IBS and the FODMAP Diet

Apr 27, 2017 | Anxiety, Blog, Diet

anxiety and IBS
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IBS and the FODMAP Diet

Do you suffer with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)? If so, you’re not alone; it’s something which affects 20% of women (and lots of men too). Symptoms can range from stomach pain, to diarrhea, constipation, gas – it’s really a nightmare.

You might be aware that there seems to be a link between stress and anxiety and IBS too – our emotional and mental state has an impact on our bellies.

Anxiety can both make IBS worse, AND IBS can make anxiety worse (worries about being caught short for the loo are just one example!).

IBS and the FODMAp diet is something that I’m personally interested in – as a hypnotherapist a work with people to help them with their IBS a lot – I also had my own struggle with IBS some years ago during a particularly stressful and anxious time at work.

I’ve followed Emma Hatcher from the blog She Can’t Eat What for a while on Twitter and we recently hung out to chat about book stuff (meeting other authors is a perk of having written one too!), anxiety and FODMAPS (plus read on for a delicious recipe!)

anxiety and IBSRead on for my interview with Emma about IBS and the FODMAP Diet…

What on earth is the FODMAP diet?

FODMAP is an acronym that stands for:

Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols.

I know – my mind went blank the first time too. But really the above words are just complex names for a collection of molecules (more specifically short-chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols), found in many common foods, including milk, onions, garlic and pears.

The principle of a Low FODMAP Diet is to restrict the foods high in FODMAPs causing chaos in the gut, giving it a chance to calm down before working out your own personal tolerance thresholds. This means it can be tailored to YOU specifically and as a result hopefully improve your gut symptoms associated with IBS.

What people have to remember is that it’s not about being incredibly restrictive long term. The ultimate goal is to eat and live as freely as possible with the least restrictions you can get away with – the more FODMAPs you can return to your diet without triggering symptoms, the healthier your gut is likely to be. Hurrah!

Is there any evidence for IBS and the FODMAP diet?

The Low FODMAP diet is now recommended by the NHS and worldwide to help relieve the symptoms of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and other digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease and coeliac disease. Many studies have been conducted with strong evidence of success, with more exciting studies underway in the UK at Kings College London at the moment. (http://www.kcl.ac.uk/lsm/research/divisions/dns/projects/fodmaps/research.aspx)

How did you come to discover the FODMAP diet and how did it help you?

After suffering from horrible stomach pains and never-ending bloating, I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) at 14. Years followed of working with my doctor to cut out wheat, gluten, lactose and other common triggers – but nothing seemed to work long term. It wasn’t until I was in my second year of university that a dietician suggested following a Low FODMAP Diet. As cheesy as it sounds, it was a light-bulb moment. The diet didn’t only decrease my symptoms, but completely changed my life.

What advice would you give those suffering with IBS?

That you’re not alone! Life is about balance; there will always be a very large place for chocolate in my life. But stomach aches and an unhappy gut have become routine for so many of us in our stress-filled, 24/7 worlds and gut health is so important. It’s time to think about taking care of our bodies and what we’re eating; small changes really can decrease those crappy symptoms that come from IBS and other nasty digestive disorders. And also: listen to your own body. What works for somebody else might not work for you and vice versa. It takes some time and effort to work out your own gut health game plan, but when you do, it will be so worth it.

Tell us about your book 🙂

When I first started the Low FODMAP diet, I quickly realised there were a huge lack of recipes available that were both healthier and low FODMAP. I created my blog She Can’t Eat What?! with the aim to share my story, raise awareness of the Low FODMAP Diet and to help others in the same position. A while ago I was offered the opportunity to write a book, and I jumped at the chance.

I’ve teamed with the official FODMAP Friendly team to make sure people are getting the right information and packed the book, The FODMAP Friendly Kitchen full of 100 quick, easy and delicious recipes, along with diet information and my own personal stories. I want to help give people that foundation I felt I never had, when it came to first cooking FODMAP friendly meals – because if you have food intolerances or allergies you shouldn’t have to feel restricted in what you eat! It’s time for everybody to have a healthy and happy gut.

Check out Emma’s book The FODMAP Friendly Kitchen Cookbook here

Buckwheat risotto with macadamia cream – from The FODMAP Friendly Kitchen, by Emma Hatcher

ibs and the fodmap dietServes 4

Mushroom risotto used to be one of my favourites and the aubergines here are a great FODMAP-friendly substitute that provide a very similar texture. Warming and satisfying, this is real ‘bowl’ food. The buckwheat groats cook in a third of the time of a standard rice risotto, so that you can get more time away from the stove. Plus, its creaminess comes from the macadamia nuts, instead of the butter, offering a different texture and a lovely richness.


1 large aubergine, chopped into small chunks

2 tbsp garlic-infused oil

255g buckwheat groats

80ml dry white wine

470ml vegetable stock or hot water

150g spring greens

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

1/2 small bunch of fresh parsley,

finely chopped

Grated parmesan, to serve (optional)

For the macadamia cream

40g macadamia nuts, soaked for 5 hours

or overnight

35g sunflower seeds

160ml water

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tbsp lemon juice


To make the macadamia cream, add all of the ingredients apart from the water into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. While the processor is still running, pour in the water bit by bit, until you reach a thick, cream-like consistency. Leave to one side while preparing the rest of the dish.

To make the risotto, heat the garlic-infused oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the aubergine and saute for about 10 mins or until softened and starting to brown. Add the buckwheat groats to the pan. Toss and let cook, ‘toasting’ the buckwheat, for about 1-2 mins. Add the wine, stir and let cook until completely absorbed. Ladle in the vegetable stock, a little bit at a time, keeping the mixture at a low simmer.

Each time the liquid is absorbed by the buckwheat, add a bit more, until you’ve used up all the stock and it’s been absorbed fully by the buckwheat. Have a quick taste. The buckwheat should be tender at this point, but not mushy. Add in the spring greens and lemon juice and cook for another couple of minutes. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the macadamia cream.

Divide into bowls and serve topped with parsley, lemon zest, and a little parmesan, if you like.


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