Frequently Asked Questions

How do I contact you?

Feel free to send me an email or get in touch on social media (click on the icons below to find me). I'm here to help and support you, and I love to chat! If you have a question about a specific blog post, leave a comment. There's a good chance others are wondering the same thing. If there's a question you think should be answered on this page, let me know and I'll add it.

Email: julie AT calmbellykitchen DOT com

Are all your recipes low-FODMAP?

Yes, as long as you stick to the specified serving size. However, some might not be ideal for the elimination phase because they may contain an ingredient that has not been specifically tested for fodmap content. I will point this out in the recipe notes. That is why my recipes have so many notes...I want to give you all the info you need to make the right choices! All recipes that are safe for the elimination phase are filed under that category, which appears right under the title at the top of each post. Lastly, I am human and I don't have a team of magical elves triple-checking every last thing. I always do my best, but if something doesn't look right, check with the Monash app, or just ask.

Who are you and what's your story?

I'm Julie O'Hara, nice to meet you! I live in Chicago, and I've had my own freelance writing business for the past 7 years. My specialty is developing healthy recipes for magazines and publishing companies. My work has been published in Clean Eating, Prevention, Shape, Vegetarian Times and Oxygen magazines. I even ghost-wrote a cookbook for Rodale, the parent company of Prevention magazine. For the past 12 years, I've been trying to find a way to manage IBS. Now that I've found success with the Low-FODMAP Diet, I want to help other women use it too. Head over to the About Page to read more about me and my mission for Calm Belly Kitchen.

If you're just getting started with the FODMAP Diet, click to get your FREE shopping list!

Do I need the Monash University Low-FODMAP Diet App?

Yes! Everyone needs it, and it's definitely worth the money. It is easy to use, and it is a quick simple way to check the FODMAP content and safe serving sizes of ingredients. Get it now!

How do you come up with the recipes on this website?

Whenever I create a recipe for this blog, I use the Monash Low-FODMAP App to determine what ingredients and serving sizes are safe. If I say the recipe is safe for the elimination phase, that means all the ingredients are "green light" on the app for the serving size. If a recipe is not categorized under "elimination phase," that's because it contains an ingredient that has not been tested for FODMAP content by Monash University.

If I use one of these untested ingredients, it tends to be something very similar to a known low-fodmap food (For example, untested jalapeno chiles are similar to green bell peppers and small red chiles, which are both green light foods on the Monash app). I'll point these foods out in the recipe notes. I do my absolute best to check my recipes for FODMAP content, but I am human; if something doesn't look right to you, please let me know!. If you have any questions, please ask! If you are unsure that a food will work for you YOUR BODY, always use your own judgement. 

If a recipe contains ingredients that are FODMAP unknowns, I will not put the recipe in the elimination phase category on the blog, and I will give you substitutions and options whenever possible. For example, when I was researching ingredients for my salsa, I thought jalapenos were similar enough to green bell peppers and red chiles, which are both green light foods on the Monash app. For me, they were worth trying, especially since the recipe would contain a very small amount per serving. 

It's frustrating that so many foods are "unknowns" when it comes to FODMAP content. We just have to make educated choices and keep testing! 

Should I stay in the elimination phase indefinitely if it's improving my symptoms?

The experts say no. It's important to eat as wide a variety of foods as possible, and this includes foods containing FODMAPS. Why? Many FODMAP-containing foods are rich in nutrients. Not only that, but they can encourage the growth of good bacteria in the bowel. It's also a lot easier to eat in different situations (traveling, at restaurants, at family gatherings) when your food restrictions aren't as severe as they would be during the elimination phase of the diet. I know how scary it is to test foods that might bring back your symptoms, but our goal is a successful low-FODMAP life, not a NO-FODMAP life. This topic is covered here and here on the Monash University blog.

What if I screw up and eat some high-FODMAP foods?

Give yourself a break and move on, girlfriend! What we decide to eat isn't a moral choice. If we screw up, we're not bad people. We don't deserve to be judged or shamed for eating a donut or a pizza. We not might be happy about a choice we made. We might try to make a different choice next time. But that doesn't make us losers, failures, or stupid idiots. Really.
The Low-FODMAP Diet is an extremely valuable tool. It's not a religion or a code of law. It's a tool we can use and adapt to suit our personal needs. It can help us manage our symptoms and learn about our personal food tolerances (or intolerances!). It is always there for us to fall back on when our bellies aren't feeling the best, but it's not something that controls us. We're in control, and we can use the Low-FODMAP Diet in an individualized way that makes us feel our best.

Where can I go for more reliable info on the Low-FODMAP Diet?

The excellent Monash University blog is written in an easy-to-understand style. If you're new the Low-FODMAP Diet, here are a few high-quality information sources for you to learn more, as well as some of the major research studies supporting the diet as an effective way to manage IBS symptoms:

Monash University FODMAP Home Page - Learn more from the scientists who developed the diet through their excellent blog. Definitely download their app to help you keep track of what foods and serving sizes are safe for your belly.

Article by Kate Scarlata, RDN, a dietician who knows this stuff so well, she teaches it to other health professionals. This article explains the diet in detail, goes into some research and breaks down exactly what FODMAPs are.

Dr. Sue Shepherd, one of the leading FODMAP researchers, explains what they are, how they relate to IBS and provides supporting research.

Study, May 2015: Does a diet low in FODMAPs reduce symptoms associated with functional gastrointestinal disorders? A comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis.

Study, January 2014: A diet low in FODMAPs reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome

Study, July 2008: Dietary triggers of abdominal symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome: randomized placebo-controlled evidence. (This is the study that showed the Low-FODMAP Diet could help 75% of IBS sufferers; also referenced in the article by Dr. Sue Shepherd.)

Portion Size on the Low-FODMAP Diet: Kate Scarlata's website and the Monash blog.