Onions make people cry. They contain compounds that combine to produce propanethial S-oxide, which irritates eyes and causes them to produce tears.
Onions are part of a family of carbohydrates containing fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols — also known as FODMAPs. And if you have IBS, you may have figured out that FODMAPs can worsen your symptoms. And for many IBS patients, finding symptom relief also means giving up onions and other flavor-enhancing ingredients — at least for a while.
In fact, many people with IBS severely reduce the amount of FODMAPs they eat by going on the low FODMAP diet. And — when done correctly — the low FODMAP diet can make a HUGE difference in your IBS symptoms.
But there’s a problem. A couple of them actually.
FODMAPs are good for you. They contain nutrients your body needs. And when you eliminate or severely restrict them, you can develop nutrient deficiencies. This problem is totally solvable though. The trick is to work with a knowledgeable and experienced practitioner for your low FODMAP diet. They’ll help you get all the nutrients you need and even address the root cause(s) of your IBS so you can actually get better, rather than just feeling better. Then you will be able to add at least some of the FODMAPs back into your diet.
FODMAPs taste good. When you cut out FODMAPs, you are eliminating things like garlic, onions, shallots, and most mushrooms. And when you eliminate those foods, you also eliminate a lot of flavor. Fortunately, this problem is solvable too.
It’s totally possible to be on a low FODMAP diet and still enjoy eating. When you’re cooking for IBS, there are loads of ways to add flavor without adding FODMAPs. Read on for a few of my faves.
Garlic is loaded with FODMAPs. So when you’re on a low FODMAP diet, adding chopped or roasted garlic to your recipes is a no-go. Garlic powder and spice blends that contain garlic are out too.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy garlicky goodness while eating low FODMAP. Garlic oil gives you the garlic flavor you crave while leaving the FODMAPs behind. It’s easy to make and only requires two ingredients: fresh garlic and olive oil. FODMAP Everyday has a low FODMAP friendly recipe for garlic infused oil.
Use a healthy oil for your infusion. I recommend extra virgin olive oil. Avoid the more inflammatory oils like corn oil and vegetable oil.
If you want a shortcut, Fody Foods (a great low FODMAP brand) has infused oils you can purchase. They’ll cost you a bit more than making your own. But sometimes a shortcut is well worth it!
Green onions — AKA scallions — are high in FODMAPs. But only if you use the white part. If you still want some green onion flavor in your dishes, you can use the green stems of the scallions.
Just wash and thinly slice them. Just make sure to stop at the green part. The bulb (white part) of green onions is high FODMAP. So you can either throw that away, share it with a friend, or even use it to regrow the green stems.
You can also use the green stems of leeks in your low FODMAP recipes. Leeks look like giant scallions. And while you again want to skip the white part, the green part of leeks can give your recipe a low FODMAP oniony flavor.
Chives look like baby scallions. Restaurants often use sliced chives to top baked potatoes. While chives are related to onions and garlic, they don’t have the white bulb (which is the high FODMAP part).
Chives can add a kick of raw onion flavor without the FODMAPs. Just rinse them, chop them, and add them to your favorite dish.
Make a compound butter. Add chopped chives to softened butter and stir them together. Use a sheet of plastic wrap to roll the butter into a log. Put it in the freezer and then you can slice off individual portions as needed.
Most mushrooms are high in FODMAPs. But there is one exception — oyster mushrooms. While you don’t often see these atop a pizza, these mushrooms are used commonly in many types of cuisine.
You can saute them, add them to pasta, or even make mushroom soup. A quick google search will yield lots of low FODMAP recipes featuring oyster mushrooms. But if you’re getting a low FODMAP recipe from a website, make sure it was written by someone who understands the low FODMAP diet. Or you can use your low FODMAP app to check the ingredients for yourself. You can find my favorite low FODMAP app and other IBS resources in my free IBS Resource Guide.
Oyster mushrooms not your thing? You can also replace mushrooms with eggplant. This low FODMAP option can add a similar flavor and texture to your recipes.
There are loads of low FODMAP spices that you can use in your cooking to add tons of flavor without having to worry about exacerbating your IBS symptoms.
✓ Cumin — a smoky spice often used in Mexican food
✓ Paprika — also smoky, you’ll find paprika in a variety of cuisines
✓ Cinnamon — you can add cinnamon to both sweet and savory dishes. It’s even good in coffee!
✓ Black pepper or chilis — to add a spicy kick to your food. Just watch out for chili powders. Some of them include ingredients like onion and garlic powder.
✓ Rosemary, sage, and thyme — all great for adding flavor to savory dishes
✓ Parsley, basil, and oregano — common in Italian dishes
No matter which type of cuisine you love, there are low FODMAP spices you can use. Monash — a go-to low FODMAP resource — has a chart of low FODMAP spices listed by cuisine.
The low FODMAP diet is one of my favorite therapeutic tools for people with IBS. But that’s what it is — a tool. The low FODMAP diet is not meant to be a lifelong way of eating. Yes, it can help mitigate your symptoms while you and your practitioner work on addressing the root cause of your IBS. But it is not safe for the long-term.
So while cutting out FODMAPs can be challenging, remember — it’s temporary!
If you’re looking for a practitioner to help figure out and address the root cause of your IBS, click the button below. After working with hundreds of IBS patients, I know how to address not just the symptoms, but the cause. My goal is to help you feel better (and get better) fast!