All Boards >> Eating for IBS Diet Discussion Board


Reged: 12/13/04
Posts: 4488
Loc: West Orange, NJ (IBS-D)
Exuberant Eating
† † † 08/31/07 11:15 AM

Over the past few weeks, Iíve seen quite a few people on the Boards who feel thereís nothing to eat under Heatherís guidelines. I know that when you first start out it can be tough to figure out substitutions for whatever youíre used to eating but the alternatives do exist and you will find them as you get used to eating this new way. Iíd like to offer a few thoughts that might make it easier to expand your menu if youíre one of the people convinced there are no good options.

Donít assume itís impossible to eat this way if you donít, wonít, or canít cook. There are a couple of great old posts about how to follow Heatherís guidelines without setting more than a tippy-toe in a kitchen:
Donít cook 1
Donít cook 2

If you do cook - or want to start - spend some time really looking through the Recipe Index and the recipes in Heatherís Eating For IBS. You can almost certainly find dishes that are appealing and safe for you however touchy your tummy is. The Simple Herbed Chicken Breasts from EFI combined with the Skinny Mashed Potatoes from the Recipe Index are delicious and very easy on the tummy. If you despair of getting any IF down, remember that most people can tolerate smoothies - you can start off with ones that are almost all SF and up the amount of IF gradually. And if youíre really feeling deprived, try some of the desserts - Anti-Depressant Brownies are a universal favorite.

Donít assume the only foods you can cook are those in Heatherís cookbook and on the Recipe Board. Theyíre a great place to start but once you understand the concepts behind Heatherís guidelines, youíll be amazed by how many ďoutsideĒ recipes you can handle, either as-is or with minor alterations. Iíve been watching at least some programs on the Food Network every weekday since about the beginning of July and itís rare for me to not find at least one recipe every day that I think might be workable. And if you have favorite recipes of your own, they may be adaptable, too.

Donít assume you canít handle spices. Maybe you canít but a lot of IBSers can. I always thought it was the spiciness of Mexican food that destroyed my tummy but once I started following Heatherís guidelines, I realized it was the fat and the cheese that were doing the damage. So if you like spicy food, give it a try. Even if you find you truly canít handle spicy food now give it a try again every so often as you stabilize. I found that as my tummy calmed down and stayed calm it got better able to handle foods it objected to early on.

Similarly, donít assume you canít handle onions, garlic, tomatoes, and bell peppers. Again, maybe you canít but once youíre eliminating the trigger foods that so often accompany them, you may be pleasantly surprised. If you truly canít handle them, see if you can handle some substitutes: onion powder instead of onions, garlic powder instead of garlic. If a stew, soup, or sauce calls for tomatoes, see if you can handle a little tomato sauce instead - you get some of the flavor a little more gently. If that doesnít work, thereís a Mock Tomato Sauce on the Recipe Board that may work for you. Bell peppers are harder to find a substitute for but sometimes you can simply leave them out and the dish still tastes fine.

Donít think you need to be able to eat soy in order to follow Heatherís guidelines. Rice milk makes a perfectly good substitute for cowís milk in recipes and almond milk is quite drinkable. There are rice ice creams, too - Rice Dream Carob Almond Chip is quite good. There are also rice and almond cheeses and if youíre a really big cheese fan, you can look for a book called ďThe Ultimate Uncheese CookbookĒ to discover some interesting cheese fake-outs. Yogurt is tougher but if you do a Search on the Diet Board with no time limit, youíll discover a post from Kandee about making kefit from rice milk. Itís not yogurt but it might do as a substitute.

Donít assume you need to eat anything ďweirdĒ in order to follow Heatherís guidelines. I donít eat tofu or quinoa or, really, anything I didnít eat before I found Heatherís diet except for dairy substitutes and low-fat mayonnaise. I donít shop at health food stores and I buy only 3 or 4 items at Whole foods.

Realize that what you are able to safely eat now is not necessarily all youíre going to be able to safely eat forever. It took me months and months but I eventually got to the point where I can eat green salads. I ate dry Rice Chex for breakfast for longer than I like to remember but now I can handle egg whites and IBS-safe muffins and even fruit for breakfast. I donít think we are ever cured of IBS but Iíve definitely found that the longer my tummy stays calm the better able it is to regulate itself and the further I can push the limits of what I eat.

This same concept applies to eating at restaurants and other peopleís houses. Once you become stable, getting a little bit of something you shouldnít will be less disastrous than it is when you first start out. If you end up having to eat around the grated parmesan on your spaghetti with marinara or you have a sneaking suspicion that your grilled chicken isnít quite as low in fat as you thought it would be, the consequences will be less severe.

Along the same lines - and donít tell anyone I said so - once youíre stable you may find you can ďcheatĒ a little without catastrophic results. Heather says she has a small piece of chocolate every day. I can occasionally handle a glass of wine. The key concepts here are stable, small, and occasional.

Most important, please believe that - even if you never stray from the guidelines at all - Heatherís EFI Diet is not a boring regimen of limited food choices and near starvation. As scary as food can be for those of us with IBS, feeding ourselves well and regularly is part of the key to managing IBS. And making sure we eat from as wide a menu as possible makes it far more likely weíll be able to stick with the program.

I hope this opens up some possibilities and makes following the guidelines less stressful. Heatherís diet has been a godsend for me and I hope it will be the same for all of you.

[Research tells us fourteen out of any ten individuals likes chocolate. - Sandra Boynton]

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* Exuberant Eating Sand 08/31/07 11:15 AM
. * Excellent post, Sand! (m) lalala†† 08/31/07 11:28 AM

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