Last time, I described the first part of my journey along the FODMAPs highway. This time, I want to tell you more about the exclusion phase of the FODMAPs testing process.
Clearing out the potential source of the problem first is important because I needed to know if cutting out everything fermentable actually did make me feel better. So, working with my dietician, I embarked on 3 weeks of removing as much of the high FODMAPs foods as possible from my diet.
We decided early on that there was no point in cooking two lots of meals every day, so Mr Chopsticks effectively went on the FODMAPs diet too. I discovered that he hates pumpkin, and quinoa, and even refuses to pronounce it correctly out of sheer cussedness. Neither of us are crazy about polenta now, either*.
I missed some things more than others. His eating toast near me became a point of friction – the smell of buttery toast drove me crazy – but he was tolerant of the restrictions otherwise so I’m counting myself fortunate! We hadn’t really been a potato eating couple (how do these little traits take hold, I wonder) but not having bread or pasta meant I ate more potatoes in the first 6 weeks than I had in the preceding 6 years! I even ate chips when out and there was nothing else suitable, which I would never have done previously – though beware beer battered, as these are a wheat trap!
Gluten free bread was so awful that I took to eating baked potatoes for lunch instead of sandwiches – they microwave brilliantly in 6 or 7 minutes and go with all the fillings you’d normally stick in a sarnie. The other thing I tried to persevere with, but eventually gave up on, was wheat free pasta. I tried a fair few varieties – I was surprised by how many wheat free options there were. Several of them were ‘banned’ for me because they included other FODMAPs – there was an organic mung bean pasta produced by Explore Asian, and a rice and lentil produced by La Bruzzese, which I’ve used again since adding legumes back into my diet. Buckwheat wasn’t too bad…but overall – yack. Couldn’t be doing with all the soggy textures. I actually preferred having my pasta sauces with rice than with pasta substitutes. I think I may feel differently if I had to be completely wheat free forever…but I don’t. Thank the stars.
The one exception to this was lasagne – after all, it goes soft when you bake it anyway, so I found I could cope with that. Rice noodles are an acceptable compromise for many dishes too, especially Asian ones.
We didn’t eat out much during this phase. Many places these days are pretty good with understanding what it means to be gluten free and are more alert to dietary issues. I found some places were really good at amending dishes to accommodate my weirdo requirements, others….not so much. Of special mention is Rockpool Bar & Grill in Sydney – we ate out for a special occasion during my fodmaps exclusion phase, and our lovely, patient waiter spent ages running back and forth to the kitchen to work out exactly what I could or couldn’t eat!
But really, there are a lot of foods that are ‘safe’ to eat and drink, so that it’s bearable – especially as you know it’s pretty short term. Things that are OK include:
Oats, soy, quinoa, corn, rice, potatoes, bananas, green beans, carrots, nuts, eggs, pineapple, kiwi, all berries except blackberries, pumpkin, spinach, bok choi, peppers, aubergine & courgette. Lactose free milk & yoghurt – and cream! – maple syrup, citrus fruits are all ok as well. Jams from safe fruits are OK in moderation, soft drinks are OK as long as they don’t have sweeteners in them, and spirits were fine too. Gin & tonic consumption really went up!
My dietician also said it was ok to cook stews with onion in it for flavour, as long as I removed the onion before eating. I could also use the green parts of spring onions too. This was a boon! Other handy tricks include eating apples with sugar as that increases their digestibility. It’s well worth doing all this with help from a dietician; it makes such a difference!
Next time I’ll describe the testing phase of the FODMAPs exclusion process…
* But see the damn fine gluten free Muffin-ettes!