While you're healing from digestive issues, there are moments when it feels like you can't eat anything at all. To keep your belly full and your heart happy, I reccomend focusing on the foods that you can have and finding total joy in them. Dark chocolate, coffee, and peanut butter are all on the table, thankfully.
In the early days, the goal is to improve digestion as quickly as possible while still meeting caloric and nutrient needs. After all, you will not feel energetic, vibrant, and healthy if you are starving your body of essential fuel.
To help you focus on abundance rather than restriction, while still getting your essential nutrients in, here is my cheat sheet of the 5 best foods to lean on, especially if you're new to an IBS (Low FODMAP) diet. These are things you should eat daily, with a healthy sprinkle of fun foods like chocolate and peanut butter to keep you smiling.
1. Soft Lettuces
While lettuce is not a great source of energy (calories), it is an amazing source of micronutrients. These nutrients keep your cells healthy and happy, lower inflammation, fight free radicals, and contribute to longevity. You should be eating at least 5 servings of veggies and fruit daily.
Unlike heartier greens like kale, soft baby lettuces (like baby romaine, butter leaf lettuce, and baby spinach) are typically very easy to digest.
How to use lettuce:
- side salads
- stirred into grain bowls
- smoothies (especially spinach)
- as a wrap for sandwiches (butter leaf/Boston lettuce)
- in gluten-free pasta salads
2. White Rice
White rice is one of the most easily digested sources of carbohydrates. As long as you eat plenty of vegetables, you will get enough vitamins and minerals in your diet that you don't have to worry about choosing brown rice over white. Since most fruits need to be eaten sparingly on a low FODMAP diet, rice can provide much-needed carbohydrates. Basmati and jasmine rice are the best choices.
How to use rice:
- base for meat/veggie meals
- homemade sushi (with salmon and cucumber)
- rice flour noodles
3. Bell Peppers + Tomatoes
Bell peppers and tomatoes are a low FODMAP veggie option that can be easily incorporated into many delicious recipes. They provide tons of vitamin C (especially red peppers) and taste great. One of my best tips for following a low FODMAP diet is to fill your fridge with plenty of these veggies.
How to use peppers and tomatoes:
- in stir fries/curries
- stuffed with meat
- roasted and made into soup
- grilled and served with protein and pasta
- made into a dip
4. Wild Fish
All animal-based proteins are included on a low FODMAP diet, but some offer more benefits than others. Wild fish contain essential omega-3 fatty acids that help protect heart health, reduce inflammation, and support cognitive function.
I reccomend choosing wild oily fish a few times per week like salmon, trout, herring, sardines, and mackerel.
How to use wild fish:
- in homemade sushi
- baked with zucchini and tomatoes
- sauteed in avocado oil with homemade low FODMAP tartar sauce
- on salads
5. Ground Flax Seeds
Most high FODMAP foods are also very high in fibre. When you're just starting out, getting adequate fibre can be a bit challenging so ground flaxseed can help keep you regular. Ground flax is great because it can help normalize bowel movements whether you're struggling with constipation, diarrhea, or alternating bouts of both.
Flax seeds are also high in the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). They can help balance our hormones, and even protect against some cancers.
How to use ground flax:
- add to smoothies
- sprinkle over salads
- stir into rice to boost fibre
- use in baking (ground flax can be made into bread)
Nother tip to keep in mind is that it's important to work with a professional who can help ensure you're meeting nutritional requirements on a regular basis. A well designed low FODMAP diet should be filled with a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, nuts and seeds. These are just a few of the foods to include, but they are a great starting point when you're finding what works for your body.
If you have questions about meal planning for an IBS Diet or want to share your own staple foods I would love to hear from you in the comments!