Whats the deal with FODMAP stacking?


Whats the deal with FODMAP stacking?

“FODMAP stacking” is arguably one of the most confusing parts of the low FODMAP diet. It can leave even the most seasoned of FODMAPPERs undone and newbies running for cover.

This is because, unlike a food allergy, the low FODMAP diet is not a black and white approach where one food is ok and another is not. Many foods contain some amount of FODMAP sugars and the FODMAP load will depend on how much of the food is eaten at one time. A small serve, will be lower in FODMAPs and a larger serve will be higher in FODMAPs with the goal of the first phase of the low FODMAP diet being to limit foods to low FODMAP serve sizes to see if this provides you relief from IBS type symptoms.

What is FODMAP stacking?

If you are only eating one food at a time at the specified serve, it’s easy to know if your meal is high or low FODMAP simply by checking your smart phone app. However, we seldom eat food in isolation and most of the time, we will combine several foods together to make a meal. When we eat multiple foods together that contain FODMAPs at a larger serve size, they potentially can compound each other, making the meal as a whole high FODMAP. This is referred to as “FODMAP Stacking”

How to manage FODMAP stacking

At Everyday Nutrition, we don’t want food to be complicated, after all we have to eat multiple times Every day! We believe that food should be enjoyable and not cause stress.

The good news is that Monash know that we put foods together to make meals. As such, they have been conservative when establishing low FODMAP serves. This allows for a certain amount of stacking to occur without being problematic. Examples that Monash have provided that are considered low FODMAP include:

  • Eating 2 foods that are close to their FODMAP cut off in the same meal e.g. 1 slice of wholemeal bread + 40g of raspberry jam eaten together.
  • Eating 3 foods that are well below FODMAP cut offs in the same meal e.g. 2 rice cakes + 30g of tahini + 3 sliced cherry tomatoes

Some Monash certified recipes come with a low FODMAP “stacking cup” which gives an indication of FODMAP stacking within the recipe. Checking these out gives more examples of where stacking does and doesn’t occur.

Note: low FODMAP serves are designated PER MEAL. You can have multiple low FODMAP serves spread out across the day. Monash recommend a 2-3 hour break between meals.


Tips to avoid FODMAP stacking

  1. If your symptoms are mostly well settled, you are probably doing the right thing for you, so don’t sweat the small stuff. Worrying about FODMAP stacking in this case is likely going to cause more stress than benefit.
  2. If you are just starting low FODMAP, focus on swapping out the high FODMAP foods you are eating for low FODMAP counterparts e.g. swap an apple for an orange. In most cases this is more than enough to get great results.
  3. Fill up on FODMAP Free foods e.g. eggs, cheese, lean meats, carrots, rice.
  4. Space your meals across the day with a 2-3 hour gap between meals
  5. Chew well and enjoy your meal mindfully in a relaxed environment


Final Thoughts

When it comes to IBS, it’s important to remember that some daily fluctuations in digestion are normal. We are not looking for zero symptoms. If anything a small amount of bloating is a reflection of a varied and balanced diet. What we do want to avoid are the painful and embarrassing symptoms that impact on quality of life. A good rule of thumb is that we want you to be 70% better about 70% of the time.

If you’ve been doing a low FODMAP diet and getting great results, you are doing the right thing for you. If you have been doing a low FODMAP diet and are struggling to get symptom relief, Everyday Nutrition dietitians are here to help you trouble shoot and identify your triggers and thresholds.

All Everyday Nutrition dietitians are Monash FODMAP trained and work exclusively in IBS & gut health. If you are struggling to settle your symptoms or need to troubleshoot contact us to make an apportionment for personalised guidance and advice here.




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Meet Joanna


Joanna is a passionate advocate, communicator and educator in the fields of gut health, nutrition and wellness.