alt=a woman reads a nutrition label on the back of a food package.

Label Reading on the Low FODMAP Diet

If you are living with IBS, you might be following the low FODMAP diet to manage your symptoms. When it comes to reading nutrition labels for high FODMAP ingredients, you might feel overwhelmed. Today, we’ll review some of the key points to keep in mind when label reading. With practice, you’ll feel like a label reading pro in no time!

Serving size

If you look at the top of a nutrition label, you’ll find information about the number of servings per container, and the serving size. It’s important to note that some foods are low FODMAP at certain serving sizes and high FODMAP at higher serving sizes. However, the serving size listed on the nutrition label is not always the same as a low FODMAP serving size. To determine what serving sizes are low FODMAP, consult an app like Spoonful.

Ingredient list

Nutrition labels list ingredients in order of quantity. This means that the first ingredient on the ingredient list has the highest quantity, and the last ingredient has the lowest quantity. For example, if milk is listed as the first ingredient on a container of yogurt, there is more milk than any other ingredient in that food.

If a high FODMAP ingredient is listed as one of the last ingredients on the label, it might be well-tolerated and contain very little of that ingredient. If you’re past the elimination and reintroduction phases of the low FODMAP diet, try the food and see how you respond. If you don’t get symptoms, it’s likely that the high FODMAP ingredient was present in a small enough quantity that the food is low FODMAP as a whole.

High FODMAP ingredients

Now that you know how to read an ingredients label, it is important to know which high FODMAP foods to look out for. Here are some high FODMAP ingredients that are commonly found in foods:1

  • Onion and garlic: These two ingredients are often used as flavoring agents in savory foods like crackers, chips, sauces, and dressings
  • Glucose-fructose (high fructose corn syrup) and honey: These are high FODMAP sweeteners. They are often found in breakfast cereals, granola bars, and baked goods.
  • Fruit juice concentrate and fruit purees: Be aware of high FODMAP fruits that have been used to make fruit juice concentrates, like apples, pears, and peaches.
  • Sugar alcohols: Ingredients ending in -ol, like sorbitol, xylitol and mannitol are often found in low-calorie foods and beverages.
  • Wheat, barley, and rye: Foods with these ingredients are considered high FODMAP if listed as one of the top 3 ingredients. They are found in bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, baked goods, and pasta.
  • Inulin, chicory root and fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS): These ingredients are often added to foods to increase the fiber content.

Look for "FODMAP-friendly" or the Monash University logo

FODMAP Friendly and Monash University both test foods to determine whether they are low FODMAP. Foods that have been tested and found to be low FODMAP are allowed to display the logo of whichever company tested the food. Looking for these logos can be a great way to ensure peace of mind when purchasing low FODMAP foods. However, not all low FODMAP foods display these logos, so it is still important to consult the ingredient list to ensure you aren’t avoiding foods unnecessarily.

Reading labels for low FODMAP foods can be tricky, but hopefully, these tips will help you gain confidence in reading food labels and choosing low FODMAP foods.

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