Recently as I was celebrating my birthday on a culinary/bar crawl trip to Mexico with my friends, the low-FODMAP diet came up in conversation, and it went something like this: “Hey Colleen, is this FOOD-MAP or FODMAP? Can I eat this? Can I drink this beer or it FODMAPped?” And as I was discussing different low and high-FODMAP options on our summery-hot day in Tijuana, another friend started talking about unicorn poop. Yes, unicorn poop – brightly colored, swirly, rainbow poop. They then began to share this video with me and it changed my pooping experience forever:
If you are not laughing after this video, well, I guess we don’t share the same sense of humor. This video is hysterical, and the close-up of him licking the unicorn poop off his lips is just…oh it makes me very uncomfortable. You might’ve thought at first that this was just some joke, but Squatty Potty really nailed this – it’s one of the best commercials I’ve ever seen.
It’s the Squatty Potty end of the summer blowout! (Yes pun intended). Now you can get a FREE Porta-Squatty ($20 value) with minimum purchase of $39.00. Click here to get squatting!
Proof is in the Poop
I bet you might be saying: “So what gives with Squatty Potty, does it work?”
After my trip to Mexico and having re-played their video a few times, I called them up and said I had to try one out. I am big on reviews and they were really good (read some hereand here with 4.5 stars and 4,438 customer reviews). Unicorn poop aside, this company is legit and run by the lovely Edwards family in Utah. If you like Shark Tank as much as I do, you can check out how they faired with the sharks here.
The Edwards family has a few medical case studies for your reading pleasure. Like this study in particular, Influence of Body Position on Defecation in Humans, concludes that the greater the hip flexion achieved by squatting, the straighter the rectoanal canal will be, and accordingly, less strain will be required for defecation.
I was sent the ECCO model. Did it work for me? I’ll get very personal and say absolutely. I am more constipation prone (IBS-C) and still have episodes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), but since I found the low-FODMAP diet, bouts of IBS are very rare these days. When IBS does hit, it’s more around the time of menstruation and women with IBS may have more symptoms during their menstrual periods (it’s no secret why more ladies then men get IBS). Also, after having a baby in 2015, some things have not been the same (hola to all the mommas – you get it). So a couple weeks ago when constipation was incessant around that lovely “time of the month,” I gave my Squatty Potty a try and experienced a gentler rendezvous on the throne. It’s changed the way I poop and the way I feel. How’s THAT for a testimonial? Hey it’s not easy sharing such personal stuff, but I am happier now and maybe just maybe, you will be too if you give the Squatty Potty a try.
The Squatty Potty ECCO – more info:
The Ecco toilet stool works perfectly for families of any size and is incredibly durable and easy to clean. If you appreciate the simple things in life, then this is your toilet stool. Transform your toilet into an elimination station.
Full disclosure – I reached out to Squatty Potty and they sent me product for free. If you click on a link like this or others in this post that lead you to their site and you make a purchase, I will get a commission. Those commissions are great as they help pay for my blogging expenses and allow me to keep working feverishly to bring you great content about the low-FODMAP diet, IBS and…pooping. Happy pooping!
Ughhh…being bloated, distended or constipated (pardon my French) sucks! You may be sitting somewhere right now (at work, in your car, about to get on a plane, at dinner, at an event), feeling like you can’t get out of the way from your bloated self (and you wore your slightly tight jeans/pants today with a button that’s pressing into your abdomen *facepalm*)!
The distention and pain is annoying and fills you with anxiety. It’s hard to put on a happy face when you feel so sick and sluggish.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can be visible (bloating, distention) or invisible (abdominal pain, diarrhea, fatigue, depression, hopelessness). I wish there was more awareness around IBS so people like you and me could just have friends, family and co-workers that understand. Maybe someday we can all help to grow awareness to a point where IBS is more understood and accepted as something REAL and not interpreted as something in our heads….for now, let’s focus on you.
While the low-FODMAP diet is a great dietary approach to help relieve symptoms of IBS, sometimes we need a little more than diet to help.
When you’re having stressful IBS moments, there might be other things you can do. I’ve listed some recommendations below for products you can try.
Please note that everything I’ve listed below is purely for educational purposes and it is best to discuss most of them (like supplements) with your physician.
*Remember, at the present time there is no cure for IBS, and no magical pill to take care of your symptoms, but there is hope through alternative means.
