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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