Review of The Everything Guide to the Low-FODMAP Diet

A One-Stop Source For Learning About And Living With A Low FODMAP Diet

This colorful penne toss recipe is just one of the many dinner recipes you'll find in The Everything Guide To The Low-FODMAP Diet. Image © Barbara Bolen, PhD

The low-FODMAP diet is an eating plan that is being used to treat various digestive disorders. FODMAP refers to fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. The FODMAPs are carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed, and some studies have shown that eating foods high in FODMAPs can precipitate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Some of the symptoms that have been linked to FODMAPs include gas, diarrhea, bloating, and pain.

The jury is still out on whether or not the low FODMAP diet is helpful for people who have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). At this point, there has not been enough study to determine whether or not it would be helpful for people with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis to follow a low FODMAP diet. In the meantime, some people with gastrointestinal symptoms may consider talking to their doctor about following a low FODMAP diet to see if it is helpful.

From Trusted Authors

The Everything Guide to the Low-FODMAP Diet is written by Barbara Bolen, Ph.D. and Kathleen Bradley, CPC. The first chapter in the book walks the reader through how and where the low FODMAP diet was developed, and how FODMAPs affect the digestive process as they move through the small and large intestine. The next chapter gives an overview of IBS, food allergies, food intolerances, celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, and how the low FODMAP diet can be applied for those conditions. Also covered are the steps anyone who is considering the diet should take before changing their eating plan and the various options for implementing the low FODMAP diet.

Following The Low FODMAP Plan

The third chapter gets into the nitty-gritty of the first step: the Elimination Phase. Lists of foods allowed and not allowed are given. Also included is practical advice on how to set up a low FODMAP pantry, and the realities of shopping in the grocery store to avoid the pitfalls that could derail the diet plan. Chapter 4 continues on to the Challenge Phase and how to start reintroducing foods, including what to do if symptoms return, tips on how to make the most of the diet, and what to do if the diet doesn't help improve symptoms. Chapter 5 includes practical advice how to live the low FODMAP plan day-to-day, especially when presented with challenges of implementing the diet into your budget, eating out, and incorporating into a vegetarian lifestyle.

Chapter 6 is where the rubber meets the road: the recipes! The best way to stay on any diet plan, low FODMAP included, is to make foods from fresh ingredients and to avoid processed foods. Accompanying the recipes are the most gorgeous photographs of the completed dishes.

Why I Recommend This Book

There are several things I like about this book: the first of which is that it is written by my friend and trusted colleague, Dr Bolen, who has a comprehensive understanding of IBS and the low FODMAP diet. The second is that it is written in a clear and understandable way, right down to the easy-to-read font that's used in the book. Throughout the book are little tips and hints that provide essential information about low FODMAP, or alert the reader to potential difficulties or misunderstandings about the diet.

My favorite part of the book, however, and it's roughly half of it, are the recipes. Dr Bolen's co-author who developed the recipes, Ms Bradley, has been diagnosed with IBS herself and is therefore a true authority on FODMAPs. Just so you understand where I'm coming from: I like to cook, and I have many, many cookbooks, including several written for people with IBS or IBD. However, I'm rather lazy about my cooking and my eyes start to glaze over with recipes that have a long list of ingredients or that have ingredients that I can't locate at my grocery store. There might be ingredients in these recipes that you're currently unfamiliar with, such as the gluten-free flour alternatives or Demerera sugar. However, you're likely to find these foods at your local store (try the gluten-free section), and they're going to be essential to success at the diet. And what's more, the recipe pages often include information about any of the more unusual ingredients.

Whenever I get a book to review, I also like to see a list of sources or references at the end, but often this is not the case. Dr Bolen includes her sources so that you can corroborate any information about FODMAPs, or even continue on to do your own research about the diet and how it affects digestion. This is critically important, and I refuse to review books that can't back up their claims with some primary source material (such as original research published in reputable sources).

Trying A New Diet Is Challenging: Take Some Advice

Would a low FODMAP diet help me and my j-pouch, or my family members who find themselves in occasional digestive distress? I don't know, but the recipes in this book make me want to get in the kitchen and get cooking. And some of our favorite foods — like macaroni and cheese and donuts and cookies, don't have to be off the menu: we can make them in a healthier fashion. If you like things easy, there are plenty of recipes that have just a few ingredients and don't even require cooking: smoothies and salads (yes! salads!) and sandwiches. My advice is to find a few recipes you really like and hone them until you've made them just perfect for yourself, and then rotate them during your week. Your shopping trips will be easier, and before you know it, you won't need to put in so much effort: this new way of eating will just blend right into your life.

I heartily recommend The Everything Guide to the Low-FODMAP Diet to anyone curious about the diet, or who wants to follow a gluten-free diet and still eat great-tasting food. You can find more information about the book, the authors, and the diet, at

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