Saturday 18 July 2015

Following a Low FODMAP Diet on holiday

If you suffer from IBS or have been advised to follow a low FODMAP diet, you'll know better than anyone how hard it is to eat out due to how restrictive it is, and how much effort it can be cooking meals that fall in line with the plan - which can make going on holiday whilst following this seem almost impossible.

I was on holiday with my best friends in St Tropez a few weeks ago, and one of them (bless her) was in the final week of this diet plan.

As we were self-catered, I (gladly) took charge of orchestrating a food plan for the week, which was largely led by the FODMAP diet but we moderated it for the rest of us (as much as I love the girl, there is no keeping me away from pastries, baguettes and wine in France..)

The list of foods you can't eat is pretty extensive, but the idea is you eliminate everything that could potentially trigger an episode, and once the six weeks is up you slowly re-introduce trigger foods back in to your diet, keeping a food diary as you go.

I thought it might be helpful to offer my top tips on travelling on a low FODMAP diet, as it was tough, but definitely do-able:

1) Go self-catered

By far the easiest (and probably most sensible) decision if you're going to book a holiday when doing this food plan, is to book somewhere with self-catering facilities. You'll have far more control of what's on your plate.

We had a lush veranda attached to our little beach hut that backed on to a vineyard, and we ate all our meals on it - not a bad spot to eat your breakfast! Plus I think there's just something so special about eating outside, especially at night with twinkly candles and a sunset (can you tell how much I want to be back there...)

2) Double up 

As a group of five, we always had 2 pans on the go for cooking, so for example we made a tastay chicken and avocado stirfry; one pan had the chicken / veg / spices including garlic and onion (you can't eat these on the low FODMAP!), and another pan didn't include onion & garlic. Same with avocado (you can't eat this either). One big salad bowl had it in, the other didn't.

For the sake of washing up an extra pan every time, it's so worth it, and much nicer and more inclusive to be eating the same thing as everyone else rather than something totally different.

3) Check labels 

Yes, it sounds obvious but (especially) when you're abroad, those darn labels can be hard to decipher! Cue us all racking our brains for hints of GCSE French to come flooding back. I was really impressed at the huge selection of free-from foods there were in most of the French supermarkets, but we really did have to check all labels, as a lot of foods included in these aisles were just organic, so be careful on this one!

4) Be nice to waiters!

Eating out was tricky, I won't lie. We ate out a handful of times, and luckily one of us is essentially fluent in French which helped massively as we were able to modify dishes and ask for no sauces, food swaps and so on. Most waiters were really accommodating, and happy to help.

In no way did it taint or consume the holiday. I would say prepare as much as you can and beware the following: the main 'issues' were not being able to drink as much as the rest of us, not being able to devour a pan au chocolat every morning, and having to scrutinise the menu in a restaurant.


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