Contrary to popular belief the low FODMAP diet is not a wheat free diet! Nor is it a gluten free diet – you can read more about FODMAPs vs Gluten here…. Just remember when it comes to consuming wheat-based products, portion size is crucial, as almost all wheat products have portion size limits to stay within the low FODMAP threshold.
What Wheat Products Can Be Enjoyed?
White Wheat Sourdough Bread (Low FODMAP: 2 slices, 109g)
Sourdough bread made from white wheat is low FODMAP. This is because the natural bacteria in the sourdough culture ferment the fructans and reduce the FODMAP content to safe levels (Monash App, 2016). The low FODMAP serving size is 2 slices (109g) (1).
Wholemeal Wheat Sourdough Bread (Low FODMAP: 2 slices, 97g)
Wholemeal wheat sourdough bread is also low FODMAP due to its manufacturing process (1). Make sure you buy a traditional sourdough loaf that doesn’t contain added high FODMAP ingredients like honey. Low FODMAP serving size is 2 slices or 97g (1).
White Wheat Bread (Low FODMAP: 1 slice)
Monash University have tested USA and Australian white wheat breads. These breads are low FODMAP in 1 slice serves (USA 35g serve or Australian 24g serve) (1). White wheat bread generally becomes high FODMAP at 2 slices (1). However, it’s important to note that one slice of white wheat bread from Norway is high FODMAP for fructans (I talk about this further down).
Wheat Bran (Low FODMAP: 1/2 tablespoon)
Small amounts of unprocessed or processed wheat bran are also low FODMAP. The low FODMAP serve is ½ a tablespoon and it then becomes high FODMAP at 1 tablespoon serves (1).
Wheat Pasta (Low FODMAP: 1/2 cup or 74g cooked)
You can also enjoy ½ a cup or a 74g serve of cooked wheat pasta. This pasta does become high FODMAP at a 1 cup serve (1).
Plain Savoury Biscuits (Cookies) or Plain Sweet Biscuits (Cookies) (Low FODMAP: 2 biscuits)
It’s also a pleasant surprise to discover that 2 plain savoury or sweet biscuits (cookies), which are generally made from wheat flour, are low FODMAP. Just remember that larger serves become high FODMAP (1).
As always you will need to check these products for additional high FODMAP ingredients.
Can I eat these wheat products every day?
You can enjoy the low FODMAP serving size of the high FODMAP wheat products during the low FODMAP phase of the diet. My dietitian team recommends that you only have one safe serve of a high FODMAP food per meal. We also recommend you weigh your serve to make sure you are within the low FODMAP serving size. If you want to have a second serve you need to leave a few hours between each serve.
During the low FODMAP phase of the diet you may find you need to limit the number of times you have a safe serve of a high FODMAP food per day. We know food can take between 12 to 48 hours to move through our digestive system (2), so if you have a slower digestive system FODMAPs can sometimes accumulate. This means my dietitian team suggests you monitor your symptoms and adjust your food intake as needed. For example, you might find you can tolerate 1 slice of wheat bread every two days, instead of every day.
Why is Wheat Problematic in Large Serves?
Wheat contains fructans and GOS (these fall under the O for oligosaccharides in the FODMAP acronym) (1). High levels of oligosaccharides can trigger gastrointestinal symptoms in some people.
Why are gluten free products recommended on the low FODMAP diet?
The low FODMAP diet is not a gluten free diet so it can be difficult to understand why gluten free products are recommended. Remember that gluten is a type of protein found in wheat endosperm (in layman’s terms, this is the type of tissue produced in seeds that are ground to make flour) (3). Gluten protein is not a source of FODMAPs (only certain carbohydrates are FODMAPs). Gluten is commonly found in wheat, rye, and barley.
Gluten free products are recommended on the low FODMAP diet as they remove wheat, rye and barley from our daily diets. This can significantly reduce our intake of fructans and lower our overall level of FODMAPs.
How Do I Handle Wheat When Eating Out?
If possible try and select a gluten free option on the menu and check for other sneaky FODMAPs. This will help you avoid issues and enjoy a happing dining out experience. You can read more here.
If you can’t find a gluten free option that suits, you might find you can tolerate a small amount of wheat crumbs on your sushi, or the flour in the gravy (providing it doesn’t have onions or garlic). Just remember to watch your portion sizes.
Also remember that small traces of wheat should not be an issue. Generally speaking trace contamination from wheat is only an issue if you suffer from coeliac disease.
Why is White Bread From Norway Higher In FODMAPs?
There is some confusion around why white bread from Norway is higher in FODMAPs. This could be due to different cultivars of wheat being used to make the wheat flour. There is some research that indicates that wheat cultivars that are developed for colder climates can have higher concentration levels of fructans (4 5 6). The fructans appear to help protect the wheat plants from the cold and increase their frost tolerance (4 5 6). This means wheat grown in colder climates could have different FODMAP levels. This theory has not been confirmed by Monash University, but it does indicate that we still have a lot to learn about the FODMAP content of foods!
Can’t Tolerate the Low FODMAP Serve of Wheat Products?
If you can’t tolerate the low FODMAP serve of wheat products it could be due to several factors:
- Check you have been tested for coeliac disease. If you have coeliac disease you won’t be able to tolerate any wheat, rye or barley, or any products that contain trace gluten.
- Check the product doesn’t have any added high FODMAP ingredients like fruit juice concentrate or inulin.
- You might be consuming other foods that are high FODMAP that are keeping your overall FODMAP levels high. This means when you eat the safe serve of the wheat product you are pushed over your FODMAP threshold limit and experience symptoms.
- You might be consuming a low FODMAP food in a large quantities, which is making that food high FODMAP and influencing your tolerance levels.
- Sometimes there are preservatives & seeds in breads that contain naturally occurring food chemicals. These are different to FODMAPs but can cause reactions in some people. A dietitian can help you figure out if these are causing issues.
- Other environmental factors might be influencing your symptoms like illness, lack of sleep, or stress.
While on the low FODMAP diet you can enjoy some wheat-based products. Just remember to watch your portion size and monitor your tolerance levels. Check the Monash low FODMAP app for portion size guidelines.