Fody friends, we have exciting news for you today. As it turns out, (some) cheeses are okay to eat while on the low FODMAP diet!
At Fody, we hear the question: “Is cheese low FODMAP?” all the time.
The answer is yes and no.
There is a common misconception that being on the low FODMAP diet means having to give up dairy altogether, but that’s simply not the case. It may be a tricky concept, but it’s important to remember that dairy-free does NOT equal lactose-free. And oftentimes, lactose is the IBS-triggering culprit, not dairy.
An estimated 33% of IBS-sufferers are also lactose intolerant to some degree. Lactose is the sugar in milk, which many of us are able to digest by producing an enzyme called lactase. For those that are affected by lactose, however, there is a lack of lactase in the system which prevents proper digestion from occurring. 30 to 45 minutes after consuming foods containing lactose, sufferers will begin to experience symptoms such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea. While everyone’s tolerance is different, most individuals with IBS are able to handle small amounts of low-lactose dairy products. This means that the best cheese for IBS is low lactose cheese.
Not all cheeses are created equal when it comes to lactose levels. As a general rule of thumb, the fresher the cheese, the more lactose it will contain. During the cheese-making process, certain lactase-containing bacteria that chip away at the lactose are added in, and some of the lactose is actually discarded throughout aging. The longer the process, the more this tends to occur. With certain exceptions, aged cheeses are usually left with less lactose, and therefore better for those with IBS. Lucky for you, they’re also packed with flavor!
Now that we’ve educated you on the technical nitty-gritty of IBS and lactose intolerance, it’s time to get to the good stuff!
Below is a list of the best cheeses for IBS (up to 40 grams per serving). It's important to keep in mind that everyone’s intolerances are unique. It’s always a good idea to keep tabs on your own body’s reactions to cheese, starting with small portions at a time just in case. To stay on the safe side, double-check the ingredient list for any additives, flavorings, or toppings that may not comply with low FODMAP guidelines. This list is not recommended for those with strict lactose intolerance. It is, however, a handy visual guide for individuals on the low FODMAP diet!
Many of these low FODMAP cheeses have been tested by Monash University’s certified dieticians. You can read more about them by downloading the Monash App which gives you detailed info and cross-references with other intolerances (such as gluten).