when a food is approved as FODMAP Friendly, you don’t have to try to decipher those claims. You just need to look for the green logo and you’ll know it’s low FODMAP. No more guessing and making mistakes because you misinterpreted a claim or forgot about one little high FODMAP ingredient.
NOTE: If you have additional food intolerances or allergies, you’ll still need to check that the other items you need to avoid aren’t present, but you can be confident of the FODMAP side of things.
2. It removes the stress of the grocery shopping so you’re in and out faster.
When you have to read every single label and cross-check it against food lists, grocery shopping is exceptionally tedious and takes forever. Can you imagine how much easier it would be to choose your groceries at a glance simply because you spotted the FODMAP Friendly logo? I can. This is especially helpful when you’re doing a quick grocery run on the way home from work or if you have the kids tagging along.
3. You don’t need to guess what a safe low FODMAP portion is.
One of the really confusing things with the low FODMAP diet is that portion size matters. A lot. It’s very easy to eat a larger than appropriate portion, meaning that you can accidentally turn a low FODMAP food into a high FODMAP food. But certified products have a portion size on the nutrition label, so you’ll know exactly how much you can eat while keeping your FODMAPs low.
The other side of the portion issue is that while particular ingredients might be low FODMAP, if too many of them are combined together in one product, you may end up exceeding the safe amount for a particular FODMAP. Navigating this add-on effect is extremely difficult to do when foods are combined and is something that many people make mistakes with when cooking. But since the FODMAP Friendly Food program tests the final product, rather than the ingredients, you can be confident that add-on effects haven’t occurred.
4. It stops you from being excessively cautious with your food choices and expands your options.
As mentioned above, portion size matters with FODMAPs. What many people don’t understand though is that you can still consume some high FODMAP ingredients if they’re added to manufactured products in only very small amounts. Good examples of this are honey, milk solids, and wheat, which are ingredients that most people fear and will avoid at all costs.
But many processed foods contain these ingredients in amounts that are low FODMAP, which means even though they’re listed on the labels, you can still eat these foods safely. So if you see the FODMAP Friendly logo on a food that contains some of these ingredients, it’s still okay to eat them because they’ve been thoroughly tested in the final product.
Another interesting thing with FODMAPs is that certain food processing techniques can decrease FODMAP levels in foods. An excellent example of this is the use of traditional sourdough fermentation for bread making, which breaks down the FODMAPs found in flour. But not all sourdoughs are created equal, so not all sourdough breads are low FODMAP. The best way to be sure is to look for the FODMAP Friendly logo.
5. FODMAP Friendly foods let you enjoy treats without triggering your IBS symptoms.
We all need treats on a low FODMAP diet or we end up feeling excessively restricted. But working out safe treats is tough since most of the ones you’re used to are likely to be high FODMAP. Thankfully, the FODMAP Friendly Food program has tested and approved a number of treat options, including premade biscuits and snacks, as well as packet mixes so you can enjoy freshly baked goods straight from the oven.
6. It makes it easy for family and friends to choose safe foods for you.
You think it’s a struggle to understand the low FODMAP diet, but it’s so much harder for your family and friends to keep track of it all. But now all they need to do is look for the little green logo rather than guessing or checking with you before buying the product. How easy is that? Best of all, you won’t need to keep having the dreaded conversation that goes like this: “Thanks so much for trying, but I can’t eat what you’ve bought because…”
7. They’ve tested a range of foods, whole and processed, including some you won’t find elsewhere.
So far I’ve made it sound like the FODMAP Friendly Food Program only tests processed foods, but that’s not the case at all. They’ve tested a large range of whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, legumes, nuts, etc. They’ve also tested some foods that haven’t yet been tested elsewhere, such as specific mushroom varieties, some of which are even low FODMAP.
But there are a lot of FODMAP Friendly processed foods approved too, including processed meats, simmer sauces, meal kits, frozen foods, snacks, sweet treats, breakfast cereals, breads, seasoning mixes, oils, and more. Most of these foods are available in major Australian supermarkets – Coles, Woolworths or IGA. Some can also be bought online from the manufacturer and delivered to your home.
8. The information about FODMAP Friendly products is really easy to find.
There are two ways you can find out which products are FODMAP Friendly:
- Look for the FODMAP Friendly logo on the food packet. It’s green and normally found on the front of the packet (although occasionally on the side or back) so it’s quite easy to see.
- There’s a FODMAP Friendly smartphone app that lists the approved products so you don’t have to be in the supermarket to plan your grocery list. The app also links to manufacturer websites so you can get extra details and tells you which supermarkets sell the product. It’s also quite cheap at only $2.99 and is available on Android and iPhone.
9. It helps you to stay on track during both the elimination and reintroduction phases of the low FODMAP diet.
The initial elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet takes 6-8 weeks and the reintroduction phase takes another 10 weeks. That means that most people need to follow the low FODMAP diet for at least 16 weeks. That’s 4 months!
It’s easy enough to follow a restricted diet for a week or two, but after that things get tough. Constantly planning meals, tracking your food choices and reading every single label gets phenomenally tough and can make you spit the dummy and grab the first food that’s on hand. Of course that food is likely to trigger your symptoms, so having approved products on hand that you can rely makes it much easier to stay on track.
10. FODMAP Friendly products can make life easier even after you’ve finished the diet.
Once you’ve finished the low FODMAP diet, you’ll be able to modify your food choices to suit your own personal tolerances. This means no longer needing to avoid certain FODMAPs, however it’s likely you’ll still have problems with some FODMAPs and will need to continue avoiding them.
While you may have hoped that all the label reading would be over, the reality is that so long as you have at least one intolerance, label reading never stops. So while you’re able to loosen your restrictions after modifying your diet, it’s still handy to have safe low FODMAP options available for times when you don’t want to think about. That way you’ll be confident that those foods won’t push the limits on the FODMAPs that you still have to avoid.
Image source: Images were supplied by the FODMAP Friendly Food Program and used with permission.
Now you tell me… Do you use the FODMAP Friendly app? Which FODMAP Friendly certified products are your favourites?