Wednesday, 31 December 2014

A New Year's Resolution for IBS

Hi again Fodmappers - I hope you had a fantastic Christmas and managed to avoid the yummy temptations which cause us so much grief?

As we're now moving into the New Year, I thought now would be a good time to focus on what you really want from the year ahead. In particular, are you ready to commit to getting your IBS symptoms under control? How would that sound as your New Year's resolution? Is that something you'd like to achieve? Maybe you've 'dabbled' with the low-FODMAP diet and want to give it another go? Or maybe your resolution is to begin to discover new ways to improve your digestive health? Maybe you've simply had enough of your IBS and you're ready to do something about it? Then welcome to Fabulous Fodmaps - this blog is for you.

(If you're an already experienced Fodmapper, I hope you might still find something useful here. Maybe you'd even like to leave a word of encouragement for newcomers in the comments at the end of this post?)

5 Steps to Low-FODMAP Success

1. Learn.

I suggest that your first step is to learn something about the low-FODMAP diet and why high-FODMAP food causes problems for people with IBS. If this is all new to you you might like to read the overview here or if you're ready for something a bit more indepth then you might like to watch the video, 'Beating the Bloat,' here. You don't need to become an expert in FODMAPs but gaining a bit of knowledge will help make sense of it all and I firmly believe that you are more likely to stick to the process if you understand why some food is allowed and some is not.

2. Explore.

With a bit of knowledge under your belt you're ready to discover new recipes that are suitable for your low-FODMAP diet. I share some of mine here but there are many more on the internet so you won't be short of ideas. I strongly suggest bookmarking any that take your fancy or simply jotting them down in a note book as you're going to need a good selection. You're going to need to think about breakfasts, lunches, evening meals and snacks, as well as eating out. The exclusion stage is a minimum of 6 weeks and that's a lot of meals. I will give you a word of caution though, and that is simply to be careful out there. Not all the recipes you see labelled as low-FODMAP actually are low-FODMAP. If you're not sure which ingredients are safe you can check the list here.

3. Plan Ahead.

Time to shop and to stock up on foods you've possibly never even looked at before. You're going to be visiting the Gluten-Free sections of your supermarket for wheat free pastas, breads and breakfast cereals, and you may be pleasantly surprised to discover that they are not as bad as you may have thought. You'll be trying lactose-free milks and seeing which ones you you prefer.You'll also be reading a lot of labels. Start stocking the cupboards with 'safe' food and clear out anything that you need to avoid and you'll have a better chance of succeeding.

4. Make it Fun.

It may seem tough at first but discovering new food can be an enjoyable experience all of it's own. Treat your low-FODMAP diet as you would any new cuisine and you'll look forward to mealtimes. Even invite friends for meals if you enjoy cooking and let them try something different too. And make sure to award yourself some low-FODMAP treats. For example, a little chocolate is permitted. There's more on that here.

5. Come Back Soon.

I shall be adding more recipes, tips and inspiration throughout the year so please add this blog to your favourites so that you can find your way back here. And don't forget to comment to let me know how you're getting on.

Happy New Year - may this be your best year yet.

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Monday, 15 December 2014

The Low-Fodmap Christmas Party Guide - Part 2

Not long now and the presents will be getting exchanged, the food will be on the table and the drinks will start to flow. So Fodmappers, do you know what and how much you can drink this Christmas? And whether you can even drink alcohol on a low-FODMAP diet.

Let's start with the good news.


According to Monash University (who we have to thank for developing the low-FODMAP approach to IBS) the following alcoholic drinks should be OK to include in your celebrations at the suggested levels. And no it doesn't mean you can have a glass of each. ;)

Beer - 1 Can
Whiskey - 1 x 30ml serving
Red wine - 1 x 150ml glass
Sparkling wine - 1 x 150ml glass
White wine - 1 x 150ml glass

Beware to avoid Rum and low-GI wine as both are high in fructose and may trigger symptoms of IBS.

Non-Alcoholic Drinks

If you prefer a glass of something non-alcoholic you should be aware that both apple juice and orange juice are also high-FODMAP so should be avoided. Also make sure to read the labels of any non-alcoholic fruit punch that may take your fancy. Some of these also contain apple juice.

Cranberry juice, however, should pose no problems and inspired a little mulled beverage all of my own. (See image at the top of the page). So here's my recipe for an easy, winter warmer to enjoy this Christmas.

Mulled Cranberry Punch


A carton of Cranberry juice drink (look for one which does not contain artificial sweeteners as they may be high FODMAP. I used Ocean Spray Classic.)

A mulled wine sachet.

Cinnamon sticks. (Optional).


Pour the cranberry drink into a pan, add the mulled wine sachet, and heat gently for a few minutes.
Pour into glasses and add a cinnamon stick for decoration. 

And there you have it, Christmas in a glass. 
Serve to your guests with a selection of nuts or 'safe' cheeses and no-one will suspect a thing.

One final note. Remember that FODMAPs are cumulative so try to stick to small portions where you can. Personally I think that this might be the hardest thing to do at Christmas when there is so much good food and drink about but it's better to eat several small meals than one large one so that you keep the FODMAP levels low.

With that in mind, it just leaves me to wish you a very happy and healthy Christmas. May Santa bring you everything you wish for. See you in the New Year.

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Thursday, 4 December 2014

The Low-FODMAP Christmas Party Guide - Part 1

Hi Fodmappers - ready for those Christmas parties? If you're like me, I'm guessing that your thoughts are going to be as much about what you can safely eat and drink as what you might wear? After all there are more embarrassing things that can happen to someone with IBS then turning up in the same outfit as your colleague! So here's my Fodmapper's guide to surviving the party season.

Part 1 - What Can I Eat?

