It’s the New Year and a time for resolutions and new goals. Getting healthier is on the mind of a lot of people. Whether it is to finally get rid of those digestive symptoms, eat more mindfully, or cook at home more often, this is a time when many of us are motivated to turn a new leaf.
Tips for Success with the Low FODMAP (or Any) Diet
That’s why I decided to write my first blog of the year around keys for success when you embark on a new way of eating. This could be a low FODMAP diet or just eating healthier, depending on your goal.
1. Get organized
I find it is really important to set aside some time to think about and plan what I want to eat for the upcoming week. Especially if you have a busy life, being prepared will prevent you from eating something that may trigger symptoms (or that is not consistent with your goal) and give you peace of mind. I find it reassuring to know that I have a delicious, nutritious dinner ready for me after a long day of work. One I can just reheat or finish preparing in a few minutes.
Find a day and time that is convenient for you. Whether it’s a Saturday morning over coffee or a Wednesday evening when all the chores are done and you have some time to relax. Then, think about which recipes you want to prepare for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for the next three, four, or seven days, and write down your meal plan. Although things could change and you may need to make adjustments, it’s good to have a menu plan you can count on.
2. Shop and prep ahead
Cooking can be labor and time-intensive but it doesn’t have to be. With some planning, you can streamline tasks and save time. After choosing the recipes you will cook for the upcoming week, make a grocery list. Go shopping so you have all the ingredients handy when you are ready to start prepping and cooking. Then, set aside a few hours once or twice a week when you can prep and cook ahead. You don’t necessarily need to cook all your meals, let’s say, on a Sunday afternoon. But you can get a head start by either prepping all the vegetables or cooking one entrée that will make a few dinners.
Take a piece of paper and divide it into four sections. Label them: Staples (this is your non-perishable items like rice, flour, sugar, canned or bulk items), Produce (fresh fruits and vegetables), Eggs/Dairy, and Meat/Poultry/Fish (fresh or frozen). As you are reading the recipes you selected, fill in the sections with the ingredients you need. Once you are in the grocery store, shop in this order: staples first, then produce, eggs/dairy, and finally meat/poultry/fish. This will save you time in the store, and keep your perishable items fresh for the longest.
3. Cook in bulk
Many people feel intimidated about preparing foods such as whole grains or beans at home as they take longer to cook. But you can cook many items in bulk and enjoy the results of your work for days. Stews and soups usually keep well in the refrigerator for a few days and freeze nicely. If you have a few favorites, make them in large amounts once. Usually, the time involved is only slightly longer than preparing smaller servings. Then eat them once or twice that week and freeze the rest in the portions you need. Next time you get home late, all you have to do is defrost and reheat.
Cook ahead grains such as oatmeal for breakfast; brown rice or quinoa for your main meals; lentils, chickpeas, and beans to make soups or add to salads; and broths to keep handy in the freezer. Or you can take a shortcut and use pre-cooked refrigerated/frozen grains, and canned beans and tomatoes. Many stores sell already prepped bags of vegetables like kale/chard, chopped onions/mirepoix, and peeled garlic (if tolerated). If any of these make your life easier and help you eat healthier, by no means, use them!
4. Clean and re-stock your pantry
Set yourself up for success from the beginning. You are starting a new way of eating; why keep items you don’t need or that could sabotage you? Clean up your cupboards, give away or donate any items that do not suit your new way of eating, and stock up your kitchen and refrigerator with foods that are consistent with your health goals. We are all human! If that bag of potato chips or tub of cashews is right in front of us when we are hungry or stressed, it will be hard to resist them. But having snacks that are in line with our new way of eating available will help us stay on course!
5. Keep (low FODMAP) snacks handy
Snacks can be part of a healthy way of eating when chosen appropriately. They can save us from getting too hungry at the next meal. Or fueling our body after exercise or during a long day at work when we are a few hours away from lunch or dinner. Keep some non-perishable, low-FODMAP snacks in your office or in the car. For example, rice cakes and single-serve pouches of peanut/almond butter; popcorn; instant oatmeal; tuna in pouches; gluten-free crackers.
Bonus Tip: Don’t do it alone
Get your family, friends, and co-workers on board. Explain what your health goals are and ask them to support you. They don’t have to eat exactly the way you do. But it certainly helps when they understand your motivation and can help support you when you need it.
If you are suffering from IBS and want to find relief from your gut symptoms and enjoy food again once and for all, let’s chat about how I can help you.
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Published January 14, 2020. Updated, January 11, 2022.