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Low FODMAP Desserts

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a bowl of raspberry sorbet as an example of a low FODMAP dessert

The Low-FODMAP diet is a fairly restrictive plan used to alleviate symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Small Bacterial Intestinal Overgrowth (SIBO). It involves eliminating foods high in certain sugars known to cause intestinal irritation, and then re-introducing those foods slowly to see which ones are causing symptoms. The diet is short: no more than six weeks, usually. But that can feel like quite a long time on such a restrictive program. Finding and making low-FODMAP desserts can be especially challenging since many sweeteners must be eliminated. 

Rather than trying to come up with something brand new, we suggest adapting traditional recipes by swapping out high-sugar ingredients for low-FODMAP ones (we’ve included a list). It can be fun discovering substitutions that you never considered before–you may never go back! 

What is FODMAP?

FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Phenols. These are sugars that the small intestine does not readily absorb and, therefore, have the potential to cause irritation in some people. Symptoms of bowel irritation by FODMAPs include:

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea/Constipation
  • Cramping

These are also common symptoms of IBS and SIBO, which is why a low-FODMAP diet is the go-to for treating flare-ups of these conditions.

Low-FODMAP Desserts And Sugar

Not all sugar is forbidden on the low-FODMAP diet. In fact, sucrose, which is plain old table sugar, is allowed! Although it is a disaccharide, it contains equal amounts of glucose and fructose. Glucose helps the gut absorb fructose, and there is enough of it in table sugar to do this completely. If there were an excess amount of fructose, then it could cause irritation.

Honey, for example, has an imbalance of monosaccharides. A German study found an average ratio of 56% fructose to 44% glucose in honey. This means that more than 10% of the fructose in honey remains unabsorbed, which can irritate the mucosal lining in the gut. 

Baking Ingredients for Low-Fodmap Desserts

Base ingredients for a number of desserts are low-FODMAP friendly, including: 

  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Granulated sugar
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Cocoa powder
  • Peanut butter 
  • Vegetable oil
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Allspice
  • Mint
  • Ginger
  • Greek yogurt

There are couple key dessert ingredients, however, that are not low-FODMAP, namely:

  • Wheat-based flour
  • Brown sugar (more than 1 tbsp)
  • Honey
  • Agave
  • Molasses
  • Cow’s milk and yogurt (except Greek yogurt)
  • Corn syrup 

Knowing what we can and cannot have, let’s explore some substitutes for popular dessert elements that are normally high-FODMAP.

Instead of Pie Crust: Oat Nut Crust

While there are gluten-free pie crusts out there, part of the fun of low-FODMAP deserts is that they let us be creative. Instead of buying a frozen one made with GF flour, try making an oat nut crust : rolled oats, melted butter, brown sugar, walnuts, and vanilla are all you need to make a crunchy, slightly sweet pie crust that is every bit as crisp and decadent as a flour-based one. Incidentally, this crust pairs well with savory fillings as well. 

Instead of Apples: Blueberries

Apples, unfortunately, are not low-FODMAP, since they are high in fructose. So apple pie, fritters, and crumbles will have to wait. You can, however, have up to a cup of blueberries per day, and they do just as well in a pie or a crumble. Just be sure to use a gluten-free pie crust, oat nut crust (see above), or tapioca flour if you are making a crumble. 

Instead of Ice Cream: Dairy-Free or Lactose Free Ice Cream

There are loads of brands of plant milk-based ice creams out there, along with lactose free varieties. They taste great and can easily work in place of traditional ice cream. The only thing you will want to be aware of is the presence of any high-FODMAP additives. Check the label for the following:

  • Agave
  • Sorbitol
  • Inulin
  • Lactitol
  • Xylitol
  • Maltitol
  • Isomalt
  • Corn syrup solids
  • Soy milk
  • Cashew milk

Of course, if you don’t feel like examining a laundry list of ingredients, you can’t go wrong with a fresh lemon or raspberry sorbet in place of ice cream. 

Instead of Graham Cracker Crust: Corn Flakes Crust

Graham crackers contain molasses and wheat flour, which means they are a no-go for low-FODMAP desserts that need a graham cracker crust. A unique and delicious substitute is corn flakes. Like graham crackers, corn flakes have a lightly sweet flavor and crunchy texture. Crushed fine with some sugar and melted butter, and you have the perfect graham cracker crust substitute. 

Once you’ve made the crust, you can fill it with lemon meringue or key lime custard–both are low-FODMAP! 

Instead of Cream Cheese Frosting: Whipped Coconut Cream Frosting

While you are allowed a small amount of cream cheese on the low-FODMAP diet, it isn’t enough to permit a whole slice of cake or muffin topped with it. Luckily, this chilled coconut cream whipped with greek yogurt and confectioner’s sugar is an absolutely delightful substitute. The yogurt gives it the tang of cream cheese, but the texture is much lighter and silkier. It doesn’t have the staying power of a traditional buttercream frosting but, let’s face it, it’s not going to last long anyway. 

Instead of Raisins: Dates

Raisins are, technically, low-FODMAP, provided you do not eat more than a tablespoon in a day. To give yourself more wiggle room, try incorporating dates into your recipe instead. Syrupy, caramel-y, and chewy, they bear a resemblance in taste and texture to raisins while lending their own exotic flare. If you’re craving an oatmeal raisin cookie, try subbing in an equal amount of pitted chopped dates and some walnuts for crunch. Remember to swap out the AP flour for a gluten-free variety as well.

Note: Dates are only low-FODMAP in quantities of 30 g or less. That’s about five regular-sized dates, or one ounce (twice the allowable amount of raisins). Try to limit yourself to one or two cookies a day, and you should be fine.

IBS Treatment in Jackson, MS

The low-FODMAP diet is one of many treatment options for individuals suffering with symptoms of IBS, SIBO, and other gut-related issues. You won’t want to do this on your own, however. If you are experiencing this kind of discomfort and you live in Jackson, MS and the surrounding areas, contact the experienced providers at Modern Health. As a functional medicine clinic, we utilize a holistic approach in treating our patients. We will address any and all underlying factors causing your symptoms so you can work toward permanent, sustainable relief. Call or go online today to schedule a consultation. 

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Gut Health