Thanksgiving with Food Intolerances

Thanksgiving with Food Intolerances

Learning to eat following a FODMAP diet in your own home is tricky enough, but it can be very daunting when you get an invite out.  This Thanksgiving, The Husband, The Kid, and I have been invited out to a friends place for Thanksgiving dinner.  Even thought they are dear friends, I am still nervous about the whole thing, so I thought I’d give myself a list of things to do before I try to celebrate Thanksgiving with Food Intolerances.

Have Platter, will Turkey!
Have Platter, will Turkey!

In some ways, successfully eating out when you have a food intolerance seems a bit like waging a war: 90% preparation, 1% action, and 9% waiting around for the worst to happen.  So here’s my plan:

Gutsy Broads Top 10 List for Eating Dinner out as a Guest

1) Call the Hostess to let them know, or remind them, that I have food intolerances.  This is the hardest thing for me to do, because I don’t look sick, I don’t want other people to pity me, and I hate explaining an intolerance to eggs, dairy and what the heck a FODMAP is.  I’m lucky that the hostess for this year’s Thanksgiving Dinner knows that I have food intolerances, so I will assume (which I know is a dangerous thing) that she’s waiting for me to call and help her out.

2) When talking with the Hostess, I will ask about the main course she is planning on serving.  Thanksgiving is usually turkey, so I’m hoping she’s not planning on serving it drenched in a heavy garlic cream sauce or something.  If the turkey will be cooked simply and just the gravy will be off limits for me, I’ll know just to stay away from the gravy.  Because of my dairy intolerance, if she’s planning on serving a butterball turkey I may have to do some heavy strategizing.  I’m not going to tell her what she can or cannot cook so I will plan on taking a teeny piece for my plate and asking my husband to quietly steal it during dinner.

3) Also when talking with the Hostess, I will ask about side dishes.  Usually it’s potatoes – if her plans are to prepare it in a way I’m uncomfortable with I can offer to bring my own baked potato.  She will probably then offer to nuke a potato for me –  if she doesn’t that’s no big deal.

4) I may slip in a question about dessert.  I will already feel like I am grilling her, so depending on how the conversation is going I’ll decide whether to approach this or not.  I can always pass on dessert – there’s always at least one annoying person at every dinner party who refuses dessert, it might as well be me.

5) I will offer to bring something.  Actually, I already know that I’m responsible for bringing the salad, so I’ll make sure that it, and the dressing, is low FODMAP. I will then feel comfortable loading up my plate with it.

What else can I add?
What else can I add?

6) Before going to the dinner, I will eat something filling at home.  Making sure that you are ‘sort of’ full before going out for dinner seems counter-productive, but it is a tried and true strategy.

7) I will take two things to dinner (besides the salad):  A positive attitude and a purse with a couple of safe granola bars. I may take an appetiser if I feel brave.

8) I will go easy on the alcohol.  I know that I need to stay alert during dinner, and getting blasted isn’t conducive to that. Sigh.

9) I will not make a fuss at dinner.  If all I have on my plate is a piece of turkey (inedible or not), a baked potato and my salad – that will be fine.  Having something on my plate is less of a distraction for other guests than having an empty plate at the table.

10) I will be prepared in case I ingest something that sets off my stomach.  I always like to wait about an hour after eating something I’m unsure of, just to see if my stomach will reject it or not.  So, not eating dessert, sipping my wine or tea, and then chatting while cleaning up the dishes will give me time to decide if I’m ok to get in the car and head home.  My purse will have my emergency kit (extra underwear, etc.) just in case.  Having this with me gives me some comfort and helps reduce my stress which can make a mild symptom much worse.

Contents of my kit.
Contents of my kit.

My plan is to do what I can to make sure I can accomplish the real goal of Thanksgiving dinner: spending time with family and friends, enjoying each other’s company.

Hopefully this list can help you if you’ve been invited out to Thanksgiving dinner!

Top 10 Foods I wish I could easily buy at the Grocery Store

Top 10 Foods I wish I could easily buy at the Grocery Store

I’ve been on the FODMAP diet for over a year now, with amazing results, and I think that one of the few things that is still a thorn in my side is the list of foods I wish I could easily buy at the grocery store.

I shop at two places on a regular basis – a nation-wide mainstream grocery store and a local, natural foods grocery store.

