Thursday, 26 February 2015

Why Keeping A Food Diary Didn't Help My IBS ..

And How You Can Make It Work For You.

Hi Fodmappers - How are you?

I have a couple of questions for you. Do you keep a food diary? And how useful are you finding it?

When I was diagnosed with IBS (and this was pre-fodmap) my G.P suggested I keep a food diary as I felt sure that my symptoms were, at least, aggravated by certain foods. And as this made perfect sense, I did just that. I still have it as it doubles up as my recipe book but looking back it's scary to see what I was eating!

But as careful as I was in recording everything I ate, as well as keeping notes on the events of the day in case stress was a factor, I couldn't make head or tail of what was making me ill. I had already cut out coffee and orange juice at that point as I had noticed that those were definitely a trigger for me but I wasn't getting any further in pin-pointing which other foods were a problem for me. Does that sound familiar?

When I discovered FODMAPs I realised why this was. I was going about this the wrong way round!

Let me give you an example of a meal from just one of my old diary entries. It was one of our favourites - Vegetarian Spaghetti Bolognaise.

The ingredients we would use were onions, garlic, red peppers, soya mince, passata, herbs and, of course, spaghetti. Nothing complicated there really, just a typical vegetarian meal, but if i'd known then what i know now! OMG!

In case you are still new to the low-fodmap diet, let me take you through that list.

Onions = High Fodmap
Garlic = High Fodmap
Red Peppers = Low
Soya =  High Fodmap
Tomatoes = Low
Herbs = Low
Spaghetti (Wheat) = High Fodmap

Looking at that, it really is no surprise I was unwell!

One of the problems with a food diary is that you need to list all the ingredients of everything you eat separately. And that includes the ingredients of shop bought products. You soon learn this, if you haven't already, as even foods which appear to be fodmap friendly (such as gluten free breads) can contain high fodmap ingredients like soya flour. But without knowing about fodmaps, unravelling the ingredients and the symptoms is pretty near impossible. Or at least I found it so.

As soon as I learned about the low-fodmap diet it just made so much sense. Rather than looking for a needle in a haystack (which is what I felt I was doing) you cut out ALL likely trigger foods and reintroduce them a few weeks later, one at a time, to see which ones cause the problems. It's so simple and so logical! This is when keeping a food diary comes into it's own. You can do just what I was failing to do, you can pinpoint EXACTLY what is upsetting you. And you can see how much better you can feel.

One of my first low-fodmap entries read;

"Felt pretty good most of the day, though a little bloating (very little) after lunch and evening meal. Both times this was short lived (less than an hour) and no pain!"

I'd been in a lot of pain prior to starting my low-fodmap journey, and though I think I was reluctant to get my hopes up at that point, that entry showed me there might just be light at the end of the tunnel. The bloating lessened soon after.

As for the bolognaise - I'm sure I've mentioned before that cutting out high-fodmap foods isn't about depriving yourself, it's about replacing them with low-fodmap alternatives such as spring onion greens instead of onions, garlic infused oil instead of garlic and opting for wheat free pasta. We do just that and we use diced aubergine instead of soya mince for that bolognaise texture. (See how I've just sneaked in another yummy recipe for you?) I'm also really enjoying discovering new pastas. Who knew there were so many out there?!

So if a food diary isn't working for you, maybe consider going about it the other way around?

'Til next time Fodmappers - Stay Fabulous! x

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Three Ways to Enjoy a Low-FODMAP Pancake Day

Hi again Fodmappers - Can you believe it's almost Pancake Day? It doesn't seem long since Christmas! And it's almost a year since I started my low-fodmap diet! I think that's a cause for celebration!! But pancakes? Why not?

A low fodmap diet isn't about cutting things out, it's just a matter of replacing high fodmap ingredients with low ones. For pancakes that's about choosing a non-wheat flour over wheat, and replacing the milk with a lactose and soy free variety.

Of course you also need to think about what you're putting into your pancakes, so to help you I've come up with three suggestions - one breakfast idea, one main course and one dessert. And because I prefer eating to cooking, they're all very easy.

I've used buckwheat flour for the pancakes (if you've been following my blog a while you'll know that buckwheat isn't wheat) as I like the earthy, wholefood hippiness of buckwheat. But if that's not your style just use a gluten-free flour blend instead. Or maybe try mixing the two together and create a low-fodmap flour blend of your own!

Buckwheat Pancakes


1 cup of buckwheat flour
1 egg
1 cup of lactose free milk of your choice
A little oil for cooking.


Sieve the flour into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the egg.
Slowly whisk in the milk.

(After mixing the batter, I poured the batter into a clean plastic milk carton to use as needed.)

Heat the oil in the pan.
Pour in enough batter to coat the bottom of the pan evenly.
Cook until lightly browned, turning once.

Pancake Fillings and Toppings

Breakfast - Peanut Butter and Banana

Speaks for itself! Enjoy your pancake spread with peanut butter and topped with sliced banana for a protein packed start to the day.

Main Course - Provencale Pancakes

Lightly fry, or roast, some spring onion greens, courgette, bell pepper and tomatoes with a little basil.
Spoon into the centre of each pancake and roll up.
Top with grated cheese and serve with a side salad.

