This post is for my fellow low FODMAPpers and people interested in my journey, so if you’re more interested in the recipes, there’ll be a new one next week. 🙂
So guess what? I’m finally past the elimination phase of low FODMAP – yay!! I am honestly pretty stoked, even though I have definitely adjusted to no onion and garlic… It’s still hard. Take this recent example, my friend and I usually meet up 1-2 times a week for lunch because she works not far from me. We often go to this place called Press Hall in Wellington which is awesome and has heeeeeaps of yummy places to eat. But we met up there the other day and I could literally only have a smoothie (which I had to ask for alterations to) and some fries because everything else was using pre-made elements that had onion, garlic or wheat in them!!
I am officially ok with lactose which is great, I had some ice cream the other day to celebrate and it was perfect! It is still quite hard going with going out to eat, I still have to call up restaurants/cafes beforehand and check whether there’ll be anything for me to eat. Some places are great and will make changes to a few things so I have a few options. I completely understand if a restaurant can’t make changes too, it’s quite a lot to ask if they already have pre-made elements. What I get really annoyed at is when I call up and ask whether there will be anything I eat to be told yes of course there will be a few things, just tell your server. Then I rock up for the meal and there’s literally one thing I can eat. That happened to me when I went to Coene’s in Wellington, I called up beforehand and they had people with those allergies fairly often so I thought great that’ll be easy. Then I get there and there were only I think 2 options for the main and one of them had sweet potato in it, so I literally got steak and chips which was good, but I could have easily just made it at home, it was pretty disappointing!!
Anyway, enough whinging, I promised some tips! Please keep in mind that I’m not a nutritionist so what works for me might not work for someone else. Let me know in the comments what other tips or tricks you have, especially for people just starting out on the elimination diet! Also, make sure you subscribe by entering your details in the bar above, next week I’ll have another low FODMAP recipe for you guys as well as a bit of an update from my trip to Melbourne to see my sister. Happy baking!
1. Make sure you always have low FODMAP snacks on hand
This has been my number one priority since starting this diet, to always have low FODMAP food available. I remember the first day I started and I brought my lunch from home (which was a change like I’ve said before, I used to buy my lunch nearly every day), I didn’t pack quite enough and I got a bit hungry in the afternoon. So I went for a walk to see if I could find the fruit market and get some berries or veges to snack on – it was closed! I panicked a bit and ended up buying a packet of peanuts which were not particularly satisfying. When you start out, it’s much easier to just stock up on the snacks that you like and you can eat, even if you keep them in a drawer at work or your bag. Being caught short and getting hungry is a prime time to slip up and eat something high in FODMAPs which could lead to being on the loo all afternoon! In terms of finding some different types of snacks, I go to my local American food store as they Here are my go-to’s:
- Salted corn chips
- Salted or butter flavoured popcorn
- Dark chocolate
- Cucumber (you can get little snack packs of 5 from the supermarket in New Zealand)
- Rice crackers (you have to be careful on portion control and flavourings of these though)
- Low FODMAP ice cream for after dinners (this is actually surprisingly hard to find in NZ, most of the vegan ones have high FODMAPs like inulin or craploads of coconut), my favourite is Kohu Rd dark chocolate sorbet (sorry, I know this is really expensive but it does taste really nice!). I personally did not like the So Good vanilla bliss ice cream because it has a soy aftertaste which I find quite strong, but if you don’t mind soy then I would recommend trying it.
- Gluten free pizza bases – these aren’t really a snack but useful for nights when you can’t be bothered cooking. I buy these ones and my flatmates actually prefer them to regular ones!
2. Bake or cook as much food as you can yourself
This is really the easiest way to be sure you are eating completely low FODMAP. It also means that you spend less money, because low FODMAP/gluten-free/special diet food can be really expensive! It can be expensive to buy ingredients as well, but at least you get get four dinners out of it instead of just one. A lot of places charge extra for gluten free or alternative milks, so although I’ve still managed to have takeaways and dinners and brunches out on the weekends, most nights during the week I cook and bake for myself. Alana at A Little Bit Yummy has some great recipes, there are heeeeeaps of dinner and lunch recipes that you can use from her website, plus it will give you ideas of how to modify your favourite dinners and make them low FODMAP. Also, join the low FODMAP NZ Facebook group! Such a great group of people and it’s really helpful, everyone’s going through the same journey and are happy to share with each other.
Now the reason I say bake as well as cook is because it can be difficult to find low FODMAP baked goods. Definitely not impossible, but it’s more likely for gluten free baked sweets to have sneaky FODMAPs in them than in savoury food. Some suggestions I have are to of course check out my own low FODMAP section, but additionally there are some easy recipes to adapt. For example, you could easily just switch out the regular flour for all-purpose gluten free flour in my Chocolate Chunk Brownies and use dark chocolate instead of the recommended milk. If you want something for lunches, a few easy swaps make my Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins low FODMAP – make sure you use green/unripe bananas (just use a good masher and go hard), switch out the milk for any lactose free milk of your choice, use the all-purpose gluten free flour instead of regular and make sure you use dark chocolate. I know at first it might seem daunting – there is a huge list of food that you have to avoid which is tricky when involving the science of baking. But there are so many easy swaps that will make your life much sweeter. 🙂
3. When you do go out, make sure you call ahead
I know, I know. Now I’m THAT person – the one who needs to make changes to the menu items. And it sucks, it really does and I think you have every right to wallow in the fact that it’s pretty unfair and why can’t you just eat as much cream as you want? But, what I have found is I had to get over my fear of being an inconvenience and not wanting to ask someone to accommodate me because a big part of my life is eating out. So no, I can’t just go and get my usual chicken katsu bowl for lunch but with some forethought I can still meet friends for lunch and go out with colleagues. I’ll put a list below of Wellington specific places that I’ve been and have found accommodating but I have a few general tips.
