How Spoonful determines the FODMAP content of a product

After you scan a product, there is quite a lot happening behind the scenes before you get your result. This post takes you through our methodology for estimating the FODMAP content of a product and provides further context on our decision-making process.

If you’re looking for more clarity on a result in particular, check out How to interpret green, yellow, and red results.

Our methodology for classifying products

The low-FODMAP diet aims to restrict various foods that are known to cause digestive issues in certain people. The acronym gives us more insight into what type of foods to restrict.

Fermantable

Oligosaccharides (wheat, rye, legumes, onion, garlic)

Disaccaharides (milk, yogurt, soft cheeses)

Monosaccharides (figs, mangos, honey, agave)

And

Polyols (sugar alcohols, low-calorie sweeteners)

For each label you scan, Spoonful searches through that product’s ingredients, highlighting any ingredients that are high or moderate in FODMAPs at 1 serving. This is the first step.

Spoonful Results: Green, Yellow, Red

Products with no known trigger ingredients are colored green, while products with moderate or high FODMAP ingredients are colored yellow and red respectively.

Any ingredient we flag has been checked and double-checked by our international team of Registered Dietitians who specialize in working with low-FODMAP patients in their country.

Can products be classified by their ingredients?

Unlike vegan or vegetarian, the low-FODMAP diet is not a strict eat-this-not-that endeavor. As many who read this know, eating low FODMAP is all about managing portion size and limiting the intake of certain trigger foods.

We also know that the only way to definitively classify something as low FODMAP is through lab testing. So can we really make a call on packaged products by looking at the ingredients label?

The short answer is yes — most of the time. But there are edge cases, so let’s discuss.

Low-FODMAP products with moderate or high-FODMAP ingredients

Foods like ketchup, sriracha and almondmilk have all tested low FODMAP at manageable serving sizes despite having high-FODMAP ingredients like onion, garlic and almond. This is because these trigger ingredients are used in such small quantities per serving that the product as a whole is considered safe.

Over time, we have trained the Spoonful App to identify these edge cases and override the initial yellow or red classification.

Moderate or high-FODMAP products with low-FODMAP ingredients

It makes sense that products like almondmilk are considered low FODMAP – most almondmilks contain only 3-5 almonds per serving. But how can a product be considered high FODMAP if its comprised of only low-FODMAP ingredients?

Let’s look at orange juice. While a single serve of oranges is low in FODMAPs, orange juice contains lots of oranges and can oftentimes be high in fructose depending on the processing. Fresh orange juice has a lower FODMAP load than reconstituted juice, but we still recommend limiting your intake.

Lactose-free milk and low-FODMAP cheeses

As many who follow the diet know, “milk” in plain form is high in FODMAPs, but there are a few exceptions. When milk appears on a product labeled “lactose-free”, we do not flag it.

Milk low-FODMAP exceptions

There are also a number of low-FODMAP cheeses that list milk as an ingredient. This is because the lactose content in milk is often reduced to safe FODMAP levels during the cheese-making process. We account for this in the app by not flagging milk if it is listed on a low-FODMAP cheese label. This means you can find plenty of great cheeses to choose from on the Discover feed!

Helping you make practical, informed decisions

No matter what, our goal is to help you, the low-FODMAP eater, find tasty, compliant food wherever you shop. And while we recognize that no product is 100% safe unless lab tested, we must contend with the reality that there are simply not enough lab-certified products in our supermarkets.

As eaters, we must also contend with the highly nuanced and ever-changing nature of the low-FODMAP diet, which is why Spoonful is constantly updating our trigger list. This, and all of our product pursuits, is to make sure you feel confident, supported, and in control as you move through the diet.

If you have questions or concerns regarding our methodology or how we classify foods, feel free to drop us a line at support@spoonfuleats.com.