Menu #1

Sometimes meal planning with dietary issues can be a real drag… When I was new to following a FODMAP diet I really struggled to put a varied menu on the table.  The difficulty level went up a notch if I tried to make it appealing to The Husband and The Son –  and there were many evenings of intense frustration.  Or boredom from serving the same thing over and over again.

What's for Dinner?
What’s for Dinner?

That’s why I’m going to do a series of dinner menus, hopefully to help someone who is getting started, or just tired of thinking up the answer to:  ‘what’s for dinner?’.  The first one, appropriately, is Menu #1 :

Ham is one of the foods I found that by reading a label carefully, I could find one that had minimal additives  and ingredients – I particularly watch for garlic.  This one from Harvest meats I know my tummy can handle:

 

 

Always read the label!
Always read the label!

The slices were of nice size and easily grilled for a few minutes on the BBQ.  I didn’t brush them with a glaze – just kept it simple.

 

 

 

The Herbed pasta is really easy.  Mini Recipie:

Herbed Pasta

  • Cooked rice pasta
  • Olive Oil
  • Italiano blend (I make my own, without onion or garlic)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Toss and serve!  The trick, I found, was to use enough olive oil to prevent the pasta from cooling into a thick gooey mass.

Summer = Salads
Summer = Salads

I chose to have a Garden Salad as the veggie – my garden gave me a stellar crop of lettuce this year, and nothing says summer like a fresh salad.  Finding a salad dressing is really tough, so I make my own.  Here’s another Mini Recipe:

 

 

 

Salad Dressing

  • Orange Juice
  • Brown Sugar
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and pepper

Shake and pour.

The salad dressing keeps for a while in the fridge, so probably the pasta takes the longest to cook and serve.  It all puts together to get this:

Menu #1
Menu #1

To rate this meal, out of 3 stars (3 being the most), I’d give the following:

Ease of grocery shopping: * * *

Ease of preparation: * * *

Family friendly rating * * *

The ease of grocery shopping is assuming that you’ve already found a place where you can buy your gluten free pasta – I have been pretty lucky and found my favourite brand in most grocery stores I’ve shopped in.  The bags of pasta (I buy Tinkyada) keep a long time and are easy to transport, so I can stock up if I think it will be difficult to find when I’m on the road.

Happy eating (yes!  even with IBS!)

 

 

 

 

 

Fodmap Free Pancakes

This is my final installment on my current breakfast options.  When I first started following a low-FODMAP diet, (also eliminating eggs, bovine dairy and beef due to intolerances) meal planning was a daunting task because I had no handy list of what menu items would be appropriate.  Breakfast is particularly tricky because, really, who wants to think that hard about a meal first thing in the morning?  At first, every morning started with a rice cake, organic peanut butter and a sliced banana on top.  It’s ok, but – every day?

This weekend when my family had pancakes for Brunch, I really felt that I’ve come a long way from those days.

Pancakes

See?  Doesn’t look too bad, does it?  The super best part about this (besides the meal being gluten, dairy, egg and FODMAP free), is that I didn’t have to make it.  That’s right!  The Husband and The Son whipped this up.  This is a looong way from when I insisted that I prepare all meals for myself.

It’s a pretty simple menu:  Orange juice or almond milk, Fruit Salad (The Son’s speciality – I just have to set out whatever fruit I want him to use), bacon (mmmm, bacon), and pancakes served with organic maple syrup.

The best part is that the pancakes are made from a mix, so super easy to prepare.  Betty Crocker, Bisquick has come out with a gluten free option and it’s pretty good.  The back of the box lists the ingredients needed for pancakes or waffles, and I just made sure The Husband knew the appropriate egg and dairy substitutes to use.

Pancake ingredientsTo be fair, The Husband is an experienced pancake maker (usually makes from scratch), so getting him to make a ‘safe’ version for me wasn’t a big stretch.  It did take some experimenting, though, as they don’t brown quite the same way as a standard recipe.

