Exercise can improve IBS symptoms, but what exactly should YOU do to reap the benefits? What are the best exercises for bloating, for IBS-D, for IBS-C? Should you workout during a flare up? Click through to learn all this and more.
Whether it’s a decadent dessert, sweet breakfast, or romantic dinner, we’ve got you covered with 21 low FODMAP recipes perfect for your Valentine’s Day.
It can be tough to diagnose SIBO because it isn’t completely understood, and often looks like other things. This guide will help you sort through the facts we DO know and point you to more resources so you can learn what’s going on with your gut.
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As I type this, I can see my bookshelf full of cookbooks out of the corner of my eye. It’s a large collection, but when you want to learn Thai cooking, you buy a Thai cookbook…perfectly logical.
Same goes for the FODMAP Diet. As much as I believe in adapting our favorite recipes to be low-FODMAP, I understand the value (and simplicity!) of having a dedicated low FODMAP cookbook, or a few cookbooks.
And apparently, you guys agree. When I asked my private community if they’d rather have a low-FODMAP cookbook or modify recipes themselves, the majority wanted recipes they could follow WITHOUT thinking about it.
I’m all for ease, and since it’s long overdue, I decided to create a roundup of the best FODMAP Diet cookbooks out there…in my personal opinion of course.
How I Chose These Books
Unfortunately, some book publishers will hire a recipe developer (maybe an expert at recipes, but not at FODMAPs) to crank out a cookbook as fast as possible. Often, no one bothers with testing the recipes.
Not cool! That’s why I choose books written by experts—these authors are people who’ve been working with FODMAP cooking for a long time. (And yes, I included my own cookbook.)
I also tried to provide variety on this list. I even have a low FODMAP vegan cookbook I can enthusiastically recommend. Let’s dive in!
My Top Low FODMAP Cookbooks
The Low-FODMAP Diet Step by Step: A Personalized Plan to Relieve the Symptoms of IBS and Other Digestive Disorders--with More Than 130 Deliciously Satisfying Recipes has a long title, but that’s probably because it’s packed with goodness. Written by dietitian and FODMAP expert, Kate Scarlata, and long-time cookbook author, Dede Wilson, it delivers by relying on natural ingredients and providing the knowledge to help make sense of this crazy diet.
The Complete Low-FODMAP Diet: A Revolutionary Plan for Managing IBS and Other Digestive Disorders by Sue Shepherd, PhD, and Peter Gibson, MD is part FODMAP Diet manual, part cookbook. The authors are two of the original researchers at Monash University who developed the diet, so you can’t go wrong with this choice!
Sue Shepherd has written multiple books on the FODMAP Diet, including this recipe focused volume: The Low-FODMAP Diet Cookbook: 150 Simple, Flavorful, Gut-Friendly Recipes to Ease the Symptoms of IBS, Celiac Disease, Crohn's Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, and Other Digestive Disorders. With enough variety to work for novice cooks, as well as foodies, this is a great bet.
Best For: Variety seekers
I may be partial to my own book, but a few things set the Calm Belly Kitchen Cookbook apart:
Color photos of EVERY recipe
Recipes tested by members of my Facebook group
Ebook, so you can download it instantly (and take it anywhere)
With a wide variety of recipes, the theme I focused on when writing this book was crave-worthy food.
Best For: People who love to eat
The title of this pretty cookbook by Jo Stepaniak says it all: Low-Fodmap and Vegan: What to Eat When You Can't Eat Anything. It IS possible to eat vegan AND get the benefits of the FODMAP Diet, and this book makes it easy with tasty recipes (including some great sauces).
Best For: Plant-based food lovers
The Everything Low-FODMAP Diet Cookbook by Colleen Francioli is part of the “Everything” book series, which are known pack in loads of helpful information (but no pictures). With 300 recipes, plenty of them simple everyday meals, this book is great if you want lots to choose from.
