Are you newly-diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Coeliac Disease (or - like our founder - both?) and want some ideas of eat in a day? Read on.
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 Low 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) they’re actually not that bad. In fact, they’re perfectly delicious and edible. Mostly. (not the bread, the bread is uniformly depressing even when toasted…so, sorry if you were a bread person. But there are other tasty gluten free foods to be had!).
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 gluten free foods 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).
3 eggs, scrambled, topping brocolli that has been steamed and then stir fried in various delicious spices. Can 1000% recommend chipotle chilli or a generous slug of that tasty green tabasco sauce.
Porridge oats (gluten free) made with half milk, half water, topped with a warm berry compote, 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.)
Greek yoghurt with berries and honey
KIND bars, or other gluten-free granola bars (bearing in mind these are often pretty heavy on the sugars)
Rice cakes with peanut butter and banana, or avocado
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 some pepperoni slices
Spicy baked chickpeas
Home-made leek, potato and veggie soup
Roasted veg and feta salad with quinoa
2-3 corn tortilla ‘pizzas’ (top a corn tortilla with tomato puree, basil, oregano, salt + pepper and any other ‘pizza’ toppings you love. We love peppers, ham and cheese!)
Something quick and easy like chilli and rice or foil-baked salmon fillet with veggies, rice or potatoes are our go-toes. 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, chicken piccatta or chicken katsu curry (breaded with gluten free breadcrumbs, of course).
All through the day we top up with water, and a couple of mugs 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 we can eat in the day as a person with IBS 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). Too many 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, with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, triggers are very personal. You have to track your diet 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.