What can you order at a Chinese restaurant on the low-FODMAP diet? Read a quick summary of good menu options, and learn about why these are your best bets.
5 Things No One Tells You About FODMAP
Pssst! Follow me into this dark alley…
Just kidding. I’m not going to whisper wacky conspiracy theories in your ear. But I do need to shed light on a few things about FODMAP - the gray areas that don’t get talked about much.
I’m here to make sure you don’t lose sleep stressing over things that don’t matter AND that you stay focused on the positive. (You’re NOT settling for a flavorless life of deprivation!)
Click below to watch the video or keep reading!
#1 It’s okay to guess
If a food hasn’t been tested for FODMAP content, make an educated guess - a quick google will give you an idea of what you’re dealing with. If it’s not related to another high-FODMAP food (say it’s an exotic cousin of peaches for example), or it’s buried far down in a long ingredient list, it’s unlikely to throw you off your game.
#2 It’s okay to mess up
Don’t wait for the perfect time to start the Elimination Phase. If you can’t resist empanadas on your trip to Miami, it’s all good. Get back to FODMAP as soon as you can. The goal is consistent improvement for your belly, not obsessing over every bite.
#3 How you eat is just as important as the individual foods you eat
Big meals, too many processed foods, eating when stressed (or stressing about eating), hormone fluctuations, sleep, exercise, high-fat food, salty food...all of it affects how flat or calm your belly feels on any given day. This is true even for people who DON’T have IBS. Don’t let it drive you crazy. Just know that the slice of onion you accidentally ate for lunch might not be solely to blame for your bloat.
#4 Sometimes when you eat a high-FODMAP meal, nothing happens
You decide to treat yourself to a curry and naan at the Indian restaurant even though you’ll probably feel gassy afterwards. So you nosh your naan and feel totally peachy the next day. What the heck?! Maybe it’s because you weren’t stressed about the meal; maybe you ate smaller portions than you would have in the past. Like I said in #3, your gut is a complicated piece of work. The best way to duplicate these good belly days? Track what you eat, and jot down other health factors (i.e. stress level) too.
#5 It’s not for life
FODMAP is a temporary “learning diet.” As in learn what foods are better or worse for maintaining that flat-belly feeling. Then go forth and embrace life’s deliciousness (with a few modifications).
Now that you're FODMAP-savvy, it's time to take AWAY those pesky high-FODMAP foods.
Since the easiest way to do this is to focus on what you CAN eat, I created a handy shopping list, complete with links to some of my most-mouthwatering recipes.
Eating out on the FODMAP diet is a challenge. You want to avoid a major belly blow up, but that can leave you with precious few options on a typical Italian menu, unless you know how to order.
The Ultimate Low-FODMAP Guide to Flavor without Onion and Garlic
If you've read tips on replacing onion and garlic before, rest-assured that I'm not here to repeat the conventional wisdom. For example, I won't tell you to just use scallion tops for everything, or rush out and buy asafoetida, the pungent Indian spice.
There's nothing wrong with the usual cooking advice aimed at FODMAPers, I just don't think it tells the whole story. There are other ways to cook incredibly flavorful food besides replacements that don't quite measure up to the real thing.
And when it comes to asafoetida as a substitute for onion flavor, I'll bust that myth right now:
Skip it. It's not worth it.
Years before I learned about the FODMAP diet, I had a jar of asafoetida that I played with alongside all my other traditional Indian spices. (Remember, I'm a foodie who used to do recipe development for a living.)
Always used together with other spices, and at only 1/4 tsp for a recipe that serves 4, it mingles with the other ingredients to add a savory background funk.
But add a little too much to your spaghetti sauce for example, and suddenly your lovely sauce stinks like over-cooked cabbage. Unless you're cooking traditional Indian food, I say leave it on the shelf.
How to Replace Onion and Garlic (and it's only temporary!)
So where does that leave us? Actually, it leaves us smack in the middle of a flavor tornado. In other words, you have a LOT of options to boost the flavor of just about any recipe. I'll still tell you my best strategies for replacing onion and garlic, but I'll also explain how to build flavor in other ways.
It's scary, I totally get. I was devastated to think that I couldn't cook with onion and garlic when I first learned about the FODMAP diet. We are taught to believe that these ingredients are our saviors from bland, flavorless food. But I swear on my pug's fuzzy head that giving them up is not a big deal.