The Set Menu

Do you dread that moment when the menu gets passed around the office with the set meal options? It's hard enough finding a tasty vegetarian option let alone one which is FODMAP friendly. Assuming you're already committed to a sit down meal, how can you make sure it's 'safe'? If it's a traditional Christmas meal there are several things to watch for.

First Course - There is often the choice of a vegetable soup for the first course but this may not be the best option for you. Even something innocent sounding like a carrot and coriander or parsnip soup may contain onions which are high-FODMAP. So my first tip is to opt for the melon.

Main Course - Goats Cheese tartlet sounds great, doesn't it? It's so very tempting for a Veggie Christmas meal but so wrong for us Fodmappers. Onions have a way of sneaking into these too but there's also the pastry to consider, and to avoid. You'll also want to avoid anything with mushrooms. If a nut roast is on the menu it could very easily contain wheat, onions and mushroom! But don't fear. My tip for the main course? Phone the restaurant beforehand and explain that you have special dietary needs - this is nothing unusual these days. Some restaurants pride themselves on being able to cater for special diets, as long as you give them enough notice. If they can't accommodate you, you could always offer to provide your own. That way you can eat in the confidence that it tastes great as well as the fact that it's not going to upset your tummy.

As for the vegetables - potatoes, parsnips, carrots and green beans are low-FODMAP, so enjoy. You should find you can tolerate a small portion of broccoli but remember to avoid the peas. As for Brussels sprouts, Monash University advises that a serving of two is tolerated by most people with IBS, though I'd choose whether to have those or the broccoli (rather than both) just to be extra careful. Also you'll be wise to avoid the stuffing and gravy - both are likely to contain wheat and onions.

Dessert - Christmas desserts are a challenge as wheat and dried fruit are high-FODMAP, and best avoided. But if you like something sweet you could take along some home-made low-FODMAP Ginger, Orange and Walnut Mince Pies to surprise your colleagues (having spoken to the restaurant first) or go for the savoury option and finish with the cheese selection. Cheese boards often come with grapes which are safe to eat, just remember to give the wheat crackers a miss.

The Buffet

The other scenario at this time of year is the festive buffet. This is a whole lot easier as far as a low-FODMAP diet is concerned, partly because a buffet tends to be a much more informal meal anyway and partly because you'll be in control of what goes on to your plate. If you're not sure yet what foods are safe to eat, take time to familiarise yourself with the 'Foods to Avoid' and 'Foods to Enjoy' lists. There are plenty of buffet classics such as plain crisps, plain corn tortillas, carrot and celery sticks, cheese and pineapple on sticks, olives, peanuts, grapes, cheddar or feta cheese and salad leaves which are low-FODMAP, so you won't go hungry.

You could even offer to help prepare the buffet, that way you can make sure there are plenty of low-FODMAP options available. Or take something with you, everyone loves someone who brings food to a party.

One final tip, especially if you know you are easily tempted by festive goodies, is simply to eat something before you go out. That way when the food is put in front of you it'll be easier to stick to those safe options.

In Part 2 I'll take you through some low-FODMAP drinks options complete with a tasty recipe of my own for a winter warmer which I think you'll enjoy.

'Til then - stay fabulous! :)

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Sunday, 23 November 2014

Low-FODMAP Mince-Pies

Well it wouldn't be Christmas without them, would it?

Hi again Fodmappers. This will be my first Christmas since going low-fodmap and I realised I'm going to have to get organised if I want to enjoy some festive treats. So for the last few weeks I've been thinking about the things that really make Christmas for me, and mince-pies have got to be top of my list.

But mince-pies are normally a bit of a fodmappers nightmare. First there's the wheat in the pastry, but even if you go wheat free there's still the apple and dried fruit in the mincemeat. If you're buying ready made there may very well be other ingredients to watch for too - did someone say fructose-glucose syrup? It was only when I decided to try and create some low-fodmap mincemeat of my own that I discovered there's even fructose-glucose syrup in tubs of candied peel!

Eventually I struck on an idea, after all there are other Christmas flavours to be had. So here's my own twist on a Christmas favourite. These are vegetarian, wheat-free, gluten-free, apple-free and don't even contain the dried fruit that is normally found in mince pies - but are still very tasty. If you're vegan you could try replacing the butter with coconut oil. I haven't tried that but I imagine it would be yummy.

The directions below are for 12 mince pies. I hope you enjoy them.

Ginger, Orange and Walnut Mince-Pies

Pastry Ingredients

200g Gluten Free Plain White Flour
100g Butter
75g Cold Water

Mincemeat ingredients

6 x 1" Pieces of Bottled Stem Ginger
Zest of 1 Orange
Juice of 1 Orange
Zest of 1 Lemon
1/2 Tsp of Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Cup of Chopped Walnuts

First prepare the pastry.

Put the flour into a large bowl and add the butter. Work together until it resembles fine bread crumbs.
Add the water and stir through quickly until it begins to form a dough. Shape the dough into a ball and pop into the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

While the pastry is resting, prepare the mincemeat.

Chop the ginger into fine pieces and put into a pan with the orange zest, lemon zest, orange juice and cinnamon. Cook over a medium heat, stirring frequently, until it begins to take on a mincemeat like texture. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little. Stir the chopped walnuts into the mixture.

Roll out the pastry and cut out circles using a pastry cutter. Be careful handling the pastry as gluten free pastry has less stretch than ordinary pastry. Place into a greased mince-pie tin. Put a dessertspoon of the ginger mince-pie filling into each pie and top with a star cut from the remaining pastry.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180C/350F for 20 minutes being careful not to overcook. Eat warm or allow to cool and sprinkle with icing sugar for the perfect festive finish.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Low-FODMAP Eating Out - Problem Solved

I have exciting news Fodmappers - I've found an easy option for meals out!

