From researching about how to manage my IBS and intolerances I have become even more interested in food and started to take some online nutrition courses. What I have found is by adapting my diet to help manage my illness I was actually approaching my diet in a healthier way.
My food philosophy is based around two main areas. 1) Low FODMAP and 2) Alkaline diet
1) Low FODMAP foods
FODMAP is an acronym that stands for Fermentable (rapidly digested by bacteria in the intestines), Oligosaccharides (fructans and galacto-oligosaccharides), Disaccarides (lactose), Monosaccharides (fructose), and Polyols (sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol and maltitol). These sugars can be difficult to absorb in the small intestine causing gas (it is in the small intestine where food is broken down and the nutrients are absorbed). Therefore by following the FODMAP diet you might alleviate your IBS symptoms.
Monash University in Australia has been one of the leading researchers into the FODMAP diet and they have created and App which has a food guide showing a foods FODMAP levels.
2) Alkaline diet
The alkaline diet is a helpful way to approach eating especially if you’re new to healthy eating or have digestive disorders. If you choose alkaline food you are eating nutrient-rich healthy food that is good for your body and you’re not eating a lot of the foods (like animal products and gluten) that most people are intolerant to.
Why eat alkaline foods? Research shows that our body like plants, operate better in an alkaline state. Whilst in an acidic state our body struggles leading to diseases, cancers, stress, and poor skin etc. Most alkaline diets recommend that at least 70-80% of your food intake to be alkaline.
Other points to note in my recipes:
Nightshade foods: Some people who have IBS find they can’t have nightshade foods. I am not affected by these foods, so unfortunately if you don’t eat nightshades some of my recipes do include these particular nightshade foods -Tomatoes, Aubergine, Peppers and Chills.
Having a balanced diet: Every day your daily diet should incorporate grains, fruits, vegetables, high calcium product, protein, fats and sweets. The amount of each of these food types that you should consume is different, but the key is even if you cut some foods out of your diet you shouldn’t eliminate a whole food group. This is especially important for vegetarians, vegans and people with gluten intolerances.
Food combining: What foods put on your plate can effect how your body digests the food. Think of your gut as a digestive highway, some foods move more quickly (easier to digest) and some more slowly (harder to digest). You may find by watching what foods you eat together you can aid your digestion.
By following the Low FODMAP and Alkaline diet you are automatically cutting out acidic and sugary foods, which are foods you need to be very careful over what foods you eat them with. Non-starchy vegetables are mainly low alkali vegetables only take 30-45minutes to digest, and therefore can be eaten with anything.
The ones to watch still are what you eat your protein and starches with. After the FODMAP and Alkali diet the proteins that remain are nuts and seeds, beans, eggs, coconut and avocado. Protein takes 3 hours to digest so it is best to eat with non-starchy vegetables and to avoid eating them with starches. Starches/Carbohydrates also take 3 hours to digest (they also release sugars which is another reason to limit your intake of starches, especially if your watching your glycemic levels). Most of my ingredients are non starchy but I do use gluten free grains and beans. Therefore, where possible I limit the combination of these food groups.
In general fruits are best eaten alone, this is because fruit is quick to digest and when eaten alongside other foods it slows the process down, causing the foods to ferment and to gas being produced. I do use fruits in my baking, but as a general rule when you’re having fruits for snacks try and allow 1 hour after eating fruit before your meal, and 2 hours after your meal until you eat fruit.
My recommended foods
Between these 2 areas I have developed my pantry of foods that are neutral to high Alkali Ph levels and are low FODMAP. I have highlighted if there is an exception to the above and which foods are starch and proteins. See my pantry for the nutritional value of the foods.
Bananas (Avoid overripe bananas as they are high FODMAP) (Starch- avoid overly under ripe bananas as they contain more starch)
You may be surprised that Lemons, Limes and oranges are Alkali but they do in fact have an alkalizing effect on the body.
Avocado (Medium FODMAP- Limit to ¼- ½ avocado)
Carrot (Mildly starchy)
Red and Yellow Peppers
Butternut Squash (Medium FODMAP- Limit to ¼- ½ cup) (Starch)
Beans and lentils Medium FODMAP- limit to ¼ cup. Source of protein starch. Some research holds these as mildly acidic but Honestly Healthy hold these food items still as Alkali.
Chickpeas (soaking helps the galactans which make it high FODMAP leach away)
Grains (All starch) Research has been inconsistent here on what grains are acidic and alkaline. Gluten free grains are less acidic and within gluten free grains some are less acidic than others. We do need some acidity in our diet anyway and by reducing the acidity in the other food items I feel it is then ok to have some acidity from grains. I’ve used Honestly Healthy’s data on these foods.
Buckwheat grouts (Medium FODMAP- Limit to 1/2cup)
Oats (Medium FODMAP- limit to 1/2 cup)
Rice and rice flours (Slightly acidic brown and wild are the least acidic)
Nuts and seeds (Proteins) There is conflicting data on nuts alkaline levels. Based upon Honestly Healthy’s research they hold these nuts as alkaline.
Hazelnuts (Medium FODMAP)
Spices and seasoning
Are all mainly low alkali and low FODMAP.
Oils and Fats
Coconut oil and meat (Dried coconut- Is a medium FODMAP- limit intake)
Flax seed oil
Coconut milk and Rice milk
Canola oil (Mildly acidic)
Wild fish (Farmed fish is acidic)
Apple cider vinegar (Very alkaline but other vinegars are acidic)
Cacao powder (Medium FODMAP Limit to 3 tbs per serving) Acidic – but lets face it we need Cacao and if you use Cacoa as opposed to Cocoa at least your getting the added nutrients.
Rice syrup and sugar (Acidic – but Rice syrup and Coconut sugar are less acidic and again some acid is ok if other areas of acidity are reduced).
Baking powder and soda