Is Oatmeal Low FODMAP

Is Oatmeal Low FODMAP?

“Is Oatmeal Low FODMAP?” was written by FODMAP-certified dietitian nutritionist Wan Na Chun, MPH, RDN and was reviewed and updated by gut health dietitian nutritionist Jenna Volpe, RDN, LD, CLT.

Oatmeal is a popular breakfast option for many people, but for those following a low FODMAP diet, it can be confusing to know whether or not oatmeal is safe to eat (without an unwanted “aftermath”).

The good news is that oatmeal is generally considered a low FODMAP food.  However, there are some factors to consider when choosing and preparing oatmeal.

In this article, we’ll dive into how much and what type oatmeal is considered to be low in FODMAPs.  We’ll also discus the various ways you can safely incorporate oatmeal into a low FODMAP diet.

What’s the low FODMAP diet? (A quick review)

If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or other gastrointestinal (GI) issues, and you’ve made it to this article, you’ve likely come across the term “FODMAPs.”

This crazy acronym stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols – a group of short-chain carbohydrates that can trigger digestive discomfort in the form of bloating, gas, abdominal pain, and changes in bowel habits in some IBS sufferers.

The low FODMAP diet is an evidence-based approach developed by researchers at Monash University to help up to ~70-75% of IBS sufferers (1, 2) reduce and manage unwanted GI symptoms.

This approach involves temporarily limiting your intake of high-FODMAP foods for a specific period of time, and then gradually, strategically (with guidance and supervision from a registered dietitian) reintroducing FODMAPs in a way that allows you to identify personal triggers.

(Read more about the low FODMAP diet here!)

But for now, keep in mind this diet is not meant to be followed indefinitely.  The purpose of the low FODMAP diet is to serve as a 6-8 week elimination diet which may provide valuable insights into your GI symptoms and food intolerances.

FODMAP content in oatmeal

Oats contain FODMAPs, specifically fructans – in relatively small quantities (1/2 cup cooked).

  • Fructans are a type of oligosaccharide, and some folks with IBS may have trouble digesting them – especially in larger quantities.

For people with SIBO, undigested FODMAPs (like fructans) may ferment with microbes in your intestines, leading to IBS-like symptoms such as gas, bloating, constipation, abdominal pain, and/or diarrhea.

If you have IBS-D, undigested or poorly digested fructans can enter your colon, which causes water to then get pulled into your colon (by osmosis) – leading to symptoms of diarrhea, bloating, and cramping.

One of the main things to keep in mind is the type of oats you choose.  For example:

  • Rolled oats and steel-cut oats are generally recommended by Monash University as low FODMAP options, while instant or quick oats may contain higher levels of FODMAPs.
  • Certified gluten free oats may also be lower in FODMAPs, since you don’t have to worry about cross-contamination with wheat (a type of high FODMAP grain).

How much oatmeal is low FODMAP?

While oatmeal contains FODMAPs, research suggests that a small portion (up to ~1/2 cup cooked/overnight soaked oats at one time) may be tolerable for some individuals following a low FODMAP diet.  (The key is to be mindful of the serving size and opt for oatmeal varieties with lower FODMAP content.)

Several studies have investigated the FODMAP content of oats and their impact on individuals with IBS. These studies generally suggest that a quarter-cup (23g) serving of rolled oats is considered low in FODMAPs and is generally well-tolerated. (3)

It’s also important to pay attention to the serving size, as larger servings of oats can contain higher amounts of FODMAPs. Gradually testing your tolerance to larger servings can help determine your personal threshold.

Health benefits of oatmeal

Apart from its FODMAP content, oatmeal offers numerous health benefits, making it a nutritious addition to any diet.

High in fiber for digestion

Oatmeal is rich in soluble fiber, which supports healthy digestion and promotes regular bowel movements.

(As a friendy reminder, healthy bowel movements should resemble a “3” or a “4” on the Bristol Stool Chart!) The Bristol Stool Chart - by Jenna Volpe of Whole-istic Living

Heart-healthy

The soluble fiber and phytochemicals (a special type of antioxidants) in oatmeal are associated with improved heart health by helping to reduce cholesterol levels. (4)

Satiating and sustenant

Oatmeal’s high fiber content can help you feel fullere, more satiated and energized – for longer.

