Tips for shopping on the low FODMAP diet
by FoodMaestro | 13 June 2016
@FODMAPjourney Anna Lewin shares her tips for shopping on the low FODMAP diet
Anyone who's been advised to try the low-FODMAP diet by their dietitian will know the feeling of being presented with the list of foods you can and can't eat (and in what amounts) during the elimination phase. One word: Daunting. Many of the foods you're used to eating have now been shifted to the dark side (cue evil laugh), or that's the way it's perceived, at least!
For the next 4 to 8 weeks, depending on the dietitian's advice, you're faced with a new way of approaching eating. A likely thought is 'hmm, food shopping is going to be interesting!' The good news is that it's really not so bad when you get into the swing of it.
I've compiled a list of tips for shopping on the low-FODMAP diet based on my own experiences, which I hope will help anyone who's about to embark on the diet and anyone who is feeling a little lost along the way. Feel free to add to the list!
1. Plan your meals.
Before you even think about hitting the shops, take the time to plan your meals for the forthcoming week. This is beneficial for a number of reasons:
- It means you're more likely to stick to the diet and avoid other temptations as you will always have something planned/prepared.
- It's more cost-effective as you're not needing to buy food when out and about (which is always more costly).
- It's more time-effective - you don't have to spend time each day deciding what to buy for dinner.
2. Write a list.
Everybody loves a list! This will help you stay on track and avoid other items sneaking in the trolley. With list in hand you'll be a low-FODMAPer on a mission, navigating those isles with ease. Tick off each item as you go and the job is done! Number 6 will help with this...
3. Don't go shopping when you're hungry.
We all know this is a very bad idea - items suddenly appearing at the checkout (likely to be 'quick-fix' high FODMAP options) with no recollection of how they got there! Erm...the FODMAP fairy did it?!
4. Get up close and personal with ingredient labels.
It's important to know what we're putting in our bodies. The great thing about the low-FODMAP diet is that it teaches us to look at food differently, most importantly, to cut out as much processed food as possible. Although it can be time-consuming, it's worth getting used to taking a quick peek or using an app to scan the barcode to check the ingredient labels before popping the item in your basket. Many foods, even ones that are considered 'healthy', may have sneaky FODMAPs in them that could really upset the gut. Having a quick scan could prevent this upset. By the end of the elimination phase you'll be a pro at scanning food ingredient labels with an app - it just becomes instinctive/habit!
5. Shopping around and shopping smart.
Some products, especially from the 'free from' isle can be on the pricey side, so choose with caution and only go for the substitutions that are absolutely necessary. It's worth shopping around - low-FODMAP doesn't have to mean expensive. There's ways to save money: buying dry ingredients in bulk and buying frozen fruit and vegetables instead of fresh (lasts so much longer too!) - just a couple of ways to save those pennies. When you become accustomed to the diet, you'll naturally pick up the best ways to buy what you want without spending a fortune.
6. Use apps to assist you.
What did we do before apps?! They are such a useful additional resource. The FoodMaestro FODMAP app and Monash University both have shopping lists built into them (woop!), not to mention a wealth of other really helpful FODMAP information. This means you can do everything in one place - from looking at which foods/amounts are FODMAP-friendly, to adding them to your shopping list. Who said shopping was a chore?!
7. Get your friends and family involved.
Just because you're the one undertaking the diet, doesn't mean you're in it alone. Set your family a friends a low-FODMAP shopping challenge where they have to come up with a meal to cook, or simply take them shopping with you (and treat them to a homemade low-FODMAP treat afterwards as a 'thank you'!)
8. Enjoy the challenge and try foods you wouldn't have otherwise!
Go through the list of 'elimination-safe' foods and pick one out you've never tried before. In fact, pick a couple and create a new dish! It's quite uplifting to realise that had you not been on the diet, you may have never tried a certain food(s)!
What are your tips for shopping on the low-FODMAP diet?