Eating Low-FODMAP 101

At the beginning of 2014 I set myself a project, a la Julie Powell's - A Year of Cooking Dangerously - I would cook all the recipes (with the exception of the shell-fish) in Joanne Harris' and Fran Warde's - The French Kitchen, minimum one recipe a week was my goal. And I made a good start cooking three recipes from the book, two of which are here on my blog and the third Tarte Tatin which I never got around to posting.    And then Fate did, as Fate does, intervene.  And I spent 6 weeks lurching between episodes of dia and vomiting, one particularly bad episode after trying a fritatta for the first time  (never again), there are two no-no's on my list now, shell-fish and fritatta's, don't even mention them.  I was in and out of my doc's like a yo-yo, I had blood tests and procedures, and was becoming well acquainted with the corridors of my local hospital.  Everything came up negative, with one exception there was a bug in my poo that took a week to identify.  There I was imagining that I must have some strange and exotic condition, when my doc got all the results in and declared, we think you have food intolerances that cause IBS.  Oh joy.

And so at the beginning of March this year, armed with information sheets from my GP, and his particular choice of a way to cope, Low-Fodmaps, I began to research the Low-Fodmap way of eating.  I won’t call it a diet, because I am not trying to lose weight, I’m trying to find a way eating that will calm my digestive system and not provoke the worst of the IBS symptoms.  And so here I am almost three and a half months down the line, and feeling that I have at last managed to stabilise my digestive system, and come to terms with the upheaval that is changing my entire way of eating and cooking and what that entails.

Though I still have some symptoms from time to time - (especially after ingesting something I shouldn’t, like too many biscuits, or too much Indian Tonic Water – the only fizzy drink I can allow myself in small amounts) – I am currently experiencing more stability in my digestive regions and as someone on the FB group – Low Fodmap for Foodies – once described as “proper plops”.

Its taken me three months to get used to this new way of eating and devising weekly menus.  Also making what I can eat in batches and freezing.

During this time, I’ve discovered to my surprise the level at which our food is “added to” is far beyond what I’d previously imagined. For instance, we recently had top quality Beef Burgers from the supermarket, I had only eaten half of one before I had to rush to the loo. And sure enough when I checked the ingredients, there it was Onion Powder! So what I’m finding is that foods are added to, to improve taste and that’s where the hidden stuff that provokes my digestive system lurks.

With hindsight I realise there were some clues that I have food intolerances, I just didn’t put them together that they were causing me pain, bloating, gas etc, etc,.  let’s take for instance the biggest culprits, Onions, Garlic, Spring Onions, things I’ve used on a daily basis for years, and then in the last year I noticed that cutting Onions and Garlic caused my eyes to water painfully and the tips of my fingers to sting!

There are I’ve found upsides to eating Low Fodmap, (apart from the obvious avoiding digestive earthquakes and crises) and the first one, is that we are “eating clean”, cutting out the obvious junk food and the hidden additivies that I’ve discovered most prepared foods seem to contain. I’d never have imagined that store-bought humus contains sugar, but it does; or that some Cottage Cheese contains cream and they do.  The second is that we are eating smaller portions. Oh and my sinuses have cleared up, and my sense of smell is a lot sharper than it used to be.  I can often smell that a food contains something that is going to upset my stomach!

So though at the beginning of my Low-Fodmap journey I was freaked that I might have to cook two sets of meals, one for me and one for Chas, he is now eating what I eat, with the addition of veg and fruit that I cannot, which is great for him as he has type 2 diabetes.

So if you are just starting out on the Low Fodmap way of eating, and feeling freaked out at changes you will need to make, yet also having to cook for family, here’s my suggestion, get yourself a copy of Sue Shepherd’s book, The Complete Low-FODMAP Diet, and visit Suzanne Perrazani's website Strands of My Life,  Suzanne's book, Low Fodmap Menus for IBS, is not only a wonderful collection of recipes, but literally a feast for the eyes, it has wonderfully photographed food which will have your mouth watering!   From the recipes in these books you can  make a list of menus for one week. Meat and Chicken recipes, can be prepared in batches and frozen, and then served with different veg, rice, quinoa, whatever you choose; so your meals are planned ahead, and stick to it,  while you sort your eating life out. This very important, says the woman who rarely planned meals, and did most of her cooking on a wing and a prayer. Oh and not forgetting the Delicious as it Looks website, which has a wonderful recipe index. (link at end of post).

There will be days when your whole new way of eating and cooking for yourself and possibly family will feel totally overwhelming and you will want to cry, I did. And there will be days when you give in to the incredible urge to have that forbidden food, ice-cream, fizzy drinks, cheese-cake or whatever it is “that doesn’t love you back”, and you will pay for it, keep Loperamide handy!  You will have eaten whatever it might be, possibly because like me, every so often you feel like a child who is being denied their treats.

Organise, I cannot emphasis that enough, says she who hates planning ahead, but I found it to be a must, to instigate the changes I need to make.  I now have two folders, one is filled with Low-Fodmap recipes,  a stock sheet which records the contents of the Low-Fodmap section of my freezer, and a bog standard weekly planner with menus for each day.  And the other Folder contains information I have gleaned from various sources, doctor, and the internet.
Menu and Freezer Stock Sheets

It is really important that you have contact with other Low-Fodmappers, I was really lucky to discover on that first day I got the diagnosis, The Low Fodmap for Foodies on Facebook.  The group is enormously supportive and helpful, and you will be connected to people who may be further along in the low-fodmap journey and will benefit from that contact.

And I do a DSDOR every week, that’s a Digestive System Day of Rest, eating lightly.

My weekly menu plan is based around these dishes:

Sea Bass or Sea Bream Steamed with Rice, Veg and Salad
Low Fodmap Spaghetti Bolognaise Sauce with GF Pasta
Chicken Wings marinated overnight in Maple Syrup, Ginger, and Tumeric with steamed veg and salad
Chinese Chicken Breasts a la Sue Shepherd recipe (p. 151 The Complete Low-Fodmap Diet)  served with rice, steamed veg and salad.
Turkey Meatloaf
Homemade Beef Burgers
All of the above are served with Veg and Salad.

Homemade Chicken Broth with Carrots and Herbs from the Delicious As It Looks Website

And mostly I have these dishes with Rice, Quinoa, Vermicelli Noodles (Rice Sticks)


Strands of My Life
Delicious As It Looks (this links to the Recipe Index)

Homemade Chicken Broth in Ice Cube Trays, Marinaded Chicken Wings, Turkey and Quinoa Meatloaf and Homemade Beef Burgers

So hope this will be some help to someone out there, Happy Low-Fodmapping!!


Rain Trueax said…
I had never heard of this but I did give up mostly gluten a year ago and it's generally speaking better for me. Dairy had gone a few years before. After some very rigid months of no gluten (and you'd be amazed how many secret sources of gluten are in foods), I find once in awhile I can have it if it's a small amount. Generally though it's best to avoid both. My symptoms were not like yours-- just pain in the lower abdomen. After seeing the doctor and the ultrasound to be sure nothing else was going on, diet was the answer. I hadn't realized that pain meant inflammation and more problems could yet follow. More and more people are finding gluten doesn't work for them and hence there are more options. Fast food though is pretty much out. If I was super-sensitive to it, I'd have to not even eat where gluten had been cooked. My level appears to be less. Still my abdomen is much happier with it gone.

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