- You know the diet better than anyone and you have all the necessary reference material, so check the menu of the cafe/restaurant before calling or have it open whilst on the phone. If you have a few menu items in mind, it makes it much easier to talk through options.
- I also either call in the morning when they’re as not busy or you can also message them through their Facebook pages quite often, so I do that if I’m asking a day or two in advance.
- Share you experiences! If you find somewhere great, either comment about it in the Facebook group or leave them a nice review. It will help others find places safe to eat and eventually we’ll have big lists of cafes and restaurants where low FODMAPpers can eat. 🙂
4. Get your friends and family on board and call on them for help
I know this seems like a fairly obvious one, but I think it’s one that we can all forget. We don’t need to do this alone! Yes it’s hard and yes friends and family might get annoyed from time to time at all the restrictions, but ultimately anyone who cares about you wants to help when you’re struggling. I feel like I’m really lucky because my parents live close by and are a great support for me, but basically I went shopping with mum and we bought some food I can eat, e.g. bread for the freezer, some chicken tenders and some gluten free breadcrumbs and if I want to go there for dinner there’s always something I can have, even if it’s just an egg on toast! When I was in Melbourne, my sister has a job where she talks on the phone a lot and doesn’t mind calling restaurants and asking about restrictions, so I got a break and she called around all the places we were going to eat and asked about no onion and garlic options. It’s so much easier to stick to something when you have support, so make sure you can take the time to sit down and discuss your dietary (and let’s be honest – lifestyle!) changes with your family and friends.
5. Be kind to yourself
Keep repeating: this is a really difficult challenge and it’s ok to feel beaten down by it all. Sometimes I know I felt silly for feeling sad or upset because it’s only food right? But for everyone reading this I’m sure, it’s not just food. It’s changing a lifestyle and often managing an illness so it can be really overwhelming. And it’s ok to embrace those feelings! I know I personally felt quite lost at first, despite having a lot of resources given to me by my dietician and finding the Facebook page really quickly, it’s still up to you what you do and it’s hard having to make a conscious decision about everything that goes in your mouth.
So be kind to yourself, don’t beat yourself up if you slip up, just make sure you’re more careful next time. Take time out and make sure you’re not stressed, as that can contribute to IBS symptoms. If you need to spend some time cooking or baking special meals, talk to your family and see how they can help you make that happen, i.e. by looking after kids. And whatever you consider treat food (for me always dark chocolate) keep some on hand so when you feel down and you feel like you can’t resist the smell of freshly baked goods at a local bakery, you have something that you can eat instead. It definitely gets easier, I promise. 🙂
6. Here’s a list of my favourite low FODMAP capable places in Wellington
And the meals that I’ve had/how they’ve been able to accommodate me. I’ll update this list with any new finds too.
- Aunty Mena’s Vegetarian Cafe (167 Cuba St) – they make everything fresh there and none of their sauces have onion or garlic which is amazing! They have rice or rice noodle dishes and are happy to accommodate switches e.g. take out mushrooms.
- Best Ugly Bagels (5 Swan Lane) – you can get a gluten free bagel here with a range of toppings and you can ask them to switch or not include things. You can also buy a pack of gf bagels from here which are delicious and my favourite is a swiss melt with bacon.
- Little Penang (40 Dixon St) – these guys are so nice! I’m also a bit of a fussy eater and don’t like seafood, so they basically completely changed a meal for me which was so lovely. You can again get rice noodles or rice based dishes and ask for without onion or garlic.
- Ti Kouka Cafe (76 Willis St) – this will probably be the first result that comes up if you Google “low FODMAP Wellington” as they specifically make asterisked menu items low FODMAP. It’s on the spendy side, but the food is really good and it’s great to be specifically catered for.
- The Little Waffle Shop (53 Courtenay Pl) – this little hole in the wall shop is suuuuuper popular, especially late at night! They do a gluten/dairy free waffle and you can choose a range of toppings and it was pretty good!
- Americanos* (32 Waring Taylor St) – this is asterisked because I’m not sure whether they do lactose/dairy free. By the time I went I could eat lactose so I didn’t check but they may be able to do the french toast dairy free. The waffles/pancakes and french toast are all gluten free though – I had mine with chocolate sauce and cream. 😀
- 1154 Pastaria (132 Cuba Mall) – these guys were really helpful, the staff know what’s in each sauce and they offer gluten free pasta. It’s communal seating so you do have to wait sometimes or pounce on a free seat, but in general they do good pasta and it’s not too expensive.
- Cake Society* (Press Hall, 78 Willis St) – again, this will probably only be helpful if you can tolerate lactose, but these guys do quite a range of mini gluten free cakes. At $10 a pop they’re not cheap but it was delicious!
- Burgerfuel (Courtenay Pl, Cuba St, Newtown Countdown, Johnsonville shops, Hataitai shops and Lower Hutt) – we’re getting into the takeaways now! Burgerfuel do gluten free buns, there’s no garlic or onion in the patty, you can take out the onions and switch out the aioli sauce and the relish. I switch mine out for BBQ sauce so it’s still pretty tasty!
- Hell’s Pizza (so many!) – this tip actually came from someone in the Facebook group. You can get a gluten free base, you need to switch out the base sauce but you can use BBQ instead on the base then choose your own toppings. I do the ham and pineapple one with BBQ sauce base.
- Pita Pit (again, many different locations) – these guys do gluten free pitas, and then of course you can choose your fillings and sauce so it’s a good, quick lunch.
Those are my best recommendations, please let me know in the comments if you have any more. I hope you find this useful, just know that you’re not alone and there are so many online resources so hopefully they’ll make your life a little easier. Any questions you have comment below, otherwise as always, happy baking!