Up until now my default meal-out option has been jacket potatoes but that does get monotonous, so this evening my partner suggested asking if the pizza restaurant had a gluten free option, and guess what? They did! You wouldn't think someone could get so excited about eating in a pizza restaurant (or maybe you would?) but I was very happy. 

Why hadn't I thought of this before? A place where you can design your own meal from a choice of pizza toppings, and pick and choose from the salad bar is perfect for us Fodmappers. This is somewhere where such behaviour is normal, not fussy (I hate that people might think of me as a fussy eater) and no-one suspects a thing.

So this is my very simple tip for meals out. 

Go to a pizza restaurant (though maybe ring first just to check they do gluten-free pizza bases). Choose toppings which you know are low-fodmap - I had goats cheese, cherry tomatoes and olives, and grab yourself some tasty low-fodmap options from the salad bar. 

Of course, you'll need to avoid the temptation of the bread sticks and mayo-type salad dressings and remember to stick to small portions. I figured out that even the individual size pizza would have taken me over the safe level of tomatoes, maybe for other ingredients too. And sadly, desserts are off limits. Having said that, half a pizza, a bowl of carefully selected salad, and a glass of water was plenty.

I should also say that the food was great! So thank you Jess (our waitress). I doubt she'll ever see this blog but she made us feel very welcome. Which is why this is my second tip of the evening. ;)

So phone your friends, book a table and enjoy your evening - and share this post to solve a problem for others too.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Protein in the Vegetarian Low-FODMAP diet

The question is - are you getting enough?

Hi again fodmappers. 

A couple of times lately I've been asked how I manage to get enough protein on a vegetarian low-fodmap diet. It's a good question because, as you probably know, many of the usual vegetarian protein sources (legumes and some nuts) are off limits. Though I felt intuitively that I do get enough, it never hurts to do a bit of research and check. So that's been my project this last week.

I soon realised that, before looking at whether I was getting enough, I had to find out how much protein I should be having. That seems obvious I know, but when you constantly see ads for protein shakes, bars and protein based weight-loss programmes, the suggestion seems to be that none of us are getting enough, let alone anyone on a restricted diet!

The first figures I came across were that a sedentary man needs 56g a day and a woman needs 46g. Those figures weren't working for me for a simple reason, and that is that our need for protein must differ according to our body size, age and health, as well as our activity levels. After a while I tracked down a suggested intake of 0.66g of protein per kg of body weight for both men and women. (1) For me that works out at 31.43g of protein per day - much less than the average guidelines.

My next task, of course, was to find out how much protein there is in the food I eat. (A summary of just one day is at the end of today's blog). It's surprising what contains what!

I've recently converted to using cups as a way of measuring dry and liquid ingredients, but if you don't have these handy little measuring devices you might like to know that 1 cup is the same as 250ml. Simply find something in your kitchen that holds 250ml and you're away.

Dairy and Milk Alternatives

  • 1 large egg = 6g
  • 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese = 28g
  • 1 cubic inch of cheddar cheese = 4.2g
  • 1 cup of crumbled feta cheese = 21g
  • 1 cubic inch of feta = 2.4g
  • 1 cup of lactose free milk = 9g
  • 1 cup of almond milk = 1.25g
  • 1 cup of oat milk = 2.5g
  • 1 cup of oat milk = 0.25g

Nuts and Seeds

  • 1 cup of walnuts = 18g
  • 1 cup of brazil nuts = 19g
  • 1 cup of hazelnuts = 20g
  • 1 cup of sunflower seeds = 29g
  • 1 cup of sesame seeds = 26g
  • 1 cup of dried pumpkin seeds = 39g
  • 1 tbsp of peanut butter = 4g
  • 1 tbsp of almond butter = 3.35g
  • 1 tbsp of tahini/sesame seed paste = 3g


  • 1 cup of cooked buckwheat = 6g
  • 1 cup of cooked quinoa = 8g
  • 1 cup of cooked brown rice = 5g
  • 1 cup of cooked white rice = 4.2g
  • 1 cup dry oatmeal/porridge oats = 6g

Fruit and Vegetables

  • 1 medium banana = 1.3g
  • 1 medium kiwi fruit = 0.8g
  • 1 cup of spinach = 0.9g
  • 1 large potato (baked with skin) = 7g
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper = 1g
  • 1 small courgette = 1.4g
  • 1 cup of shredded lettuce = 0.5g
  • 1 medium tomato = 1.1g
  • 1 cup of cubed butternut squash = 1.4g

Bread and Crackers

  • 1 slice of Genius triple seeded bread = 2.1g
  • 1 slice of Genius brown bread = 1.2g
  • 1 slice of Genius spicy fruit bread = 1.2g
  • 1 Kallo Organic unsalted rice cake =  0.6g
  • 1 Nairns oat cake = 0.8g


  • 100g Orgran buckwheat spirals = 11.2g
  • 100g Orgran corn and vegetable spirals = 6.9g

  • 100g of Tofu = 8g
  • 100g of canned chick peas = 4.3g

I could include much more ....

So, back to the question of whether I am getting enough protein. The only way this was going to be accurate was if I added it up as I went along. So one day last week I met a friend for a cuppa (Hi Jacqui) and kept notes.

My breakfast that day was 1 banana (1.3g) and a bowl of porridge made with half a cup of oats and 1 cup of lactose free milk (12g). Mid-morning I had a gluten free coconut and raspberry slice (4g). And lunch was a kiwi fuit (0.8g), a peanut butter sandwich on Genius fruit bread (6.4g) and a small savoury muffin (6g). The recipe for the muffin (and it's really easy) can be found here.

If you've been counting you'll know that comes to 30.05g of protein (remember I need to aim for 31.43g) and at that point I have to confess I stopped counting.

But this has been an interesting issue to explore. I had never realised what a difference there is in the protein content of the low-fodmap milks, for example, and how something as simple as a bowl of porridge can give a real protein boost to the start of your day. It's an exercise that's definitely worth doing.

