Week One on the Low-FODMAP Diet

Week One on the Low-FODMAP Diet

The reason I have not posted in a while is because my time was taken up with trying this new diet to relieve my symptoms of IBS. After a very expensive shopping trip to the supermarket and a lot of preparing each evening I simply did not have time and was overwhelmed with the information I was discovering. Best of all, I am in a lot less pain, less bloating and overall feel better in myself.

I have only completed one week on this restricting diet and no it isn’t miraculous, I’m still not 100% but to eat a meal and not feel like my insides are at war with each other is a very welcoming sense of relief.

For all those unfamiliar with FODMAPs please see my explanation here: What are FODMAPs?

I knew I wanted to try the diet and I knew I would also need some direction. Not being a dietician I wanted to make sure I was following the diet correctly(otherwise I wouldn’t know if it was effective) and getting all the nutrients I needed.

So I went to the next best thing, a book. I chose The Complete Low FODMAP Diet by Dr Sue Shepherd and Dr Peter Gibson to be my guide throughout my foodie journey. It was scientific, covering everything I personally wanted to know with a range of recipes. My favourite part being the Menu Plan.

I roughly followed this menu plan, swapping meals for different days to suit me but I knew I was still getting a healthy balanced diet with foods that would hopefully not cause me any problems.

It was hard shopping for the week, reading all the labels and realising onion and garlic – things to avoid – were simply in a lot of things we eat everyday. The hardest part was trying to find allowable spices and sauces (stock and gravy). Especially as I am already on a gluten-free diet to reduce my symptoms.

I stuck to the recipes as much as I could with what I could find and for week two I’m hoping to devise a cheaper menu plan! Luckily I have a lot of herbs and spices already in the cupboard now to give my food flavour.

This was what my boyfriend feared the most, I was only going to subject him to my meals for the evening meal of the day but he thought they would be tasteless and overly healthy. Each day he was surprised with what I had cooked, not only due to the fact I had actually cooked (as this is not a talent of mine) but also the taste and variety of the food.

I found it exciting to try new foods such as, swordfish. Make pancakes with a savoury twist. Bake a handmade cheesecake, one of the things I had loved to eat before having to go on a gluten free diet and I didn’t bother trying to make my own as I assumed it was a lot of effort (turns out it is effortless, it just tests how patient you can be while it cooks, cools and then sits there in the fridge tantalising you).

I was not looking forward to trying this diet but because I was driven to make it work and prepare my lunch in the morning and create amazing cooked meals after work, I really enjoyed my food again.

I hope to stay on the diet until I feel my IBS is under control, it certainly is better but I don’t want to rush things and I want to let it heal, do some good. Then, as advised by the book and throughout the internet I shall try to reintroduce a FODMAP at a time and monitor my symptoms – I believe this will be the tricky part with a lot of trial and error – but if it means I won’t have to be so careful with what I eat and can enjoy a meal out, it will make it all worth it.


For further reading, I have also found support groups on Facebook to be helpful.

I have shared a few pictures of my low-FODMAP meals on Twitter I hope to post on here too describing each of the different meals.

My Facebook page contains latest news and tips on managing IBS and other digestive disorders.

Let’s educate ourselves on digestive health and support others to find a friend in food.

My Diet through the Years

Childhood

young-me-in-maccydI was a very fussy eater. I didn’t like different foods touching and often I would eat one thing on my plate to then move onto the rest rather than mix it all together. I would go days and sometimes weeks of just eating the same thing, I remember one time only wanting to eat sausages all week and nothing else and another time only wanting to eat dairy. Luckily I’m now over all these odd phases. I would definitely say my diet was unhealthy, as you can tell from the image above (I’m on the right) even if it was for my niece’s birthday.

Teenage Years

For many years I was a pescatarian, it made it easier for my Mum who did most of the cooking as my Dad was too but it was my decision and I felt good for having more fish and vegetables and cutting out meat. However, a lot of the go-to vegetarian freezer food has wheat involved. So I probably didn’t help myself by having toast or cereal in the morning, taking a packed lunch with a sandwich, crisps and most likely a cheese-string as they were popular back then and goodness knows whatever unhealthy snacks. I do remember going through a phase of giving away the unhealthy things to other class mates or trading my chocolate bar for an apple.

Twenties

This is when my problems began… actually to be honest I’m sure they began a lot sooner. This is really where I started paying attention to what my body was telling me, not that I had much choice as I was continuously being ill. I knew I had to figure out what was triggering my discomfort after eating, I monitored my pains and found I felt particularly bloated after eating, especially at lunch. I used to have sandwiches, cheese or ham and yoghurt and fruit. I decided to cut out wheat and dairy and introduce things slowly. I quickly found out wheat was my main culprit.

I changed my morning toast for porridge and have rice cakes instead of bread for lunch. But I was still having pains. I took out oats, therefore porridge and was feeling better.

It wasn’t as simple as it sounds and had quite a few trips to the doctors and phone consultations before I was prescribed to have IBS tablets, because I had already cut out wheat from my diet I couldn’t have a blood test to see if I am coeliac and I don’t fancy a tube inside me for someone to tell me there’s no cure but to eat well. Although, in desperate times I did try a holistic allergy test involving changes in muscle strength when in close proximity to different allergens. Using this method it claimed I am allergic to gluten, wheat, strawberries and green beans, an unproven test but seemed to be quite accurate for me.

Now (25years old)

I am far from being healthy, I’m still catching every cold I come in contact with and sometimes my stomach will unexplainably upset or will feel uncomfortable after food and some days I just feel absolutely exhausted. So I have decided to really monitor what I am eating and would like to share my journey to help others and gain more knowledge and basically – get to grips with my gastro system and find a friend in food rather than seeing it as something that bothers me!

The first change was to swap sunflower oil for olive oil, which is a more stable fat and therefore healthier… look out for a post on cooking oils coming soon.

I try to make sure I have eggs at least once a day, avocado too, if possible for protein, vitamins and minerals – a whole lot of good stuff!

Using my ‘safe foods’ my foundation diet of these foods is as follows;

Breakfast -Two eggs and half an avocado (or whole depending on size)

Lunch – A range of organic greek yoghurt, goats cheese on rice cakes, nuts with half a cube of dark chocolate and fruit (banana, apple) and sometimes a carrot or two.

Evening Meal – Based around rice or potato (mostly jacket potato with skin on) with fish or chicken and vegetables.

I drink a lot of water, at least a pint or more before I set off for work and always have a glass next to me throughout the day.

In the morning and evening I tend to have peppermint tea or any herbal tea that has a mix of peppermint to aid digestion, plus keeps the breathe fresh after all the eggs and fish!

I have tried and should try harder to have sauerkraut on the side of every evening meal as it full of ‘good’ bacteria to help inhibit bad bacteria in the gut.

I have just started out on this new diet and will keep posting as I discover new things. I have already started, as mentioned in my last post, identifying my own ‘safe foods’ and intolerable foods.

Safe food: Cashew Nuts

Intolerable food: Peppers

… learning something new everyday!