Two months in and I’m still alive

The last two months have been full of challenges, frustration and even tears resulting from the dietary devastation that the low FODMAP has caused within my life. But I’ve also learned a lot and that’s what I want to share here. So in no particular order:

• Keep a record of everything you eat from the outset. Even if you eat all the “right” foods you can still accidentally tip over with the amounts of FODMAPS. Keeping a record will help you to identify what’s going wrong.

• Get the Monash low FODMAP app. I could not have done this without it and all the money gets put back into further research in this area.

•Rice flakes and quinoa flakes make a good substitute for porridge.

• Quinoa flakes are great for travelling. They can be cooked just by adding boiling water so they’re great for breakfast (which is really hard overseas). I recommend adding a little sugar and cinnamon and a block of Lindt 90% dark chocolate (all of which are travel proof and can even go in hand luggage) to make it palatable.

• Asafoetida is your friend! Life without onions or garlic is hard! This handy little spice…isn’t the same, but it helps.

• Take the time to make your own stocks. It’s a little extra effort but without onions or garlic it’s an important means of getting depth of flavour into your meals. Save up ends of vegetables from preparing other meals and leftover bones and use these to make your stock.

• Celeriac is a great substitute for celery.

• Don’t trust waiters to tell you if food is ok for you to eat. They deliver the food, they don’t prepare it. Think through how you’d make a meal and whether you’d add any high FODMAP ingredients. Once you’ve decided what you want to eat ask them to check with the chef that there are no high FODMAP ingredients. Ok, that’s a long list but I did that saying no gluten, dairy, onions or garlic is sufficient to throw up a problem.

• Get used to eating a lot of grilled meat and salad or plain vegetables when you go out for dinner. I’m sure once I’ve finished the challenge phase my options will expand (although not that much because I already know that onions are a trigger). However for now it sucks, but it’s the safest way.

Remember that it’s ok to feel down about this diet. As I said I’ve reached the point of tears many times. Most recently on Prague when I watched my friends eating potatoes pancakes and goulash with dumplings while I sat there with my tiny plate of over-priced roasted vegetable. This is a hard eating regime that takes a lot of discipline and has a huge impact on your eating decisions. But if the diet works for you, stick with it. For me every day that I don’t end up so bloated I can’t fit in my clothes is a reminder that I’m treating my body well and this is something that’s worth doing.

Good luck!