And know this: Many people, including me and the clients I've worked with, learn that they can eat garlic, onion or both in moderation after testing them in the reintroduction phase of the FODMAP diet. That's why it's crucial to go through the testing process.
>>> Just getting started? Click here to download your FREE Shopping List complete with links to some of my favorite low-FODMAP recipes!
How to Replace Garlic
Let's start with this pesky little minx. There's nothing else that tastes quite like garlic, and that's why garlic-infused oil is so fabulous. FODMAPs are water soluble, but not fat soluble. So when garlic cloves are cooked in olive oil on low heat, the flavor transfers over, but the FODMAPs don't.
Here's the trick for maximum flavor:
Use garlic oil at the very end of the cooking process, or as a finishing oil at the table. If you use it to sautee or roast, the high heat can damage the oil, diminishing the flavor. But drizzle it on that spaghetti bolognese right before you dig in, and you've got an instant garlic infusion!
Try Fresh Ginger
Clearly it's not the same thing, but since it measures about the same and is often used together with garlic (think Asian and Indian dishes), it can give a lot of recipes that sharp, aromatic boost.
Pesto is a perfect example, and I made a version for the CBK cookbook where I essentially swapped ginger for the garlic. It won't fool anyone, but that's not the point--the pesto tastes great.
How to Replace Onion
1) Leek Tops: They take some effort to clean (more on that in a second). However. They're absolutely delicious and a better onion sub than scallions, especially when you need to add them at the beginning of the cooking process. They have a slightly sweeter, slightly more herbaceous flavor than onions.
Like scallions, the white part has high FODMAP content, but the green part is low. You'll want to trim off a few inches of the green part because they're tougher at the top. I personally eat a little of the light green part, but everyone should decide how much to eat based on personal sensitivity.
Leeks are grown in the ground and dirt gets trapped inside all those layers. I have an easy system for washing them, so I made a video showing you exactly how to do it. I also show you what part of the leek to eat!
2) Scallion Tops: Yes, they're great, but the flavor doesn't really come through unless you add them raw at the end of cooking, or as a garnish. Just like leeks, you'll want to eat the dark and possibility some of the light green part. Here's what I mean:
Since it's difficult to make up the volume of an onion with scallions, I recommend using leeks if your recipe calls for 1 cup of onion or more. Or you could get a little more creative...
3) Grated Carrots and Parsnips: Whether you use them together or separately, these veggies are perfect when recipes call for a LOT of onions, especially soups and stews. Grate them in a food processor and saute them until lightly browned, just like onions.
4) Thinly Sliced Cabbage: Stir-fried or sauteed cabbage is sweet and delicious. Cook it in a hot skillet for about 10 minutes, and you can add it to soups, braises or casseroles in place of the onion.
5) Nutritional Yeast: Weird but effective! This form of deactivated yeast has a cheesy, nutty quality that vegans love as a replacement for cheese. To my tastebuds, it's just plain savory, and slightly funky in a good way.
Because the texture is similar to a ground spice, I like adding it to creamy dressings, sauces, and soups. When I use it to make low-FODMAP ranch dressing (with lactose-free yogurt, lemon juice, chives, and scallions) it adds an extra layer of flavor that you might mistake for onion powder.
6) The Trinity, FODMAP-Style: In Cajun and Creole cooking, the trinity is onion, celery and bell pepper. In French cooking, it's called mirepoix and consists of onion, carrot and celery. These combinations of ingredients are used as a flavor base in countless recipes.
My FODMAP version can be used to replace the trinity in any recipe, but you can also use it to replace the typical onion/garlic base. Here it is:
1 part chopped leek
1 part finely chopped or grated carrot
1/2 part chopped celery
Celery is moderately high in mannitol. But if you use 1/2 cup chopped celery in a recipe serving at least 4, your serving size will be in the low-FODMAP range. If celery is a problem food for you, replace it with red bell pepper or fennel. The FODMAP Trinity is flexible! And of course, you may find that mannitol is not a trigger at all when you do the reintroduction process.
How to Create Incredible Flavor with Umami (a.k.a., never eat bland food again)
If you want the food you cook to be crave-worthy and lip-smackingly delicious, umami is your ticket. This goes for any type of cooking, whether you have a dozen different dietary restrictions or you can eat anything you like.
