Popcorn is a classic snack that’s loved by many. But can you enjoy microwave popcorn if you’re following a low FODMAP diet? This detailed guide has the answers.
The low FODMAP diet is an evidence-based approach used to manage irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It involves restricting high FODMAP foods.
FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. These are certain carbs that can be difficult to digest for some people.
1. Plain popcorn made from kernels is low FODMAP, but portion size matters. About 1-3 cups per sitting is recommended.
2. Microwave popcorn may be suitable if it only contains popcorn, oil and salt. Avoid brands with garlic, onion or sweeteners.
3. Making your own microwave or stovetop popcorn gives you control over ingredients to avoid FODMAPs.
4. Season low FODMAP popcorn with FODMAP-friendly ingredients like olive oil, butter, spices, herbs and salt.
5. Check questionable ingredients in flavored popcorn against the Monash app to be sure they are low FODMAP. Homemade is safest for the elimination phase.
What Is the Low FODMAP Diet?
The low FODMAP diet was originally developed in 2005 by researchers at Monash University in Australia.
It has since become internationally recognized as an effective dietary approach for managing IBS symptoms, including:
- Abdominal pain and cramps
- Excess gas
These symptoms are thought to occur in some people because FODMAPs aren’t absorbed well in the small intestine. Instead, they travel to the large intestine where they act as fermentable substrates for gut bacteria.
This draws fluid into the intestines through osmosis and produces gas during the fermentation process. This can lead to pain, bloating, and changes in bowel habits.
The low FODMAP diet works by reducing intake of these problematic short-chain carbs to manage symptoms.
It’s not meant to be a lifelong diet. The goal is to follow the elimination phase strictly for 4-8 weeks. Then, high FODMAP foods are gradually reintroduced to identify your personal tolerances.
Many people are able to broaden their food choices and improve their quality of life by determining which FODMAPs they can and cannot tolerate well.
Are FODMAPs Bad?
FODMAPs are not universally “bad”. In fact, they’re found in many healthy everyday foods.
The issue arises when they’re poorly absorbed by some individuals with a sensitive digestive system.
For people without IBS or significant digestive issues, FODMAPs can be consumed without problems. They’re simply prebiotics that feed your gut bacteria.
So low FODMAP foods are only recommended for people who have IBS or other functional gut disorders confirmed by a doctor.
High and Low FODMAP Foods
FODMAPs are grouped into different categories:
Oligosaccharides: Fructans and galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS)
Monosaccharides: Excess fructose
Polyols: Sugar alcohols like sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, and maltitol
Here are some examples of high FODMAP foods in each group that should be limited during the elimination phase:
- Fructans: Wheat, garlic, onions
- GOS: Legumes, lentils, chickpeas
- Lactose: Milk, soft cheese, yogurt (lactose-free alternatives can be used)
- Excess Fructose: Apples, mangoes, watermelon
- Polyols: Stone fruits, avocado, mushrooms
Low FODMAP foods to emphasize include:
- Proteins: Meat, fish, eggs, tofu
- Dairy: Lactose-free milk, hard cheese, lactose-free yogurt
- Grains: Rice, quinoa, oats, gluten-free bread
- Fruits: Bananas, blueberries, grapes, citrus
- Vegetables: Carrots, spinach, eggplant, tomatoes
- Nuts/Seeds: Almonds, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts
This is just a broad overview. Refer to credible resources like the Monash FODMAP app for detailed guidance.
Is Popcorn Allowed on The Low FODMAP Diet?
Popcorn made from plain kernels is low FODMAP and allowed on the diet.
It is considered a whole grain and provides fiber, manganese, and polyphenols. The polyphenols in popcorn act as antioxidants to support health.
However, it’s best consumed in moderate portions. Around 3 cups of air-popped popcorn should be fine for most people following the diet strictly.
The reasons large servings of popcorn may be problematic include:
- Fiber content – Too much fiber at once could exacerbate IBS symptoms
- Food volume – Excessive volume from large popcorn portions may cause discomfort
- Fat content – The fat added during preparation could trigger symptoms
As long as you pay attention to portion size and preparation method, popcorn can be part of a low FODMAP diet.
Is Microwave Popcorn Low FODMAP?
Microwave popcorn may or may not fit into a low FODMAP diet plan. It depends on the ingredients used to flavor it.
Plain microwave popcorn that only contains popcorn kernels is low FODMAP. But many pre-packaged microwave popcorn products have added ingredients like:
- Butter and oil
- Artificial and natural flavorings
Oils and butter are acceptable in moderate amounts. But flavorings and preservatives can be problematic.
For example, many microwave popcorn brands use garlic or onion powder to add flavor. They may also include inulin or other fructans as prebiotic fiber sources. Both garlic/onions and inulin are high FODMAP.
Other potential FODMAP ingredients in flavored microwave popcorn include whey protein (contains lactose) and sorbitol or maltitol from artificial sweeteners.
So you’ll need to read labels carefully to find low FODMAP microwave popcorn options. The ingredients should be popcorn kernels, oil, and salt only for strict elimination phase compliance.
