Is Peanut Butter Low FODMAP? The Dietitian Resource

Is Peanut Butter Low FODMAP?

Peanut butter connects many of us back to our childhood. It was part of our after-school snacks, favorite sandwiches, and even desserts (think peanut butter cookies). The nostalgia is real! So, finding ways to include this important food in your eating pattern may be especially important if you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Is peanut butter low FODMAP – Answer

You deserve the most accurate information when following a low FODMAP diet for IBS. Peanut butter is a low FODMAP food when consumed in a two tablespoon (tbsp.) portion (1). Most peanut butter sandwiches will have 1-2 tbsps. peanut butter, or up to 30 grams. As an FYI, one tbsp. = 15 grams.

If your portion of peanut butter is more than 9.33 tbsps. (or >140 grams), you may notice GI upset from IBS due to excess fructose in that portion (1).

Thinking about peanut butter

Label reading for low FODMAP peanut butter

When shopping for a peanut butter, check the ingredient list. Many peanut butter brands only include peanuts and salt in their recipe. If you find a brand that includes added honey, molasses, high fructose corn syrup, etc., you may consider another option to keep your peanut butter a low FODMAP food.

Possible additives that increase FODMAPs in peanut butter

  • Agave syrup
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Fructose
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Molasses
  • Xylitol

Peanut Butter storage

Peanut butter can be used in many different recipes when following a low FODMAP diet. How should you store your low FODMAP peanut butter once you get them home?

Be sure to check the label. Some brands encourage refrigeration right after opening. Most commercially prepared peanut butters can be stored in your pantry, unopened, for nine months.  Once opened, they can be stored safely in the pantry for 2-3 months. If you don’t use your jar within that time frame, consider putting it in the fridge to extend the life of your peanut butter (2).

What are FODMAPs?

FODMAP is a fun acronym that stands for:

  • Fermentable
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Disaccharides
  • Monosaccharides
  • and Polyols.

See the table below to break FODMAPs down into food types.

FODMAPs table: Oligosaccharides or Fructans & Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS): Wheat products (breads, cereals, pasta) Garlic Onions  Leeks  Inulin Beans & other legumes Disaccharides or Lactose: Dairy products high in lactose. Monosaccharides or Fructose: Fruits, high fructose core syrup, honey. Polyols or sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, xylitol, polydextrose, and isomalt: Naturally in some stone fruits (plums, prunes, peaches, nectarines, apricots, cherries, avocado). Also in sugar free foods

FODMAPs are rapidly fermentable carbohydrates that are not digested or absorbed in the small intestine. While in the small intestines, they act like a sponge, pulling fluid back into the GI tract.  This can lead to gut gurgling and discomfort.

Eventually the extra fluid and unabsorbed FODMAPs enter the large intestine or colon. The bacteria living in the colon love FODMAPs, so of course, they begin eating. This leads to the bacteria producing a great deal of gas. The extra fluid and gas can lead to bloating and discomfort, especially for those with IBS.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) – what are the symptoms?

Common symptoms of IBS include:

  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal Distension
  • Cramping
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Excessive gas
  • Feeling of urgency to use the restroom
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • or alternating between constipation and diarrhea (3).

The presence of the ‘red flags’ (shown below) may not be related to IBS. They will require further medical review by your doctor.

  • Weight loss
  • Aged > 50 years
  • Nocturnal symptoms
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Iron deficiency
  • Family history of colon cancer
  • Fecal soiling (3).

Discuss questions and concerns with your medical team.

If you have been diagnosed with IBS, it is important to remember you are not alone. 10-20% of the world’s population are impacted by IBS (4). More research is being completed each year to help. Professionals will continue to expand medical treatments and nutrition care as more information becomes available.

Before beginning any new eating pattern, be sure to talk to your doctor. Discuss any GI concerns you are having during your appointment. This will help your doctor to evaluate, diagnose, and offer you the best solution for your symptoms. Consider asking for a referral to a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) to help you through this process.

There is no known cause for IBS, but it has been recognized that stress and/or genetics could play a part (4). For this reason, it is particularly important to individualize your nutrition and health care plan to find the best solutions for you. Possible dietary changes to discuss with your doctor and dietitian include:

  • Eating smaller meals more often,
  • Increasing fiber rich foods (fruits, vegetables, and whole grains),
  • Reducing high fat foods,
  • Limiting high sugar intake,
  • Considering lactose free foods,
  • Or following a low FODMAP diet.

