Okay, so I thought I was done with the cold foods, but I had to make an exception for this one. Today I’m teaming up with the Recipe ReDux and Nestle to share a FODMAPs-friendly recipe with you.
One of my favorite things about being a dietitian is learning about new approaches and products to help manage health conditions and improve patient quality of life. Gastrointestinal health is an important factor in overall wellness, as the health of our GI system impacts our entire body—and the mind.
I first became interested in the gut health back in 2009, when I started working with HIV patients and learning about the immune system. Finding out that the majority of immune function takes place in the gastrointestinal system was a game-changer for me. This was a big part of what led to my including more probiotic-rich foods in my diet and paying attention to how different foods affected me. Though I haven’t gone on to specialize in gastrointestinal disorders as a clinical concentration (my interests have tended more toward psychology and neurology—also areas where gut health matters a lot, given all the neurotransmitter production and signaling that happens in the GI tract), it comes up daily in my work.
In our healthcare system, we’re often quick to turn to medication before exploring lifestyle changes. Though this is sometimes an appropriate approach, what we eat can have a huge effect on our overall health and wellness, and making changes to our diet reap huge benefits.
FODMAP is an acronym originally coined by researchers at Monash University in Australia (they also have a neat FODMAPs smartphone app) to classify types of short-chain carbohydrates that may be poorly absorbed by individuals with GI disorders like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and lead to digestive difficulties.
FODMAP stands for the following:
F – Fermentable – Quickly broken down by bacteria in the gut and produce gas
O – Oligosaccharides (Fructo-and galacto-oligosaccharides) — Found in select vegetables, legumes, fruits, grains, nuts and teas
D – Disaccharides (Lactose) – Found in select milk and milk products
M – Monosaccharides (Fructose) – Found in select fruits, vegetables and sweeteners
A – And
P – Polyols (Sugar Alcohols) – Found in select fruits, vegetables and artificial sweeteners
If you’re wondering what some of those compounds are and what they do, here’s some more information from the site:
- Fructooligosaccharides (FOS, fructans) are a chain of 3–9 fructose molecules with a glucose molecule at the end
- Galactooligosaccharides (GOS, galactans) are a chain of 3–9 galactose molecules with a fructose molecule at the end
- Disaccharides, specifically lactose (a natural milk sugar), is made up of 2 sugar molecules (glucose and galactose)
- Monosaccharides, specifically fructose, is made up of a single sugar molecule where excessive amounts can be difficult to absorb
- Polyols are known as sugar alcohols including sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol and maltitol
Here’s a handy list of high and low-FODMAPs foods.
When trying to identify which of these sugars and fibers trigger symptoms, patients will follow a low-FODMAPs elimination diet and gradually add these foods back in by group. If they notice their symptoms return, it gives them a sense of which potential foods are causing their issue so they know what to avoid.
Whenever I encounter a potential client who asks if I do low-FODMAPs diet, I refer them to someone else with more training in this area, since such a restrictive plan presents unique challenges. The most common complaint I hear is how restrictive and frustrating it is to have so many foods off-limits. Unintentional weight loss can be an issue, as can fatigue and even depression. Working with a doctor and dietitian who specialize in gastrointestinal disorders and FODMAPs (and other elimination diets) is key to helping you get through it.
Though I’ve never been a huge fan of oral supplements, I have come to appreciate their place in helping someone meet their nutritional needs when they really can’t get adequate nutrition from food alone. In a perfect world, everyone would be able to swallow and tolerate all the things or at least have enough support and resources to have enough alternatives, but sadly, sometimes it’s just not the case. With some of my ALS clients, for example, it’s not always realistic to expect a family member or caregiver to be able to whip up special meals several times a day. Or maybe someone is still working while navigating a health condition they have or are on the go a lot or have limited time or ability to prepare food.
Nestle has a supplement called ProNourish that’s specially formulated for patients on a low-FODMAPs diet. Some of the reasons many people dislike oral supplements is because they’re often overly sweet and have really long ingredient lists. They may not also be the most palatable at room temperature. That said, they can be a helpful backup when someone feels they’re out of options or overwhelmed trying to navigate new restrictions.
An 8-ounce bottle of ProNourish provides 170 calories, 3 grams of fiber, and 15 grams of protein, plus important vitamins and minerals it might be hard to get if you’re following a low-FODMAPs diet. Sure, you can drink it on its own (I suggest cold), but it’s perfect to use as an ingredient for other recipes. I used a bottle of the vanilla flavor and some low-FODMAPs* banana and pumpkin to make a bowl of Instagram-ready nice cream that’s perfect for a filling breakfast and just sweet enough.
Pumpkin Spice ProNourish Nice Cream
- 1 bottle vanilla ProNourish
- 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 frozen banana
- 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 cup ice
- Add ingredients to blender and blend until smooth.
- Pour into a glass or bowl.
- Garnish with cinnamon or low-FODMAPs toppings like chia seeds, ground flax, walnuts, or sunflower seeds
Have you ever followed a low-FODMAPs diet or other elimination diet?
Disclosure: I received a free sample of ProNourish from Nestle as part of a partnership with the Recipe ReDux. I was not compensated monetarily for my time, but by posting this original recipe, I’m participating in a contest that does involve a monetary prize.
*This recipe includes low-FODMAPs ingredients but has not been tested for its FODMAP content.