I love food. Ask any of my friends—it’s basically all I talk about. I love to cook, I love discovering new restaurants, and I even spent a few years as a food critic, visiting and writing about restaurants in my city. (Best job I ever had!)

But food doesn’t always love me. Even as I was dining and carousing around town, I was suffering. If you’ve been diagnosed with IBS, you’re probably all-too-familiar with my symptoms—the discomfort, the pain, the embarrassment. It’s not really something you brag about on a first date. I saw countless doctors, whose treatments were often not very effective, if at all. And for years I was resigned to my symptoms—they were just a part of my life, for better or worse (mostly the latter).

Finally, I started seeing a doctor who took a more integrated and holistic approach to my problem. He suggested I try an “elimination diet,” which involved paring my eating down to some very basic essentials—no dairy, no corn, no wheat, no soy, basically nothing that might possibly cause a reaction.

And for the first time in years, I started to feel better—not totally fine, but better.

As I was eliminating, I was also reading voraciously about food intolerances, and the subject of FODMAPs kept coming up. One study in particular, by researchers at Monash University, kept coming up. Their patients were reporting huge improvements in their symptoms, and their results seemed to be repeated in other studies around the world. I decided to try it, and I found myself feeling much better.

The low-FODMAP lifestyle isn’t easy at first. You have to cut out a lot, and I struggled with it. No onions? No garlic? How could I possibly live without those things, let alone pasta and dairy? (My favourite meal of all time is a big plate of garlic-stinking spaghetti and meatballs, so this felt especially cruel.) Living without FODMAPs felt like doing all the speciality diets at the same time.

When I started to cut out FODMAPs, I found there were very few resources for people like me. Monash’s site is great, and there are few others, but mostly I found they just mirrored the Monash researcher’s advice. I felt like there needed to be more out there, a resource where people living without FODMAPs could find recipes, advice, links to the latest news, and maybe most importantly, a supportive community. And that’s why I started The Low-FODMAP Life.

My journey (and I suspect yours, if you’re reading this) is just beginning. I’d love to have you along for the ride.

Feel free to contact me at any time, either in the comments or at admin {@} I’d love to hear from you.

Harpreet Parmar

PS: I must disclaim that I am not a doctor or a registered dietitian. Everything you read on this site is my opinion and based solely on my own experiences. If you are having dietary issues I strongly recommend you see a physician first, to eliminate celiac disease (which does not respond to the low-FODMAP lifestyle) or other serious problems. Stay healthy.

A Day in the Low-FODMAP Life

One of the most challenging things about changing the way you eat, particularly when you’re eliminating broad categories of food, is visualizing just how it’s going to work on a day-to-day basis. I know that was one of the most difficult parts of adopting the FODMAP-free lifestyle myself, and it took me a while to get my head around the fact that I wouldn’t be able to rely on some of my oldest, most relied-upon eating habits.

If you’ve ever tried to eat gluten-free, you know what I’m talking about: life without bread is hard! I used to feel like Jerry Seinfeld, who once said, “The whole concept of lunch is based around tuna.” For me, it was sandwiches. Imagining lunch without sandwiches, or breakfast without toast, or dinner without pasta… it seemed impossible at first.

But gradually, it got easier. It was all about picking up new habits and getting used to planning things a little more in advance. Now there’s a barely a day when I don’t wake up with a hot breakfast of oatmeal already waiting for me in my rice cooker and a plan for at least lunch, if not lunch and dinner.

I thought I’d share a typical day in my Low-FODMAP Life to help newcomers to the diet understand how possible it can be with just a little forethought and effort.

Oats are your friends.

My Low FODMAP Breakfast

You’ve got tons of options when it comes to breakfast.

Personally, I’ve left toast in the dust and become addicted to oatmeal. (Most oatmeal is processed with wheat, so there’s a bit of gluten to be found, but in such small amounts it probably won’t affect people on the low-FODMAP plan. Still, there are plenty of gluten-free options available).

Typically, I put 2/3 of a cup of steel-cut oats in my rice maker before I go to bed, along with the appropriate amount of water, some brown sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. I put it on “porridge” setting at set the timer, and wake up to a hot, delicious breakfast. I’ll sometimes add some raisins right before serving, or slice up some bananas and put them in the pot before setting the timer so they get all nice and baked-tasting. When I’m out of steel-cut, I’ll just cook up a small pot of regular rolled oats in the morning. Eggs are also your friends in the morning—hard-boiled, scrambled, or fried. Try frying up some strips of corn tortilla and adding beaten eggs to the pan to make migas, a Tex-Mex treat (just avoid the milk and onions if you use that recipe!).

My Low FODMAP Lunch

Lunch without the sandwich or wrap option can be challenging, particular if you’re eating on the go. What I typically do is make a grain salad and add whatever veggies and proteins I desire. I’ll cook up some quinoa with spices, like a bit of curry powder, let it cool and then mix in greens and shredded carrots. Topped with smoked chicken or canned tuna, and some crumbled feta cheese, it makes for a surprisingly filling mid-day meal.

Alternately, I might fry up a couple of eggs and have them on top of the salad, or make an omelette and have sliced vegetables (cucumbers, bell peppers) on the side.

My Low FODMAP Dinner

Sadly, you’ll have to say goodbye to pasta and pizza (I’m ashamed to admit that those were two of my staples, and let’s not get started on hamburger), but I still haven’t run out of new, delicious combinations. I’ll often set my rice cooker to make brown rice, sometimes adding a splash of coconut oil, and then roast, pan-fry or grill up a protein of my choice—sausage, chicken, pork chops to name just a few. Then we’ll make a nice salad on the side, or steam some green beans.

If I want to mix things I’ll up, I’ll make potatoes, roasted or mashed (without milk of course) or sometimes go for a larger portion of protein and forgo the carbs completely. I’ve also become addicted to one-pot meals that incorporate proteins and rice, like arroz con pollo or paella variations, many of which can be de-FODMAP-ified. And we’ve just discovered the many uses of polenta.

(All of these I’ll be discussing more in depth in the future—recipes to come!)

My Low FODMAP Dessert

Going FODMAP-free doesn’t mean you have to skip the sweets. I might have some sliced strawberries, treats like flourless chocolate cake (recipe coming soon!) or a dairy-free sorbet.

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