When it comes to the low-FODMAP diet there are a decent amount of high-FODMAP foods that are found in a lot of traditional cooking and comfort meals. When I started following the FODMAP lifestyle it was a bit overwhelming trying to navigate through these meals without upsetting my stomach.
Over the past few years I have discovered some key substitute ingredients that can allow me to still enjoy classic meals or yummy flavours without feeling like garbage for eating them. Seeing as I felt a little lost when I began, I thought I'd reach out and share with you some of the alternative ingredients I have come across and how I use them.
So without further ado, here is a non-exhaustive list of some of the substitutes that I have found to be game-changers in my cooking !
I have to admit, I haven’t always been a huge onion fan.
So eliminating onions from my day-to-day dishes wasn’t so hard at first. Digging a little deeper into a variety of dishes though, I realized how much onion flavour can bring to a dish.
Whether onions are a must for you or you are trying new dishes that require onions, have no fear!
Leeks are a great substitute for onions in baked, sauteed, or fried dishes that demand that oniony texture and flavour. It is the green part of the leek that is considered low-FODMAP, so make sure you are only using the leaves in your cooking.
Personally I love to use leeks to bring back that onion flavour in lasagna and stuffing for large meals at Christmas. The stuffing that I created for the first time this year was seriously delicious and it was super hard to tell the difference from the classic stuffing that everyone else was eating.
Typcially when it comes to colder dishes such as salads, dips, and sauces I lean towards using chives and green onions. Again, the low-FODMAP part of the green onion is the green part, and when it comes to chives, it is considered low-FODMAP in it's entirety. Both chives and green onions are also great toppers to your homemade nachos, some classic mashed potatoes, or a spinach dips to add that pop of colour.
Now this one is an essential pantry item in my kitchen.
Before I discovered the FODMAP lifestyle, garlic used to be one of my go-to spices to add flavour to my meals. So when I found out that garlic was a big no-no, I knew I needed to find a good substitute.
Garlic infused oil has been a saviour for me. It has allowed me to cook without garlic cloves, but at the same time not eliminate the garlic flavour.
The reason that we can have the garlic infused oil and not the garlic cloves themselves, is because the cloves contain the physical sugars within them. But the best part is that the fructan and oligosaccharides that usually upset our stomachs are only soluble in water.(1) So when the garlic is infused in oil the flavor is absorbed but these bloat-producing sugars are not! This leaves us with the great garlic flavour without giving use a stomach ache.(1)
Ways I use it:
It can be great for making simple garlic bread, spicing up my own pasta sauce, or drizzling over my sheet pan of veggies for the week. I usually just substitute it for the oil that the recipe calls for or I will cook the ingredients ( veggies, meat, etc.) in the garlic-infused oil instead of butter or plain olive oil. That way I am flavouring the dish but not oversaturating it with extra oil.
This one may seem simple, and well… that’s because it is. Society is really starting to embrace the fact that a lot of us are bothered by gluten and even giving us gluten-free options on restaurant menus!
The variety of gluten-free products in the stores is pretty incredible from gluten-free flours so you can create your own gluten-free master pieces, to full gluten-free desserts so that you don't have to miss out on dessert at your holiday family get togethers.
When it comes to low-FODMAP breads there are a few products that are not gluten-free, but are safe for our IBS tummies, according to Monash University.(2) Some of these products include spelt flour/bread/pasta, spelt sourdough, and Cobs Bread has even come out with a super delicious low-FODMAP bread that is certified low-FODMAP by Monash University. And is super tasty... speaking from experience.
In terms of the best bread brands that you can find in the grocery stores, check out my blog post on The Absolute Best Gluten-free Bread to get a list of my favourite gluten-free brands.
I have been pretty lucky in the sense that I seem to tolerate dairy products pretty well, even if they do contain lactose. But for those of you that are truly lactose intolerant or dairy is one of those items that send you over the edge, do not fret!
Dairy-free products are everywhere now. From lactose-free ice cream ( Yes guys, we can keep ice cream in our lives!) to yogurts, to what seems like a hundred dairy-free milk options. To name a few: almond, lactose-free, cashew, hemp, soy, and even oat milk? Why not!
Fortunetly these dairy-free or lactose-free options are available in almost all grocery stores, many cafes, and even some restaurants.
So you might even say that avoiding dairy is one of the ‘easy’ item to tackle on a low-FODMAP diet with all our options now!
Honey is a product that I had a hard time getting rid of. It used to be my go-to to sweeten up my green tea or as a natural substitute to white sugar in any kind of baking.
Maple syrup doesn't exactly have the same consistency as honey, but it has become another one of those staple ingredients I always have in my kitchen. It is still a natural sugar so it takes a win over granulated white sugar and it has been great to use in sauces and as a sweetener or in my plain lactose-free Greek yogurt.
Brown rice syrup is also another nice alternative that is closer in consistency to honey. This is one I use for making granola and granola bars to help keep everything sticking together.
Although Monash University says that up to 2 tbsp of soy sauce is considered to be low-FODMAP, I personally do not respond well to soy sauce or any soy products for that matter.
Finding Tamari was such a win for me! Soy products have proven to be something that bothers my stomach. So finding a gluten-free and soy-free option to bring life back to my Asian inspired dishes has been amazing. You can usually find this in the same aisle as the soy sauce or the natural/organic food section of any grocery store.
Keep in mind that these substitutions work really well for me, but they may not be for everyone. The low-FODMAP diet is a personal one, and this is your journey. My hope is that I can make it a little bit less bumpy. I hope some of these substititions give you a good starting point on your low-FODMAP endeavor.