When I first began the low FODMAP diet three or four years ago, my life revolved around printed tables, shopping list guides and articles on what I could and couldn’t eat. Just “popping into the shop for lunch” would take half the day of standing in the isles trying to Google the ingredients on everything I picked up. With so much (not always trustworthy) content online, and the research on the diet being continuously updated I’d often be caught out, making the wrong choices and ending up spending the rest of the day cramped up with a hot water bottle at best.
However, after a few months of trying hard but not doing too great, I noticed a couple of people on the low FODMAP Facebook groups I was following were posting screenshots of what looked like a traffic light system for different foods. After doing a bit of research I decided to give it a try, and downloaded the Monash university low FODMAP app. The low FODMAP diet was originally developed by Monash University researchers and they are continuously investing in ongoing research and testing new foods in their labs, which is great news as it means that this is the most up-to-date reliable app out there. The app is available for both iPhone and Android and believe it costs £5.99 on the Apple App Store, but trust me, I’d pay that a week for this (this isn’t an ad I promise)!
What does the app include?
The app has a few main features as below:
· Food Guide – a regularly updated guide of pretty much every food you can think of; using a traffic light system (I talk more about this in the next section)
· Recipes – lots of ideas on low FODMAP recipes, ranging from breakfasts to dinners and snacks. I personally don’t use this section much at all but it was definitely helpful in the early stages when you’re looking at the list and thinking “WTF can I eat then?!”
· Articles – this is actually a pretty helpful section of all the latest articles and research covering all aspects of the diet including helpful tips etc
· Shopping list – allows you to create your shopping list adding foods straight from the guide and even the recipe’s, so you know exactly what you’re buying
· Symptom Diary – record what you’re eating and any symptoms you encounter. The app then provides summaries and graphs to help pinpoint your triggers or show your dietician
How does the food guide work?
The food guide is definitely my favourite part of the app, and my most used (non-social media) app on my phone. It provides a list of hundreds of different foods and uses a traffic light system to guide on portion sizes.
Red foods = high in FODMAPs and should be avoided
Amber foods = moderate in FODMAPs and may be safe depending on individual tolerance levels
Green foods = low FODMAPs so stuff your face!
The FODMAP diet isn’t a one size fits all, and whilst some people (like me!) are sensitive to all FODMAPs, others can tolerate some of the groups (Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols) and the app really caters for this. When you first start with the diet, it’s really simple, just search away and only go for the green! However as you progress through the elimination stage and start reintroducing and experimenting, it then gets clever. The traffic light system gives you a breakdown on each FODMAP type, meaning you can make informed choices based on your personal tolerance. You can even use the inbuilt filter to make screening for your modified diet/ tolerance levels even easier.
Although there’s currently around 600 different foods listed and growing rapidly, the only downside to the app is that there is not currently a large amount of branded, packaged products. However, you can get around this by searching any of the ingredients that you’re unsure about. I’m definitely hoping that eventually they’ll bring in a barcode scanning system – that would be life made! (There is actually another FODMAP app out there that does have this, however it isn’t updated anywhere near as regularly as the Monash app and I have heard of so many people trusting the information and then suffering so I have personally decided not to risk it.)
Honestly this app really has been a life saver and I would 100% recommend it, whatever stage you are in your FODMAP journey – it really does make eating a little less daunting and more manageable. Plus it doesn’t even need internet access so even makes it easy to search those ingredients when you’re in some dingey cocktail bar!
What apps or websites do you use? Would this be helpful to use in your daily life?