Because an entire extra set of bowls are needed to make up a batch just for me, I ask him to make a full batch, and then once they’ve cooled, I freeze them flat in a baggie.  That way, if we have pancakes for brunch again, I can just pull them out of the freezer and pop them through the toaster to warm up.

 

The Husband and The Son have their hands busy flipping two batches of pancakes and watching a pan of bacon (the first couple of times it was almost funny how stressed they got – kinda like how I get when I make a Christmas dinner for 14 people).  But after a few times, they now have the hang of it, and it is a real treat for me to see some else cooking for me.

The Husband cooking for me!
The Husband cooking for me!

Sitting down to a full and decadent brunch is a long way from my peanut butter/rice cake/banana slices.  Yes, I know the calorie count is crazy higher too, but once in a while it’s ok.  Just because one has IBS, doesn’t mean they need to live off of tree bark and water, do they?

 

 

So, there you have it – my menu ideas for FODMAP friendly (and dairy and egg free too!) breakfasts.  It’s not a long list, but I’m not someone who demands a lot from breakfast.  Protein, some fruit, and some energy to start the day….

  • Toast and peanut butter (and bananas) (splurge on the expensive bread that tastes the best to you, it’s a huge psychological start to the day).
  • Granola, goat yogurt, and berries
  • Scones
  • Fodmap free Pancakes for brunch (and fruit salad and bacon!)
  • ok, ok, ok – I still have the Spartan rice cake/peanut butter/banana breakfasts when I’m travelling.  So, I guess it’s still on my list!

 

Meal Planning for Breakfast

I’ve been doing some thinking on how far I’ve come from when I first figured out I had IBS and discovered the FODMAP diet.  Besides the constant threat of diarrhea and the pain associated with it, what I remember clearly is the panic I felt around the question ‘what can I eat today?’. I didn’t start out consciously meal planning for breakfast, but I do have a small list of go-to menu items that make it easy for me to start my day AND to grocery shop for.

I can readily admit that I’m not a health nut.  I try to eat balanced, nutritious meals, but I don’t calorie count.  Maybe I’ll get there, but for now, I’m mostly just concerned about the basics about feeding myself.  I love eating for pleasure (having candles on the table makes food taste better, somehow), and can’t see myself gulping down a kale smoothie just ‘because it’s good for me’.  Maybe someday, but not today.

If anyone reads this and is starting out on their FODMAP journey, I hope you can get some inspiration from this post.  I shop at two stores: Safeway and Planet Organic.  Hopefully the ideas will make life just a teeny bit easier for you…. I’ll include recipes in later posts…

Granola Breakfast

toast

 

 

 

 

Breakfast – Weekdays

I tend to alternate between two menus during the week.  Easier to buy groceries for, easy to prepare on mornings when I need to eat before I’m fully woken up.

  • allergen free (gluten, egg, dairy, FODMAP free) bread, toasted, spread with organic crunchy peanut butter and topped with slices of bananas.
  • a dollop of goats-milk yogurt (for some reason my body can handle milk from goats but not a cow), granola (either a low-FODMAP kind from the store or home-made), and fresh berries sprinkled on top (I alternate between raspberries and blueberries, and have discovered that I can tolerate a small amount of blackberries (high on Polyols on the Monash FODMAP app).

scones baked

Breakfast – Weekends

If I’m lazy, I stick to the above.  But I do enjoy baking, and preparing foods with my family so will have one of the following for a special breakfast on a weekend.

Pancakes

  • Oat scones topped with marmalade.
  • Allergen free pancakes, with fruit salad (made with whatever I have on hand that’s got a green light from the Monash FODMAP app), and bacon. Served with pure maple syrup.

Breakfast – on the road

  • Travelling can be a real challenge for someone with IBS.  If I’m staying in a hotel, I make sure I have my rice cakes and organic peanut butter with me.  I’ve found that as long as I’m at a table of people who are ordering off the menu, my bringing food doesn’t cause much of a stir (I do try to be a little discreet, though). If I get an odd look, I’ll order a side of bacon off the menu and that seems to make everything OK.  On the bonus side, crispy bacon on a peanut butter slathered rice cake is incredibly yummy.

