For anyone who has been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or has been advised to follow a low FODMAP diet, you know just how difficult and restrictive the process can be. This is especially true when it comes to making delicious and flavourful meals in the kitchen.
This is a struggle I know personally as I have had to follow this diet and felt completely defeated in the kitchen, especially without my favourite flavour infusers: onion and garlic. After days of eating the same bland foods I knew there had to be a way to bring in more flavour and excitement into my cooking. With tons of research and more experimenting, I was able to find some really amazing low FODMAP flavour enhancers and swaps.
What Is The Low FODMAP Diet?
This diet prohibits foods that contain Fermentable-Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides-And-Polyols (FODMAPs), which are types of carbohydrates that can upset the microbiome. FODMAPs can be difficult for some people to break down. They move through the digestive tract undigested, attracting and absorbing water as they go, and fermenting. This can lead to bloating, gas, and gastrointestinal pain.
Foods to Avoid on a Low FODMAP Diet
Foods that are removed include a wide range of fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meat. This diet can be helpful for digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
- Dried Fruits
- All legumes (except for 1/2 cup canned lentils or 1/4 cup canned chickpeas)
- Highly processed meats (like deli meats, smokies, hot dogs)
- High fructose corn syrup
Outside of avoiding FODMAPs, there are a couple of additional food categories to eliminate:
- Refined Sugar: This disrupts the gut bacteria, which can exacerbate symptoms.
- Lactose and Dairy: Dairy products are incredible difficult to digest and interfere with digestion. You can read more about the health impacts of dairy and how to eliminate it here.
- Gluten: I recommend going gluten free because it is incredibly difficult to digest.
7 Low FODMAP Flavour Enhancers
If you find you are eating the same low FODMAP meals every day and they lack excitement and variety, then begin adding these flavour enhancers into your cooking to spice up your meals and get your taste buds singing!
1. Leek Leaves
Image: Heather Gill on Unsplash
Leeks are such an awesome replacement for onion because they are low in FODMAPs (use the top green parts). Leeks have a milder flavour in comparison to traditional sweet, red, or white onion, but they can be a replacement in any recipe that calls for them, allowing the onion flavour to still be present.
2. Garlic-Infused Oil
You may be wondering how garlic-infused oil can be okay to consume when garlic is prohibited. The simple answer to this is that the fructans in garlic are water-soluble, not fat-soluble. This means when we put garlic in oil and infuse it, the FODMAP content does not leach out and, instead, it just leaves the essence and flavour of garlic, adding excitement to your meals.
You can learn how to make your own infused oils easily at home.
3. Fresh Ginger
This is my personal favourite way to add flavour to cooking because it gives the perfect amount of spicy freshness. Ginger is effective in combating bloating, gas, and abdominal pain, making it an awesome addition to meals. Aside from its digestive benefits, ginger is fantastic for the immune system and is highly anti-inflammatory. My favourite way to use fresh ginger is grated into sauces, curries, soups, and stir-fries.
Image: Louis Hansel on Unsplash
Tamari is similar to soy sauce but is usually made without wheat and is less salty. This makes the taste more balanced and still gives it that umami flavour. This is a great way to give food an extra flavour punch without adding tons of extra salt. Tamari is also helpful for digestion as it is fermented in a unique way that allows good digestible nutrients to be present. Look for gluten-free tamari at the grocery store, as some brands might have gluten in them. Have fun with tamari by using it in dipping sauces, soups and stir-fries.
5. Fresh Herbs
Fresh herbs are always a wonderful way to bring freshness and lightness to a meal. There are so many to choose from and using them can be a fun way to explore deeper levels of flavour in the kitchen. Fresh herbs such as cilantro, parsley, basil, and oregano are perfect to use in things such as pesto, rice paper rolls, and salads. My favourite go-to herb is peppermint because it has menthol in it, which has been shown to have a soothing effect on the digestive tract.
There is just something so special about spices and when used correctly, they add the right amount of oomph and can completely transform dishes. Using spices like cumin, coriander, fennel and turmeric when cooking can be useful when dealing with IBS because they have specific properties that aid digestion by helping to combat gas, calm intestinal spasms and settle indigestion. I love to incorporate these spices when I make pasta, curries, pizza, and soups.
7. Sambal Oelek
Sambal sauce is also a really amazing condiment to use. Whether you buy it or make it yourself, it brings in a natural spiciness to your dishes without overpowering them. Sambal is made out of crushed chilies and is the perfect addition to sauces, spicy pasta dishes, Thai-inspired foods, and really just anything you want to add some heat to.
Learn how to make your own hot sauces in this guide to chili peppers.
These 7 awesome options will boost flavour in your recipes and help you feel less restrictive and happier when cooking on a low FODMAP diet. Give these a try!