How do you initiate a low FODMAP diet?

Once you have been diagnosed with IBS, your dietitian can help you explore your nutrition options. RDNs are the nutrition experts and are genuinely interested in helping you find the best solutions for your nutrition concerns. If you choose to start a low FODMAP eating pattern, the following phases or steps can be considered.

The FODMAP Elimination Phase – Phase 1

The elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet is a short-term phase. During this time, you will learn a lot about FODMAP containing foods from your medical team. Do not follow this phase long-term. Following the elimination phase long-term can lead to malnutrition due to the heavy restrictions of this phase.

STEPS:

  • Track changes in your symptoms throughout all phases:
    • Diarrhea – how often, stool texture, urgency
    • Constipation – how often, stool consistency, pain, complete/incomplete elimination of bowel movements
    • Gas – frequency
    • Bloating – extent of bloating, time of day, pain
    • Abdominal pain – increased/decreased intensity related to symptoms above.

  • Eliminate sources of FODMAPS in your diet.
    • This phase can last up to 6 weeks depending on individual. For some, it can be difficult to eliminate all FODMAP foods right away.  It may take a couple of weeks to feel comfortable with this process.
    • Individuals who struggle with IBS can begin to feel better within 1-2 weeks upon eliminating FODMAPs from their diet.

Rechallenge Phase – Phase 2

Restore FODMAPS to the diet in a systematic way. An RDN can help you figure out where to start. Be sure to observe your symptoms as you add FODMAPs back into your eating pattern. REMINDER: with any eating pattern, especially the low FODMAP diet, there is no one size fits all solution.

The overall goal of the rechallenge phase is to find well tolerated low FODMAP foods you can include in your eating pattern. As you discover foods you tolerate less well, you can work with your RDN to assess the amount of these foods leading to symptoms. Smaller portions of these foods may be better tolerated.

Lastly, limit FODMAP containing foods that lead to severe symptoms. You may try to introduce these foods later in smaller quantities to assess your tolerance.

Maintenance Phase (long-term low FODMAP diet) – Phase 3

The final phase is the maintenance phase. This is where you use your new knowledge regarding the low FODMAP foods you tolerate. You can now enjoy the most varied diet possible! Continue to work with your RDN to fine tune your low FODMAP diet.

Looking for more help with peanut butter and/or low FODMAP foods?

To find a dietitian (nutrition expert) in your area, click here: Find a Nutrition Expert (eatright.org).

For more information on The Dietitian Resource, please visit our site or the blog. Thanks for reading!

Best wishes to you on your health journey!

Resources:

1. https://apps.apple.com/ae/app/monash-university-fodmap-diet/id586149216?uo=2. Monash University FODMAP Diet App. April 20, 2022.

2. USDA. What is the shelf life of peanut butter? [Online] Jul 17, 2019. [Cited: April 28, 2022.] https://ask.usda.gov/s/article/What-is-the-shelf-life-of-peanut-butter.

3. Catsos, Patsy. The IBS Elimination Diet and Cookbook The Proven Low-FODMAP Plan for Eating Well and Feeling Great. New York : Harmony Books, 2017.

4. mayonewsreleases. Mayo Clinic: Irritable Bowel Syndrome Definitely Isn’t ‘All in the Head’. Mayo Clinic. [Online] [Cited: 28 2022, April.] https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-irritable-bowel-syndrome-definitely-isnt-all-in-the-head/.

5. Scarlata, Kate and Wilson, Dede. The Low-FODMAP Diet Step by Step. New York: Da Capo Press, 2018.

Is Peanut Butter Low FODMAP? The Dietitian Resource

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More About Rochelle

Rochelle Inwood MS, RDN, ACSM EP-C

Hello there! I’m Rochelle Inwood, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and Exercise Physiologist (ACSM EP-C). With over 14 years of experience, I have sharpened my expertise through diverse roles, including weight management program co-coordinator, patient/employee gym supervisor, outpatient dietitian, program manager, dietetic internship preceptor, and more. I am passionate about learning, creating, teaching, and supporting personal growth and development.