And those are about it.  I’ve experimented with other options, but these seem to be my go-to menu items.  At first, deciding what to eat can be daunting, but I’ve discovered that meal planning for breakfast doesn’t have to be a mind-bending, expensive or earth shifting experience.  Good luck to your own breakfast plans!

Coconut Milk (part 2!)

Well, I did eventually get around to opening up my 3 tins of coconut milk and giving them a taste test.   In my last post, I compared the cost and ingredients of three types of coconut milk purchased at my local Safeway – Thai, Tosca and Compliments brands.   I did consider (very briefly) cooking the same recipe with each tin, just to give a scientific comparison, but I just couldn’t do it.  There is such a thing as too much of a good thing!

So, as far as rigorous scientific testing, here’s what I did….

I had The Son open up all three cans and empty the contents into a clear glass.  We then discussed the consistency and colour of the three brands.  Opinion, I must say, was affected by the fact that The Son is a teenager and never seen coconut milk in a can before – he was initially grossed out by the solid coconut cream that had risen to the top of the can.  I tried to explain to him that that was ‘the good stuff’, but he would not be swayed.

coconut milk comparison

I liked the Thai brand (the most expensive of the three). It had the best colour (the Compliments brand was an unnerving greyish colour) and smell (most coconutty).  I would have liked to compare the amount of coconut cream that had risen to the top but The Son moves faster than I and scooped out the cans before I had a chance to check it out.

We then did a taste test.  The Son preferred the taste of the Thai brand, but actually, I found the Tosca brand to be the most full flavoured.  Using a mathematical analysis, we felt that the Thai brand came out on top, though…

I used all three cans of coconut milk, but I made three different recipes…

Coconut Fish

coconut fish

Thai Chicken

Thai Chicken

and Chocolate coconut cupcakes (yum)

chocolate coconute cupcakes

The Coconut Curry fish is a recipe that I’ve blogged about before, the Thai Chicken is an excellent recipe I’ve gotten from another blogger (I printed out the recipe without any identifying information, so now I have to hunt it down so I can give proper credit!), and the Chocolate coconut cupcakes is something I’ll blog about later…  mmmm, Chocolate!

All three recipes came out well, so I can’t really say that one brand of coconut milk is preferred over another in this regard.  I do know that I prefer the Thai and Tosca over the Compliments brand, even though they are more expensive.  I love the flavour of coconut milk, and it is a low FODMAP product.  According to the Monash Fodmap app, Coconut milk and coconut oil both get a green light.  Curiously, the coconut water (250 ml serving) gets a red light for being high in Polyols.

Jennifer Nelson for the Mother Nature Network gives a nice summary of the differences between coconut milk and water.  I wasn’t comparing calories or fat types, just the different brands.

Until next time…..

Roasted Coconut Chips

I found what sounds like the most delicious ingredient in my local organic food store this week:  Milanaise Roasted Coconut. These Roasted coconut chips look delicious!

Roasted Coconut

The product is attractively wrapped, with a little window to show the large flakes of roasty-toasty coconut.  Best of all, according to the back of the package, it’s the only ingredient.  I was very surprised when I discovered my old brand of shredded coconut was really a cocktail of ingredients!

According to the Monash FODMAP App, a half cup of shredded, dried coconut gets a yellow warning light, as it contains a moderate amount of polyol-sorbitol. (Incidentally, I had a tough time finding the coconut on the FODMAP App, as raw coconut isn’t included – just the dried and shredded type, which is considered a ‘processed’ food.  So it’s listed towards the bottom of the list.  Incidentally, coconut milk is given the green light).

I usually add shredded coconut to a recipe, so I don’t think I’d eat more than a quarter cup at a time, which is given the green light by the app.

So what should I do with my new package of Roasted Coconut?

Travelling to New York City

Travelling to New York City!

The Husband and I are celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary this year, and decided to treat ourselves to our first trip to NYC.  As always, I’m nervous about travelling with IBS, but I’m determined to not let it hold me hostage (see Manifesto #3; I will be free ).  Travelling to New York City was The Husbands idea, but I was pretty confident that I could make it work, now that I have a few travel strategies in place.

