Symptom and Food Tracking Apps for IBS

Co-authored by intern Aubrey Baker.

Food tracking apps are helpful tools for people who want to log their food intake throughout the day to ensure they are getting the nutrients they need. For some people, focusing solely on tracking nutrients can be fine, but for those with IBS, an extended version of an app to focus on factors like symptoms, can be helpful.

We reviewed 5 apps that can all be found on the Apple App Store that track your diet AND your symptoms. We have listed the apps based on the amount of people that have reviewed these apps and their rankings out of 7 stars.  They are listed below starting with the highest rank to the lowest. Side note: some apps have lower rankings because they have recently been released. Review the list, check them out, and see which one is best for you!

1. Cara: Food, Mood and Poop Tracker

Let’s start with Cara: Food, Mood and Poop Tracker. This app focuses on recording mood, poop, symptoms and food. It was developed by doctors to help understand the connection between your mind, gut, nutrition and wellbeing.

Highlights:

  • Records food (with pictures), poop, digestion (bloating, tummy pain), mood stress, period/menstrual cycle, skin condition, workout, sleep, pain, and medications.

  • Saves your favorite meals for faster tracking

  • Adds personal notes such as feelings or events

  • Adds your personal symptoms such as migraines, nausea, gas…

  • Exports your diary as a PDF or CVS (to show it to your doctor or dietitian)

1,120 people have rated this app and gave it 4.7/7 stars. This app is free and targets people with bowel problems, inflammatory diseases, IBS, skin problems, food sensitivities and intolerances.

2. mySymptoms Food Diary

mySymptoms Food Diary has the second highest rating of 969 ratings with 4.6/7 stars. This was the only app that actually costs money, but provided valid reasons as to why. mySymptoms is a flexible diary for tracking food, bowel health, stress, sleep, mood, medications and symptoms to gain insights into your digestive health and well-being.

Highlights:

  • The ability to record food, drink, medication, mood, stress, exercise, environment and other activities

  • Records symptom intensity and time

  • Records bowel movements (using Bristol scale), energy and sleep quality

  • Creates PDF report or CSV export of your diary

  • Multi-user: keeps a diary for each member of the family

  • Password protection option

  • Backup option

  • Discovers patterns between your diet and symptoms

  • Views suspect foods, trends and correlations between food and symptoms

This app focuses on people who suffer IBS, IDB, food intolerance and sensitivities, acid reflux, Crohn’s disease, Celiac, SIBO, Ulcerative colitis, migraines and cluster headaches, eczema, and heartburn. It is also useful for tracking during the FODMAP diet.

3. Bowelle-The IBS Tracker

Bowelle is described specifically as an IBS tracker. This app states that it’s designed to be the quickest, most easy-to-use food and symptom diary on the App store. Visual representations make it easier to discover patterns and determine how you feel over longer periods of time. It was ranked 4.4/ 7 stars by 11 raters, and it is free.

Highlights: 

  • Records sow you feel, food, water intake, stress levels, sleep, step count, and bowel movements

  • Has a section for notes

  • Gives a detailed history of all data

4. Dieta: Diet + Data

Dieta states that its mission is to help you improve your digestive health by using big data and machine learning technology. The Dieta app is your food, poop, medication, symptom and activity tracker, all rolled in one. Dieta is developed by a team of data scientist, doctors, engineers and designers who are passionate about helping you improve your digestive health with better information. It is ranked 5/7 stars by 1 rater and is free.

Highlights:

  • Tracks medication, bowel movement, and food

  • Bowel movement tracking consists of consistency, difficulty to pass, pain level, completeness of evacuation, smell and urgency

  • Calculates dosage, quantity, and types of medications

5. FODMAPLAB: Low FODMAP Diet App

FODMAPLAB: Low FODMAP Diet App is free for a limited time and is rated 2.5/ 7 stars by 6 raters. The app focuses specifically towards people who follow the Low FODMAP diet. This app states that it is a perfect companion app for Low FODMAP users.