*Typically when someone is following the low-FODMAP diet, a FODMAP-trained nutritionist will suggest not taking any supplements so as to receive a more accurate indication of possible triggers of IBS. If before or after you have tried the low-FODMAP diet and want to try the products below, all supplements listed appear to be low in FODMAPs due to the ingredients used (no lactose, wheat, or FODMAPs such as fructooligosaccharides).
Several products are available to help with constipation and diarrhea but many are made with FODMAPs or ingredients you may not necessarily need. When in doubt, use products that have the least amount of ingredients and go natural! I personally use psyllium husk to help with constipation and it can also be used to help with diarrhea. It can also help with hemorrhoids and IBD. Dr. Kevin Curran, founder of EthnoHerbalist goes into more detail about the benefits of psyllium husk. Please read his article here. Dr. Curranholds a PhD in molecular biology and currently serves as a professor at the University of San Diego, teaching courses on Cell Biology and Ethnobotany.
Learn more from the University of Maryland Medical Center about other uses, precautions and possible interactions.
Peppermint Enteric-Coated Capsules:
Another natural option to help with symptoms of IBS, I have found peppermint enteric-coated capsulesto be helpful when I feel bloated like a Macy’s Day Parade balloon! On their own, peppermint enteric-coated capsules don’t completely relieve me, but they do help. They may work for you – just remember, we are all different and every gut is different in the way it responds or reacts to supplements, food, stress, the environment and therapy.
Peppermint has been shown to be a calcium channel blocker of muscle. What that means is peppermint has the ability to block calcium shifts within muscle cells, enabling muscles to relax.
As reported in the New York Times Well Blog: “In a report financed by the American College of Gastroenterology and published in the journal BMJ in 2008, scientists conducted an analysis of previous studies comparing peppermint oil with placebo in about 400 patients. Ultimately, they found that only 26 percent of patients treated with peppermint oil — typically administered twice daily in capsule form, for a period of one to three months — continued to show symptoms of I.B.S. after treatment, compared with 65 percent of those who were given placebo. The scientists concluded that the evidence was compelling enough that more studies should be conducted, and that in the interim, ‘current national guidelines for the management of the condition should be updated to include these data.'”
Any organic Peppermint tea may help to ease your gut but another tea I really like is Smooth Move Tea by Traditional Medicinals. This tea has not been tested for FODMAPs,however, it may help when you have constipation. When needed, I drink this tea before bedtime and then drink a glass of tepid water in the morning and usually find relief not too long after – which means that if you have this tea make sure you’re not planning on running out of the house early the next morning or partaking in vigorous exercise – you WILL need a bathroom close by :). I also like to take this tea with me when I travel because traveling often sets off constipation. You can see the ingredients here.
When taken right before a meal, digestive enzymesmay help to break down difficult-to-digest proteins, starches and fats into compounds that make nutrients easier to digest, and they can also decrease the number of colonized microorganisms in the stomach. Digestive enzymes help the stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder and small intestine to not have to work as hard. Digestive enzyme production declines with age so people 35 years and older may benefit more from taking them. Your doctor may also suggest hydrochloric acid supplements. Other health issues that may respond well to digestive enzymes are: Crohn’s disease, liver disease, hypochlorhydria, deficiencies in iron, vitamins B12, D and A.
Pancreatic enzymes may bring on some mild relief when taken with meals. They can help digest and break down foods, keeping food particles from wandering too far and deep into the gastrointestinal tract and so the bacteria is essentially starved. Speak with your physician before use.
That’s right. A water bottle. Something very simple yet so effective! I bet most people reading this post do not drink enough water. I carry a large water bottle around with me all day to stay hydrated. When empty, I fill it right back up and continue drinking. Sometimes I add ice and lemon juice.
When my gut is all bent out of shape I reach for chicken broth. It’s warm and soothing, easily digestible, low in calories and fat and rich in a few minerals. I either make my own chicken broth at home (there’s a recipe in my book The Everything® Low-FODMAP Diet Cookbook) or I use this brand which is low in FODMAPs based on the ingredients used:
If constipation strikes do you ask yourself: “Have I moved enough today?” Often times we become constipated because we haven’t exercised or moved enough. A simple 15-30 minute walk might do wonders for you. In order to track my activity for the day and to encourage more steps and movement, I use the FitBit Zip Wireless pedometer. I also make sure I’m drinking enough water and eating low-FODMAP sources of fiber.
When sitting back with a heating pad, if you have the opportunity, close your eyes and use that time to meditate. Your mind and the rest of your body may also relax, leaving you feeling much better than anticipated. If meditating solo is not your thing (or you have difficulty silencing your mind as many of us do), connect headphones to your phone and use a self-guided meditation app or check out some free meditations online.