Packing and preparing for our trip was a bit of an ordeal….  What clothes should I bring?  What will we want to see and do?  Our friends and family jumped in with many helpful suggestions – unfortunately MOST of these suggestions centered around restaurants.  At first I didn’t mind, but after being told of the millionth pastry shop that we simply ‘must try’, I had a little snit and mild panic attack.  My wonderful, supportive, patient husband sat me down – and helped me see that we were going to NYC to:

A) celebrate our anniversary, and

B) SEE (not eat) New York City.

So with my priorities straightened out, I packed my negligee and supplies for ‘camping’ in a hotel.  My hotel kitchen kit holds granola bars (FODMAP Free), an empty lunch kit, plastic cutlery, a few Ziploc baggies, napkins, some dish soap, and for my first few hours in a new city, some rice cakes, organic peanut butter, travel sized almond milk and tea bags.  OK here’s the thing:  I know we are staying in a nice hotel in the middle of civilization, but I never assume that I can quickly get my hands on the basics.  And I’m not a good person if I can’t have a cup of tea (with milk) and a small breakfast FIRST THING in the morning.What I need to prep the basics in my hotel room.

WE had a fabulous time!  Our hotel was new and bright, we were located close to Times Square and found the city to be overwhelmingly awesome – so much to see and do and the people we met were very friendly (thanks to the complete stranger that helped us figure out the subway!).

Our first morning we were able to find a well-stocked grocery store – The Food Emporium – where I could load up on peanuts, rice crackers, safe deli meat, fruit and more.  We stocked our little hotel room fridge and I was good to go!

'ours' was located on 810 Eighth Ave.

My breakfasts were peanut butter on rice cakes with a strong cup of tea.  Lunches were mostly granola bars, bananas, nuts – but I did order a lovely salad with grilled chicken (just olive oil for dressing) at Le Pain Quotidien in Central Park one afternoon.  I had planned on being a bit more daring for dinners, but honestly, we were so exhausted from hiking around Manhattan all day that we both enjoyed a coffee-table picnic in the hotel room, catching whatever movie was on in the evening.  Munching on sliced turkey, sharing grapes and sipping a bottle of wine was a surprisingly romantic dinner!

All natural ingredients - safe to eat on a low FODMAP diet.
All natural ingredients – safe to eat on a low FODMAP diet.

 

We did try out an Irish Pub for dinner once (we stopped in  earlier that day, asking if they had baked potatoes available on the menu – only later did I realize the humour of doubting an Irish Pub would serve potatoes).  I brought a (pop-top) tin of tuna, ordered a baked potatoe, green salad and olive oil on the side – no, it’s not fancy, but it keeps my tummy happy!

Thanks to my cautious eating, I felt awesome the entire trip – we did so much sightseeing and covered a lot of territory.  When I asked The Husband if he really was ok with not eating out at fancy New York restaurants he looked at me like I was daft: “Do you know how much money we’re saving?!”.

Just being a regular tourist!
Just being a regular tourist!

So, travelling to New York City can be done if you have IBS!   Here’s what worked for me:

  • Bringing my emergency kit purse with a change of clothes – this is especially comforting on the flight.  I didn’t need it, but feeling in control keeps the tummy calm.
  • Making sure our hotel had a bar fridge
  • Bringing my ‘hotel kitchen’ kit
  • finding a grocery store close to the hotel
  • I did try to google ‘NYC FODMAP friendly restaurants’ but didn’t get much that was helpful
  • Maintaining the perspective that I’m travelling to see and do.  Not eat.
  • Having a plan for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, and not relying on spur of the moment choices.

It was a wonderful way to celebrate our anniversary and a big treat for us to see this magnificent city.  I couldn’t have asked for a better anniversary gift….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why not food lables for FODMAPs?

