I saw quite a lot of questions about the Monash University low FODMAP diet app on Facebook lately. The Monash University low FODMAP diet app is the official app created by the creators of the low FODMAP diet from Monash University in Australia. I can recommend everybody to buy this app because it gives you information about low FODMAP foods and products and the app is continuously updated when new research has been conducted. When you are just starting the app might be a bit difficult to understand and therefore I wanted to give some extra information on the app.
The Monash University low FODMAP diet app
The app costs $7,99 in the app store. This might seem quite a high price for an app, but the money that is made with the app is used for research for the low FODMAP diet and the information they find in research is helping us again. Therefore the costs you make when you buy the app are also in your advantage. Next to that the app is continuously updated. Monash University is always testing new products on their FODMAP content and if they have tested new products, these products are added to the app. For example, some time ago testing showed that canned mushrooms, contrary to fresh mushrooms, are low FODMAP up to 100 gram and that soba noodles made of buckwheat and wheat are also low FODMAP. New products are added to the app all the time and thanks to that we know more about which products we can and can’t eat and that is very handy.
How does the app work
In the app, you can find general information about the low FODMAP diet, some low FODMAP recipes and, most importantly, a list of foods and products. With every product is shown whether it is low FODMAP or not, which FODMAPs are in it and up to what amount the food is low FODMAP. Because there are many products in the low FODMAP diet that are only low FODMAP up to a limited amount, this app gives a lot of useful information because you can check the amounts you can eat instantly.
The FODMAP groups
The low FODMAP diet consists of four groups of FODMAPs:
- Fructose (can be found in for example fruit and honey)
- Oligosaccharides – Galactans (legumes) and fructans (can be found in for example bread, garlic and onion)
- Disaccharides – Lactose (can be found in dairy products)
- Polyols (can be found in for example avocado, mushrooms, prunes and sweeteners)
When you look at a product in the Monash University low FODMAP diet app you see four circles, one for each of the FODMAP groups. The circles are the so-called traffic light system. A red circle means that a product is high in that specific FODMAP, green means low and orange means moderate.
If a food has one or more red traffic lights, this means it is high in FODMAPs and that you have to avoid that food. It is important to click on the product when you are looking at the app. If you are scrolling through the list of foods, it might seem at the first glance that a product is high in FODMAPs, but when you click on the product you might see that the product is low FODMAP up to a limited amount.
Take for example sweet potato. In the list, you see a red traffic light. This is because Monash looks at serving sizes and one serving size of sweet potato (1 cup) is high in FODMAPs because it contains too many polyols. But if you scroll down on the sweet potato page, you can see that half a portion of sweet potato (1/2 serve, 70 gram) is low FODMAP. Most people with IBS can eat 70 gram of sweet potato without problems.
The Monash University low FODMAP diet app works with serving sizes. Often a serving size is one cup and for some foods, a cup is a very small amount and this can be a bit confusing. Take spinach for example, one portion of spinach (1 cup) is 38 gram, but usually, you eat more than 38 gram of spinach at a time. The first question that might pop up in your mind when you see this is, can I only have 1 cup of spinach at a time?
Luckily the text below the traffic lights gives some more information and therefore it is important to always read this text. In the text, Monash University explains whether there is a maximum amount that you can have off a product before it becomes high in FODMAPs and it also tells you when there are no FODMAPs found in a food.
On the page of the spinach it says: “Limit large quantities (143 g or 3 3/4 cups per serve) which contain moderate amounts of the oligos fructans”. This means that when you eat 143 g spinach, the amount of oligos fructans is too high and this might give you problems. The vague thing about this explanation is that they tell you when you would have already eaten too much of it. It would be more useful if they would tell you: spinach is low FODMAP up to 120 g per portion. When I read a description like, I always make sure that I stay far below the 143 g. I choose to eat for example 100 or 120 g of spinach. Like this, I am sure that I eat a low FODMAP portion.
Another example: tomato. Above the traffic lights it says that one serve, one small tomato is low FODMAP. The question is: can I only have one tomato then? Are two tomatoes high in FODMAPs? Also, in this case, the text below gives useful information: “FODMAPs were not detected in this food. Eat freely and according to appetite”. So, tomato does not contain any FODMAPs and you can have more than one serving at a time.
Finally, at some foods, no extra explanation is given in the text. Take for example sourdough spelt bread. The serving size is two slices and in the text, it says: this serving size is low in FODMAPs and should be tolerated by most individuals with IBS. They don’t give a maximum amount, but they also don’t say that this food does not contain FODMAPs. In this case, the advice is to keep to the suggested serving size. Eat 2 slices of sourdough spelt bread at a time maximum and if you want you can test by yourself (after the elimination phase) whether you tolerate more.
What if a food is not in the app?
Many foods can be found in the app and new foods are being added all the time, but what if you can’t find a food in the app? In most cases, this means that the food has not been tested yet by Monash University. What you can do best, in this case, is test a small serving of this product yourself, after you have finished the elimination phase. If you tolerate it you use it and test a bigger amount, if you don’t tolerate it you don’t eat it.
In some cases, it just requires some logical thinking. Some time ago I found spelt noodles and these were not in the app. I knew that spelt pasta was low FODMAP up to 70 gram (uncooked) so I expected that spelt noodles would be the same. I tested how I reacted to 70 gram of spelt noodles and when that went well, I increased the amount and tested that.
Finally, it is always important to check the ingredient list of a product, even if the low FODMAP app says it is low FODMAP. For example, sourdough spelt bread is low FODMAP up to two slices per serving, but it is possible that a sourdough spelt bread that you find in the shop contains some high FODMAP ingredients. Just make sure to check the ingredient list before you buy something.
- The green, orange and red traffic lights show which FODMAPs a product contains and whether the food contains a high, moderate or low amount of FODMAPs.
- Don’t just look at the list of foods, but always click on a food to look at the different serving sizes.
- Always read the text below the traffic lights. This tells you exactly how much you can eat off a product and until which amount it is low in FODMAPs.
- Is a food not in the app? Test it yourself, after the elimination phase and start with a small serving.
You can find the page from Monash University about the app here.
Hopefully, this makes the information in the Monash University low FODMAP diet app a bit more clear! If you have any more questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below or send me an e-mail :)