  • Highlights:

  • You can easily access and look up food and their FODMAP amounts

  • Records your experience and symptoms with foods

  • Keeps track of how your symptoms change over time

  • Lets you search a wide variety of foods, use and combine filters, browse through categories and collection of foods

  • Gives overview of each food’s FODMAP content, portion size guidelines, and your past experiences with food

  • Provides a visual graph of data and insight

 All of these apps are merely suggestions and do not provide medical advice. It is encouraged to work alongside a dietitian when managing IBS and understanding what foods to choose. These apps can all be found by typing, “food and symptom trackers” on the iPhone application app. This blog summarizes the description and focal points of each app and is not based on personal experience. Erin Judge and Judge Nutrition & Wellness are not affiliated with any of these apps.

Low FODMAP Products from Whole Foods

Co-authored by intern Aubrey Baker.

Although low FODMAP lists are straightforward and helpful, these lists can appear limiting or stressful when creating your weekly grocery list. Which is why we have created a cheat sheet list of brands and products that when portioned correctly, are appropriate for the FODMAP diet, found in Whole Foods! We didn’t include more obvious low FODMAP options like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and meats. Instead, we focused on snacks, sauces, grains and dairy substitutions. This is similar to the post I did on my favorite low FODMAP products from Thrive Market Many of those products may also be found at Whole Foods, but may not be included on this list!

Whole Foods Market is known for their initiative to promote health through foods that are natural and organic. With 498 stores and growing, Whole Foods is a great location to purchase products that are both nourishing and beneficial for your body. In this blog, we have categorized products into categories, including snacks, sauces, dairy substitutions, grains and desserts. This won’t cover every single low FODMAP item in Whole Foods

Snacks (crackers, chips, nuts)

These choices are wheat free, dairy free and are Low FODMAP when eaten in recommended portion sizes.