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how far I’ve come in the year I’ve been on the FODMAP diet.  This time last year, I was a real mess – I remember clearly thinking ‘just shoot me’, when I thought about living the rest of my life with the pain and diarrhea and exhaustion.  I credit the FODMAP diet with giving me my health and life back – I’ve been able to make great progress in all aspects of my Manifesto!  One thing I haven’t really addressed is point number 5:  I want to be prepared for the future.  Why not look at food labels for FODMAPs?

As I see myself ageing, I see myself having difficulty managing a FODMAP diet.  Already, trying to read itty bitty ingredient lists (hello Campbell’s soup), on the sides of food products can be a challenge, never mind the likely eventuality of ending up in a Seniors Residence, dependant on others to cook for me.  Will they know what food products are FODMAP friendly?  Why not IBS food labels for FODMAPs?

 

FODMAP labeling
FODMAP labeling

I think it’s time I started doing my small bit to try and make some changes.  I see in Australia that some enterprising souls have set up the FODMAP.com website, which encourages food companies to identify their products as being FODMAP friendly.  I contacted them and this is what they tell me:

“Nice to hear from you, we are based in Australia but we have already had Fodmap
Friendly Certification approved in all countries including Canada.
We are currently just launching worldwide so at this stage no specific organisation in
Canada at this stage but hopefully soon the food manufacturers will get on board
and assist all those people who have difficulty in finding food they can eat
throughout the supermarket. This will make their lives so much easier.”

I think I’m going to try and do my bit to see if I can get food processing companies in Canada/North America thinking about utilizing the FODMAP friendly label.

To start, I’ve picked three food products (that I’ve mentioned on one of my previous Top 10 lists), and I’m going to write the companies with the following message:

I am writing to you to express how very much I enjoy your product.

I discovered this product after I began to follow a low FODMAP diet.  FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols (google it for more information) – the idea is that foods that are high in FODMAPs cause great digestive discomfort (gas, bloating, diarrhea) for many people, including people suffering from IBS.

These fermentable sugars are in many, many foods (honey, garlic, apples, among many others), and it is difficult to find prepared foods that are free (or low) in these ingredients.  That’s why I was so please to find your product: it is now on my grocery list nearly every week.

The FODMAP diet is gaining in awareness and is an effective way to battle IBS.  Many people are learning about the diet, but most find it difficult to follow because there are so few food products clearly labelled.  I would ask that you consider labelling your products so that we can more easily locate and purchase foods that we can eat.  Australia has a FODMAP labelling program already in place, and it is approved for use in Canada.  You can check out their website fodmap.com, to learn more about this program.

The three products I’ve chosen to start with are:

  • Earth Balance Vegan cooking and baking sticks (www.earthbalancenatural.com)
  • Betty Crocker gluten free cake mix (www.askus.bettycrocker.ca)
  • Aylmer Accents fire roasted tomatoes (www.aylmertomatoes.ca)
Three products I'm going to contact.
Three products I’m going to contact.

I’d love it if you joined me on this project – either by contacting the above companies too, or by contacting the companies whose products you use on a regular basis.

Let me know what you hear back…

 

A very merry IBS Christmas

I know we are well into the New Year, but I’m still catching up from all the hoopla that is the holiday season…. Like many of you, I rushed around trying to organize and prepare everything that needed organizing and preparing in the weeks before Christmas.  That’s why I was really happy to take some time and pay some attention to three of the goals of my Manifesto:

Spend time with my family (Be Loved) – meeting up with The Parents was a nice chance to reconnect.

Get away (Be Free) – by travelling to the coast, and

Relax (Be Sane) – it was wonderful to escape the cold and snow, and to just hang out with the family.

 

No Snow or Ice on the coast!
No Snow or Ice on the coast!

We all stayed at a condo on the West Coast – I find great comfort in having a nice bathroom and a kitchen close at hand!  Christmas Dinner was yummy, The Mother and I managed to load up the table with Turkey, gravy, potatoes, cranberry sauce and veggies – all FODMAP friendly! (The Mother is still panicky about cooking FODMAP free, but she’s learning a few dishes that she can confidently prepare safely for me).  I also brought a supply of FODMAP, dairy, and egg free cookies to enjoy.  Yes – I ate too much!

