When recalling their most embarrassing IBS moments, many of my clients’ memories are taken to an Italian restaurant scene. They have eaten a delicious, rich pasta meal that contained some cream, garlic and onions, accompanied perhaps by a shared loaf of garlic bread. They had probably eaten a larger portion than normal and may have picked at the well-dressed garlic and onion flavoured salad. What they remember more vividly than the meal is the quick dash to the restaurant bathroom soon after the meal, and some report not even making it in time to avoid an accident. The remainder of the evening is invariably a blur of rushed goodbyes, stomach bloating, more trips to the toilet and vows to never eat pasta again.
On reflection and after they understand the dietary management of IBS using a FODMAP approach, my clients are aware that cream (lactose), garlic (fructans), onion (fructans), wheat pasta (more fructans) and large portions are possibly the worst combination for an IBS sufferer, especially if washed down with a few glasses of vino, which although not high in FODMAP can still irritate the already unhappy gut.
So, what can pasta and Italian food loving IBS sufferers do to manage symptoms while enjoying Italian style food?
Here are my tips for replacing those ingredients that caused the symptoms. We will start with the easy ones.
Cream: Use lactose free cream in cooking or if out and eating a dish that has a sauce, add a few drops of lactase to break down the lactose.
Garlic: Use garlic infused oil that is now widely available at supermarkets. If you make your own, fish out the garlic cloves before you eat it.
Onion: Use fennel or a little celery for the texture and onion infused oil for flavour.
Now to the trickier one – Pasta.
Wheat contains fructans, so IBS sufferers will bloat with durum wheat pasta. Spelt pasta is still high in FODMAPs. Most buckwheat pastas still contain regular wheat. Because gluten free pasta does not contain gluten it disintegrates when cooked. Some gluten free pasta also contains a substantial amount of corn so can be higher FODMAP. Here are some options for you to try.
- Make zucchini spaghetti using a vegetable “spiraler” – this can be blanched or simply adding a hot sauce or pesto will soften enough to eat.
- At some times of year you can find spaghetti squash at the green grocer, cook and strip the flesh using a fork to get “spaghetti”.
- Purchase commercial vegetable based noodles such as “Slendier” noodles made from Konjac.
- Use gluten free pasta or a 100% buckwheat pasta and cook until only just al dente – before it turns to mush.
- For some recipes, rice noodles can be used in place of pasta and can certainly be used instead of wheat noodles in Asian dishes.
Let’s all hope that a great low FODMAP pasta will be available soon for pasta loving IBS sufferers, but in the meantime these are the best options I can think of. Do you have any ideas to add or share? I am sure your fellow IBS sufferers would appreciate any hints you may have.
Contact Kerith directly for advice about eating out while following a low FODMAP diet.
Blogged by Kerith Duncanson – June 2015