The national chain store is getting better at providing foods for those of us with more selective dietary needs.  There is a ‘gluten free’ section, sitting beside a ‘dairy alternative’ area.  I’ve been able to hunt and peck a few safe prepared products from the main shelves of the store as well, so as a result I do the majority of my shopping here for me and my family.

However, I’m very grateful for having a local natural foods store a short drive a way.  I keep a list on fridge of the things I buy there regularly, and circle the items as I run out of them during the week.  As soon as I’m out of 2 or 3 things, I’m off!

These are things I regularly purchase at my local natural foods store

As wonderful as it is to have access to both styles of selection, there are some things that I really miss.

Here are the Top 10 foods I wish I could easily buy at the grocery store:

  1. Salad dressing – I make some very good ones from scratch, but it would be nice just to pick up a FODMAP free dressing at the store, or be able to tell my mom that it’s the one I can have.  As a bonus, I would like it to do double duty as a marinade for chicken, pork or fish (no, I don’t ask for much from my condiments, do I?)
  2. Barbeque sauce – I have attempted a few recipes for FODMAP free barbeque sauces, but I haven’t come up with a really good one yet.
  3. Canned soup – this winter, when The Family was laid low with colds and flu, I would have paid dearly for a prepared soup that was guaranteed FODMAP free.  Too many have dairy, or use the nebular ‘seasonings’ in their ingredient list.  If I can’t breathe with a head cold, the last thing I want is to be running to the bathroom because I accidentally ingested garlic or onion!
  4. A bigger selection of dairy alternatives.  I am completely off dairy milk and try to  limit my intake of goat and soy products.  I miss my old recipes that called for mozzarella or cream cheese or ice cream and that sort of thing.  Something like ice cream often has egg product added to it, and eggs give me a terrible reaction… so I just stay away now.
  5. Chocolate bar – I never really used to be tempted by the selection of chocolate bars by the checkout stands, but that was when I could eat any of them without having a gut reaction.  Now that I can’t have any, I really want one!!  There are more organic options now, but I find that plain dark chocolate is too… chocolately?  (how is that possible?).  And they often have bits of fruit or nuts that are verboten on the FODMAP list.  I could risk it, but I don’t think a small treat should punish you THAT badly.
  6. Gum.  I really miss gum.  I’ve tried the natural options and they just aren’t a good substitute for a minty chew.  One stuck so badly to my fillings that it took me a week of intensive brushing and flossing just to get it all out of my mouth!
  7. Chinese Sauces.  Yes, I know I could make something from scratch.  But sometimes I’m lazy and just want to sauté some chicken and broccoli and throw on a prepared sauce and call it dinner.
  8. East Indian Sauces.  Ditto.
  9. Italian Sauces.  Ditto.
  10. Watermelon.  Apples.  Peaches. Pears.  Apples (yes, it needs to be in there twice)

So, perhaps my list isn’t the most ultra-health conscious list out there and I’m sure the marathon running, wheatgrass drinking folks out there will tell me I’m better off without these items.  But I miss them, and being able to tell my mom (or friends or other family members) that a product easily available is fine for me to have would be a real bonus.  The constant label-reading is exhausting, and I won’t ask my family and friends to start doing it for me.

What do you miss?


TOP 10 INGREDIENTS (That I always have in my fridge)

Now seems like a good time as any to set out what the staple ingredients in my fridge are.  These items always seem to be on my grocery list and most of them I can use in many different ways. 

I’m starting to feel more comfortable grocery shopping – I know what I can get at my ‘big chain’ supermarket and what I have to pick up at a specialty store.  Yes, some of these specialty things are more expensive, but my stomach thanks me by behaving itself.

 Top 10 Ingredients that I always have in my fridge:

