If you’re experiencing abdominal pain, bloating and flatulence, and feeling lost on where to turn, I’ll hand you the FOD-MAP.
If you’ve never heard of FODMAP, it stands for:
- Fermentable: meaning they’re fermented by bacteria in the large bowel, not absorbed in the small intestine.
- Oligosaccharides: more complex sugars, such as fructans and galacto-oligosaccharides.
- Disaccharides: ‘double’ sugar molecules, such as lactose.
- Monosaccharides: single sugars, such as fructose.
- And Polyols: things like sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, mannitol, mannitol and xylitol.
For people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), the FODMAP approach is typically the first port-of-call for nutritionists and dieticians. It’s a protocol that helps you heal the gut and identify trigger foods that cause flare ups.
If this sounds a little confusing to you, have a read of my FODMAP run-down, which includes foods to avoid while undertaking FODMAP, here, and come back after.
Are you all caught up?
Okay, great. Let’s continue on our way.
When undertaking the FODMAP approach, cut-down your intake of FODMAP foods for a period of time and then slowly introduce them to identify which foods are causing flare-ups. This trial elimination gives your gut time to repair and check which foods you may be sensitive to. Unlike many diets out there, the FODMAP approach is definitely not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach and should be tailored specifically to you.
After the elimination phase when you’re reintroducing foods, record the foods you’re eating and the symptoms you’re experiencing. This can give you an indicator of which foods aren’t working for your gut.
Inflammatory responses include bloating, tiredness, throat irritation, coughing or sneezing after food, mood problems, headaches, migraines, indigestion and weight retention.
Writing down these symptoms will make it clear what isn’t serving your body. When you are reintroducing foods, try to have a positive mindset and not be too anxious about it. If you’re trialling foods while in a state of stress, it can impact the digestion process. So, be cool, calm, collected and enjoy the food you’re eating.
While there are plenty of foods you have to avoid when following the low-FODMAP protocol, let’s look at this in a positive light, below are fifty FODMAP friendly foods that you CAN include during these stages. And remember that a FODMAP friendly diet shouldn't be encouraged for long period of time and getting back to a balanced diet is always best!
Here are my favourite fifty FODMAP friendly foods:
- Baby spinach: baby spinach is a green leafy that makes for a great low-FODMAP salad base. Spinach plays the star role in my Pull-Apart Green Bread.
- Bamboo shoots: bamboo shoots are the edible sprouts that often feature in your Thai takeaway. Try them stir-fried, cooked in soup or pickled.
- Unripe bananas: unripe bananas are great for a low FODMAP diet. What they lack in sweetness, they make up for in gut-friendly bacteria. Banana flour, flour made of unripe bananas, is a great base for baked goods.
- Beef: iron-rich beef is protein-packed and great for boosting the immune system and building muscles. Try it in my Beef Stir-Fry with Peaches.
- Love Your Gut powder can help you if you're suffering from gut issues such as poor, inefficient digestion, lack of nutrient absorption and a build-up of gas, wind and bloating. It helps to clean and tone your gut and relieve symptoms.
- Blueberries: blueberries are one of my favourite fruits in the whole world. They’re rich in antioxidants, low in sugar and really, an all-round winner. They’re even a feature in my Hello Vera Smoothie. I love berries as a topping on my porridge and straight out of the punnet as an easy snack.
- Bok choy: bok choy, also known as pak choy, ramps up the nutritional value of any stir-fry. It’s a great green that features in this delicious Beef Stir-Fry with Peaches.
- Broccoli: This veggie brocs. Broccoli, part of the cruciferous vegetable family, is great for helping detoxify the liver. Ensure you’re cooking your broccoli for optimal absorption and digestion. My Oven-Baked Broccoli Steaks go down as a treat.
- Brown, basmati and white rice: while we bang on about cauliflower rice, brown, basmati and white rice are wonderful for the low-FODMAP diet. To make it FODMAP-friendly, serve rice steamed, boiled or fried without any onion or garlic.
- Carrots: there’s no better snack than carrots. Try baking them in the oven by dipping your toes in my Prebiotic Tray Bake.
- Celeriac: what this vegetable lacks in beauty, it makes up for in nutritional value. Try baking celeriac in the oven with extra virgin olive oil to make crispy celeriac chips.
- Celery: celery is a hydrating and alkalising vegetable that’s made quite a comeback with the celery juice trend. While it’s risen to popularity recently in juice, I prefer having it cooked, like in this Delicious Lamb Mulligatawny.
- Chia seeds: chia seeds are a wonderful thickening agent and fibre-rich addition to any smoothie. They also make for a great topper on a smoothie bowl, like this one here. Oh, and if Debbie at work swears by chia seeds for her glowing skin but they give you bloating, listen to your own body and just don’t go there.