And it's been reassuring. The low-FODMAP diet is complicated enough, especially for vegetarians and vegans, without worrying about protein too.

So a big thank you to those of you who have asked, you know who you are. It's been an eye-opener putting this list together, and an education. If there are any other topics you'd like me to explore, please let me know.


Sunday, 26 October 2014

Veggie Savoury Muffins

Ooh look! Yummy savoury snacks. ;)

Hi again Fodmappers. As you can see I've been doing a bit of baking this week. But these aren't any muffins, these are fodmap friendly flour-free muffins! And they pack a bit of a surprise. These muffins are a nice source of veggie protein and they are incredibly easy to make. I confess I'm not into complicated cooking - I want to eat, not cook.

I've made these a couple of times now so they can't be bad eh? I discovered them at Everybody Loves Pretty and have pretty much stuck to that recipe so far.  However the second time I made them I used a mature cheddar rather than a mild one, and next time I'm going to try adding a little asafoetida as I felt they needed a bit of a bite. As onions are not a 'safe' food for me, asafoetida does go some way towards replacing that sharpness. (If you haven't discovered it yet, it's worth tracking down and adding to your spice collection.) But on with the recipe.

I used:

1/3 cup of quinoa grains
1/2 a cup of grated Cheddar Cheese
2 large eggs
1/3 cup of shredded spinach
A generous pinch of oregano
A generous pinch or basil
A sprinkle of salt and pepper.

(This makes 6 muffins).


First cook your quinoa. Rinse the grains well (I used my salad sprouter for this) and then toast them lightly in a large saucepan for a couple of minutes. Add 2/3 cup of cold water. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for approximately 15 mins or until it has absorbed all the water.

While the quinoa is cooking, preheat your oven to 350/180.

When the quinoa is ready, remove the pan from the heat and add the grated cheese, herbs, salt and pepper. Stir in well.

Finally add the eggs (make sure the pan and contents have cooled slightly so that the eggs don't cook on contact) and mix in.

Spoon mixture into muffin cases or directly into a greased muffin tin and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
The finished bake has a texture part way between a muffin and a quiche which isn't as odd as it sounds. Give them a go, experiment with different flavours, and let me know what you think.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Fodmap Friendly Halloween

Just a couple of weeks to go until Halloween and these little peppers were so cute I had to give them a try. I'd seen several recipes for these online but most were either meat filled or full of non-fodmap friendly ingredients. I decided to go for a Feta and Walnut filling, partly as those were ingredients I had in, and partly because walnuts look like brains. Yes I'm completely in the Halloween spirit already! 

As always, this is a vegetarian recipe but it could be very easily adapted for vegans, just skip the cheese! In fact feel free to tweak this recipe however you like (I did) but just remember to stick to low-fodmap ingredients.

So here's what I used

2 large yellow bell peppers.
Half a cup of quinoa grains.
A small handful of walnuts.
Approx 100g of feta cheese
8 to 10 pitted black olives
1 tomato.
Black Pepper

Cook the quinoa in a cup of water until all moisture is absorbed. (Approx 15 to 20 minutes).

Preheat the oven to 180/350 degrees.

Meanwhile prepare the peppers. Cut around the top and remove the seeds and, using a sharp knife, carefully cut a little 'pumpkin' face into the peppers.

Chop the walnuts, feta, black olives and tomato into small pieces, keeping just two walnuts whole for decoration.

When the quinoa is cooked simply stir in the rest of the ingredients and season with the herbs, salt and pepper to taste. Fill your peppers.

Finally place one half of a walnut inside the top of each pepper (as a spooky brain) before replacing the top.

Place in the oven on a baking tray for approx 1 hr or until the pepper is soft.

Alternatively you could try a cheddar and spinach combo or, if you'd like to see the filling oozing out of your pumpkins eyes, maybe a fodmap-friendly version of a ratatouille?

Have fun and let me know how you get on.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Beating the Bloat

Hi Fodmappers

Just a quick visit as I thought you might find this interesting.

"Professor Peter Gibson is Head of Gastroenterology at Monash University and an internationally renowned expert in the field. On 30 October 2013, he presented on the problem of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and gut symptoms in general and about the world-wide fascination with dietary cures. He describes the controversy surrounding wheat intolerance, the most current research and outlines the new dietary approach, the low FODMAP diet, that is changing the way doctors and dietitians help people with IBS to manage their problem."

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Chocolate Gets the Green Light

I love to share good news and, if you like chocolate, I have some very good news indeed. Dark chocolate is low-FODMAP!! (Doing a little happy dance right now - feel free to join in).

When I wrote about Rainbow Drops I promised I'd seek out more fun foods for you, and I just love chocolate so it had to be next. Well it seems Monash University (who we have to thank for coming up with the low-FODMAP diet) have kindly delved into this topic for us and the results are as follows.

Marked according to their traffic light system, one 30g serving (approx 5 squares) of dark chocolate, gets a green light. This means that it's low FODMAP and safe to enjoy as part of your diet. Right now I'm imagining dark chocolate chips in yummy low-FODMAP muffins. Mmmmmm.

However, the same size serving of both milk and white chocolate are given an amber light. This indicates that these contain a moderate amount of FODMAPs due to the lactose content. Depending on how well you tolerate lactose will depend on whether you can enjoy these too.

But a word of caution is probably called for before you dash off to buy the very best (and darkest) chocolate you can find, and that is to say that it's vitally important to stick to the serving size. FODMAPs are cumulative - the more you eat the more you increase your FODMAP level, and the higher the FODMAP level the greater the risk of tummy upsets.

Also Monash advise sticking to small portions as "Chocolate is high in fat, and when consumed in excess can affect gut motility and may trigger symptoms." (1)

Having said that, I think this still counts as good news and I hope it's brought as big smile to your face as it has to mine. I've always been partial to a nice bit of dark chocolate and don't we all deserve a treat now and then?

