It might be helpful to first share my FODMAP story and the reasons behind why I created FODMAP Free for Foodies.
I had been battling Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) for 20 years but this was a new normal. It first began with an inability to digest lactose, which was just a minor inconvenience. Then came an intolerance for garlic and onions including powder-form (present in most all-purpose seasoning), followed by certain sweets, fruit and vegetables. It generally went like this: I felt awful after consuming these foods, but would feel almost back to normal by next morning, until the new cycle began. After a while however, it felt like I never got a reprieve. My GI symptoms continued to worsen, along with chronic inflammation and other immune disorders. My doctors ran me through a battery of tests, suspecting some type of autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s disease or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I was in constant discomfort and misery, and all I wanted to do was lay in bed with loose fitting clothes.
For someone who considered pursuing a career in the culinary arts, enjoyed checking out the latest restaurants in Manhattan, and equated food with socializing and bonding with people, this felt like a cruel irony. Eventually, it seemed I was intolerant of everything except water. What started off as a nuisance became an all-consuming, maddening and distressing nightmare. There was a battle going on inside and my body seemed to be screaming….and I wanted to scream along with it. I couldn’t focus, avoided people and dreaded leaving the apartment. A close friend who hadn’t seen me in two years likened my situation to a self-imposed exile. There was some truth in that I felt powerless to a life long sentence of isolation and wretchedness that most IBS/FGIDs sufferers know too well.
Eventually, I started connecting the dots: garlic, lactose, dried fruit, almonds, avocados…even chamomile (the age-old tummy remedy) — and stumbled upon info on FODMAP. At the time, it was still a relatively new study out of Monash University in Australia and virtually unknown in the U.S. I began eliminating some of the high FODMAP foods and began feeling relief. I found one of the few FODMAP specialists in the East Coast and began consulting with her.
As I became more educated about the FODMAP approach, I realized I could consume a wider variety of food, providing I made a few variations. Then I began to discover new “tricks” for cooking previously forbidden items such as chili, stews and baked goods. I began applying skills acquired from culinary school and found I could still make fairly elaborate dishes with minor tweaks. A few years ago, I had stopped hosting my multi-course dinners because what’s the fun in cooking dishes I can’t eat? But now, friends who don’t have FODMAP issues enjoy my dishes just the same.
I began experimenting with recipes, and got a thrill out of beating FODMAPs at its own wicked game with my arsenal of spices and garlic/onion/sweet substitutes. Yes, dining out is still a royal pain but it is tremendously liberating to know there is a vast amount of dishes in which I can indulge!
Thanks for visiting FODMAP Free for Foodies. I hope you too will find relief and can go back to being a foodie again!
Bo Park, FODMAP Free Foodie