Until this past month, I had never been on a cruise and was never really interested. I tend to like to create my own adventures, on my own time, often with a bit of spontaneity. This all changed when my cousin asked if I would go on a cruise to celebrate my Uncle turning 70 years old. I couldn’t pass up such a special occasion and even better, she told me we would be celebrating Disney-style.
It wasn’t until a few years back when this same lovely cousin went on a Disney Cruise Line vacation that I learned Disney actually was a part of the cruise business, and wow are they ever! After sailing with Disney I think it would be hard to sail with any other cruise line. I heard Princess Cruises were pretty legit so I could see myself sailing with them at some point, but I was totally wowed by Disney and here’s why:
Various opportunities throughout the day to see Mickey, Minnie and other characters walking around the boat. Kids (and starry eyed adults) can have their picture taken or get in a little hug or two
If you can’t make it to an allotted time for a meal there’s always food to enjoy somewhere on board
The Disney Fantasy ship I was on was gorgeous with wood trim, beautifully equipped staterooms, and very clean. It’s the length of four football fields and over 200 feet high!
This past month I had the opportunity to take a cruise through the Caribbean
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.
When I hear the word “casserole” I immediately think “warm, satisfying, home cooked,” and there’s nothing better than a comforting meal! I’ve been creating some recipes lately with Safe Catch and just loving the taste and consistency of their canned tuna. My latest recipe is a Low-FODMAP Tuna Casserole that’s delicious and easy to make. Make it tonight and enjoy the leftovers this week!
Learn why I love Safe Catch tuna over other canned tuna brands in this post!
Along with my delicious recipe today, I was able to secure a coupon for you from SafeCatch! When you shop online, get 15% off your entire order with the promo code: FODMAPLIFE Happy Shopping here on SafeCatch.com!
Low-FODMAP Tuna Casserole
3 ½ tablespoons butter, divided (see *note)
1 ½ medium carrots, peeled and cut into thin rounds
1/8 teaspoon wheat-free asafetida powder
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 ½ cups frozen green beans, thawed for 10-15 minutes
2 tablespoons gluten-free panko bread crumbs (such as Ian’s)
Add a ½ tablespoon butter into a medium-sized skillet on medium-high heat. Add in carrots, asafetida powder, then oregano, thyme and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Stir occasionally for about 2-3 minutes. Add in green beans and stir well to coat with butter and seasonings.
Lower heat to medium. Add in 1 tablespoon butter and slowly whisk in flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Add in milk and salt; continue whisking until well combined.
Add in pasta, tuna and cheddar cheese and whisk until combined or cheese is slightly melted.
Add all ingredients to lightly greased 8 x 8″ glass casserole dish.
In a microwave, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a small bowl with bread crumbs. Sprinkle bread crumbs over casserole dish and add remaining freshly ground black pepper. Bake for 20-25 minutes on 375°F.
*Notes – if you are more IBS-D prone, negate the last 2 tablespoons butter (step 5.) and just top casserole with dry bread crumbs or spray bread crumbs lightly with natural butter spray.
I am very pleased to announce that in just a couple weeks I will be presenting a class at the Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo taking place in Schaumburg, IL, right outside of Chicago. If you or someone you know has Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) please let them know about this expo and tell them about my class.
My class, “How to Use the Low-FODMAP Diet to Ease Symptoms of IBS” will take place on Saturday May 14th from 3-4p.m. I will cover a wide variety of topics related to the low-FODMAP diet and share tips and advice to help you on your low-FODMAP journey to a healthier gut and better digestion.
Thank you and please share this post with friends and family. If you haven’t bought your copy of my book yet, The Everything® Low-FODMAP Diet Cookbook, purchase it from these booksellers and bring it to the class so I can sign a copy for you: Amazon: http://goo.gl/wDxqnO, Barnes & Noble: goo.gl/Z8W2e5, Indiebound: goo.gl/VtWxW9 and Target: http://goo.gl/b5kHfA. Publisher: F+W Media.
I will have a limited amount of copies of my book on hand so buying online is preferred. Thank you – I’m looking forward to meeting you on May 14th!
Have you ever been to Sonoma? I haven’t. I’ve only had the pleasure of visiting Napa, to go tasting at a few wineries, enjoy delicious food and say “yes!” to my husband when he proposed. So Napa has a special place in my heart but I’ve heard I may like Sonoma even more. My sommelier friends have told me that the soul of Sonoma is much different than Napa. David Bolling for Great American Country writes: “Sonoma really is unique. There’s no place in California, nor the entire country, that combines beauty, history, wine and real estate into a genuine community.” One of these days I will visit Sonoma, but in the meantime, I’ve got Sonoma Syrup Co. on my mind.
Sonoma Syrup Co. was founded in 2002 by Karin Campion. A lifelong resident of California, Karin created her company to “capture and share the quintessential flavors of Sonoma.” Her Infused Simple Syrups were first made using her own kitchen garden. Drawing upon her experience with botanicals, cooking, design and her family life is how she develops a wide variety of foods for different clients.