(This can aid in efforts to eat more intuitively and to maintain healthy portion control at meals.)

Nutrient-dense

Oatmeal is naturally packed with micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants), contributing to overall well-being.

Prebiotic

Did you know oatmeal is naturally high in special prebiotics?  These are the foods that help support and optimize the growth of beneficial probiotic microbes in the gut, for healthy digestion. (4)

(Check out a comprehesive prebiotic foods and herbs list PDF, here!)

How to enjoy oatmeal on the low FODMAP diet

If you’ve determined that you can tolerate oatmeal, there are various ways to enjoy it while adhering to your low FODMAP diet.

Preparation tips

When preparing oatmeal, it’s important to keep in mind that some high FODMAP ingredients like milk, honey, agave nectar, and certain types of fruits and nuts can increase the FODMAP content of your meal.

Choose low FODMAP sweeteners

Traditional high FODMAP sweeteners like honey and agave nectar can potentially exacerbate IBS symptoms.

Instead, opt for low FODMAP sweeteners such as pure maple syrup or brown sugar to add a touch of sweetness to your oatmeal.

Select low FODMAP fruits for toppings

Fresh or dried fruits can be a great addition to your oatmeal.

However, not all fruits are low in FODMAPs. Stick to low FODMAP fruits like blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, or dried cranberries (unsweetened, or sweetened with cane sugar) to enhance the flavor of your oatmeal without triggering digestive discomfort.

Opt for low FODMAP nuts/seeds

Nuts and seeds are generally tolerated by most people with IBS – but keep in mind, some are higher in FODMAPs than others!

Opt for low FODMAP nuts such as walnuts or pecans versus cashews or pistachios.

As for almonds and hazelnuts: these are low FODMAP in small quantities of 10 total or less, at one time.

Use low FODMAP milk alternatives

When preparing oatmeal, consider using a low FODMAP milk alternative as your base, instead of regular milk.

Lactose-free milk may also be tolerated a low FODMAP milk option for those who are lactose intolerant but still want a creamy texture – as long as you don’t have a dairy sensitivity.

Additionally, plant-based milks like almond milk, macadamia milk, quinoa milk, or rice milk are all low FODMAP choices that can provide a pleasant nutty flavor.

Spice it up!

Enhance the taste of your low FODMAP oatmeal with various spices that are safe for the low FODMAP diet.

Cinnamon is a popular choice; it adds warmth and a touch of sweetness without causing digestive distress.

Other safe options include a pinch of nutmeg, cardamom, or vanilla extract.

Stay mindful of portion sizes

While oatmeal is considered low FODMAP in small servings, be mindful of portion sizes. Consuming too much oatmeal in one sitting can lead to increased FODMAP intake, potentially triggering IBS symptoms.

Stick to the recommended serving size and observe how your body responds.

Experiment with oatmeal varieties

If you find that one type of oatmeal causes discomfort, try experimenting with different oatmeal varieties.

Some people may tolerate rolled oats better than steel-cut oats, or vice versa.

Listen to your body’s cues and adjust your choices accordingly!

Low FODMAP oat recipes to try

Keeping a food-symptom diary

While the low FODMAP diet is proven to help many folks with IBS to find relief, it’s important to remember that one size never fits all.

So while the low FODMAP diet may serve as a nice “backbone”, you’re likley going to find that you can tolerate some foods that are high FODMAP – and you may also find that some low FODMAP foods can still trigger your unwanted GI symptoms.

(This concept is referred to as bio-individuality!)

For individuals with IBS, SIBO or other gastrointestinal issues, keeping a detailed food symptom diary (like this IBS Food Diary) can be an invaluable tool in better understanding your unique food triggers and managing your symptoms more effectively.

A food symptom diary is a simple and effective way to track the intake of different foods, including oatmeal, and to note any IBS symptoms that may arise in response to specific dietary choices.