  1.      Almond Milk.  Both the Unsweetened and the Regular.  I use the unsweetened to have a glass with dinner, and I use the sweetened for my tea or baking.
  2.       Goat Cheese and or goat yogurt.  When I found out that I couldn’t have bovine dairy any more I was really crushed.  Goat cheese has let me down gently.  I don’t have it that often, but it really adds a creaminess to sauces.  Goat cheese can be made into feta, brie and may other types of cheese, in addition to the traditional chevre.  Goat yogurt is awesome with fresh raspberries and some FODMAP friendly granola.
  3.      Leftovers!  Because there is no such thing as ‘Safe Fast Food’ for me, I always make more than I can eat, and stash the leftovers away.  Leftovers from dinner make easy lunches the next day.  I make sure I use glass (pyrex) storage containers, for safe reheating in the microwave.
  4.       Tamari Sauce.  I had no idea what this ingredient was until I started researching alternative recipes.  Like Soy Sauce, but without wheat or garlic, so it’s great for an IBS friendly stir fry.  Mixed with wine and some herbs it makes an awesome marinade for a pork roast. 
  5.       Carrots.  Must have your veggies!  I am starting to buy these at a farmers market as the taste sooo much better than what is usually found on the supermarket shelves.  After steaming or boiling, I toss them in olive oil and dill.  Once I had them in a restaurant and they were roasted – soooo good and I will definitely be trying this at home.
  6.       Broccoli.  Must have different coloured veggies!  Broccoli is on the ‘be cautious’ list for people on the FODMAP diet, but it’s safe for me (although I don’t eat it by the potful, it is a great side dish).   I’ve learned to cook it without it getting brown and mushy – a key learning moment!  I toss it in some olive oil and sprinkle on a little salt.
  7.       Gluten Free Bread.  I don’t have celiac disease, but I do like to limit the amount of gluten I consume.  I’ve found an awesome bread that is gluten free, egg free and dairy free.  Prepared by the Glutenull Bakery, the quinoa bread is AWESOME, but needs refridgeration to keep fresh. 
  8.       Earth Balance Vegan baking sticks.  This is my alternative to butter or margarine (which often has hidden dairy in it).  I use it for baking and haven’t noticed a taste difference.
  9.       Organic Peanut butter.  I prefer my peanut butter to be as unprocessed as possible and this means preservatives aren’t added.  Because of this, this product needs to stay in the fridge once it’s opened.
  10.  Orange Juice.  Besides being good on it’s own, I will use this as an ingredient in marinades, sauces and salad dressings. 

I could have added a 11th item called: something I bought and am waiting to throw out.  These things are in my fridge because either I bought them thinking that I’d like to try them on a ‘challenge’ to my stomach, but I have since chickened out and won’t risk upsetting my stomach.  Or, I didn’t check the ingredient list carefully enough in the store, and once I got home discovered that a non-FODMAP friendly ingredient is in there.  Currently I have a nice wedge of (expensive) goat cheese gouda in my fridge – can you believe that egg whites are on the ingredient list?  Weird.  I will let it go bad (or try to fob it off on The Husband) and then throw it out.  A shame.

What sorts of staples do you have guaranteed to be in your fridge?  Love to hear from you!

Looking forward, I’m hoping my next blog will be a product review on Italian Spice mix.  I’ve been thinking about my last Top 10 list (ingredients in my pantry), and how boring the list was.  Time to spice it up!

 top 10 fridge


TOP 10 Ingredients in My Pantry


My Top 10 Ingredients (that I always have in my pantry)


When I started out trying to follow the FODMAP diet I had already identified a few foods that I needed to replace or learn to live without.  However, as I started to get better at reading labels I was totally blown away by how many processed products have hidden ingredients.   I love cooking, but I hate the hassle of always having to read labels and always having to prepare something from scratch. 


These items represent the safest of my safe list.  I almost always have them in my pantry cupboard – if you are starting out on a FODMAP diet, take the time to find these items in a store, clear a shelf and start your ‘safe shelf’:


Top 10 Ingredients that I always have in my pantry:


1:  Olive oil

2:  Salt and Pepper

3:  Aylmer Accents Fire Roasted diced tomatoes (no garlic!)

4:  Rice pasta

5:  Egg Replacer

6:  Quinoa

7:  Canned Tuna

8:  Rice

9:  GF cake mix

10:  Dairy free chocolate chips

 Chocolate Chips  Alymers tomatoes


You will note that there aren’t any items that would be kept in the fridge or in the fruit bowl.  That’s for another list.   I probably will get some flack for putting in the Gluten Free cake mix and chocolate chips, but I gotta have something sweet from time to time.  I’ve found some dairy free chocolate chips and can make myself some respectable chocolate chip cookies  using the cake mix – having these in the freezer really saves me when I’ve got a chocolate craving !


Looking through this list I think: Good heavens… this really is the most boring ingredient list in the history of ingredient lists…!  Obviously I need to break out of my shell and try a few new products….