Dessert - Lemon Meringue Pancakes

Warning! This is particularly yummy!

Combine a crushed meringue nest with lemon curd and some plain lactose free or coconut yogurt. (I used CoYo.) Spoon onto cooled pancakes and top with syrup or a squeeze of lemon juice.

I topped mine with a drizzle of syrup from a jar of stem ginger. Lemon and ginger is just such a perfect combination! Yum!

And there you have it - three easy ways to enjoy a low-fodmap Pancake Day. Enjoy!

'Til next time - Stay Fabulous! x

Monday, 9 February 2015

A Low-FODMAP Treat For Valentine's Day

Hi again Fodmappers. How's this for a Valentine's Day treat?

I have to confess this didn't start out as a Valentine's recipe, but this project just grew and grew and this is the finished result. I guess it just wanted to remind you to love your tummy. ;)

So here is my little Valentine's offering to you. It was great fun to do and the combination of flavours is something I know you're going to enjoy. And best of all, it's low-fodmap!!

Sweet Omelette Stack with Raspberry Coulis

You will need

2 eggs
A tsp of sugar (or more to taste)
10 Raspberries
Lemon Curd
Coconut oil (or oil of your choice)


Whisk the eggs and add the sugar. Add the oil to your pan and cook the omelette over a medium heat. I cooked mine as several small omelettes to make them easier to turn, but that's entirely up to you.

Meanwhile, press 5 or 6 raspberries through a sieve to remove the seeds, keeping the remaining raspberries as a garnish.

Using a pastry cutter, cut the omelette into circles and stack, spreading lemon curd between each layer.

Pour the raspberry coulis over the stack and garnish with remaining raspberries to complete your work of heart.

Enjoy as a fantastic Valentine's treat to yourself. You know you deserve it.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Low Cost, Low FODMAP and a bit of Tough Love

Hi Fodmappers

I have my serious head on today as I have seen a few people recently lamenting how they can't afford a low-FODMAP diet and I'm not so sure that's true. I'll be completely honest with you when I say, I even wonder if that's just an excuse not to start. We can all find plenty of reasons NOT to change what we're already doing (it took me years to leave a job where I was no longer happy and I kept finding reasons, or maybe excuses, to stay) but when you know that some simple changes to what you're doing can make you well, what reason would you have not to make that change? (Actually I'm genuinely interested to know what reasons you may have, so please feel free to let me know in the comment box below). 

But back to the issue of cost.

I understand that money can be tight (I only have a part time job myself and have all the usual household costs) but I choose to make my health my priority, and I want to encourage you to do so too. There is nothing -  not your relationships, your family or your job - that will not actually benefit from you looking after your own health. Think about that for a moment. How often have you missed out on a family event or had to let down colleagues at the last minute, because you were ill?

So assuming it is just the cost that is holding you back, here are my tips for an affordable low-fodmap diet. I even let on how I make a meal for two (with some to spare) for less than £3.

Affordable FODMAPs

1. Think about where you shop. A supermarket might be convenient but don't assume that they are always cheaper than your local market or greengrocers.

2. Buy in bulk. Consider ingredients, such as rice and oats, which you can buy in bulk and can be stored in large jars for when you need them. Check out the world foods sections of your supermarket (or visit your local asian store) for big bags of rice. Also a great place to find larger packs of spices.

3. Shop with a friend and share those 'buy one get one free' offers.

4. Buy seasonal produce. Seasonal fruit and vegetables are cheaper than those that aren't. This isn't rocket science but it's easy to forget. There's nothing wrong with treating yourself to some strawberries in the winter, if that's what you fancy, as long as your budget allows.

5. Make the most of potatoes. Potatoes are something of a fodmappers friend. Not only are they cheap but you can bake them, boil them, mash them, roast them, add them to soups, or add them to a curry. You could even try replacing a pastry crust with a layer of mashed potato.

6. Cook in bulk and pop the rest in the freezer. Unless you really enjoy cooking, the chances are that there'll be days when you fancy a day off. That's when you can turn to your freezer and enjoy a meal you made earlier.

7. And that takes me to my final tip. There's no getting away from it, certain low-fodmap ingredients are pricey. Gluten-free bread being a prime example. But if you pop one in the freezer on the day you buy it, you can take out slices as you need them. At least none will go to waste.

And that just leaves me to share my absolutely low cost (less than £3) low-fodmap meal for two.

You'll need a stew-pack (I got mine in Lidl's for £1.50) a couple of potatoes, some spring onion greens and herbs or spices according to your preference.

Simply chop the root veggies into nice chunks, place in cold water and bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer. Add herbs or spices. I like to use some ginger, cumin, turmeric and pepper. I also added a spoonful of yeast extract instead of a stock cube. Stock cubes often contain onion or garlic so are best avoided.

Simmer until you're hungry - and serve. One stew pack made two BIG bowls of soup with enough left over to go in the freezer. So easy, so tasty and so cheap!

So there you go Fodmappers, if you haven't yet started your low-fodmap diet, what's stopping you? Not the price I'm sure. ;)

'Til next time - Stay Fabulous! x