Umami is the fifth taste (along with sweet, salty, sour, and bitter), but it's the one to rule them all. It's an almost-addictive savory flavor that occurs naturally in foods that are slow-cooked, caramelized, aged, or fermented, but also in cherry tomatoes, sweet corn, and mushrooms.
The flavor comes from glutamate, an amino acid, which usually requires some form of cooking or aging to release it. Adding umami-rich foods or enhancing umami with your cooking techniques will build that savory flavor whether or not you use onion and garlic in your recipe.
Umami Packed Low-FODMAP Foods
Parmesan and other aged cheeses
Soy sauce and tamari
Ketchup (This brand is low-FODMAP!)
Cured meat (prosciutto, serrano ham, speck)
A good stock made with caramelized and slow cooked meat and vegetables
Dashi, the Japanese stock made from kombu (dried kelp)
For some of these flavor-bombs, you'll want to stick to the low-FODMAP serving sizes as listed on the Monash App. For example a low-FODMAP serving of sun-dried tomatoes is 8 grams (or about 2 halves), but that is plenty if you chop it up and add it to a salad, quinoa bowl, or pasta.
Glutamate naturally found in foods is different from MSG, the processed flavor additive that causes allergy-like reactions in some people. Keep in mind that glutamate is an amino acid, one of the building blocks of protein. In other words, healthy stuff! While some food makers might add MSG to soy sauce or other condiments, you can easily find MSG-free versions of everything on this list.
How to Release Umami in Cooking
Raw meat and shellfish is full of glutamate, but you need to cook it to release the umami flavor. The same goes for many vegetables. Here's how to make the most of it:
1) Roast It - Roasting is amazing because not only does it let you cook, say a pork shoulder, simply and efficiently, it takes long enough to release those amino acids and slowly brown the meat.
The same goes for veggies: Roasted zucchini is about 100 times tastier than steamed, right? It's the caramelization. To make beautiful, deep-golden veggies, be sure to dry them well after washing--excess water will prevent browning.
Pro Tip: The type of cookware you use matters too. Choose dark-colored baking sheet and roasting pans. They absorb more heat, encouraging browning.
2) Caramelize It - Roasting isn't the only way to create caramelization. Instead of sauteeing veggies on high heat until just tender, take a few extra minutes and turn the heat to medium.
Use a cast iron or stainless steel pan (nonstick pans don't caramelize well because food needs to stick a bit to build that color and flavor) and add a thin layer of oil. Cooking veggies this way allows them to brown slowly and releases the natural sugars and umami.
3) Don't move it or crowd it - This is the golden rule when you're cooking protein in a skillet. If you want it to brown, don't crowd the pan, even it means cooking your food in two batches. Crowding produces steam, which is the enemy of browning. Resist the urge to push and stir foods like shrimp and scallops. Let them cook until the bottom side is deep golden, then flip and repeat.
4) Braise It - This applies to stocks and stews. The goal of braising is to partially cover your protein with liquid and slowly cook it so the flavor can build before the texture becomes tough or chewy.
Pro Tip: Never let the braising liquid come to a boil--this will cook the meat too fast. Fuss over your braise and adjust the heat until the liquid maintains a slow to moderate simmer. That means a few bubbles every 1 to 2 seconds.
I hope you got a bunch of new ideas from this post, but remember these key takeaways:
1) It is so do-able to leave yourself and anyone else drooling over your low-FODMAP meals with onion and garlic nowhere in sight.
2) You probably don't need to permanently eliminate onion and garlic from your life. It's crucial to test both of these foods (members of the Oligosaccharide group, the "O" in FODMAP) by doing the reintroduction process.
If you want to explore more about starting the FODMAP Diet, there's a post for that: What are FODMAPs? The Complete Non-Techy Guide
7 Seriously Simple FODMAP Cooking Tips
As I've been putting the finishing touches on the Calm Belly Kitchen Cookbook and getting it ready to release to the world (including all you wonderful people who have already pre-ordered), I've revisited recipes that I created as far back as January.
This has been a lot of fun, and I've even cooked some of my favorites in the last week just for the heck of it. Since all I've done lately is live and breathe (and probably memorized) these recipes, I want to share the absolute best and/or coolest tips and tricks from the cookbook.
I'm not gonna lie: Cooking is tough. It takes effort and planning, but there are so many shortcuts, hacks, and time-savers that can make it more manageable.