I think FODMAP just got a little more fabulous!


Monday, 6 October 2014

Buckwheat - The Wheat You Can Eat

Don't panic Fodmappers! If you haven't already discovered Buckwheat I have a surprise in store for you. Buckwheat isn't wheat - which means you can eat it as part of a low-FODMAP diet.

Buckwheat is something which is called a 'pseudocereal' (1) because, though it isn't a grass (which wheat is) it can be used in much the same way as grains which are. Buckwheat flour can be made into bread, pastry or pancakes (though when making pancakes remember to use a lactose-free milk) or bought as pasta or noodles. The grains can be toasted and then cooked in twice the volume of water (one cup of grains to two cups or water) to make a nice and nutty change from rice. Alternatively they can be sprouted in just a few days and added to salads, breads or breakfast cereals.

Sprouting Buckwheat couldn't be easier. Of all the grains I've sprouted over the years, this is definitely one of the quickest to grow. I use the Bio-Snacky jar but you could also use an ordinary large jar and a piece of muslin. Simply put a couple of tablespoons of grains into the jar, rinse well, soak for about 30 mins and then strain. Rinse and strain twice daily until the grains develop little tails - which in warm weather might be as quickly as 2 days.

Alternatively you could just use a sieve, like this guy does here. Take it away chef!

If you're still not convinced you might be interested to know that Buckwheat is incredibly good for you! (2) It is high in zinc, copper, potassium and manganese and also high in protein. Protein can be a bit of a challenge for vegetarian and vegan fodmappers as many of the usual sources (such as lentils, chick peas, soya and tvp) are high-fodmap and therefore to be avoided. Buckwheat can replace some of the lost protein. It is also a good source of soluble fibre.

As you can see from the sneaky peek into my kitchen above, I've rather taken to Buckwheat. You might even notice that the label on the taller jar reads 'Buckwheat - Yum'. To be honest, unless it's toasted it doesn't have a strong taste at all, which means it will pretty much go with anything you fancy. Right now I fancy cake. I found this recipe on 'A Clean Bake'. Mmmm - Buckwheat cup-cakes. Got to try that.

'Til next time Fodmappers. 

Monday, 29 September 2014

How I Gained a More Varied Diet Through FODMAP

Yes, you read that right - I did say 'more varied'. This post is dedicated to those of you who feel that a low-FODMAP diet is so restricted that there's nothing left to eat! I know - I felt like that too.

Hello again Fodmappers. Today I want to share something which was a bit of an epiphany for me.  Quite simply I realised that before going low-FODMAP it felt like everything I ate made me ill. But since discovering the FODMAP approach, I've realised that now I have a whole range of foods to choose from which I can enjoy without becoming unwell. This still feels like nothing short of a miracle. But I admit that initially it felt like my diet was going to be so restricted that it was all going to be very dull. And I was also a bit concerned that, as much of my usual vegetarian options were going to be off-limits, that I wasn't going to be eating healthily either. How wrong I was.

For a start, I have recently rediscovered fruit! This is quite ironic as it is recommended that fruit is limited too (not only to certain varieties but also to one portion with each meal) during the elimination stage but, until a few months ago, I hardly ate any fruit and relied on vegetables for my 5-a-day. Sadly though, many of the vegetables that I used to eat regularly (such as onions, broccoli, beetroot and sugar snap peas) turned out to be HIGH in FODMAPs so it was important that I dropped those and found alternatives. I still eat lots of (other) yummy vegetables but now I also have FODMAP friendly oranges, bananas, grapes and kiwi fruit too.

And then there's the whole wheat thing. I almost feel a little bit guilty telling you just how much of my diet had become wheat based, even without me noticing. It wasn't unusual for me to have something like wheat-flakes, weetabix or branflakes for breakfast, then a sandwich or pasty for lunch, a pasta meal in the evening or maybe a veggie pie, and the inevitable cakes and biscuits in between. No wonder I was ill! If you haven't explored this area yet, you'll be glad to know that there is so much more to eat than wheat. Oats are ok so I often start the day with a bowl of porridge, but you could equally have a slice of wheat-free toast. I also use rice and potatoes more than previously and have discovered the world of 'gluten free' (which means they are also wheat, rye and barley free) pastas. Sometimes I even unleash my inner hippy and make a quinoa or sprouted buckwheat salad.

I now gain my proteins through tinned chick peas, tofu, nuts and nutty butters (did you know you can now get almond and hazelnut as well as peanut butter?) eggs, cheeses and grains such as quinoa instead of reaching for the jar of soya mince.

Milk has been replaced by oat, rice or (and this is my current favourite) almond milk. The lactose-free 'ordinary' milk isn't bad either.

In short, my diet is so much more interesting!

So I hope that if you're still working up to going low-FODMAP, or maybe losing heart a little, this might have given you a bit of encouragement. Remind yourself, that the chances are, that some of the foods you're already eating are ones that are making you ill. You'd have to be crazy to carry on eating those surely? And try something different instead. If it seems like a challenge then treat it as though you're making something special for somebody special - because you are! It's a matter of looking at what you can eat, not what you can't. And you may even find you end up with a more varied diet (and maybe more balanced) diet as a result.

Bon appetit.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Low-FODMAP Baked Potatoes

Hi again Fodmappers. Apologies about the quality of the photo but I just wanted to share another easy low-fodmap vegetarian recipe with you (sorry vegans, I promise to get some ideas on here for you soon). In fact, this is one of those meals which I tend to forget is low-fodmap! We love these, apart from anything they pretty much cook themselves, but they are also one of those lovely comforting foods for chilly evenings.The centres are nice and fluffy as, after about an hour in the oven, we scoop out the middles and mash them before adding a little cheddar cheese, lactose free milk and chives, and topping with a slice of tomato. We then return them to the oven until cooked.