Self-Guided Meditation Apps and Online Meditation:
Those following a Low-FODMAP diet may cringe at having to restrict their diet even further, however eating less sodium is very important for good health.
About 90% of Americans consume too much sodium according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), increasing their risk of high blood pressure. Americans consume about 3,400 mg of sodium each day, and the majority of sodium eaten is already present in foods before purchase or preparation.
Over 3 / 4 of our sodium intake is from processed foods. It turns out that very little of our sodium intake comes from the salt shaker – only about 6%. Since most of our salt intake comes from processed and packaged foods, below are some key methods for how to reduce this major source of sodium (often the hidden sodium) in our diets:
Eat fewer processed and prepared foods and more whole foods. Bread/Crackers are one of the main sources for sodium in a typical American diet. You want to carefully check the sodium counts per serving on all nutrition labels, especially Gluten-Free foods.
Eat less or moderate amounts of cheese. Cheese tastes good, however lactose is a FODMAP and can cause problems when too much is consumed (even of an allowed cheese).
Check sodium amounts and add them up. You may think that you are not eating a lot of sodium, however when you total up the amount per meal and per day you may be surprised at how much you are eating!
Look for Low-Salt versions of Low-FODMAP foods. *Look for low-sodium versions of deli meat such as Low-Sodium Turkey Breast because deli meat often has a lot of sodium. Buy chicken stock with “No Added Salt” while also free of onion/garlic (to be free of FODMAPs) because canned/boxed soups have a lot of sodium (Swanson’s makes one in the USA ). Look for “No Added Salt” Tuna Fish because canned fish often is high is sodium (Trader Joe’s makes a good one).
Use salt-free, low-FODMAP herbs/spices (fresh are best) liberally to add flavor. Start an herb garden inside or outside for a continuing supply of herbs/spices such as green onion tops, rosemary, basil, thyme, dill, oregano, spearmint/peppermint, sage, etc. Adding flavor without salt is easy if one takes the time to find and use low-salt or salt-free low-FODMAP herbs/spices. Using infused oils such as garlic-, shallot-, or truffle-infused oil are great ways to add flavor without salt and you only need a small amount to add flavor without FODMAPs (fructans are not soluble in oil and should not cause FODMAP-related issues).
A low-sodium recipe from my website (SalTrax.com) and adapted for Low-FODMAP:
Flavorful Low-Sodium and Low-FODMAP Chicken Soup
1 whole chicken or cut up parts
8 c. cold water
1 c. celery, large slices
1 c. carrots, whole
1 tsp. garlic-infused oil
1 tsp. shallot-infused oil
Parsley, bunch (and/or other fresh herbs of your choice)
1/4 tsp pepper or 3-4 peppercorns and 2 tsp. table salt – divided
Place chicken or chicken parts in a large dutch oven.
Add cold water and rest of the ingredients except for salt; bring to a boil.
Simmer for 2 hours.
Add 1 tsp salt halfway through cooking and 1 tsp at end of cooking.
Remove chicken and vegetables from broth and refrigerate broth overnight.
Remove hardened fat from surface on next day and remove bones and skin from chicken and discard. Remove and discard any overcooked mushy vegetables.
Refrigerate meat and vegetables.
Next day, add chicken and vegetables to the broth after fat is skimmed off.
*Optional: add fresh quartered potatoes or cooked rice (uncooked rice absorbs too much of the chicken broth); sliced celery, sliced carrots, and parsley to the soup. Boil and simmer until vegetables are tender (30 -45 min). Serve warm
Resources for more information about eating a low-sodium diet:
A bit about me: After years of digestive troubles, I became very ill five years ago and was finally diagnosed with Fructose Malabsorption by an astute allergist. In the past five years it has been quite the journey of learning what foods my body can tolerate and which ones throw me into horrible symptoms. I seem to be holding my own now following the Low Fodmap diet; I eat gluten-free, low-sodium, and dairy-free in addition to pretty strictly following the diet. Since going dairy-free a year ago, my frequent migraine headaches are gone. Before I knew dairy was the culprit I wrongly thought that I couldn’t tolerate tomatoes or carrots. I now am able to eat a small amount of tomatoes and carrots which is wonderful. I especially enjoy eating them when they are fresh from the Farmer’s Market.