Here are the 7 coolest FODMAP cooking tips from my book, illustrated with photos straight from the pages. If you want to see even more, click here for my Cheesy One-Pan Mexican Rice recipe and head over here to see more inside pages, read recipe tester reviews, and order it yourself!
1. For a fuss-free salad on the go, choose kale over lettuce.
Lettuce gets sad and wilted, and you have to pack the dressing separately unless you want a soggy mess. Even if you dutifully carry along your little jar of dressing, you're always worried that's going to leak. Been there, done that.
For a salad that's a lot less high-maintenance, swap that lettuce for kale. Because it's a heartier green, you can add the dressing in the morning or even the night before.
It's actually better to prep your kale salad ahead of time because the leaves will soften up as they "marinate" in the dressing.
I figured this out when I developed my recipe for Salmon-Kale Caesar Salad. When we ate leftovers for lunch the next day, it was even better than the night before.
Lacinato kale (also called, Tuscan, dinosaur or cavolo nero) works better in salads than curly kale, which is tougher. I like to cut out the ribs and chop the leaves into thin ribbons for salads.
2. Make juicy ground turkey every time.
You want to be a little healthier, so you swap ground turkey for beef in one of your favorite recipes. The results are so dry and unappealing that you wish you hadn't bothered.
Don't let this happen again! In order to have great flavor and a texture that doesn't remind you of sandpaper, meat needs fat.
If you want ground turkey that tastes juicy and tender, choose dark meat. My supermarket sells ground turkey breast and ground turkey thigh separately. Sometimes I use half and half, and sometimes I just go with dark meat.
Since a 3-ounce serving of turkey thigh has 5 grams of fat (and only 1.5 grams of that is saturated), and the same portion of turkey breast has 1 gram, the dark meat is still a very healthy choice (source: ohiopoultry.org).
If pre-packaged ground turkey is the only available option, choose one labelled 85% lean (this will be a blend of light and dark meat). In a pinch, 93% lean is okay, but don't go any higher than that!
3. Cook risotto in the oven.
The traditional method is to stir the rice almost constantly for about 25 minutes while slowly adding liquid.
So you're literally standing over a hot stove.
For my Oven-Baked Risotto recipe in the book, I wanted to test and perfect an oven cooking method that I'd read about, but doesn't seem to be very popular.
Long story short, it works like a charm, and here's how you do it:
- Start the risotto as most recipes direct by sauteeing aromatics (in our case, scallion or leek tops) in half olive oil and half butter.
- Add the rice and cook until it turns opaque, then add white wine and reduce it.
- Add your broth or water, cover, and bring it to a simmer.
- Transfer the pot to the oven and bake at 425F until rice is just tender.
The rice actually cooks a bit faster than it would on the stove top--15 to 20 minutes. I like to give it a stir once during cooking, but otherwise, it's hands-off!
4. Use fresh mint to perk up your meals.
It's not just for dessert and tea! My rule of thumb: Anywhere you can use basil, you can use mint.
In Greek, Middle Eastern, and Vietnamese cooking, mint is used in countless savory recipes. Think of Greek lamb with mint sauce, tabbouleh, or pho, the classic Vietnamese soup.
Mint is also amazing in just about any green salad. You'll be surprised how much it perks up simple lettuce. One of my fabulous recipes testers used it when she made my Thai Beef Salad recipe, and here's what she had to say:
5. Almond flour is magic for gluten-free baking.
We know almond flour is only low-FODMAP in moderate servings, so I'm not suggesting that you use it on its own.
This wouldn't be a great idea anyway because the finished cake, muffin, cookie, or pancake would have such a dense, heavy texture that it wouldn't even resemble the traditional version.
Instead, try swapping up to half the amount of gluten-free flour in a recipe for almond flour. It adds moisture and provides enough structure that you can often avoid using binders like xanthan gum.
For the record, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with gums health-wise. But they work unpredictably and often produce chewy (or "gummy") baked goods.
My Spiced Zucchini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting are made with a combo of almond flour and gluten-free flour blend, and here are the results according to my amazing reader recipe tester (who also happens to be a pastry chef):
"The recipe is great. The neighbors loved them and had no idea they were gluten free."
6. Cook whole chicken in the crockpot more often.
This was a technique I hadn't used much previously, but wanted to perfect for the book.
I know a lot of us love the convenience of picking up a rotisserie chicken at the supermarket, but it can be hard to find ones that are unseasoned or not pumped full of weird additives.
