FODMAP Stacking Explained
If you’ve been following a low FODMAP diet for a while, you have probably come across the phrase, “FODMAP stacking.” Simply put, it refers to eating multiple portions of foods that contain FODMAPs in amounts low enough to qualify them for a green light in the Monash University low FODMAP Smartphone App.
While some Green Light items contain only trace amounts of FODMAPs – or even none at all – and can be eaten freely, there are ones that need to be portion-controlled in order to keep their FODMAP content in check. Even if you maintain the recommended serving size of such foods, eating too many in one meal, i.e., stacking them, can lead to symptoms.
The best way to understand this is by example.
Click on Broccoli (whole) in the Vegetable listing of the Monash University Smartphone App, and you’ll see that 1 cup is considered low FODMAP, but “large servings (2¾ cup; 248 g)” contain high amounts of oligosaccharides. In other words, this same food is a Green, Yellow or Red Light option depending on how much of it you eat.
Now imagine that you’re making a stir-fry for dinner. You dutifully check the Monash University Smartphone App for Green Light veggies and decide on 1 cup (90 g) broccoli, ½ cup (41 g) eggplant, ½ cup (66 g) zucchini, ½ cup (52 g) green peppers, 12 green beans and 2 Brussels sprouts.
Individually, your choices contain low levels of various FODMAPs, but the cumulative amount may be too much for you. Whether or not you experience symptoms will depend on a number of factors − most significantly, how well you tolerated the particular FODMAPs contained in these foods during the “Challenge” phase.
Before you give up on stir-fries entirely, consider this simple solution: keep two or three of the low FODMAP veggies you chose originally, and round things out with ones that contain only trace amounts of FODMAPs, such as bean sprouts, red bell pepper, collard greens and kale.
Stir-fries are great example of how easy “de-stacking” can be, but you can transform lots of high FODMAP recipes into low FODMAP versions using this mix-and-match method. OR − you can let us FODMAP IT!™ for you! Just send us your recipe, and if we re-create it successfully, we may include it in our FODMAP Everyday recipe archive for all to enjoy.
The Unstacked Meal
Now that you’ve been schooled in FODMAP stacking, it’s time to actually apply the concept. Thanksgiving is often the biggest meal of the year, so it makes a perfect focal point for our examples.
This meal is typically comprised of several courses and many choices, so you’ll probably feel better if you eat only a couple of portion controlled low FODMAP foods per course. Depending on your tolerance level, you may be able to indulge in small amounts of high FODMAP items as well. And of course, whenever you can, opt for things that contain either trace amounts of FODMAPs or none at all. That way, you can save your FODMAP quota for things you really love, like maybe a scoop of vanilla ice cream with your low FODMAP pumpkin pie!
Check out our Thanksgiving 2017 Recipe Round-up for all of our Low FODMAP holiday recipes.
The centerpiece of most Thanksgiving meals is the turkey. Like all animal foods except milk, fresh turkey is FODMAP-free, so go ahead and fill your plate with a generous serving, as long as it is prepared as a low FODMAP recipe.
Also make sure that the stuffing, side dishes and gravy do not contain high FODMAP ingredients that are problematic for you. Garlic, onion and wheat bread are typical “offenders” here, but we’ve kept them out or handled them per low FODMAP protocol in the following recipes.
Side dishes can be FODMAP landmines, but not these Pan-Roasted Green Beans & Almonds:
What Thanksgiving would be complete without pumpkin pie? Our take on this classic is sweetened with maple syrup, and includes lemon zest and tummy-taming ginger for added zing:
Holidays and other festivities often include wine, beer or other alcoholic beverages, and yours can too! Just keep in mind that alcohol is very easy to “stack,” and can be a gut irritant regardless of its FODMAP content. So if you choose to imbibe, please be aware of your personal limits, and do your best to maintain the recommended serving sizes:
- Beer: 12.7 ounces (375 ml); this a little more than the typical bottle or can
- Wine (red, white, sparkling): 5 oz (150 ml)
- Gin, Vodka, Whiskey: 1 oz (30 ml)
Focus Where It Matters Most
Finally, as you prepare for your Thanksgiving meal, please remember that the most important “ingredients” are really the people with whom you surround yourself. By focusing on your friends and family instead of what’s on your plate, you may find that you don’t need to be as hyper-vigilant about FODMAPs because you’ll be talking more than eating! This will not only help prevent FODMAP overload, it’ll also lead to less food intake overall, thus reducing the “normal” bloating and indigestion that is a hallmark of this holiday.
At FODMAP Everyday® we are committed to helping you thrive on the low FODMAP diet. Stacking FODMAPs can happen any day of the year but we know that large celebratory meals can be a particular challenge and we are here to help you enjoy your friends, family and food as much as possible.