I did have three surprises on the trip.

One was that I found an old container of Benefibre in my travel supplies.  I had been using this product last spring when suddenly I couldn’t find it on the shelves anymore.  Once I found the container, I didn’t want to waste it so I confidently took a good healthy dose of this fiber supplement one day as part of my morning ritual.  Of course, after I drank it, I read the label – it’s all inulin!  Definitely on the no-no list of FODMAP ingredients!

I should read BEFORE I eat!
I should read BEFORE I eat!

I spent a few moments panicking, but calmed down to see what would happen.  I was in a safe place, with access to a nice bathroom, so felt I could handle whatever my stomach threw my way.  I’m happy to say, other than some bloating the next day (I was glad I brought sweat pants!), I was fine.

My favourite jeans aren't so comfortable suddenly!
My favourite jeans aren’t so comfortable suddenly!

My second gift of IBS happened a few days later, when I accidentally took a sip of The Husbands coffee one bleary morning.  He puts milk in his coffee and this usually makes me have explosive diarrhea within the half hour.  I nervously padded around the condo while a half hour passed.  Then an hour.  Then two.  The day went uneventfully…. I guess it’s true that if you avoid trouble foods for a while, your body will give you a bit of a free pass when a small amount is ingested.  Whew!

My third gift wasn’t so appreciated, though…. On the last day of vacation I started to feel a pain in the ass.  No, The Parents weren’t bothering me.  The Husband and The Son were being charming.  No, it was a real pain in the ass:  hemorrhoids!

I knew what they were because I had them after giving birth to The Son many years ago.  Obviously, the sheer exhaustion of that time had erased my memories of how painful they can be.

Needless to say, the flight home will hold special memories for me.

I’ve been to see my doctor, and he prescribed some ointment (without an examination), and the pain and discomfort are pretty much gone.  I’ve surfed the web to see what info I can find on the subject, and have to say that I’m not really impressed with what’s available on line.  A site either provides so little information that you think it’s a non-issue, or it goes straight to surgery.  The joys of the internet!

I did discover forums where the condition has received a cute nick-name:  Hemmies! (not to be confused with large engines in trucks, I suppose).

At least I know that they are common, and previous experience has taught me that they are usually harmless and subside.  I’ll continue to monitor the situation and keep a sense of humour about it all.  What’s the saying?  Oh yeah….

What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.

Right.

Well, I hope you too had a very merry IBS Christmas!

 

Eating out with IBS – Success!

I did it!!

I went out for dinner at a restaurant with my family, communicated my needs to the staff and was served a meal that was nutritious and appetizing.  The meal seems to have been cooked according to my dietary needs – it contained certainly no diary,  (no diarrhea!), no eggs and was FODMAP friendly.  I felt great! It can be done…  Eating out with IBS – success!

We arrived at Moxie’s early, because I know that serving staff and a chef who aren’t too busy are more likely to take the time necessary to hear, understand and follow my dietary requests.  With a little help from The Husband, I managed to sit near the edge of the table so that I could talk with the serving staff without shouting across the table.  I ordered a drink along with everyone else, but skipped looking at the menu (why torture myself?).  When the drinks came, I was very please to hear the server ask if there were any dietary concerns at the table.  I felt special, instead of a bother!!

I showed the server my Chef’s card, who then took it back to the kitchen to give to the chef.  She came back later to ask if I’d like the fish or the chicken (I got a choice!), and let me know that the starch would be baby potatoes, and the veggies would be steamed broccoli.  It might not be fancy, but it sounded safe and nutritious to me.

I know that I’m not getting an elaborate gourmet meal, with a complex combination of flavours.  This is no longer my goal when I go out to eat.  My expectation is to be served something safe and appetizing, enjoy the company, and to really enjoy not having to clean up after dinner.  I want to eat safe food, and not stand out as ‘the picky eater’, among the people I’m dining with.  If I can have this, I can have fun.  A glass of wine helps too :).