- Chicken: chicken is a low-fat source of protein that can help maintain lean muscle mass and provide a plethora of nutrients. Chicken pairs well with so many different flavours and vegetables, always making for a hearty meal.
- Clementine: clementine’s are small seedless fruits that are somewhere between a mandarin and a sweet orange. They’re a fresh snack that’s great for the school lunch box.
- Cranberry: cranberries offer the perfect balance between sweet and tart, they even make for a delicious trail-mix part.
- Cucumber: cucumbers are a hydrating veg that add an extra crunch to any salad. They’re high in nutrients and contain antioxidants to reduce oxidative stress.
- Eggplant/Aubergine: If you want a vegetable that’s auber-genius, try an eggplant on for size. This FODMAP-friendly vegetable is low in calories and can have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body, extremely useful in cases of inflammation.
- Fennel: fennel is a small yet mighty vegetable that is high in fibre and contains amazing nutrients, including magnesium, potassium and calcium. While it looks a little like dill, fennel has a mild aniseed taste that can be used as an alternative to onion in a low FODMAP diet.
- Fresh fish: Fresh fish such as cod, salmon, trout and tuna, offer wonderful sources of omega-3. Omega-3 is essential when trying to reduce the inflammation that triggers irritable bowel syndrome and irritable bowel disease.
- Ginger: ginger has a strong anti-inflammatory effect, prevents nausea helps fight off the common cold or flu.
- Grapes: forget candy and lollies, pass me the grapes! Grapes are one of nature’s candies. They’re sweet, juicy and plain old delicious.
- Green beans: these stringy beans are, in my opinion, highly underrated when it comes to nutritional value. They’re low calorie and extremely high in fibre.
- Guava: this tantalising fruit is found in many tropical and subtropical regions. Guava is rich in Vitamin C, a nutrient that’s essential for our immune system.
- Hemp seeds: hemp seeds are tiny but mighty! They contain Omega-3 fatty acids, making them a wonderful bonus for our skin health and cognitive function.
- Honeydew melon: name a melon I don’t like… seriously, I’ll wait. Honeydew melons offer a fantastic source of potassium and a low sodium content helping to keep our blood pressure in check.
- Kale: kale yeah! This green leafy vegetable is loaded with antioxidants and has basically been shown to help heal the world. Just be sure to massage your kale or cook it before eating it to aid digestion.
- Kiwi fruit: it turns out kiwi is more than just a person from New Zealand! Kiwis are one of the most fibre-rich fruits available, and contains vitamin C, collagen and omega-3 fatty acids. Research indicates that eating 2 kiwi fruits a day can help reduce constipation (1)!
- Lamb: this high-quality source of protein is one of my favourites to cook. Lamb is a red meat that’s comprised of iron, vitamin B12 and zinc. These nutrients are essential for our blood, muscles and energy.
- Lettuce: lettuce celebrate the simple things in life, such as lettuce. Despite its reputation of having minimal nutritional value, iceberg lettuce actually contains significant amounts of Vitamin A and K. It’s also extremely hydrating in the hot weather due to its water content.
- Mandarin: to be honest, I had to include mandarins in here because I just find them so cute. Sweeter and smaller than an orange, this citrus fruit is bursting with Vitamin C and A, which are essential for growth and immunity.
- Oats: I call for a time-oat. This nutrient-packed grain insists on improving bowel regularity, lowering cholesterol and also offers an amazing source of plant-based protein. Try my Gutmeal, which is breakfast oats with a gut friendly twist here.
- Orange: oranges are the typical flu go-to so, it’s a good thing they’re on the low-FODMAP list. If you’re struggling to get enough water in during the day, adding orange to your water bottle can help improve the taste.
- Pineapple: pineapple is an extremely versatile fruit that’s low in fructose and super tasty. Pineapple contains digestive enzymes that are vital for maintaining and rebuilding gut health. Try this Pan Fried Pineapple with Mint and Coconut Yoghurt.
- Potato: while we praise the sweet potato, the regular OG potato has been getting a lot of hate. I say, let’s act like Taylor Swift and ignore the haters. Potatoes are delicious baked, mashed and cut into home-made wedges.
- Pumpkin: highly nutritious and nutrient-rich, pumpkin has been proven to boost immunity, assist in weight loss and protect the health of your eyes. There’s nothing better than caramelised pumpkin that’s just left the oven; I have googly eyes just thinking about it.
- Quinoa: I feel like we’ve forgotten about this gluten-free and protein-rich plant foods. Let’s bring it back! Quinoa contains fibre, vitamins and minerals, and makes for a great base to any meal.
- Raspberry: raspberries are a low-calorie and fructose fruit that make for a delicious smoothie bowl like this one here. While they can be expensive when they’re not in season, I always have frozen raspberries on hand for smoothies and desserts.
