So. You’ve had the diagnosis. Perhaps you are 100% definitely coeliac. Perhaps you’re going gluten free or low-gluten because it’s recommended on the FODMAP diet. Either way, you’re a bit devvo’d.
Pizza! you think, forlornly. PASTA! you wail. DOOOUUUUGHHHNUUUUUUUTS! you howl into the dark night.
It’s going to be okay.
Actually, gluten-free alternatives are so easy to come by now, and perhaps this is the ‘we haven’t had real pasta in 3 years’ talking, but they’re actually not that bad. In fact, they’re perfectly delicious and edible. Mostly. (not the bread, the bread is uniformly depressing if you were a bread person but there are other sots to the sweet tooth to find).
An average eating day with IBS and Coeliac Disease
If you were lucky like us, you already cooked or baked a fair amount of your food, having been taught by your parents how to not starve whilst fending for yourself, and also make a mean flapjack while you’re at it. If not, now is the time to get yourself set up in the kitchen. You’re going to need safe alternatives to eating out for a while. We’ve linked to a few of our favourite blogs and resources at the end of this post that we’ve relied on over the past few years.
What we love
Initially, with the help of our food diaries and a nutritionist*, we found that we were perhaps pounding the carbs a bit too hard, not getting enough water, not taking in enough fibre (hello flax!) and should try a pre/probiotic mix tablet each day. It meant trying to up the veggie intake and ease off the potatoes. Relying on less toast to make a breakfast, and more eggs, oats and healthy fats.
Through trial and error, this has become a pretty standard and happy tummy day for us:
1 slice gluten-free toast topped with mashed avocado and a soft-boiled egg (plus a little bit of hot sauce).
Porridge oats (gluten free) made with half milk, half water, topped with a warm berry compote and a few nuts/flaxseed, or banana and peanut butter.
^ Note that avocado is a high FODMAP food. You may be able to stomach none, a little or as much as you like; keep that diary handy and note it down.
Snacks can vary but we cycle through a few things:
- In-season fruit (mainly berries, bananas or satsumas. We LOVE apples, but have to limit them now because IBS. Sob).
- KIND bars, or other gluten-free granola bars
- Rice cakes with peanut butter or Pop rice
- Anything we can bake from the Gluten Free on a Shoestring blog (see resources below)
- Boiled eggs (not the best office snack, we’ll admit)
- Veggies & hummus
- Cheddar cheese, a few almonds and maybe some pepperoni slices
- Spicy baked chickpeas
Home-made leek, potato and veggie soup
Roasted veg feta salad with quinoa
Something quick and easy like chilli and rice OR foil-baked salmon fillet with veggies, rice or potatoes. This last one is brilliant because you can whack everything except the rice in a foil parcel and leave it alone in the oven, and then in 30 minutes: bosh, dinner.
On a weekend we’ll probably whip up something super comforting like a lasagna or chicken katsu curry (breaded with gluten free breadcrumbs, of course).
All through the day we top up with water, and a couple of cups of decaf tea or coffee. We do drink, but you’ve got to find the alcohol that works for you – our palates have changed pretty drastically, so we love a good G&T now or glass of red wine (whereas in the pre-coeliac years, the sweeter the drink, the better). As for soda, we’ve pretty much given it up entirely, unless we’re in the pub and don’t fancy that aforementioned G&T.
What we try to avoid
For us, our two main trigger foods are clear: gluten and caffeine. But there are other things that can make us feel a bit grizzly too. Too much sugar (and, this is sadly a very fine line that you never realise you’ve crossed until you’re staring back at it with a stomach ache). Too big of an apple (yep. This is true). Mushrooms. Eating acidic fruit on an empty stomach. Eating too many nuts. Certain wines. Going too long in between snacks/meals. Not drinking water before eating breakfast.
The thing is, you have to track it to know. But at least we feel like we do know. Not always mind. It’s not 100% foolproof. But then we just keep tracking, and one day we’ll get there.
Gluten free and IBS-friendly food resources
Here are a few of our favourite blogs and books that have kept us sane through the gut-healing process:
- Gluten is My Bitch - this book is utterly HILarious, and bonus, you feel that someone somewhere really gets what you’re going through right now.
- Gluten Free on a Shoestring - until we found this site, we’d given up on baking altogether. Our experience of baking gluten free up til this point was insanely expensive recipe ingredients followed by something dense, crumbly or lumpy that inevitably ended up in the bin. We haven’t yet had a recipe from this blog that didn’t work for us (and we use either Dove Farm or Sainsburys gluten free plain flour, and both have worked like a charm for us in these recipes)
- Ibreatheimhungry.com - for when you need to up your veggie and protein intake
- Minimalist Baker – lots of dairy, egg and gluten free recipes on this site. Especially great if you’re a vegan who has to eat gluten free. All aiming to be simple and quick to prepare (also the photography is uhmazing).
- Ambitious Kitchen - not everything on this site is gluten free, but plenty of the main course recipes are.
- And of course, the FODMAP list, just in case you didn’t have it.
Do you have any favourite recipe websites you frequent? We always love trying new ones, so leave us a comment below and direct us to some delicious new food!
* Always discuss the best methods of coping with your IBS with your doctor
** While these recipes/meal ideas work for us, they may not for you! Track your food, track your symptoms and listen to your body and medical practitioner.