Food is often a loaded subject for many people suffering with IBS. But you don’t have to give up good food forever. By the time clients end up in my digestive health clinic – sometimes after years of misdiagnosis or being told symptoms are all in their head – most are feeling fearful about eating. They’ve lost confidence in food.
Although the low FODMAP diet can help keep diahorrea, pain, bloating and wind under control, it’s the last straw for many. Every week a client tells me, “I’m worried I won’t be able to eat my favourite foods again.” The good news is, things can be different. There are plenty of foods that can support your digestion while you’re on the low FODMAP diet and excite your tastebuds. In fact, food can be helpful and even healing.
Here are my five favourite gut-friendly foods that are also full of flavour. You can also find this article on FodShop, Australia's tummy friendly food finder.
Fermented foods can wreak havoc on your tummy if you have IBS. But miso is a great pick for digestion-challenged foodies. To maximise any probiotic benefits, choose an unpasteurised variety and add toward the end of cooking. White miso whisked with apple cider vinegar and olive oil makes a lovely, mellow salad dressing.
Porridge oats are a good source of resistant starch, a type of fibre that helps promote a healthy colon. It’s digested slowly, so it’s less likely to cause gas, bloating and pain. Plus, resistant starch is a prebiotic – a healthy snack for your good gut bacteria! Uncooked oats are best: try overnight oats.
Spelt sourdough bread
Spelt is lower in gluten than traditional wheat, and the sourdough-making process helps digestion further by reducing fructans. 100% spelt sourdough is the safest choice if you’re on the low FODMAP diet. If you usually avoid bread, go ahead and enjoy a piece of spelt sourdough toast for breakfast.
Omega 3 fatty acids in oily fish may be anti-inflammatory, and one recent study of
69 women found that those with IBS had lower levels than healthy participants. The best source of Omega 3 is oily fish – try miso-topped grilled salmon, or anchovies on your pizza. Stick to two portions a week if you’re pregnant (or planning to try).
Apple cider vinegar
Not just an old wife’s tale! Emerging research from Monash University shows that dietary sources of short chain fatty acids, like apple cider vinegar, could be colon-protective and boost immunity. Apple cider vinegar is great in a vinaigrette – choose a brand with ‘the mother’ (where the beneficial bacteria is).
And don’t forget…
…the diet is low FODMAP, not no FODMAP. You can still eat some FODMAP-containing foods in small portions: try pickled beetroot, butternut squash and fennel, all with prebiotic qualities. So set the table, and get ready to enjoy food again.