Colleen and I had met online several years ago through one of the Facebook Low-Fodmap support groups, however due to various scheduling conflicts we had not had the chance to meet. Finally meeting Colleen in person recently at the annual San Diego Gluten Free / Allergy Free Expo was a real treat.
This year at Expo West 2016 I had the pleasure of meeting the crew behind an awesome brand, SafeCatch. I’m big into seafood, but especially seafood that’s done right. I’m talking tuna in this case – canned tuna. Yeah, that’s right – canned tuna can be amazing if you try SafeCatch. Have you ever thought (dreamed, hoped) that tuna could be tastier and healthier for you? Well you don’t have to put up with boring tuna any longer. Ever since I tried SafeCatch I have been hooked (ah hem, pardon the pun).
About SafeCatch and Why They Rock
You might have read an older post of mine where I talk about SafeCatch, but if not, here’s the lowdown again: SafeCatch has a pretty meticulous protocol for testing every single fish for high levels of mercury. They have the strictest mercury limits of any brand and their product Safe Catch Elite is the only tuna brand that passes Consumer Reports “Low Mercury” criteria for pregnant women and kids.
Make sure you grab the SafeCatch coupon below with my recipe!
Safe Catch also tastes exceptional. If you weren’t aware, most canned tuna companies pre-cook their tuna and use additives and fillers to put flavor back into the fish. These brands will put the tuna on racks which drains out over 80% of the natural omega-3s and added benefits. In order to really appreciate Safe Catch, you would need to try it yourself. When I had a taste test I thought it was like having freshly caught tuna, grilled and served to me. Safe Catch doesn’t remove the delicious juices from the fish, so you get the full flavor of the fish and a nice dose of Omega 3s with every bite. The way they do it is by using a unique cooking process called ‘Raw Packing’ where they take hand cut tuna steaks and pack them in the can, and cook in the can to retain 100% of the Omega-3s, natural vitamins and minerals. They also don’t add any broth, oil, or water to their tuna. Safe Catch tuna is just cooked in its natural fish oils for a very fresh flavor!
“Our baby boy Dylan loves Safe Catch tuna right out of the can. It feels great to feed him tuna that builds his brain without the fear of unknown mercury levels. I believe purity is a key link to health and biodiversity. I want to protect purity in our oceans, lakes, and rivers for the next generation.”
What else is awesome about Safe Catch?
Safe Catch is non-GMO and BPA free and dolphin safe
Safe Catch tuna is traceable from catch to can and they only buy from captains whose fish come from managed and sustainable stocks
Their limit for Safe Catch Elite Wild Tuna is ten times (10x) stricter than the FDA mercury action limit and their limit for Wild Albacore Tuna is three times (3x) stricter than the FDA mercury action limit
If one fish doesn’t meet their purity standards they don’t buy it
They don’t add any fillers or additives, unless where salt is noted, they don’t add anything except tuna.
I can’t see myself purchasing any other brand now other than Safe Catch. If you want to make the most awesome tuna salad, tuna casserole, tuna tomato and bacon sandwich or tuna melt, go to this link for the Safe Catch store finder.
President, Co-Founder, SafeCatch
“I want people to have access to affordable and healthy seafood. The choices consumers make impact our food and ecosystems. I think people are excited to implement solutions to protect purity. My goal is to put the need to test for impurities out of business.”
Along with my delicious recipe today, I was able to secure a coupon for you from SafeCatch! When you shop online, get 15% your entire order with the promo code: FODMAPLIFE Happy Shopping here on SafeCatch.com!
Low-FODMAP Tuna Salad with Grapes and Turmeric
2 medium red bell peppers (or 1 pepper, *see notes)
Cut tops off of red bell peppers and clean out seeds. Apply olive oil to outside of peppers. Place in glass casserole dish and broil on high for 2-4 minutes or until slightly charred on top. Remove from oven and place on two plates lined with butter lettuce.
Place tuna, grapes, turmeric, cayenne pepper, mayonnaise and macadamia nuts in food processor and pulse until nuts are chopped.
Spoon tuna salad into peppers and remaining on butter lettuce (*you can also serve tuna salad in half of one red bell pepper and remaining tuna on one butter lettuce leaf). Enjoy with one serving of crackers made with low-FODMAP ingredients such as Crunchmaster Multi-Seed Crackers.
Recently I had the chance to interview Laura Kalac, Business Development and Marketing Manager for FODMAP Friendly. She had some pretty exciting news to share about low-FODMAP products and also explains the way the FODMAP Friendly certification program works. Read on!