I know it's yummy but, whatever you do, avoid the temptation to pile baked beans on top. Baked beans are high in FODMAPs and will undo all your good work.

I love the potato skins (and they don't cause me a problem) but many people do find they upset their tummies, so this is one of the cases where you have to really get to know your own body. That's one of the joys of going low-fodmap for me - everyone is different, and that's ok! You have probably also noticed that I'm a big fan of salad. Again you may find that it doesn't sit easily with you so be sensible. Stick to low-fodmap salad ingredients (that means avoiding spring onions, green peppers, coleslaw and certain salad dressings) and be generous with the herbs and seasoning. Herbs are a blessing to fodmappers and often great for the digestion. And let me know how you get on.

Until next time - happy eating!

Monday, 15 September 2014

'Easy Cheesey' Low-Fodmap Omelette

Hi again Fodmappers. I hope you're all doing well and enjoying the blog so far. Tonight I just want to post a little something to show you that low-fodmap cooking doesn't have to be complicated. Yes you do need to discover replacements for some of the things that have probably been part of your 'normal' diet for years - such as replacements for wheat! Actually I didn't realise how much wheat I was eating until I had to stop! Anyway, it's nice to sometimes recognise that some of those 'normal' foods are also low-fodmap. So, tonight's recipe is ... ta da .... an omelette.

I shan't write out a recipe on how to make an omelette as I'm sure you know the basics, but I think it's worth mentioning the ingredients. This is a vegetarian omelette (because I'm vegetarian) but you can adapt it to your preference of course. The main thing to remember is to stick to low-fodmap ingredients. Yes that might sound obvious but that means using the green part of spring onions instead of regular onions, sticking to red and yellow peppers rather than green ones, and using a hard cheese such as cheddar as the lactose in cheese reduces as it hardens. (1) You could also add tomatoes, spinach, chives or potatoes. (2)

So there you have it, a 'normal' and easy recipe idea that is also low-fodmap. You could even keep a slice for your lunch-box. ;)


Sunday, 24 August 2014

Fun with FODMAPs

Look what I spotted today! I haven't had these since I was a kid and guess what? The ingredients are mostly sugar, maize, rice and glucose syrup which makes them vegetarian and low-FODMAP. This has inspired me to hunt out little treats that us fodmappers can enjoy. I'm on the case.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Spicy Butternut Squash and Chickpea Curry

Hi again Fodmappers. I had to share this veggie curry recipe with you as not only is it low-FODMAP (despite the chickpeas) but it is easy and tasty. Yes, low-FODMAP food doesn't have to be boring and I'll let you into a little secret, as long as you use tinned chickpeas you should find that it won't upset your tummy either. We tend to make a big batch of this and freeze some for a quick meal another day. The quantities given below should serve 4.

You will need:

Garlic infused oil
Ground turmeric
Ground cumin seeds
Ground ginger
4 medium sized carrots
A butternut squash
A red pepper (bell pepper)
2 courgettes (zucchini)
Approx a handful of green beans
Tinned chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
Brown rice
Salt and pepper

Wash, seed and chop all the vegetables into small chunks.

Heat the oil in a wok or large pan over a medium heat and add the carrots and spices. We use about a heaped teaspoon of each of the spices but adjust to your taste. When the carrots begin to soften, add the butternut squash and cook a little longer. Next add the red peppers and place a lid on the wok. In a separate pan put the rice on to cook. Keep adding the vegetables to the pan in the order listed allowing a little time between each for the previous ingredient to begin to cook. You might want to add a little water to the wok to prevent the ingredients from sticking in the bottom. Stir frequently and adjust spices to taste. Finally add the drained chickpeas and seasoning. Ensure all ingredients are heated thoroughly before serving.

Enjoy. :)

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

National Gut Awareness Week

Was it just me or did anyone else miss out on the news that it was National Gut Awareness Week last week? Ah well, better late than never. ;) Sadly this article doesn't say much about FODMAPs but there's still some useful tips here. See what you think.

National Gut Week 2014: How To Reduce Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Posted: Updated:

It's National Gut Awareness Week and it seems many of us could do with a lesson or two in how to look after our insides.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is Britain’s most common digestive complaint, affecting nearly a fifth of the population.

Despite the growing prevalence, the condition is extremely poorly managed: a recent survey of IBS sufferers revealed that over two thirds of sufferers have received no helpful advice from their GP regarding symptom relief and those affected try an average of five new products to relieve their symptoms each month.

Despite this, over 50% are still left battling the embarrassing and debilitating symptoms long-term.
Registered Nutritional Therapist and Chair of BANT (British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy) Miguel Toribio-Mateas shares his tops tips to help reduce IBS safely and effectively:

It is thought that IBS sufferers experience increased sensitivity to stress and anxiety, making it important to try to reduce the amount of stress in your life.

Regular exercise not only helps you to de-stress but also helps gas pass through the digestive tract more quickly, so you feel better faster.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques have also been found to reduce the severity of symptoms.

Watch what you drink
Caffeine and alcohol are gastric irritants and act as triggers in some individuals, so are best avoided. Carbonated drinks may also contribute to bloating or cramping.

In contrast, drinking plenty of clear fluids (such as water and herbal teas) can help to ease digestion.

Try a ‘live’ probiotic
Studies have indicated that IBS patients experience a reduction in beneficial bacteria and higher concentration of pathogenic bacteria in the gut.

Newly published research suggests that a unique ‘live’ liquid bacteria known as Symprove can help re-address the balance, with study results demonstrating that all major IBS symptoms either improve or disappear completely in 60% of participants following 12 weeks of treatment; even in those for whom other probiotics and IBS treatments have failed.

Chew well
Be mindful of thorough and calm chewing; eating on-the-run or bolting food at your desk can often lead to compromised digestion.