There are a few products available from Sonoma Syrup like American Artisan Infused Simple Syrups, as well as Extract Blends, Bar Mixers, and Apple Cider Infused Drinking Vinegar. The possibilities for recipes using all of these products seems endless! You can check out all of their products online or buy them through these retailers. Today I will share recipes using some of the syrups and delicious apple cider infused drinking vinegar (up to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar is low in FODMAPs according to Monash University – and that’s good news because some people believe it may help soothe their gut).
Before I share my first recipe using Sonoma Syrup Co.’s products, have you ever heard of a shrub? I learned how to make one by checking out Michael Dietsch’s recipe for a Cold-Processed Shrub on Serious Eats. He describes a shrub as “an acidulated beverage made of fruit juice, sugar, and other ingredients…prior to the invention of refrigeration, a shrub syrup was a means of preserving fruit long past its picking. Shrubs were popular in Colonial America, mixed with cool water to provide a pick-me-up on hot summer days.”
Michael also points out that acid varies by different shrub recipes, and that some recipes call for either fruit juice or vinegar and some shrub recipes are prepared using alcohol that steeps with the fruit, acid, and sugar.
I made a shrub using Sonoma Syrup Co.’s Apple Cider Infused Drinking Vinegar and absolutely loved the outcome. If you’re wondering what you can do after you’ve made your shrub, I have a few ideas for you:
Use your shrub as an apéritif or as an alternative to bitters in a low-FODMAP cocktail
Use one part Cold-Pressed Strawberry Raspberry Shrub (recipe below) and add to four parts of a low-FODMAP serving of alcohol such as champagne or sparkling wine
Add a ½ oz of shrub and about ½ oz still water to a glass of your favorite red table wine (courtesy of www.shrubdrinks.com)
Add one part shrub of choice to four parts water in a microwaveable mug with a slice of lemon. Microwave until hot and then add and a slice of fresh ginger.
Use one part shrub to four parts water or soda water (soda water is carbonated and can sometimes trigger gas or bloating -test your individual tolerance)
“We strive to be as authentic and genuine as our fresh all-natural flavors and use only ingredients made by nature.” Sonoma Syrup Co.
Cold-Pressed Strawberry Raspberry Shrub
Makes about 20 to 24 ounces of shrub syrup, enough to make anywhere from 10 to 20 drinks, depending on how much syrup is used per drink. Use remaining fruit to put back into your cocktail or mocktail, or add to lactose-free vanilla ice cream.
Place berries or fruit in bowl. Cover with sugar and stir.
Cover with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator until juice exudes from fruit and starts to combine with sugar to form syrup. This may take only 5 or 6 hours, or it may need a couple of days. A longer maceration won’t harm anything, so feel free to leave it in fridge longer than it might need.
Strain syrup from fruit. Press lightly on solids to express any remaining juice/syrup. Scrape remaining sugar into syrup.
Add vinegar and whisk to combine.
Pour through funnel into clean bottle. Cap and shake vigorously, and mark date on bottle. Store in refrigerator.
Check periodically. Some sugar may remain undissolved for up to a few days. Shake to combine. After about a week, acids in juice and vinegar should dissolve sugar entirely.
Store shrub for up to a year in the refrigerator. The acid and sugar will preserve the syrup.
Sonoma Darling (as shown in photo above)
Enjoy this original Low-FODMAP cocktail recipe that’s perfect for warm weather or after a long day’s work.
1 oz. Cold-Pressed Strawberry Raspberry Shrub
1 oz. vodka (gluten-free vodka for celiac or gluten-sensitivity)
Optional – top with 3-4 fresh berries or fruit leftover from shrub
Optional – garnish with candied ginger
Combine shrub, vodka, syrup, and lemon juice. Stir well until combined.
Add in ice cubes and fruit and garnish with candied ginger.
Hope you enjoyed the recipes above, I look forward to seeing what you will do with Sonoma Syrup Co. products! Check back for more of my recipes using Sonoma Syrup Co.’s Mint, Lavender and Meyer Lemon flavors.
Other facts you may appreciate about Sonoma Syrup Co.:
Sonoma Syrups are handcrafted in small batch kettles
Their bottles are made of recyclable and compostable materials
They source locally and organic as much as possible and are close to non-GMO verification
Their fruit is natural and picked from organic orchards, fresh botanicals from organic gardens and their sugar is pure cane
*With respect to the vodka used above or for any alcoholic drink -please remember alcohol is a gut irritant and the suggested serving is one serving for women and up to two for men. Consider limiting alcohol when on the low-FODMAP diet so you can keep your gut calm and more accurately pinpoint your potential IBS triggers. Also remember alcohol content can vary from one serving of one drink to another.
*Though I was compensated for this review, all the thoughts and opinions are my own. I do not publish reviews unless I full-heartedly love the products I’ve been given to test out. If you’d like to send a product to me I will gladly take a look/taste-test to see if I like it and would be up to sharing it with my fans who have IBS and other FGIDs.