Turns out, if you have 5 minutes, you'll never have to read the ingredients on the bottom of a rotisserie chicken (without spilling hot chicken juice on yourself) ever again.
Add about an inch of water to the slow cooker, season the chicken and let that baby cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low for a 4.5 lb chicken.
7. Sometimes you CAN take shortcuts in baking.
There's a saying that goes, "Cooking is an art, but baking is a science." While I agree with the gist of this, it's also misleading.
It makes people feel like baking is a huge chore, and if you mess up one little thing, it's all ruined. Not necessarily so. Let's use my Flourless Chocolate Cakelets as an example.
The traditional way to give this type of cake a light texture (as opposed to the heftiness of your classic brownie) is to separate the eggs and beat the whites until they form soft, voluminous peaks. Then you would delicately fold them into the batter.
Since I don't love doing extra work if it isn't necessary, I didn't bother separating the eggs. I beat them for a few minutes until they doubled in volume, then added them to the chocolate batter.
You can probably guess the result: light, silky cakelets that aren't the least bit heavy (but extremely rich and chocolatey!).
I didn't come up with this genius idea all on my own. A couple years ago, I read a food science article where the writers did this experiment with pancakes and didn't find any major improvement when they separated the eggs versus just adding them whole.
I'm betting this shortcut works in just about any recipe!
Cool stuff, right?!
Have you learned any great cooking tricks lately? Are you itching to get into the kitchen and try out any of the tips above? Let me know in the comments!
If you liked these tips, click here to check out the
Calm Belly Kitchen Cookbook!
7 Secrets for Healthy Low-FODMAP Cooking (even if you hate to cook)
If you want to lose weight, you need to reduce the calories you eat each day. But here's a secret: You don't need heroic willpower to do it.
Instead, you can start cooking your own healthy meals that fill you up and keep you satisfied for hours. When you do the cooking, you can banish the hidden calorie traps like an extra splash of oil or handful of cheese. It's also a lot easier to manage the FODMAPs when you're in charge.
If you'd rather get a cavity filled than spend extra time in the kitchen everyday, you need smart strategies. These tips are all about making better use of the time you have, while still giving you healthy, delicious food that makes your belly happy. I think that's pretty heroic!
Psst>>>Click the image below to grab your free cheat sheet!
#1 Make Friends with Seafood
Most of my clients tell me they don’t cook a lot of seafood even though they like it. Here’s why I suspect this is: No one really enjoys handling fish, and prepping it feels like a big hassle.
That’s unfortunate because fish can add so much variety to a low-FODMAP routine (there’s only one kind of chicken, but endless types of fish after all!), and it can provide just as much protein as meat for fewer calories.
Luckily, you can eat more fish without doing more work. Shop at your favorite market’s fish counter, and ask them to do the prep for you. It’s part of the job! From taking the skin off a salmon fillet, to gutting a trout, to shucking oysters, it can all be done before you get back home.
#2 Focus on One Big Flavor
If seeing an endless ingredient list makes you reach for the takeout menus instead of cooking a healthy meal, look for short and simple recipes with one ingredient that packs a punch. Yes, this even works on the FODMAP diet when you’re avoiding certain flavor boosters like garlic.
Here are some examples of low-FODMAP, low-calorie ingredients that can add tons of flavor to a dish all by themselves:
Tamari or soy sauce
#3 Get Cute with Mason Jars
Mason jars are the sneaky gateway drug to prepping your meals in batches. Use them for building salads, rice or quinoa “bowls,” or overnight oats.
Here’s your game plan:
For salads, you can prep 3 days worth before you run into veggie wilt. Combine low-FODMAP ingredients like carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, sunflower seeds, a single-serve pouch of tuna, canned chickpeas and any lettuce. Make a batch of vinaigrette and add it each day before you leave the house (be sure to put lettuce at the bottom of the jar).
For a rice or quinoa-based meal, combine your grain in the jar with roasted or fresh veggies, grilled chicken and an extra flavor booster like cheese, pesto or tomato sauce.
For overnight oats (quinoa flakes or chia work too), you can prep 5 days worth of mason jars at once. Each night add your lactose-free milk of choice to one of them and breakfast is ready.