Tips for Choosing Low FODMAP Microwave Popcorn
Here are some tips for finding low FODMAP microwave popcorn:
- Check ingredients – Only choose products with popcorn kernels, oil, and salt listed. Avoid flavorings.
- Look for gluten-free – Many gluten-free popcorn brands avoid FODMAP ingredients like garlic.
- Seek out vegan – Vegan microwave popcorn is less likely to have milk ingredients.
- Search for certified low FODMAP – A few brands like Calbee Harvest Snaps have Monash certification.
- Pop your own – Making your own microwave popcorn lets you control ingredients.
Reading nutrition labels thoroughly and contacting manufacturers about questionable ingredients can help identify safe microwave popcorn picks.
Making Your Own Low FODMAP Popcorn
For maximum flexibility, many people on a low FODMAP diet opt to make their own microwave popcorn at home.
This allows customization of ingredients to avoid FODMAPs completely. Plus, it can be less expensive than buying single-serve microwave bags.
Here is a simple low FODMAP microwave popcorn recipe:
- 1⁄4 cup popcorn kernels
- 1 brown paper lunch bag
- 1 tsp olive oil or avocado oil
- 1 pinch salt (optional)
- Add the kernels to the paper bag.
- Fold the top of the bag over 2-3 times to seal it while still allowing room for expansion.
- Microwave on high for 2-4 minutes, checking frequently until popping slows to 2-3 seconds between pops.
- Remove from microwave and pour into a bowl right away. The steam in the bag can make the popcorn soggy.
- Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt if desired. Enjoy immediately!
Tweak this basic recipe by experimenting with different seasoning blends to add flavor, like garlic-infused olive oil and nutritional yeast.
Just steer clear of onion, garlic, whey, and other high FODMAP ingredients.
Low FODMAP Popcorn Recipe
Here is another homemade low FODMAP popcorn recipe using the stovetop for a fluffier texture:
- 1⁄3 cup popcorn kernels
- 2 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
- 2 tbsp butter or dairy-free margarine
- 1⁄4 tsp salt
- 1⁄4 tsp garlic-infused olive oil (optional)
- Heat oil over medium-high heat in a heavy bottomed pot with a lid.
- Add 3-5 popcorn kernels to test the heat. When they pop, add the remaining 1⁄3 cup of kernels in an even layer.
- Cover and shake pan occasionally to prevent burning.
- Once popping starts, continue shaking for 2-3 minutes until popping slows significantly.
- Remove from heat and pour into a serving bowl.
- Add butter, salt, and optional garlic olive oil. Toss well to coat evenly.
- Enjoy immediately for best texture and flavor!
This stovetop method allows you to infuse buttery, garlicky flavor using FODMAP-friendly ingredients.
Play around with flavored oils, sea salt blends, or nutritional yeast to customize your low FODMAP popcorn.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still have questions about popcorn and the low FODMAP diet? Here are answers to some common FAQs:
Is microwave popcorn ok on a low FODMAP diet?
Microwave popcorn may be suitable if you carefully choose a brand that only contains popcorn, oil, and salt. Many flavored varieties have garlic, onion, or sweeteners that are high FODMAP. Check labels and contact companies if unsure.
What if I want flavored or sweet microwave popcorn?
Making your own popcorn is the best way to avoid unwanted FODMAPs from flavorings. You can add permitted seasonings like herbs, spices, Parmesan cheese, etc. For sweet popcorn, drizzle with 1 tsp maple syrup or sprinkle with mini chocolate chips.
Are popcorn flavorings high FODMAP?
Butter, olive oil, and salt are safe flavorings. Avoid garlic, chili, barbeque, sweet/savory blends with onions or honey. If Unsure, check ingredients against the Monash app.
Is air-popped popcorn low FODMAP?
Yes, plain air-popped popcorn with no flavoring oils or toppings is low FODMAP. Portion to about 3 cups per sitting.
Can I eat popcorn on a strict elimination phase?
Yes, as long as you stick to plain popcorn with permitted seasonings. Microwave or air-pop 1 serving made with kernels, oil, and salt only. Avoid pre-flavored and mixed snack varieties.
Is popcorn a high FODMAP food?
No, plain popcorn is low FODMAP. But large portions may be problematic for some due to the high fiber and volume. Stick to 1-3 cup servings and listen to your body.
The Bottom Line
Popcorn made from kernels can fit into a low FODMAP diet when prepared properly without high FODMAP ingredients. Enjoy it as an occasional treat in moderate 1-3 cup portions.
Flavored microwave popcorn can be tricky – inspect labels to look for onion, garlic or sweeteners. Making your own microwave or stovetop popcorn gives you full control over ingredients.
Season your homemade low FODMAP popcorn with FODMAP-friendly ingredients like herbs, oils, spices and salt. This allows you to enjoy a healthier snack while avoiding IBS symptom triggers.
Hopefully this guide helps provide clarity around popcorn and the low FODMAP approach. Just remember – when in doubt, check the Monash app!