  • Siete- Grain Free Tortilla Chips

  • Siete- Grain Free Tortilla Chips No Salt with Avocado Oil

  • Himalayan Pink Salt- Popcorn

  • Himalayan Pink Salt- Paleo Puffs

  • Terra Chips- Sweet Potato Sea Salt

  • 365 Everyday Value- Sesame Rice Crackers

  • Lundberg- Brown Rice, Organic Rice Cakes

  • Biena- Chickpeas Snacks, Sea Salt

  • Barnana- Himalayan Pink Sea Salt Organic Ridged Plantain Chips

  • Go Raw- Sprouted Pumpkin

  • GoMacro bar- Organic Protein Replenishment Peanut Butter

  • Bobos- Coconut Oat Bar

  • Bobos- Chocolate Chip Oat Bar

  • Square Organics- Organic Chocolate Coated Crunch

  • Square Organics- Organic Cocoa Coconut Bar

  • Blue Mountain - Almond Nut Thins

Sauces

  • Noble Made- Medium Buffalo Dipping and Wing Sauce

  • Raos Homemade- Sensitive Marinara Sauce

  • Cholula Hot Sauce- Original

  • Coconut Secret- Coconut Amino’s Seasoning Sauce

Dairy & Dairy Substitutes

  • So Delicious- DF Unsweetened Coconut Milk

  • So Delicious - DF Organic Creamer

  • So Delicious- Unsweetened Coconut Milk Yogurt Alternative

  • So Delicious- Unsweetened Coconut Milk Vanilla Yogurt Alternative

  • Kite Hill - Plain Cream Cheese

  • Organic Valley - Lactose Free Milk

  • Green Valley - Lactose Free Whole Milk Kefir

  • Green Valley - Lactose Free Cream Cheese

  • Green Valley - Lactose Free Sour Cream

  • Green Valley - Lactose Free Butter

  • Green Valley - Lactose Free Yogurt

Grains

  • 365 Everyday Value- GF Corn and Rice Spaghetti

  • 365 Everyday Value- Penne Rigate

  • Jovial- Brown Rice Elbow Pasta

  • Jovial- Brown Rice Farfalle Pasta

  • Andean Dream- Organic Fusilli Quinoa Pasta

  • Ancient Harvest- Gluten Free Rotini

  • Mi Rancho- Organic Corn Tortillas

  • Nature’s Path Organic- Homestyle Instant Oatmeal

  • Siete - Cassava & Coconut Tortillas

Dessert

  • Lily’s- 70% Dark Chocolate-Extra Dark

  • Enjoy Life- Chocolate Bar- dark

  • Enjoy Life- Soft baked Minis, chocolate chip

  • So Delicious- Non-Dairy Dessert, Chocolate Ice Cream

We hope this blog will help you save time grocery shopping on the low FODMAP diet! The best way to determine if a product is low FODMAP is by looking at the ingredients located on the nutritional facts label, typically located on the back of the product. It’s important to know your specific food triggers so you are not restricting foods that your body can tolerate. The best way to determine your triggers is through the low FODMAP diet. You can work with me 1-on-1 in my 12 week structured IBS Management Program. This will guide you through the FODMAP diet to identify your specific triggers, as well as lifestyle modifications that impact IBS, to establish a life free of restriction caused by IBS. You can apply for a free consultation here! If you live outside of the U.S., my Low FODMAP Diet E-Course may be a better fit for you! Enroll here!

Are Digestive Enzymes Effective For IBS Management?

Supplements are a hot topic in the IBS community. We want relief and will do almost anything to get it. I already address probiotics for IBS in this article, so I wanted to address the next requested supplement: digestive enzymes.

Digestive enzymes are proteins that regulate chemical reactions in the body that are involved in digestion. They break food down so that nutrients can be absorbed by the body and utilized. Digestive enzymes are present throughout the GI tract, from the mouth to the small intestine, and each enzyme is specialized to break down either fats, carbs, or proteins. Below are the more common digestive enzymes:

  • amylase — breaks down complex sugars into simple sugars

  • lipase — breaks down fats into fatty acids and glycerol

  • pepsin — breaks down proteins into smaller peptides

  • lactase — breaks down milk sugar

  • trypsin — breaks down protein into amino acids

Even though the body creates and secretes digestive enzymes, there’s an idea that supplemental digestive enzymes could be helpful for those with digestive disorders, like IBS. Much like probiotics, many enzymes are sold with the claims that they can alleviate digestive issues like constipation and diarrhea, and that they can help the body absorb nutrients more effectively. Sounds great, right?

What does the research say?

Much like probiotics, there is very limited research to support the effectiveness of digestive enzymes for IBS. There is also very poor regulation of the industry, so not all enzymes will be created equal or do what they say they’re going to do. However, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t effective at all. There is limited research to suggest they can be helpful.

If you’re new to IBS and are still working to find your trigger foods, it would be best to wait and choose a digestive enzyme after because the type you choose will depend on what triggers your symptoms the most. There is no harm to taking most digestive enzymes, but you wouldn’t want to waste your money on something that’s not giving you a return.

What are my options?

Similar to probiotics, it’s not wise to just grab a random digestive enzyme supplement from the shelf and start taking it. You want to choose a brand that has been shown to have some positive effect for IBS symptoms and contains the specific digestive enzymes you need for foods that trigger your symptoms. You want to take your enzymes at the beginning of meals so that they can be released in time to start breaking down the food you are eating. For dosage and specific instructions, always refer to the label on the supplement. And, as always, talk with your GI doc or dietitian before starting a supplement. Here are a few brands that have shown a level of effectiveness for IBS.

Viokase

Viokase is made up of lipase, protease, and amylase, so it works like a general enzyme supplement. It is used mostly for those with pancreatic enzyme insufficiency (the body isn’t secreting the enzymes it needs), but may be able to improve digestion for those with IBS. Again, research is lacking, but there is a small amount evidence to suggest this will help with digestion.

Biointol

Biointol contains a mixture of enzymes, including protease, amylase, amyloglucosidase, lipase, cellulase, lactase, and pectinase, as well as the soluble fibers inositol and beta-glucan. A study showed that Biointol improved bloating, flatulence and abdominal pain, and slightly increased urgency for bowel movements in some IBS patients. However, there wasn’t much of an effect for other IBS symptoms.

Lactase

Lactase is a common digestive enzyme supplement due to the prevalence of lactose intolerance. Lactase is very specific to milk sugars, so it can be used before eating a higher lactose meal, like a bowl of ice cream or macaroni & cheese. Lactaid is a common over the counter option if lactose is a trigger for you. Make sure to follow the instructions on the label for dose and timing.

Alpha-Galactodiase

Alpha-galactodiase is the enzyme used to break down oligosaccharides, which are found in wheat, garlic onion, beans, and other pulses . These are common trigger foods for those with IBS, found in the subgroups fructan and GOS. This enzyme may also help with other cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli and cabbage. A study showed a significant reduction in bloating, abdominal distention, and gas when taken with a meal high in these hard-to-digest carbohydrates. A common brand for this type of enzyme is Beano.

Bottom Line

As always, when considering supplements for your IBS management, it’s best to work with your GI doc or dietitian. Once you’ve completed the low FODMAP diet and have identified your trigger foods, you may be able to incorporate one of these enzymes, depending on your needs. I wouldn’t recommend that you completely rely on them, but they could be helpful when you’re going out to eat, traveling, or enjoying a favorite food that triggers symptoms.


How My Faith Plays a Role in My IBS Management

I’ll preface this post with a simple statement: I know this may seem controversial, but I want you to know that this is my story. If you don’t agree with my spiritual beliefs, approach this post with an open mind. You never know what value you may get from it.


IBS is highly misunderstood, and can feel isolating to live with. For most of my life, I have struggled with depression, and I never fully understood why. I come from a great family, I’ve been given opportunities for education and career, I have an incredible husband and the best dog, and I’ve dealt with some hard times, but have never lacked my basic needs. I am so grateful for the life I have been given, but I’ve still struggled throughout it all.

The more that I study IBS and the gut microbiota, the more I am understanding why. We know that IBS and depression are linked, because the gut and brain are connected. IBS is a condition where the gut microbiota is altered, which can also cause changes in the brain that lead to depression.

It’s tempting to read that and think “I was just born this way.” Yes, depression is something I continue to struggle with, but I don’t have to settle there. This is where my faith comes in.


I am a Christian, a follower of Christ. I was raised in a pentecostal, protestant church in the United States, so my beliefs were ingrained into my worldview at a very young age. I am thankful for my family and the legacy they created for me, but it took me until adulthood to fully own my faith. I won’t get into all the details, but if you want to talk more about this journey and where I stand, send me a message. In college, I decided that I truly believe Jesus Christ is the son of God, and God himself. I believe He came to earth in love, lived an incredible life that I can admire and learn from, then died and rose again (yep, back to life) to re-connect me (and everyone else) to God. I believe God created humanity to be in relationship with Him.

What does that have to do with IBS?

We know the best way to manage IBS is to deal with stress, and reduce stress and anxiety in your life. Food is a bonus way to avoid symptoms. For me, my faith and the hope I find in knowing that I am fully connected to God reduces that stress and anxiety. I still struggle, but the difference is that when I do struggle and have moments of fear and anxiety, I know that I can go to scripture and pray with confident expectation that God is who He says He is and He will do what He says He will do. This is a form of meditation I practice in my life, and have found to be extremely powerful for me. I’ve learned that the depressive thoughts can easily separate me from my source of life, but I get to choose to fight for that connection. So far, God has never let me down.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
— Philippians 4:6-7