Best For: People who want tons of options
With a lot of misinformation around SIBO and the lack of one gold-standard dietary treatment, it’s (understandably!) difficult for patients to know what to eat. The SIBO Diet Plan: Four Weeks to Relieve Symptoms and Manage SIBO by Kristy Regan uses a modified FODMAP Diet to help heal the gut. This is an approach I’ve used successfully with clients, and it’s endorsed by Allison Siebecker, ND, a pre-eminent SIBO expert, who also wrote the foreword to this book. Keep in mind that any SIBO diet should be used together with medical treatment to be effective.
There are some great FODMAP cookbooks out there, and more all the time! Do you have a recommendation that should be on this list? Leave a comment and let me know.
This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
Dealing with occasional constipation is very low on the list of fun and enjoyable things. Dealing with chronic constipation (infrequent bowel movements over an extended period of time) is even more aggravating.
The abdominal pain, the discomfort, the cramping, pinching, and feeling of being unable to let it all go… it’s pretty awful, and it impacts your daily life in countless ways.
If you’ve been struggling with chronic constipation, and nothing you’ve tried so far has helped, you might have IBS-C. And if that’s what’s going on, there’s good news: The FODMAP diet can help you with this stubborn symptom.
Unlike the occasional bout of constipation, IBS-C is caused by specific types of carbohydrates called FODMAPs. FODMAPs are found in a wide array of foods.
While these foods are perfectly healthy for most people, they can trigger symptoms if you have IBS. (And if you aren’t sure whether your constipation is caused by IBS or not, keep reading.)
Foods That Cause Constipation
For people with IBS-C, constipation is caused by the fermentation of high-FODMAP foods as they sit in the large intestine. These foods can’t be digested properly by people with IBS, and the byproduct of that fermentation is gas, among other things. This, in turn, causes the bloating, pain, and digestive slow-down. No fun.
Here are some of the most common constipation-causing high-FODMAP foods:
Milk, yogurt & ice cream
Wheat bread and pasta
Cashews & pistachios
Some people with IBS are prone to constipation, while others are prone to diarrhea, in what’s called IBS-D. And some folks with IBS experience both constipation and diarrhea, at different times. It’s not entirely sure why this happens. Research is still being done!
FODMAPs are the major constipation culprit if you have IBS, but other foods can also play a role if eaten in large quantities or very frequently.
Other constipation-causing foods:
High Fat Meals - If you’ve spent a weekend eating fried food or lots of desserts and chocolate, you might end up constipated since fatty meals are slower to digest.
Red Meat - It can be higher in fat than other proteins, but its high iron content can stop you up as well. But don’t give red meat completely--just reduce the frequency so you can still get the health benefits.
Starchy, Low-Fiber Foods - Unripe bananas, white bread, and white rice can move through the digestive tract slowly. Opt for whole wheat bread and brown rice instead.
Alcohol - It irritates the stomach and dehydrates you, leading to slow-moving bowels. Drink in moderation and get plenty of fluids.
Natural Ways to Relieve Constipation
Constipation is a stubborn condition so often multiple strategies are needed. So, where do you start?
More Fiber? Yes, But...
A commonly-held belief with constipation is that it’s caused by a lack of fiber. Because of this, people often assume they need to add fiber to their diet, in the form of things like whole wheat breads and pastas, beans, fibrous veggies, and so forth.
But with constipation caused by IBS-C, this actually ends up loading the system with more high-FODMAP foods, causing even more problems. Tried adding more fiber to your diet, and it hasn’t helped? You might be dealing with IBS. Increasing your FODMAP intake is going to increase the problems.
Soluble vs. Insoluble Fiber
Even on a low-FODMAP diet plan, getting enough fiber is important, but you have to do it safely, in line with your plan. Foods like potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, nuts, chia seeds, spinach, other greens, carrots, strawberries can be great sources of safe fiber. You can aim for 20–25 grams per day, and adjust based on how you feel.
You can also take a fiber supplement, but if you have IBS, it’s important to only add the right kind of fiber to your diet.
Soluble fiber attracts water, which helps with the formation of normal stools--not too loose or too hard. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, keeps things moving through your digestive tract.
Both soluble and insoluble fiber are good to add for IBS-C. For IBS-D, you should avoid the insoluble type.
