These are my key tips to survive low FODMAP life. This is where you can find everything I’ve discovered so far! If you have anything to share, please message me on Facebook or email me and we can help spread the word!
fodmaps don’t absorb into 100% fat
This means that you can fry a FODMAP containing food in oil or butter and once the flavour has absorbed, remove the FODMAP food. This is a life saver, in terms of flavour (welcome back garlic, onion, mushroom, leek … the list goes on!) Remember you’ll need to remove all the original food item from what you’re making so don’t finely chop / mince anything unless you’re sure you’ll be able to remove it all. The 100% fat rule is concrete – this doesn’t even work with fatty meat: anything that contains water will absorb FODMAPs so beware.
Being on a low FODMAP diet means you will need to start making some of your own food. Shop bought options that claim to be free of one FODMAP will often include another, and will also cost you an arm and a leg so it’s wise to embrace your kitchen. Bake your own granola, bread, desserts and snacks. I am a terrible baker and have had countless disasters but once you get a few go-to recipes you’ll be glad you made the effort.
I’m a snacker, and when the snack attack strikes it is essential that I’ve got some low FODMAP options around. At work, when they bring out the cakes and biscuits at 4pm, or at lunchtime at school when everyone’s chowing down on wheatful goodies you need options. Don’t deny yourself treats – it’s inevitable that sometimes you’re going to want something naughty. Do yourself a favour and have stuff handy because otherwise you will probably eat a slice of FODMAP loaded cake and regret it later. For me oat cakes, rice cakes, peanut butter, flapjacks, fruit and nuts and dark chocolate are essential.
Get the monash app
I should probably say that no one has asked me / is paying me to say this, I just really vouch for this app as the most reliable source of what we can and can’t eat on the diet.
All other FODMAP diet sources come (or should) from Monash – and often things are lost or confused along the way, so just bite the bullet and buy the app. Available on iPhone and Android, it will be the best money you ever spend – for that moment alone when you realise you can eat a small portion of something you thought you couldn’t … or on those magical days when they release newly tested foods. Plus, the money goes directly to the wonderful people at Monash who are making all of this possible for us and funds future research, so get involved!
get inspired by gluten free cooks
Make the most of the gluten free fad and get inspired by some of the many chefs now embracing a wheat-free menu. It’s not just about subbing in ‘gluten free’ items like pasta and bread from the supermarket – sometimes these are nice but sometimes they are crappy and have a lot of bad things in. Instead, look to chefs like Hemsley & Hemsley, who find creative alternatives to wheat and inspire you to think beyond what you’re used to. Sometimes recipes are too obscure to attempt easily with what you have at home, but it will give you a new perspective and remind you there is life after wheat.
dealing with a Flare-up
These are different for all of us, and at this point we probably all just revert to what makes us feel better whenever we’re ill, whether that be snuggling up in bed with a hot water bottle or going on a run. Whatever works for you, it probably has to work around your life. If you have to go to school or work, it sucks – but there are ways to overcome a flare-up quickly.
1. Drink plenty of water. This will help get the badness out of your system.
2. Once any FODMAPs you ate have left your system, you will feel better.
3. Eat plain, low FODMAP foods such as potato and rice, and avoid anything spicy or rich until you feel better.
4. Stay away from caffeine and sugar.
5. Remember to identify what it was that made you feel rubbish, and really think about what you ate. How much did you have? Did you combine FODMAPs? Sometimes when I have a few FODMAPs I know I tolerate in the same meal, I get symptoms because they accumulate in your tummy and it’s too much.
6. Don’t beat yourself up. If you remember saying to yourself ‘I don’t care’ as you shoved that gorgeous piece of chocolate cake in your mouth – you loved that cake and this diet sucks sometimes. We all slip up, it doesn’t mean you have to go back to square one. Just be mindful of how it made you feel and ask yourself if you would make the same choice next time.
What to do when someone looks at you like you have an eating disorder
ORTHOREXIA : an obsession with eating foods that one considers healthy. A medical condition in which the sufferer systematically avoids specific foods that they believe to be harmful.
You may not have experienced this, which I hope is true, but I have found that because I’m a petite girl on an extreme diet, people sometimes look at me with a mixed pitiful and concerned expression when I tell them about the low FODMAP diet. I talk about this diet a lot because I think it’s important to – mainly because of the confusion surrounding it. However when I do, I’ve noticed this reaction from a lot of people, I think because we use the word ‘diet’. It sounds like another extreme fad diet for made up intolerances that people think is over-the-top, perhaps attention-seeking and ultimately, the product of a world where we are seeing more and more obsessively healthy ideas surrounding food.
My advice to you, if you are faced with a negative reaction after sharing your experiences, would be to explain things as much as you wish to, while remembering that to most people this does sound like a strange, extreme diet in a world of strange and extreme faddy diets. I think it’s important to try and set things straight, education is the enemy of ignorance but you don’t want to put yourself through hell doing it. Often the easiest way is to just assure the person judging you that your GP put you on this diet for your symptoms. They will understand better later, as more GPs are putting people on the diet, but for now, don’t allow yourself to be frustrated by these reactions. It can be hurtful when people treat you as though you are making a silly choice in your diet, it belittles your situation and your symptoms – but being confident in your choice to embark upon the low FODMAP diet is a brilliant thing – own it!
make bone broth
More essential than you’d think. Most the stop-bought stock cubes, bouillon and gravies contain onion and sometimes wheat. See my super easy & quick recipe for low FODMAP chicken stock and make it up in batches. You can add it to so many dishes, and even have a mug of it when you feel a cold coming on. It’s essential, it’s magical.
It’s going to happen, and there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a meal out. Most high street Italians offer gluten free pasta and pizza now (my favourite being the pasta at Prezzo), and you can ask them to make dishes sans onion, garlic, leek, mushrooms etc. My favourite cuisines to go for when eating out though are probably Asian … specifically Japanese. Wagamama’s in my second home. Rice based and not too fatty, Japanese food utilises low FODMAP faves such as spring onions, chilli, ginger and soy sauce … you can’t really go wrong and you’re guaranteed to find something gorgeous and flavourful – often without even having to ask to have anything left out of the dish. Sushi is great too, as is Thai – but you just have to be mindful of how much coconut you’re eating. If burgers are your thing, ask for it without the bun, or see if they have gluten free buns. And when dessert rolls around and you despair at the gorgeous selection of wheatful goodies as your eye scans down the menu, remember one scoop of ice cream is low FODMAP, if nothing else!
LOW FODMAP ESSENTIALS
The low FODMAP goodies I couldn’t live without.
- legal cereals such as corn flakes
- porridge oats
- spring onions (surprisingly good at allowing you to forget you can’t eat the regular kind)
- garlic oil
- porcini oil (if you miss mushrooms almost daily like I do)
- gluten free pasta
- rice noodles
- rice cakes
- oat cakes
- dark chocolate
- tortilla chips (make sure they’re free from the ambiguous ‘flavouring’ which often involves onion & garlic)
- bananas (or as my cousin calls them, ‘Nature’s Mars bar’)
- real Mars bars (just kidding)
- almond milk (watch out for the sweetened kinds and almond ‘drinks’ as they are loaded with sugar)
- legal cheeses (esp. parmesan and cheddar)
- sorbet (loaded with sugar but… sometimes necessary)
- decaf tea / coffee
- peppermint tea