Incorporating the FODMAP Friendly logo, the FODMAP Friendly certification program is the only registered certification trademark worldwide certifying FODMAP levels in food products that have been laboratory tested to be low in FODMAP’s. It is designed to enable consumers with symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) who are following a Low FODMAP diet to easily identify and select suitable packaged food products. This easily recognizable “FODMAP Friendly” logo assists people with such symptoms to shop and eat with confidence.
Colleen Francioli: For your certification program, how long is the average turnaround in getting one product tested and certified?
Laura Kalac: All new manufacturers must first submit a preliminary application form. Our team of experts then screen the products in the office, and arrange for testing via DTS Food Labs – Australia’s largest food testing laboratory. Testing is usually completed with a ten day turnaround, after which time eligible brands are granted a FODMAP Friendly license and Certification for the approved products.
CF: Do you have any advice to lend for someone who is developing a product and wants to get certified?
LK: Creating FODMAP Friendly products is a fantastic initiative to service those 1 in 7 individuals affected by IBS type symptoms, using a diet low in FODMAPs to manage their condition! However, for a manufacturer not as familiar with high and low FODMAP containing ingredients, there may be a little trial and error involved. We work with prospective manufacturers and provide guidance where we can, to assist and support in this process. Ultimately everything has to be independently tested to be verified, but we can definitely help with the initial process. Obviously due to our experience specifically in this area we are very knowledgeable in the process.
CF: What is the main reason why any products fail the first round of testing?
LK: Products which fail to pass FODMAP testing do so for one main reason. The overall ratio of ingredients in a product is too high in total FODMAPs to be deemed eligible for approval. In this instance it is suggested that the ratio of ingredients be adjusted accordingly, or modified in some way.
Knowing the specific FODMAP content of each ingredient is vital when combining them to make the end product.
CF: How many products did you test in 2013? How many in 2015? How many so far in 2016?
LK: Many products have been independently tested to date! We currently have over 400 tested foods, with many more in the works throughout 2016. So far this year we have tested close to 100 products.
CF: How many U.S. brands have utilized your certification program?
LK: There are several brands in the midst of having products tested, and one manufacturer with a range of products is now licensed and their products will be launched in the next few months with quite a large marketing campaign – this is very exciting as it is the first US brand to be Certified as FODMAP Friendly!
Keep up with news from FODMAP Friendly by following them on social and check out their blog! Comment below with the types of products you’d like to see certified low-FODMAP!
There’s been a lot of back and forth about rice milk and whether or not it’s low or high in FODMAPs. Monash University had warned us in August of 2015 and in earlier reports that rice milk had an overall rating of HIGH when consumed at a 1/4 or 1/2 cup. I am happy to share with you that rice milk has definitely received the green light to be low in FODMAPs.
Stick to a low-FODMAP serving of 200ml, otherwise high quantities could mean high amounts of the FODMAP fructans (the “O” in FODMAP, Oligosaccharides)
Dr. Jane Muir, Head of Translational Nutrition Science in the Department of Gastroenterology, Central Clinical School, Monash University and her team have conducted some further testing and analyzing and reported on Sunday that rice milk is LOW in FODMAPs. That’s great news for vegans, vegetarians and anyone that enjoys non-dairy milk.
Here’s a snippet from their blog post: “We have now reviewed the rating for rice milk and will be modifying this accordingly. We have given a safe (low level green rating) for 200 ml of rice milk per sitting. The results for the Australian, UK and US will be in the app very soon. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused – but this is science in action! and part of the ongoing research and refinement of the Monash University Low FODMAP diet. Be careful: There are still some fructans present in some rice milks and therefore we do not recommend very high quantities of rice milk in one sitting.” You can take a look at the full post here.
And since we are on the topic, here are other non-dairy milk options for you that are low in FODMAPs, with low-FODMAP servings:
Almond milk (1 cup)
Coconut milk, canned (1/2 cup)
Coconut (UHT-ultra high temperature) (1/2 cup) (150 ml, moderate in FODMAPs)
Oat milk (1/8 cup)
Hemp milk (1 cup)
Soy milk (soy protein 1 cup)
Soya milk unsweetened (hulled soya beans) (1/4 cup) (1/2 cup moderate in FODMAPs)*contains moderate amounts of Oligos-GOS. Limit intake
It’s great to see the low-FODMAP diet getting so much press! Just the other day Peter Loftus of the Wall Street Journal helped to promote awareness of the diet in his article – take a look: More Options to Treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Here are some other recent articles where the low-FODMAP diet has been mentioned: