Low FODMAP Princess
“No, thank you. I don’t eat gluten, onion, or garlic.” Cue any number of unsolicited, yet arguably reasonable, reactions: disbelief, confusion, curiosity, commiseration, frustration, dismissal, and even anger. I’m sorry, did I say YOU didn’t get to eat gluten, onion, or garlic? 🙄
After many a health misadventure, including a brief period where my doctor and I thought I might need to lose my gallbladder, I was diagnosed in 2017 with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, one of the least fun things to talk about while anyone is eating but that I unfortunately end up talking about a lot while people around me are eating (!). From the Mayo Clinic: “Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects the large intestine. Signs and symptoms include cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea or constipation, or both. IBS is a chronic condition that you'll need to manage long term.” Don’t tell me what to do, Mayo Clinic! Lol, just kidding, they’re totally right. Manage it? I try!
IBS is not fun. It’s painful and messy and embarrassing and gross. But! As the Mayo Clinic so helpfully points out, it can be managed with diet and medication. The medicine I tried made me loopy, so diet it was, specifically the Low FODMAP diet in which you restrict and/or eliminate fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols, or FODMAPs. Straightforward, right? Right. (That’s the last time I’ll capitalize that. I’m not yelling at you about your diet; if you’re reading this, people probably do already!)
I’ve been gf since 2012, meaning I haven’t intentionally eaten gluten in almost 7 years. That started at the suggestion of my mom’s former coworker as a way to deal with digestive troubles, weight gain, and lack of energy. I started by going paleo, and from there the transition to just plain gf wasn’t so hard. There are so many gf products now. It’s such a part of the zeitgeist that I don’t find it hard to do or to explain anymore. Tried to make gf-gf stick a few times (gluten free girlfriend?), but that’s been shot down. 😝
A while back I wrote up what I had learned about going gf and shared it with some friends exploring the same path. Maggie’s Guide to Gluten-Free Goddesses has made the rounds and probably needs updating with more current info, especially since adding low fodmap restrictions. I intend for this part of the blog to be a place to share what I’ve learned and what I’m still learning about low fodmap.
Unlike the gf thing, which for me was pretty self-explanatory after a while, “avoid wheat, barley, and rye” full-stop, low fodmap is a mess of seemingly random rules: you can eat grapes, but not apples; spring onions, but only the green part; almonds, but not more than 15 in a sitting. How much asparagus can you have? You can have one. Yes: one spear of asparagus.
Omg as I’m writing this I just discovered blackberries are high fodmap. Are you kidding me? Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries: cool. But blackberries? Fuck off!
Sigh. It has gotten easier over time, but it still low-key sucks to be low fodmap. Here’s a reference book that kept me from crying in the grocery store in the beginning: FODMAP Navigator. It has helpful lists of low fodmap foods grouped by where they’d be in the store: spices, drinks, meats, fruits, veg etc. Also an alphabetized index of foods. But it’s strict. In other words, avocado is listed as high, even though you can technically eat 1/8th of an avocado and still be low fodmap. (A rule I consistently ignore. 🙈)
Another helpful resource that I bookmarked on my phone so as not to panic if I forgot my little book: https://www.ibsdiets.org/fodmap-diet/fodmap-food-list/ Helpfully color-coded red for high, and green for low.
Ok, end on a high note? No! On a low note! Low fodmap, that is: make these yummy gluten free monster cookies from my gluten-free kitchen before the holiday season is over and you can’t justify them anymore! Use dark chocolate chips and leave out the M&Ms to make them low fodmap. 👍
Next time: low fodmap cookbooks!