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  • Writer's pictureSara

Why I Cook Low-FODMAP


Garlic, a high-FODMAP food
Garlic, a high-FODMAP food

When I tell people that I love to cook, the first question usually is, “what is your specialty?” My response is “I cook a primarily vegan diet, and I stay low-FODMAP as much as possible.”   FOD-wha?  And, the head goes sideways.  FODMAPs diet has become more mainstream as individuals are making the connection between how food affects their gut, but it is still not as popular as other known diets such as Paleo, Mediterranean, diet, etc.


My kitchen is my happy place. I do not have one specialty dish.  I do a bit of everything and when I am in the kitchen, I am my most creative self. I love to cook savory and I love to bake.  I enjoy experimenting with flavors from all over the world and recreating dishes to make them both vegan and low FODMAP.  


I enjoy experimenting with flavors from all over the world and recreating dishes to make them both vegan and low FODMAP.


Okay, so let’s dig in deeper into what low FODMAP is. To start, FODMAP is an acronym that stands for Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols.  Sounds like a mouthful but to put it into layman’s terms, these are types of short-chain carbohydrates found in foods that may not be properly absorbed by those with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). 


I personally have had quite the journey with gut issues/IBS. I was living with abdominal bloating, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea. Some times I did not want to leave my home. Other times I had to plan my day around going places where I knew there’d be a bathroom. It was miserable. I was trying everything from Western medicine to natural medicine. I finally began to see positive shifts in my symptoms when I combined a gut restoration protocol, intuitive eating and lowered FODMAPs in my diet. 


FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates found in foods that may not be properly absorbed by those with IBS.


I started to feel inspired and I wanted to share what I was learning with others.  There is still a lot of science to be discovered when it comes to the microbiome but we have come a long way.  We are finally making the connection about the importance food has on the gut, as well as, the role of probiotics/prebiotics.  What we do know is that there are no two microbiomes the same.  It may feel like trial and error to figure out what works for you. This is exactly what I did along side the help of a licensed naturopath.


When FODMAP was mentioned to me, it sounded foreign, so I did my own research and came across  Monash University online, which is still the premiere resource (IMO) for learning everything about FODMAPs (to this day I still love their handy app that helps me when I’m in a grocery store and have a question whether something is high, medium or low FODMAP).  With the guidance of my naturopath, I did a full elimination/re-challenge diet. After the elimination and with my symptoms minimal, it was time to go through each FODMAP category one at a time to see what foods triggered symptoms.  


Examples of FODMAPs: wheat, rye, onions, garlic, legumes/pulses (beans and lentils), lactose (dairy), honey, apples, erythritol, peaches, cherries, plums


The first category, Oligosaccharides, includes both Fructans and GOS.  I started with fructans, the most common being wheat, rye, onions and garlic.  Thirty six hours into my test, I started having abdominal cramping and bloating followed by diarrhea the next day. So then I went back to the elimination diet for relief before moving onto the next category. Next up, GOS, which includes legumes/pulses (beans and lentils).  Thirty six 

hours into the test abdominal cramping and bloating emerged.  By now I was seeing a pattern.  The third category was Disaccharides, which is Lactose.  Since lactose is only found in dairy products and I was already eating a dairy-free diet, I just skipped this test.  Moving onto the fourth category, Monosaccharides, or Fructose which includes honey, apples, and (duh) high-fructose corn syrup.  I was pretty sure I knew how this would go since I was already aware that apples cramped me up.  And, I was right.  I need to be careful with fructose.  Last, but not least was Polyols, which are sugar alcohols like sorbitol, mannitol, and one of the newer ones being blended with monkfruit, erythritol.  Let’s just say I can’t do those either.  When all was said and done, I was triggered by each of the FODMAP categories.  This is not true for everyone with IBS.  Some may find they have only one or two categories that are triggering.  And individual foods within a category may be more or less triggering to each body.


It’s important to recognize that FODMAP sensitivity is not an allergy nor should it be treated like one.  There are numerous nutritious foods that fall into the category of FODMAPs and the goal is to restore gut in order to be able to eat a variety of different foods while being cognizant of those that may not agree with your body.  FODMAPs typically becomes an issue for some of us when there is an overload of them in one meal, an overload of then within one day, or when consumed over consecutive days.


I enjoy eating out, but the only way I'll be able to handle a high-FODMAP meal from a restaurant is if I've been eating low-FODMAP in my home cooking to avoid overload.


Eating out presents the biggest challenges, especially as someone who wants to eat vegan whenever possible.  It’s hard enough to find vegan restaurants or at least vegan dishes at conventional restaurants (though this is getting better!), but then you add another layer when having to consider ingredients like garlic, onions, wheat, chickpeas, apples etc.  I enjoy eating out, but the only way I'll be able to handle a high-FODMAP meal from a restaurant is if I've been eating low-FODMAP in my home cooking to avoid overload. Luckily, I enjoy creating delicious meals at home that feel good to my body, mind and soul. So there you have my journey to eating and cooking low FODMAPs. 


My recipes are plant based and low FODMAP but can be enjoyed by all who are looking to eat less processed and more nutritious. If you have dietary preferences or are looking for recipes and meal planning to get out of the food rut, I’d love to work with you!  Contact me to discuss!


Disclaimer: I am not trained in medical advice, nor should any part of this post be taken as medical advice.  Please consult your health care provider(s) before starting any dietary program.  I highly recommend my collaborator, Juliana Marie, Naturopathic Doctor, RN. Check out her website www.julianamariend.com for more information on her services. 

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