Try putting your knife and fork down between bites and chewing with your mouth closed. This forces you to breathe through your nose, which relaxes and slows you down.

Give your digestive system a break
Large meals can place stress on the digestive system and trigger spasms in the gut. Some find it helpful to break them down into smaller, more frequent meals, whereas other IBS sufferers do better by leaving longer gaps between meals, and experience a reduction in symptoms by giving their system a break.

However, regularity tends to help the digestive system to operate in a steady fashion, particularly when symptoms are severe.

Avoid trigger foods
Management plans for IBS are highly individual, but symptoms are often improved by alterations in food intake. Lactose (milk sugar), fructose (fruit sugar) and sorbitol (an artificial sweetener) are common triggers in IBS patients.

In addition wheat, dairy, yeast, coffee, eggs, potatoes and onions can often cause problems.

Original Article can be found at

Thursday, 14 August 2014


Hi there Fodmappers - Well as promised here's another yummy vegetarian low-fodmap recipe for you. My lovely man made this for our supper last night - aren't I the lucky one? It's adapted from a recipe in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's book 'River Cottage Veg Every Day' where it is described as a 'spicy North African pepper and tomato stew' which makes a 'lovely, lazy supper'. It would also make a rather tasty breakfast!

The instructions below are pretty much true to the original recipe except with a few low-fodmap changes. Of course you can adjust the spices according to your preference. Personally I like a bit of spice - it makes up for all the things us fodmappers go without.

3 tablespoons garlic infused olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
The green part of some spring onions
1 red and 1 yellow pepper (seeded, cored and sliced)
Half teaspoon hot smoked paprika
A pinch of Saffron
Half carton of Passata
4 eggs
Salt and pepper 

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add cumin seeds and spring onion greens and fry until soft. Add the peppers and continue to cook over a medium heat until these have softened. Add paprika, saffron, passata and salt and pepper. Simmer for approx 15 minutes, stirring as needed. Meanwhile heat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. After 15 minutes, transfer the contents of your pan into an ovenproof dish. Make 4 little indentations in the top of the mixture and crack an egg into each. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes.

Serve with some salad or wheat-free bread. Enjoy.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Prebiotics, FOS and a Low-FODMAP Diet

I was speaking to someone recently who told me her doctor had suggested a low-FODMAP diet and a probiotic - with the emphasis on her taking a probiotic which included a pre-biotic. This struck me as a bit of a contradiction, and hesitant as I was to dismiss her doctor's advice, I explained what I knew about prebiotics. But maybe we need to say a little about probiotics first? (Feel free to skip this bit if it's something you already understand).


Probiotics are supplements you will have come across I'm sure. They are sold in various forms such as capsules, powders, liquids and added to foods such as yogurts and yogurt drinks. They are often described as 'friendly bacteria' and advertised as a remedy for bloating. The aim of taking a probiotic is to rebalance the bacteria of the gut after a course of anti-biotics, for example, or where an excess of 'bad bacteria' has resulted in IBS type symptoms.

There seems to be general (if cautious) acceptance for the benefit of probiotics in helping manage IBS symptoms, such as this from NHS Choices;

"Probiotics may help reduce abdominal bloating and flatulence in some people with IBS, and they may help relieve pain and provide general relief. [...] however, we don't yet know the extent of the benefits, nor the most effective probiotic species and strain." (1)


Prebiotics (FOS) are often included in probiotic supplements to provide a food source for these good guys, which seems reasonable, but it's possible they also feed the bad bacteria. As I found out, most of the studies into the benefits of prebiotics for gut health have been carried out on healthy people, not people with IBS.  In fact, Kevin Whelan of King's College, London reports that "in Crohn's disease and irritable bowel syndrome there is evidence that some prebiotics in high doses worsen functional symptoms." (2)

Well, as you can see in the photos below, the amount of prebiotics in supplements varies drastically. In fact I was surprised by just how much they vary. The first picture is of a bottle of probiotic capsules containing 100mg of FOS per capsule, whereas the  second picture is of a psyllium husk (fibre) supplement which contains 1620mg per serving. Quite a difference yet you might notice that the probiotic content of each is pretty similar.


And here's that contradiction - the prebiotic Fructo-Oligosaccharides (FOS) are high FODMAP. Surely if you are reducing your FODMAP intake by limiting your diet to 'safe' foods, it doesn't make sense to add them back via prebiotic supplements, especially at the higher doses? Chances are that you are already getting sufficient prebiotics through everyday (low-FODMAP) foods anyway.

"If you are following a strict low–FODMAP diet, you can obtain prebiotics from non–FODMAP foods such as bananas, kale, chard, brown rice and oatmeal." (3)

Having discovered that I am sensitive to Fructo-oligosaccharides (including wheat, onions, garlic and cashews) I'm inclined to steer clear of probiotics which have added FOS altogether. Of course, if you can tolerate FOS (something you will discover from your low-FODMAP diet) then prebiotics probably aren't going to cause you problems either.




Sunday, 20 July 2014

Ripe or Not? IBS, Bananas and FODMAPs.

Anyone else confused about whether bananas should be ripe or unripe (or maybe inbetween) on a low-FODMAP diet? I must admit this has been fascinating me as I remember reading some years ago that bananas benefit some people with IBS while being problematic for others. Could this be why? But then when I started reading up on it I found the info out there was more than a little bit confusing! Well, I've done a bit of digging and I think I've got it. So here goes.

It seems to me (if I've understood it correctly) that the issue with bananas is not just limited to the fructose/glucose content but also to something called 'resistant starch'. As you may already know, the fructose/glucose content of a banana varies according to how ripe or unripe it is.