#4 Don’t Prep Your Veggies
I love to cook. I don’t even mind doing dishes. But I hate standing over the sink getting sprayed with water as I clean a pile of veggies. Instead of doing all the washing, slicing and dicing yourself, buy those greens pre-prepped.
Some of my favorites:
Arugula and spring mix
Sliced or chopped bell peppers
French-style green beans
Chopped collard, mustard or turnip greens
Shredded cabbage (coleslaw mix)
Frozen veggies like green beans, hash brown potatoes and bell peppers
#5 Cook Chicken in Batches
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are the heroes of the diet world and fit seamlessly into low-FODMAP meals too. But don’t buy that puny 1-lb pack of chicken. Most stores offer big packs, or buy as much as you want straight from the butcher. Grill, bake or broil enough to get you through a week or beyond, if you use your freezer.
But what if you have a stir fry recipe that only calls for a pound of meat? Pop the extra chicken into the oven while you cook. You can turn it into a week of lunches, or add it to a quick pasta for dinner the following night.
#6 Bake and Freeze
Don’t let those moist and tender gluten-free muffins turn into hockey pucks on your kitchen counter. Freeze items like mini frittatas, protein bites, muffins and scones as soon as they’re cool. Double wrap them individually to avoid freezer burn. It’s also super easy to grab just one on your way to work in the morning (and a clever way to practice portion control).
#7 Use a Kitchen Scale
A scale is essential for FODMAPers, and even more so if weight loss is your goal. A kitchen scale lets you:
Accurately measure the serving size of fruit, veggies, nuts or any other food where monitoring portions is essential for keeping your belly happy.
Reduce the number of dirty dishes by eliminating measuring cups and extra bowls (this makes baking soooo much faster).
Weigh out your portions so you KNOW you’re sticking to your daily calorie budget. It’s a lot easier to follow a weight loss plan when you’re not just guessing.
I hope these tips inspired you to cook healthy and delicious low-FODMAP food. Take it slow at first and you’ll be cooking up a storm in no time.
Today, I'm going to show you how to use the recipe analysis feature on caloriecount.com to get the Nutrition Facts for just about any recipe.
Whether you're trying to lose weight, maintain your weight or just figure out how your meals stack up nutritionally, you will love this free tool. You'll be able create a nutrition label for any low-FODMAP recipe you find online, and this is a key piece in the weight loss puzzle.
Psst>>>Click the image below to grab your free cheat sheet!
Why Nutrition Facts are Important
If you want to lose weight, you need to know what you're eating. Specifically, how many calories.
The essential fact when it comes is weight loss is this: If you eat fewer calories than you burn over time, you will lose weight.
So counting those calories is the first step.
Thanks to the FODMAP diet, you're probably used to reading labels and ingredient lists already. But how do you figure out the nutrition stats for recipes you find on blogs and websites, or in cookbooks?
That's where this video tutorial comes in! When I first started working as a freelance writer, I specialized in developing healthy recipes for magazines. At the time, there weren't any free online tools to use. You had to purchase expensive software designed for medical pros.
I would look up the nutrition data for each individual ingredient in my recipes, tally them up based on amounts and divide by the number of servings. This took forever!
Now, anyone can calculate nutrition facts instantly. Watch the tutorial to see how easy it is. Here's the link the recipe analysis tool on caloriecount.com.
So How Much Should You Eat Each Day?
You've seen how easy it is get the calorie count for your meals, but that's only the first step. To determine how many calories you should eat each day to reach your individual weight loss goal, you need to factor in your physical stats (weight, age, height), daily activity level, and extra exercise sessions.
Luckily, the internet is here to help! There are plenty of daily calorie calculators to choose from. Try this one, and use your number as a starting point.
FODMAP Diet FAQs Part 3: How long until I'm symptom-free?
Welcome to Part 3 of the FODMAP Diet Frequently Asked Questions Series!
Here are the other parts of the FODMAP FAQ series:
Today in Part Three, I'm answering a two-part question that comes up a lot, especially when you're just getting started with the FODMAP diet:
How long does it take until I'm symptom free?
I feel worse on the low-FODMAP diet...what is going on?
You can hear my thoughts in the 5.5-minute video, or read the key points below.
FAQ Part 1: How long does it take until I'm symptom free?
Short answer: It takes as long as it takes (to put it bluntly!). But what I hear most often is that it takes 2 to 4 weeks before people see a noticeable improvement.
