In this blog post, you'll learn about the elimination phase of the Low FODMAP diet as well as how to make infused oils and incorporate them into your Low FODMAP food.
Getting Comfortable with the Elimination Phase
The Elimination Phase of the Low FODMAP Diet, pioneered by Monash Univesity, means that we remove all foods containing fermentable carbohydrates that may be causing IBS-type symptoms. This is a highly effective method to help determine our trigger foods. When consumed and combined with our gut bacteria, trigger foods can cause potential gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. The feedback we receive from following the Low FODMAP diet can provide us with lifelong tools to optimize our digestion. Understanding which foods we may be intolerant to can help us modify what we eat when dining out, traveling, or simply having a comfortable belly during the workday. The low FODMAP diet has become a widely used therapy, backed by science, to help people with gastrointestinal issues learn how they can manage their symptoms with food choices.
The Elimination Phase involves limiting lactose, fructose, fructans, galacto oligosaccharides, and polyols, including foods such as certain dairy products, honey, garlic, onion, and mushrooms, to name a few. The most common (usually panicky) questions I receive when speaking to patients are “how am I going to avoid garlic and onion when it's in everything I eat at home and in restaurants?” and “I thought garlic and onion were good for me?” The truth is that garlic, onion, and all other FODMAPs are not bad for you at all, but certain patients need to take a break from them for a while, then add them back in at a later date to determine their tolerance threshold.
It is true that garlic, onion, shallots, and leeks are the base of most cuisines worldwide and appear on every restaurant menu. They also serve as healthy additions to a diet and have been proven to have cardiovascular health benefits due to the sulfur compounds (allicin) they contain when they are crushed, chopped cooked with, and chewed. These ingredients also impart such a fragrance that as soon as you begin to cook with them, they fill your home with an aroma that makes you feel as though you’re dining al fresco on the Mediterranean Sea. As a dietitian, hearing a patient report so many of the classic IBS symptoms while cooking with so many fructans every day makes me feel confident that the Low FODMAP diet will be successful in improving their symptoms.
So, how do you flavor your meals while cooking and eating a low FODMAP diet?
There are so many other ways to add flavor without adding garlic and onion – trying new options may even expand your palate! Other flavorful options include dried or fresh herbs, such as basil, thyme, parsley, oregano, cilantro, and spices, such as pepper, mustard, cinnamon, chili powder, paprika, saffron, and turmeric. However, it is important to know that dried versions of garlic and onion in powder form are not used in the elimination phase. These items have just been simply dehydrated – all FODMAPs remain in a concentrated form. A solution for those missing onions is to use a pinch of an Indian spice called asafoetida powder, available at specialty spice markets. Additionally, you can use the green parts of spring onion and chive to retain a bit of onion flavor.
A perfect solution for those who still don’t know what to do without garlic and onion flavoring is to sauté whole garlic cloves in oil and remove the bulb before eating. Another tip is to use onion or garlic-infused oil, which is an excellent way to keep the flavor of the onion or garlic without the FODMAPs (see recipe below). This is because FODMAPs are not soluble in oil, so the flavor can be extracted from the fructan without the fermentable carbohydrate remaining. Since fructans are soluble in water, cooking with them in soups and stocks will contain the fructan and will not be allowed in the Elimination Phase. An important tip to remember when shopping for soups and stocks is to read the product ingredient labels to see if they contain a FODMAP. Whether the stock comes in liquid or powder form to be reconstituted, most do contain garlic and onion and should be avoided. Simply make them with infused oils, other herbs, and spices and you will be able to enjoy all of your favorite dishes. There are now soups, stocks, and dressings on the market that are low FODMAP certified! It is great to know that there are now many seasoning options on the market that do not contain FODMAPs and can be a very helpful way of adding combinations of flavor to meals, including garlic and onion.
How to Make Infused Oils
For the best-infused flavors, start with the right oils.
It is best to use olive oil that is light to mild to highlight the infused herbs, instead of a stronger, grassy-type, like extra virgin olive oil, that may mask the infused flavors. It is also recommended to use canola, sunflower, or safflower oils because of their neutral flavors.
- Best for using fresh herbs (parsley, basil, thyme, etc.)
- Use 1 cup of loosely packed fresh herbs to 1 quart of oil.
- Use a food processor to chop up the herbs and then combine them with oil.
- No need to let it sit for a long period of time. Just strain it and be sure to store it in a glass bottle in the fridge. This type will last about 1 week.
- This method is best for using woody herbs and dried spices (rosemary, chiles, peppercorns, garlic, onion, etc.)
- Heat the oil to 250°F and add ingredients after the oil has been removed from the stove and cools for 30 minutes. Let it sit until you reach your desired flavor. Strain it and store in a glass bottle.
- This oil does not need to be refrigerated.
DISCLAIMER: Mount Sinai is an investor in Epicured. This material is for informational purposes only, and Mount Sinai makes no representation or guarantee as to any results or experience with Epicured. You should consult with your physician before using a dietary program such as Epicured. Mount Sinai employees do not receive material benefit from endorsing or recommending Epicured.
Laura Manning is not employed by Epicured. Laura is a full-time employee of the Mount Sinai Health System and receives no compensation, monetary or otherwise, from Epicured.