My meal arrived with everyone else’s and we proceeded to enjoy dinner.  I was served very generous portions and the chicken was delicious.

safe and yummy!
safe and yummy!

After dinner, it was a fairly natural thing to sit back and finish our drinks and wait for the bill.  This gave my gut the 30 minutes it seems to need to decide if it’s going to get diarrhea from dairy.   I was fine and really enjoyed having someone else take the dirty dishes away and wash them up!  (a huge joy of eating out for me).

The next day is when I usually feel the effects from FODMAP unfriendly ingredients or egg or beef (those two seem to be really hard on my gut).  But I’m so pleased to say that I woke up the next day with no unpleasant symptoms and carried on with my weekend just like everyone else.

The meal was very generous in portion size so I couldn’t finish it all – I ended up taking some home with me.  If I was travelling, these leftovers would have been doubly valuable to me, but as it is, they still make a nice lunch for the next day.

One last thing about Moxie’s:  they have nice washrooms (at least the location I was at did).  In addition to being clean, the stalls were quite private, so if I had ingested a diarrhea-inducing ingredient, I would have been able to recover in relative privacy – the walls of both the stall and door came right down to the floor.  I never used to notice this sort of thing but I do now!!

Moxie's washroom: clean and private!
Moxie’s washroom: clean and private!

I give Moxie’s a 4-star and a thumbs up rating from me.  Their approach to dietary restrictions really helped me feel comfortable with eating out.  Eating out with IBS – Success!

 

 

Eating out with IBS

I’ve got a dinner invitation that I’m not sure I can refuse… it’s a family thing, and everyone thinks they are being kind to me – so I don’t have to cook.  It’s hard to tell family that eating out with IBS and food intolerances is a LOT of work.

However, I am determined to rejoin the greater world, despite having IBS, AND, I’m feeling much more confident after our road trip experience this summer.  So I’m going to do my best to make this dinner out work for me.

My first step is to go online and check out the websites of a few restaurants.  I went with larger chain restaurants, because they seem to be much more aware of food allergies, and will sometimes be so organized they provide nutrition and ingredient listings online.  I checked out three:  Joey’s, Moxie’s, and Earl’s.

I discovered that Earl’s didn’t seem to have a printable allergy/nutrition listing online (that I could find).  Moxie’s has a guide available and it very clearly lists out many of the common allergen ingredients in their food (including the common FODMAP foods).  Almost everything on the menu has either dairy, gluten, onions and garlic, though.  Joey’s didn’t have any of this information on line, but they did have the option of emailing the restaurant with a special request.

I have decided to go with Moxie’s because their on-line information is the most comprehensive (although, you do have to do some digging).  Their website shows the phone number of each restaurant, so my second step is to call them.  I managed to get the manager and he was terrific to chat with.  He assured me that they take food allergies special requests very seriously, and I found this to be comforting.

Moxie's on line allergen information is well laid-out.
Moxie’s on line allergen information is well laid-out.

We’ve booked the restaurant, and now I just need to make sure I eat gently in the days leading up to the outing.  I want my stomach to be calm, and I want my nerves to be collected when we walk into that restaurant!  I think I’ve messed myself up in the past by letting my anxiety get to me, so I’ll work to trust in my plan. (step 3!).

My fourth and final step for preparation will be to print off my chef’s card to bring along with me. I’ll make sure to speak up confidently (but cheerfully!) to our waiter and ask for their help.

I plan on giving this to my server each time we go out to a restaurant!
I plan on giving this to my server each time we go out to a restaurant!

I’ll prepare The Husband by letting him know that he might be on tasting duty if I have any suspicions about what gets served to me.  I will also repeat my usual 30-minute wait request:  I like to sit about 30 minutes after a meal (that I haven’t prepared myself) to see if I have an immediate reaction.  My reaction to dairy is this fast, and I don’t want to be I the car when a case of diarrhea hits.

As for the egg and other FODMAP unfriendly ingredients, I’ll just have to wit to the following day to see if I had success in eating out with IBS at this particular restaurant.  Wish me luck!