Soluble fiber is great because it’s gentle and works for both IBS-C and IBS-D, regulating the bowels regardless of what extreme you’re dealing with.
One brand of soluble fiber I like and recommend is Heather’s Tummy Fiber. It’s been made specifically for IBS sufferers, and many of my clients love it. If you don’t have IBS, other fiber supplements made for constipation are a good option, too.
Of course, there are often other reasons why people experience occasional or chronic constipation. Those can be things like food allergies and intolerances, side effects of medication, unbalanced diet, other dietary or GI conditions, surgeries, or even hydration.
With any kind of constipation, it can be challenging to treat, and often done by trial and error. But if you have IBS, or suspect that it’s the source of your symptoms, then the FODMAP diet should be your first stop, because of how effective it can be at identifying those specific trigger foods.
The FODMAP Diet for Constipation
People hear the word ‘diet’ and think, ‘I’m going to be stuck eating three boring foods for the rest of my life! Maybe the symptoms are worth it, to keep enjoying the foods I love.’ I’m here to tell you that this isn’t the case!
The FODMAP diet is an action plan to help you identify which specific trigger foods are worsening your symptoms, so you can avoid them. It’s a three-step plan that begins with a short period of eating a very low-FODMAP diet, for only four to six weeks.
If removing FODMAPS helps you feel better, then you know you are on the right track.
Next, foods are slowly reintroduced, and your symptoms are monitored. As soon as a culprit is identified, you know what it is that’s messing you up! After reintroduction and analysis, you can go on with eating a wide array of healthy foods in sensible portions, and avoiding the foods that cause you discomfort.
I have a ton more information about getting started on the FODMAP diet! You can check it out here.
What about some other, at-home things you can do?
Essential Oils for Constipation
The use of essential oils can work wonders for constipation. Ginger, Peppermint, Fennel, Lavender, and Chamomile are some of the top choices.
You can add them to a diffuser throughout the day, add them to a nice warm bath, or gently massage your stomach with them, after they’ve been diluted in a safe carrier oil. (Never apply essential oils directly to your skin!)
Osmotic laxatives such as MiraLAX are a great choice for constipation because they don’t cause harsh side effects like traditional laxatives do.
They work by drawing water into the colon and softening the hard stool there, making it much easier to pass. They can be a good choice for constipation, even as a result of IBS-C, but should also be paired with dietary changes overall, to prevent the stools from getting too hard.
Another option is Magnesium, which also draws water into the colon and intestines to soften the stools. Like MiraLAX, this softening allows the muscles of the digestive system to flex and move more naturally, passing the softened stool without pain or constriction.
Magnesium can be added to your diet by increasing your intake of magnesium-rich foods, such as spinach, peanuts, oatmeal, potatoes, rice, and salmon. Or, you can take a Magnesium supplement; I prefer Magnesium Citrate, because of your body’s ability to absorb it easily, but other forms can work too.
The Recommended Daily Allowance of magnesium—including food intake—is 420 mg for men and 320 mg for women.
Osmotic laxatives (or any laxative) should be reserved for occasional use, rather than an everyday go-to. Use them when symptoms are particularly bad, or you aren’t able to stick to your normal diet (think travel, illness, or times of high stress).
Constipation is frustrating, but you can make a difference with your symptoms through a few simple changes. Avoiding foods that cause constipation in the first place is key. The next step is trying additional remedies until you find the right mix that works for YOUR body.
If you aren’t sure whether your chronic constipation is caused by IBS or something else, a gastroenterologist should be your first stop to uncover the source of your symptoms.
If you want to know more, or if your head is spinning from a recent IBS diagnosis, then head over to my free 7-day Calm Belly Challenge. You’ll learn how to get started with the FODMAP Diet as quickly (and painlessly!) as possible.
This post contains affiliate links.
The FODMAP elimination stage should last 4 to 8 weeks. Read the 3 key reasons why you should complete BOTH phases of the FODMAP diet and bring the foods that don’t trigger your symptoms back into your life.