Day 1 of the Low FODMAP Diet

I cleared out the kitchen cupboard this morning. Everything that I can’t eat (but my boyfriend can) has been moved to a higher shelf so that they are out of my direct eyeline when I am looking for ingredients.

Seeing how bare my section had become, I went to the supermarket. It took me an hour, assessing each item, reading the ingredients’ list. “Fucking cipolla” I cursed quietly but repeatedly. Many gluten-free, lactose-free, sugar-free, seemingly-ok foods had onion powder lurking at the bottom of the list of ingredients.

One of the biggest changes for me is having to now see food as alimentation. I’ve always eaten for pleasure. I enjoy the flavours, the textures and would eat as healthily and as variedly as possible.

For example, yesterday, I would have taken a fennel bulb, sliced it finely, added a glug of olive oil, maybe some lemon juice and a sprinkling of fleur de sel and would put it in a serving bowl so we should share it equally between the two of us.

Today, I took the fennel bulb and I weighed it. 170g. I consulted the booklet and then cut off a third (approximately the 50g that I’m allowed on the FODMAP diet) and put that on my plate.

bowl close up delicious fennel

I’m no longer looking at food thinking: ‘oooh, that’d be good, I could make it into….’ Instead, I’m double-checking the ingredients list and cursing.

Over lunch, I explained to the boy what this means for him.

Before we would only eat meat once or twice a week. Our diet was based around wholemeal flour – for pasta, as well as our sourdough bread or pizza dough – spelt grains, chickpeas, lentils and fresh, organic vegetables straight from the allotment. (Did you read about my orto?) All of these have now been moved to the top shelf (apart from the vegetables – fortunately I hadn’t planted anything on the red list) and I’m going back to basics.

Here’s what’s on the menu for the next couple of days: steak and potatoes and a boiled or steamed vegetable. Chicken curry and rice (skipping the onion, obviously.) Vegetable stir-fry with rice vermicelli or buckwheat noodles…

Just one last thing, even though this diet is restrictive, alternative-diet foodstuffs were much easier to find in the supermarket than I had feared. They cost considerably more but if this diet is only for a month or two, I can deal with that.

Starting a Low FODMAP Diet

I’ve been struggling with my gut over the last few months. What I thought was a relatively straightforward lactose intolerance seems, actually, to be more complicated.

Certain foods will trigger unsavoury reactions – sometimes immediately, other times within a half hour. There’s no simply identifiable pattern. Cheap bottled beers can provoke a sudden reaction, or a vodka and lemonade, and other times just a handful of humble Malteasers will render me horizontal.

After a tense couple of months of me keeping track of everything I ate and drank, my gut still wasn’t giving me a discernable answer. It’s somewhat hypocritical of me (as a person who writes about food, wine and cheese online) to say that I didn’t trust the suggestions that I would read on health / food / lifestyle webzines.

I went to see a specialist dietetian yesterday and after a very informative consultation, the conclusion was these three simple words “low FODMAP diet.”

I was sent away with a couple of hefty booklets, told to read them carefully, to follow them strictly and to make contact with the doctor again in a month’s time.

FODMAP is a simple abbreviation for the diverse and complex categories of food which the human body finds particularly hard to digest. The FODMAP diet is essentially an elimination diet. I need to completely cut out these food groups (namely, lactose, gluten, beans, pulsees and legumes, and certain fruits and vegetables) in order to reintroduce them one-by-one again gradually and sense my body’s reaction.

It’s going to be tough, especially when going out with friends socially, to stick to this diet. I was aware of the FODMAP diet even before the consultation but I had hoped that there might have been a simpler solution. I guess my gut knew that this was the next step…. but my brain didn’t want to accept it.

I’ll start the diet tomorrow with the plan to stick to it religiously for the next 4 weeks.

It means no more pizza, pasta, bread, (unless they are gluten free); onions and garlic are absolute no; chick peas, beans and pulses are also out. Strangely, sweet dessert wines, rum, honey and agave nectar are all out but maple syrup is ok. Rice, corn and potatoes are ok. Meat and fish also. One of the weirdest things is that I’m allowed just one quarter of avocado and half a grapefruit per day.

Tomorrow the diet gets underway in earnest. I’ll report back.


Day 1: link here