Meal descriptions

For each meal and snack, write a detailed description of what you ate, including all ingredients and portion sizes. Be specific about the type of oatmeal you consumed, such as rolled oats or steel-cut oats, and note any toppings or added ingredients.

Symptom tracking

After eating, pay close attention to your body and any symptoms that may occur within a few hours or up to 24 hours later. Common IBS symptoms to watch for include bloating, gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation. Rate the severity of each symptom on a scale from 1 to 10 to better understand their intensity.

(Read more about why and how to keep an IBS food diary here!)

Oatmeal and IBS:  Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Can I eat oatmeal if I have IBS?

While oatmeal contains FODMAPs, some individuals with IBS may tolerate small servings of oatmeal. It’s essential to monitor your symptoms and stick to the recommended portion size.

Are all oatmeal varieties low in FODMAPs?

Different oatmeal varieties can have varying FODMAP levels. Rolled oats in small portions are generally considered low in FODMAPs.

What are some low FODMAP oatmeal toppings?

Low FODMAP fruit toppings for oatmeal can include:

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • 1/2 banana
  • Pineapple
  • Canned pumpkin

You can also top your oatmeal with low FODMAP nuts, seeds, or coconut toppings such as:

  • Almonds or hazelnuts (up to 10)
  • Almond butter or hazelnut butter (up to 1 TBSP)
  • Walnuts or walnut butter
  • Natural peanut butter
  • Sunflower seeds or sunflower seed butter
  • Pumpkins seeds or pumpkin seed butter
  • Ground flax seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Shredded coconut
  • Pecans or pecan butter

Recommended reading:  Is Peanut Butter Low FODMAP? (Expert Guidance on Peanut Butter and IBS)

Can I sweeten my oatmeal on a low FODMAP diet?

Yes, you can sweeten your oatmeal with low FODMAP sweeteners such as maple syrup or brown sugar, in moderation.

Is the low FODMAP diet suitable for long-term use?

The low FODMAP diet is not meant to be followed indefinitely. It is a diagnostic tool to identify trigger foods and create a personalized eating plan.

Can oatmeal cause diarrhea?

Technically it’s possible for any food to cause diarrhea – even “healthy” and low FODMAP foods like oatmeal.

If you’re finding that oatmeal seems to be causing you diarrhea, it may be worth consulting your treatment team about investigating the possibility of the following:

  • Celiac disease (particularly if the oatmeal is not gluten free, in this case)
  • Other forms of inflammatory bowel disease (i.e. diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease, and/or colitis)
  • A food sensitivity to oats
  • A sucrose intolerance
  • Food poisoning

You may also want to make sure you aren’t reacting to something else that you added to your oatmeal (i.e. milk, high FODMAP toppings, other food sensitivities, etc.).  This is where a food-symptom journal can be very useful!

(Get the full low-down on oatmeal, oat milk and diarrhea here!)

Is oat milk low FODMAP?

Up to 1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) of oat milk is considered low FODMAP, according to Monash University.

That being said, not all oat milk is made the same way, and not everybody with IBS/SIBO reacts negatively to oat milk.

When in doubt, consult a FODMAP-informed dietitian and keep a detailed food-symptom journal to gain more clarity on what you can tolerate!

More resources

If you found this article helpful, and you’d like to learn more, feel free to check out the following resources:

FODMAPs

Oatmeal

Final thoughts

So, is oatmeal low FODMAP?  Generally yes – but you need to be mindful of portions, since oatmeal does contain some FODMAPs in the form of fructans.

What you’re putting in your oatmeal can also change the FODMAP content of your meal. (Be mindful of sweeteners, milk/milk substitutes, fruit, nuts, seeds and spices which could potentially contain FODMAPs!)

By choosing the right type of oats, paying attention to serving sizes, and using low FODMAP ingredients, you can enjoy a delicious and satisfying meal without triggering digestive symptoms.

With mindful choices and proper planning, you can include oatmeal in your low FODMAP journey while reaping its many health benefits.

And last but not least, remember to keep a food-symptom journal and consult a FODMAP-informed dietitian for the best possible outcomes!

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