I don’t cut out delicious foods for fun; unfortunately it seems that I may have some form of IBS or food intolerance, as well as coeliac disease. Yay! Though I’ve had a bunch of tests (including the aforementioned endoscopy) these haven’t pointed to anything obvious, so I am still in the process of figuring out what exactly is causing me problems. This is where the FODMAP diet comes in.
FODMAPs are Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. These are all compounds that can trigger digestive issues in people who suffer from IBS, and are found in foods right across the spectrum, even in healthy foods like fruit and vegetables. The Low FODMAP diet minimises intake of these compounds as much as possible.
The diet is extremely restrictive (especially when combined with coeliac disease) so it is not intended as a permanent solution, but rather as an elimination diet where you cut out every possible irritant, and then reintroduce the food groups to see what you can tolerate.
I’ve found it pretty hard to adjust (which is partly why I haven’t written a full post on here for so long) so I thought I would post some tips for others who have to go through it.
1. Buy the Monash app. Yes it is a few quid, but the app is developed by the university research team who invented the FODMAP diet, and it is the most up to date source of information. There is a lot of conflicting information online regarding the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods, so it helps to have one definitive list. It has a food checklist, recipes and more detailed information about the diet. [Also available as a booklet.]
2. Avoid processed foods entirely. It is near impossible to find things like ready meals and biscuits that don’t contain any gluten or FODMAPs (I’m looking at you, onions). Time to go back to basics and cook from scratch.
3. Focus on the foods you CAN eat. Get rid of / temporarily hide all the High FODMAP foods in your kitchen. Especially tempting things like milk chocolate and nice yoghurts (*cries*). Stock up on Low FODMAP foods that you actually LIKE, so that you don’t feel deprived of good food.
4. Follow other FODMAPpers for inspiration. Pinterest boards, blogs, Instragram and Twitter are great places to find recipe ideas and other people out there in the same situation. A few of my favourites are Mooncalf’s Fodmap Foods, The FODMAP Free Life, and FODMAP Journey.
5. Eating out is possible…but tricky. The easiest FODMAP-friendly meal out that I’ve found is simple steak, chips and salad at Flat Iron. Gluten free pizza at restaurants like Pizza Express can also be possible if you are careful to keep the toppings FODMAP-friendly. To be honest, I found it more hassle than it’s worth in most other cases; there are so many things to avoid that for once, gluten is actually the easy part.
And remember, its not forever!
I’d be interested to hear about other people’s experiences on the FODMAP diet, especially if like me you are already dealing with coeliac disease. I have been feeling a lot better since going on the diet, and recently had my first day of feeling genuinely tip top 100% great in a long time. I have also lost weight, stopped being bloated 90% of the time and have regained a lot of energy. My next step is to reintroduce the different food groups. I am scared to ruin my newfound wellness but am keen to find out which foods I can start eating again!
In my next post I will be sharing a few of my favourite Low FODMAP recipes. Hope to see you there.
P.S. Disclaimer: please consult a qualified dietician before cutting any food groups out of your diet. It’s important not to deprive yourself of nutrients unnecessarily (and why make life difficult if you don’t have to). Dieticians can give tailored advice depending on your health conditions and existing diet.