'At harvest, when bananas are green and unripe, the fruits are 20 percent starch and 1 percent sugar. As the bananas ripen over 21 to 28 days, the starch turns into several types of sugars. Sucrose forms first but remains at a constant amount as fructose and glucose content increases. A fully ripe banana, which is yellow with some brown spots, is 14 percent fructose, 20 percent glucose and 66 percent sucrose, note researchers from a study published in "Food Chemistry" in May 2005.' (1) So as the glucose content is higher than fructose a ripe banana is fine. As for the sucrose, Monash University explains 'Sucrose is a disaccharide (2 sugar units) made up of equal parts of glucose and fructose. Sucrose is broken down and absorbed efficiently in the small intestine.' (2) So Sucrose isn't an issue.

But as for the starch content ...

Unripe bananas are difficult to digest as they contain something called resistant starch. 'In many ways, resistant starch is similar to and behaves like fermentable fiber in the digestive tract.' (3) And as we know 'Fermentable' is not good. Resistant starches are categorised according to four groups. Unripe bananas are classified RS2 (resistant starch type 2). 'RS2 – Is intrinsically resistant to digestion before cooking. RS2 includes unripe bananas, uncooked potatoes, along with many other foods.' (ibid).

So there you have it - two reasons to opt for ripe bananas. Hope that clears things up a bit.


Friday, 18 July 2014

Low-FODMAP Veggie Summer Salad

This salad has become a firm favourite in our house this summer. I don't think it needs a recipe as such as I'm sure you can see most of the ingredients (sweet peppers, cucumber, tomatoes, radishes, olives, salad leaves and feta) and it's fun to adapt it to your own tastes. The one thing you can't see from this pic is the Quinoa base.

Quinoa is still a bit of a recent discover for me. It's low-FODMAP (of course) and gluten free so it can be eaten by people with IBS and also those with Coeliac disease. It is a complete protein and high in magnesium and iron and contains both soluble and insoluble fibre for good digestion. It also contains calcium so is a great addition to a vegan diet. I'm vegetarian, rather than vegan, so I get to enjoy a bit of both the feta and the quinoa.

The salad is dressed with a splash of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea-salt - but a squeeze of lemon juice could work well instead.


Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Managing IBS - A Solution Focused Approach

After being reminded recently what a miserable experience IBS can be, I wanted to share with you something a little different which I am experimenting with. This is based on the Solution Focused (SF) approach which was something I had some training in a few years ago but, so far, I haven't seen applied to IBS. Rather than focusing on your symptoms and difficulties, this approach encourages you (us) to look instead at what is already working for you - even when it feels like nothing is!

Essentially, SF explores a problem through asking questions like the ones below. These are not particularly difficult questions but are aimed at helping you recognise your strengths and coping strategies. And yes, you are strong and you are coping!

I encourage you to have a go at answering some of the questions below, and maybe making notes as you go along to reflect on or to add to later. If you can't answer them all, that's fine, go with those that you can answer fairly easily and jot down any that you might like to come back to another time. (Don't forget to bookmark this page so you can find your way here). Also if you feel you want to re-word the questions so that they better apply to you, please do so.

Just one suggestion. When answering the questions try not to use statements such as 'I wouldn't feel bloated' and instead focus on what the positive aspect of that would be, for example 'my clothes would fit comfortably' or 'I'd be able to sleep comfortably' or whatever is true for you. 

I hope you find this helpful - let me know how you get on.

  1. How do you cope with your IBS?
  2. What are the most effective ways you've found of managing your symptoms?
  3. List 5 different ways in which you already manage your IBS.
  4. If your IBS was better controlled, how would things be different for you?
  5. What would tell you that your IBS problems were becoming more manageable?
  6. What would you notice about yourself?
  7. What would you be doing differently?
  8. What would others notice about you?
  9. Bring to mind a time recently when your symptoms have been (even relatively) under control. What else was different about that time?
  10. What were you doing that was different to other times?
  11. What was it about your diet (if anything) that was different to other times?
  12. What do you think made the biggest contribution to how you felt?
  13. How will you manage your symptoms better in future?
  14. If you knew of one small thing you could do that would make a difference for you, what would that be?
  15. What encouragement could you give yourself?
  16. What have you learned from thinking about this?

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

A Cure for IBS?

A cure for IBS? Wouldn't that be nice? No more pain or bloating. No more planning your day around visits to the loo. No more uncomfortable nights' sleep. No more days missed off work or college. No more feeling lousy. Is it possible? I'm beginning to think so.

A few months ago I realised I'd had trouble with IBS for the best part of 20 years and quite frankly, I'd had enough! I decided it was time to get to get to grips with it once and for all. So I started another food diary and kept note of everything that passed my lips.

I'm guessing if you're reading this, you'll know what I mean when I say that it seemed like everything I ate made me ill? I instinctively felt it was food that was making me feel so awful but I was eating a healthy vegetarian diet so where was I going wrong? Determined to find a solution I scoured the net - and then I discovered FODMAPs. I also discovered that a large part of what I was eating was making it worse.

But the good news is that after just a couple of months on the low-FODMAP diet I can honestly say I feel better than I have in years. And, even though it IS a very restricted diet, I'm probably eating even healthier than before.

It's early days for me still, and I have to be honest, a low-FODMAP diet isn't really a cure but  sometimes it really does feel that way. I'm sure there will still be difficult days but I feel I am finally beginning to understand what and why certain foods cause me trouble. I know that there is more to beating IBS than FODMAPs but managing what I eat around a low-FODMAP diet has been a big step in the right direction. And now I am determined to discover what else could help.

So, if you have IBS or other digestive problems, and especially if you're a vegetarian or vegan, then this blog is for you. (A low-FODMAP diet is a bit harder for us veggies but it IS do-able.) I shall be adding lots of info on FODMAPs as well as other tips for digestive health, plus yummy veggie recipes so you can look forward to enjoying food again. I hope you'll join me.