- Red capsicum/bell peppers: did you know capsicum actually contains more vitamin C than oranges? Capsicums are great for the immune system however, they’re part of the nightshade family so, some people do have some side-effects when consuming them.
- Seafood: I’m pretty sure no one’s going to complain about seafood being on this list. Crab, lobster, mussels and shrimp can all be enjoyed on a low-FODMAP diet.
- Seaweed: seaweed and nori offer a wonderful source of iodine which is essential for thyroid function. I'm loving my Seaweed and Sesame Salad.
- Swede: this vegetable’s nutrient profile is pretty sweet if you ask me. Swedes contain a variety of nutrients, including manganese, carotene and fibre.
- Sweet potato: while only ½ cup of sweet potato is allowed on the low-FODMAP approach, you can definitely enjoy it in moderation! I love sweet potato baked, mashed and even cut finely in a stir-fry.
- The green tops of spring onions (scallion): while it’s certainly not the most delicious part of the onion, the green tops of spring onions make for a wonderful alternative to regular onion when cooking.
- Tofu: tofu isn’t just for Japanese food and vegetarians or vegans. Tofu is a protein-packed option that’s bursting with calcium.
- Turkey: turkey is loaded with tryptophan, an amino acid essential for regulating sleep.
- Tuna is a great on-the-go source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Try my Ginger-Seared Tuna to up your tuna intake.
- Turnip: turnips are loaded with fibre and B vitamins which are essential for boosting our energy and mood.
- Walnuts: these brain-shaped nuts are brilliant for just that, your brain health. Walnuts are rich in antioxidants, promote a healthy gut and can support weight balance.
- Zucchini: zucchinis always feature in my roasting tray. They’re low in calories and offer a great source of fibre to help reduce constipation.
If you’re looking for FODMAP friendly recipes, I’d love to be your guide. My cook book Supercharge Your Gut has a bunch of FODMAP-friendly meals that’ll make the whole process that much easier. My low-FODMAP Meatball Stew is inspired by the flavours of Italy. It’s a FODMAP-friendly meal the whole family will love.
Don’t go ham on me, but this hearty and harmonious Slow-Cooked Ham Hock Soup from Supercharge Your Gut is a FODMAP-friendly bowl of goodness that awaits you. It’s ready to turn those tummy troubles upside down.
LOW-FODMAP MEATBALL STEW
SERVES 4, OR UP TO 6 WITH A SIDE OF ZOODLES
- 1 teaspoon garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil
- 4 spring onions (scallions), green tips only, roughly chopped
- 1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2 cm (3/4 inch) chunks
- 2 carrots, grated
- 1 red capsicum (pepper), chopped
- 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) very ripe roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped, reserving the juices
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste (concentrated purée)
- 125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) low-FODMAP stock
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar roughly chopped parsley, to garnish
- 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) lean minced (ground) beef
- 1 tablespoon garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ground oregano
- 1 bunch of flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, about 100 g (31/2 oz), roughly chopped
Place all the meatball ingredients in a bowl and mix with your hands until
well combined. Form into balls, about 4 cm (1 1/2 inches) in diameter. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook for about 8–10 minutes, turning now and then, until golden all over. Transfer the meatballs to a plate and set aside.
In the same pan, sauté the spring onion over medium heat for 2–3 minutes. Add the sweet potato, carrot, capsicum and tomatoes, including the tomato juices. Stir in the tomato paste, stock, lemon juice and vinegar.
Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, adding a lile more stock or filtered water if necessary.
Add the browned meatballs and cook for a further 8–10 minutes, or until heated through, taking care not to overcook them, as you don’t want them to become dry.
Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley, with your choice of accompaniment.
LOW-FODMAP SLOW-COOKED HAM HOCK SOUP
- 1 tablespoon garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large turnip, peeled and diced
- 2 parsnips, peeled and diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 4 celery stalks, sliced (optional; omit if not tolerated)
- 2 zucchini (courgettes), diced
- 1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2 cm (3/4 inch) chunks
- 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) organic, nitrate-free ham hock, skin scored t release the flavours
- 2 litres (68 fl oz/8 cups) low-FODMAP chicken stock 1 bay leaf
- 1 handful of parsley, roughly torn
Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium–low heat. Add the vegetables, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook, stirring regularly, for 15 minutes.
Add the ham hock and pour in the stock. Add the bay leaf and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 11/2–2 hours to allow the flavours to develop, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface, and topping up with extra stock or filtered water if needed.
Leave to cool slightly, then carefully remove the hock from the pan and place on a chopping board. Pull the meat from the bone, shred the meat and add it to the soup. Remove the bay leaf and season to taste.
Serve warm, topped with the parsley.
SUPERCHARGED TIP... This soup can be portioned into airtight containers and frozen for deliciously convenient meals!