For the first five or so days after my colonoscopy, I was legitimately scared of my kitchen.
I’m not kidding. I could barely look at it.
And my family is a family of cooks. Our get-togethers always have the best food, and the liveliest conversations happen around the dinner table. I was taught how to cook from a young age. Kitchens just don’t intimidate me.
But Erin and I had spent the past five years of our marriage adjusting to his needs for ulcerative colitis and subsequently readjusting to his needs for IBS instead. We’d finally gotten used to our norms, and then BAM…diagnosis #3 waltzed into our lives, except it was mine this time. I knew how hard those first few months were with Erin (both times), and I was terrified to throw out all of that knowledge to begin again for a third time…with both his needs and mine in mind this time.
But what can you do? With my situation, my options were:
- Starve to death;
- Get sick to death; or
- Figure it out.
I won’t sit here and pretend like I just pulled myself up by the bootstraps and went to work at it. One night (two days after my colonoscopy to be exact), I was laid out on the couch in tears. Weak, exhausted, starving, and not having a clue where to start, I told Erin that I didn’t want to die but I just wanted God to take me. To clarify here, that is not even close to my typical behavior. I am a corporate trainer; I make my living by being the energetic, joyful personality in the room. I skydive and parasail and zipline and swim with dolphins. I love life, y’all. But I did not love it in that moment.
In a desperate attempt to get something in my system, Erin threw together the worst concoction imaginable: egg noodles with some weird sauce made of extra virgin olive oil and a load of spices. My husband is a dear, sweet, wonderful man, but his most accomplished kitchen success up to that point was scrambled eggs. He handed it to me as soon as it was in the bowl, and I swear, half of that bowl-full got stuck to the fork. It looked like a candy-apple-gone-wrong when I picked it up for the first bite…and boy howdy, did it taste bad.
But something magical happened in that moment, too. For the first time in weeks, we truly laughed: laughed for several minutes, then on into the night, and we still laugh about it now. He went to Kroger, bought some items from the deli, and we ate together with smiles on our faces. In that moment, I think we both realized that we were going to make it through this. It might not be pretty, and it might be quite difficult, but we could do it.
And then we went to work.
We’ve spent weeks using pretty much all of our spare time to research PI-IBS and the low-FODMAP diet. There is so much out there that we still don’t know, but we’ve also learned a lot of great information and want to share what we do know in the hope that it will help you as you begin your journey into the land of FODMAPs. We’ve listed some essentials for getting started below:
Appliances, Utensils, Etc.
- Get yourself a really good blender/food processor combo. (And trust me…you’ll need it.) We would highly recommend the Ninja Kitchen System with Auto-iQ (you can find it at Sam’s Club or Amazon). It is tough for everyday use and has all the cool gadgets you’ll need. Seriously…we use it every single day, sometimes multiple times a day. The Ninja blending cups are our favorite, most used part of the system…so convenient for breakfast!
- Make sure you have plenty of measuring cups and spoons. We have three different sets of measuring cups and two sets of spoons, yet we still find ourselves needing more throughout each day. My personal favorites are these adjustable measuring spoons and measuring cups like these from Pampered Chef.
- To go along with that last thought, a measuring conversion chart.
- Storage containers – particularly glass, airtight ones in a wide variety of sizes. You’ll be making a lot of your own sauces and dressings, and if you’re anything like us, leftovers will become your best friend. This kind is wonderful because they are oven-safe (perfect for heating up leftovers!), and we love these for travelling (i.e. taking food to work).
- Really good nonstick baking pans (we have these).
- Mixing bowls (these are my favorites).
- A whisk with a handle that won’t get hot while cooking (like this one). I learned this the hard way (thanks, beautiful stainless steel version!).
- A good set of knives and a peeler.
- A good spice rack with free refills (like this one!).
One of the most difficult parts of this diet is steering clear of onion, garlic, lactose, and gluten. That being said, I’ve outlined a list of pantry staples that you can easily find at a grocery or health food store and are low-FODMAP so you don’t have to research like I did just to get started!
- Garlic oil. We go through a lot of this stuff, because it’s a FODMAP-friendly alternative to actually using garlic. We love the premade garlic oil at a local store here in Arkansas (shout-out to Natural State Olive Oil and Spice Company!), but you can also get some from Amazon or make your own.
- Extra virgin olive oil.
- Udi’s Sandwich Bread (or Udi’s Hamburger Buns, if you prefer). So far, this is the best, non-crumbly, premade gluten-free bread that we’ve found. Keep a package in your freezer at all times. Trust me, some recipes will fail and you’ll be left wondering what to eat (panicking might be a more appropriate word choice here, at least in your first days). By having a loaf at the ready, you can scramble some eggs and make toast or toss together a peanut butter and banana sandwich at a moment’s notice to replace those meals that sound better than they actually are.
- Kinnikinnick has good hamburger buns and other gluten-free bread options, as well.
- Udi’s also has some pretty good premade blueberry muffins, but I much prefer these Krusteaz Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins if there’s time to make them.
- Snyder’s of Hanover Gluten-Free Pretzels, Sea Salt Pop Chips, Fody Food Co. Bar-B-Que Chips, Mary’s Gone Crackers Gluten-Free Real Thin Sea Salt Crackers, and The Good Crisp Company Original Crisps (seriously…these are identical to Pringles). All of these are good to pack in lunches or to use as a side for certain meals.
- Eggs. Even better, locally grown eggs. (For those panicky-scrambled-egg nights or to boil for a snack/salad or sandwich topping…and they’re in many recipes!)
- Peanut butter. You’ll use it a lot, and it’s a great source of protein.
- Unsweetened almond milk.
- Chia seeds. A great source of fiber that you can easily toss in your smoothies without changing the flavor!
- Live Free Low-FODMAP Ranch Dressing.
- Live Free Low-FODMAP Italian Dressing.
- Fody Food Co. Ketchup.
- Organic Dijon Mustard (we like the Organicville brand!).
- Glutino Table Crackers.
- Fody Food Co. Lemon and Herb Seasoning, Steak Seasoning, Chicken Soup Base, Taco Seasoning, and Vegetable Soup Base.
- Fody Food Co. Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce and Marinara Pasta Sauce (we prefer the Tomato Basil, but they are both really good!)
- Salmon, chicken, and Boar’s Head sandwich meats (but make sure you get the kinds that are unseasoned!).
- Fody Food Co. Bar-B-Que Sauce.
- Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Bars. (This is my not-guilty pleasure after dinner most nights! Be careful with your sugars throughout the rest of the day, though.)
- Fruits, such as grapes, strawberries, or cantaloupe. Be sure to check the FODMAPs before buying any fruit…apples, watermelon, pears, peaches, and many others are high-FODMAP.
- Vegetables, such as carrots, zucchini, green beans, and potatoes (watch out for high-FODMAP veggies!).
- Enjoy Life Chocolate Chip Cookies and Snickerdoodle Cookies.
- Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Pizza Crust (this one doesn’t have garlic or onion like most GF crusts!).
Of course you’re going to need a lot of other ingredients, utensils, and typical kitchen equipment, but hopefully this list gives you a good start on your low-FODMAP journey. And if you think think that low-FODMAP dieting is boring and flavorless, let me stop you right there! So many good recipes are headed your way soon.
Now…are you ready to get cooking with me?
**Like what you’ve read so far? Check back in soon for many posts to come featuring low-FODMAP recipes and tips!**