VICE’s new site Broadly recently posted a comprehensive, funny “Guide to Bourgeois Grain.” By “bourgeois grains,” they mean all sorts of wheat alternatives that we Low-FODMAPers are used to: quinoa, buckwheat, rice, teff etc. It’s a funny, opinionated and very informative list, and I really enjoyed reading it. You might too.
One thing you discover pretty soon after starting a low-FODMAP diet is that we’re not living in a low-FODMAP world. Things will probably eventually change, but there are very few foods that are labelled “low in FODMAPs” the same way practically everything has a gluten-free version these days. At this point, almost nobody who isn’t on the diet themselves has even heard of it (you’ll probably find yourself saying “well, it’s not exactly gluten-free, but gluten grains aren’t allowed” at least a few times a week).
Though the barrier to eating without FODMAPs is relatively low, all these little challenges add up. There simply aren’t as many shortcuts as there are in the regular old high-FODMAP world we used to live in. No waiting until it’s too late to cook dinner and ordering a pizza; no grabbing a breakfast sandwich on the way to work.
But there are ways you can make your life easier. Over the first few months I spent going low-FODMAP, I found myself assembling a little toolkit of helpful apps, kitchen tools, and ingredients. Everything I list below has been incredibly helpful in making this transition smoother.
Monash University’s Low FODMAP Smartphone App
If you’re following the low-FODMAP diet, you’ve surely come across the folks at Monash University at some point—after all, they’re the ones who thought up the program, and the very concept of FODMAPs themselves. Their smartphone app, available for iPhone and Android both, has proven really useful to me, especially when I’m out shopping. It’s got a searchable index of low- and high-FODMAP foods, with a cool “traffic light” system that indicates which FODMAP exactly any particular food might be high in, which are safe to eat in smaller quantities, etc. It’s really quite comprehensive, and great when you’re out grocery shopping and can’t quite remember if zucchinis are okay to eat or not. (Spoiler: they are.)
A decent rice cooker
The rice cooker is truly a wondrous device. Film critic Roger Ebert, who was particularly enamoured of the device, even wrote a cookbook called The Pot and How to Use It: The Mystery and Romance of the Rice Cooker. I use mine every day, and sometimes multiple times in the same day! In fact, I plan to write a longer post detailing my love for the thing soon. In short though, you’ll probably find yourself eating a lot of (tasty) non-gluten grains—oats, rice, etc—in the weeks and months to come, and good programmable rice cooker will make that all the easier.
Ah, garlic. Sweet, musky, delicious garlic. How I have missed you. I have a whole Ode to Garlic post planned, but for now I’ll tell you there is a way to get some of that magnificently stinky flavour in your food, and it is garlic-infused olive oil. See, FODMAPs themselves are water-soluble, not oil-soluble, so it’s possible to extract non-FODMAP-y flavor from ingredients like garlic and still enjoy them. A life saver! Be careful, though, homemade garlic oil only lasts for a few days (in the fridge!) before you risk nasty stuff like botulism. I’d be cautious of any store-bought stuff that actually has chunks of garlic floating in it too.
Pre-made dishes and “building block” ingredients in the freezer
Everyone has days when they don’t have time to cook. Or maybe you’re just too hungry. Or maybe you do have the time and energy to make a quick meal, but you’re missing a FODMAP-friendly basic ingredient like chicken stock. Take some time to make a big batch of something easy to defrost and store it away in ziploc bags in the freezer in individual or two-person portions. Make a big pot of Delicious Low-FODMAP Chicken Stock so you can always whip up soups, stews, risottos and other rice dishes without the hassle.
What’s in your low-FODMAP toolkit? I’d love to know.
Welcome to my new blog, The Low-FODMAP Life!
I’ve been on the low-FODMAP journey for a while now, and I thought it might be helpful for both me and others to create a resource for other folks who suffer from IBS are doing the same. It seemed like a drastic lifestyle change at first, but as I learned more it got easier and easier, and I feel that I have a lot of accumulated knowledge, tips and recipes to share.
On The Low-FODMAP Life you’ll find weekly recipes, featuring both dishes that are naturally low in FODMAPs and what I call “low-FODMAP translations,” of recipes that would otherwise be problematic, which substitute high-FODMAP ingredients with others that are less likely to cause you problems—and which are no less delicious. I’ll also be sharing lots of other knowledge I’ve gained while avoiding FODMAPs, tricks for making an easier transition, and links to the latest research and other sites and posts I’ve found useful.
For basic info about the low-FODMAP diet, check out my FODMAP Questions and Answers page, and to learn a little bit more about me, check out the My Story page. In brief, I’m a writer and foodie who was initially daunted by the prospect of such a big lifestyle change but soon found it wasn’t as hard as it looks and that I was feeling much better, both physically and just in my outlook in general. I am, it should be said, not a doctor or dietician, and any advice on this site is my own opinion and based on my own experiences. I do recommend everyone embarking on this journey first see a qualified physician to rule out more serious issues and to make sure this path is right for them.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions, either in the comments below or via email.