I often hear that people with IBS-D (diarrhea) get symptom relief faster than those with IBS-C (constipation), so that may be a factor in how long it takes for you.
If you've done the elimination phase for 2 to 4 weeks, with no changes, here are some possible explanations:
You're overlooking high-FODMAP foods and/or serving sizes in your diet. I recommend using the Monash app as the easiest, most reliable source for keeping track of this stuff.
I often say that one restaurant meal won't ruin everything, but when you're doing the elimination phase you want to minimize FODMAPs in your diet as much as possible. So, if you're "cheating," or going out to eat, or having cake for dinner (It's been quite a few years, but I have definitely done this.) every 3 or 4 days, your body won't have a chance to experience life without FODMAPs. This is important because your goal is to find out if eating low-FODMAP truly improves our symptoms or not.
It might take a few weeks to get into the groove. The FODMAP diet is really complicated and for a lot of us, me included, it's going to take some time to change our whole way of eating, cooking and shopping for food. You might need to spend a couple weeks learning what to buy at the supermarket and coming up with those go-to meals (My Free 7-Day FODMAP Challenge is great for that!). So, if the elimination phase takes you 8 weeks instead of 4 because you eased into it, that's more than okay.
If you've done the elimination phase as efficiently as possible for at least 4 weeks and you're not seeing improvements, you might have an issue that's not related to FODMAPs.
FAQ Part 2: I feel worse on the low-FODMAP diet...what is going on?
Some people feel worse in the beginning, and there could be a lot of different reasons for this. All the things mentioned above could be factors.
Another big one is stress. You might be stressed about whether or not you're eating the right foods. It doesn't matter where the stress comes from; it can have a real effect on our digestion.
It could be a small thing like drinking a diet soda everyday. It might not contain FODMAPs, but the carbonation can cause bloating and mess with your gut.
People often ask if fiber is a factor--it might be. The low-FODMAP diet is very healthy, so you might be getting more fiber than your system is used to. Whether you're getting too much or not enough, try to add it in slowly so your body doesn't get overwhelmed.
Whatever you're experiencing, don't hesitate to talk to your doctor or the medical pro advising you. If something doesn't seem right, it's better to figure it out sooner rather than later!
Click the box below to get my free cheat sheet sent straight to your inbox!
FODMAP Diet FAQs Part 2: Easy Lunches for Work
Welcome to Part Two of the FODMAP Diet Frequently Asked Questions Series!
Here are the other parts of the FODMAP FAQ series:
Today in Part Two, I'm answering the question I get asked the MOST from the Calm Belly Kitchen Community:
What I can eat for lunch at when I'm at work?
You can hear my thoughts in the 5-minute video, or read the key points below.
FAQ #2: "What can I make for a quick, easy workday lunch?"
Figuring out food on the go is definitely a challenge. I have to admit, I eat the same lunch probably 5 days a week. It works for me because I can keep the ingredients on hand, I don't have to think about it, and it's really delicious.
I get asked about my lunch bowls a lot so here's how I make them:
I include either brown rice (my favorite), quinoa, sorghum, canned lentils or a combo of two of those. I always make big batches that last me through the week.
Then I add either grilled chicken (again, I cook big batches), or salmon or tuna from a pouch.
I always add sauteed spinach and at least one cooked veggie that I make ahead of time: roasted zucchini, yellow squash or eggplant; or matchstick-cut carrots that I could in a skillet with a little water until they soften up.
I heat all the above ingredients up in the microwave. Then, other add-ons could be feta, olives, or a couple slices of chopped avocado.
Finally, I put lactose-free yogurt on it like a sauce. Maybe that's a little weird, but I love it. A simple vinaigrette or nothing at all would be good too.
You could also make a simpler version of my bowl with rotisserie chicken, salad greens, quinoa and vinaigrette (this would be great cold, straight out of the fridge). Or just chicken, roasted/steamed veggies and rice that you could quickly heat up; add some soy sauce and you've got a nice Asian-style rice bowl.
A hearty soup would reheat easily too, and you could make one big batch at the beginning of the week.
If you just want a simple sandwich, use gluten-free bread (I like it better toasted) and instead of deli meat, use a rotisserie chicken or cook a chicken or whole turkey breast in the crockpot. That will give you enough meat for sandwiches all week plus extra for other meals. Then add your mayo, mustard, lettuce or spinach, slices of roasted eggplant or zucchini, cheese...whatever you like!