There are times in my life where this wasn’t always the case. I have been angry with God when I read scriptures like “I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139)” because I don’t always feel wonderfully made. Sometimes I feel like my body was poorly made because my gut just can’t get itself together. But, what I have chosen to stand firm in is believing that God is good, no matter what. I know nobody likes to hear that everything happens for a reason, but I believe that God is intentional. Maybe He allowed IBS to be a part of my life so that I can help others walking through it. Do I think He’s the reason why I have IBS? No. I believe I have it because we live in an imperfect world and the stress and trauma from my childhood altered the way my gut functions. Do I believe God can heal me of IBS? Yep. And I choose to believe that everything I learn about my body and every habit I am able to implement to manage my symptoms is a form of healing. I choose to be grateful to God for every little success in my digestive journey, even if it doesn’t make sense.

If you’re also a Christian, but you’ve struggled with being frustrated with God or feeling ashamed that you are dealing with depression, I want to encourage you to begin a meditation practice with scriptures that will encourage you. I’ve added a few below that you can start with. If you’re not a Christian and would like to hear more about how I can be confident and hopeful in Jesus, I’d love to talk. If you’re not interested or have a different belief system than I do, take this encouragement with you: the body is as much spiritual as it is mental, emotional, and physical. How can you tap into your spiritual self to reduce the stress, anxiety, and depressive thoughts from your mind? This is where meditation is rooted, and a simple meditation practice with breath is a great place to start.

As always, I want to hear your story too. Let me know your thoughts, how you relate, how you don’t relate, or whatever else you’d like to share with the community in a comment below.


Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.
— Jeremiah 33:6
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
— Isaiah 41:10
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.
— Psalm 94:19
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
— Romans 8:38-39

My Story - Why I Work With IBS

Let’s face it, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is not a sexy area of nutrition and dietetics. I get that. So, why would I choose to specialize in this area, you may wonder?

When I was a child, my dad was diagnosed with a very serious chronic illness. My memories are a little vague during that time of my life, but I remember my parents would spend weeks at a time in the hospital (1 .5 hours away), and we didn’t expect my dad to live a very long life. That’s all a story in itself, but during that time of my life, I began having terrible gastrointestinal (GI) issues. My mom would rush me to the hospital (yes, 1.5 hours away) in the middle of the night because she thought my appendix was ruptured or I was suffering from kidney stones. But, every time, we would discover that it was simply constipation and gas. If you have never experienced that moment of excruciating pain, you’d probably laugh at that statement. Doctors did scopes and who knows what else to rule out other conditions, then finally determined I had IBS. I vaguely remember meeting with a therapist, because I also had issues with mild diarrhea that I couldn’t control, but I don’t remember us making many changes in my diet. I’m sure we had medication or something, but I don’t remember it. Instead, I grew up thinking that bloating, constipation, and mild diarrhea when I was anxious, were all normal GI symptoms. I had major fears of using the bathroom in public, which was hard to deal with as a cheerleader and athlete.

Fast forward to college. I’m an achiever. I like to get A’s on tests, and I like to understand every concept in class. College, however, isn’t that simple. I found myself struggling with courses like calculus, biochemistry, and organic chem. I was managing money for the first time, and not doing the best with it. I was working my first job, going to school full-time, and trying to maintain a social life as a hardcore introvert. It was tough. One week, during a busy semester, I had a terrible case of diarrhea. Note that my GI symptoms were still there, I thought bloating and constipation were normal. But this was more extreme and was a huge red flag that something was wrong. After 24 hours, it didn’t subside, so I went to my campus doctor. We talked through possible reasons for the stomach upset and I casually mentioned that I had IBS as a kid. She stopped and said “That makes sense. Your IBS is flaring up.“ I left without many answers, but thankfully I had just switched to a nutrition and dietetics major. I began researching what I could do, and as I learned more about nutrition, I managed my IBS a little better.

Now, almost 6 years later, I am living life with IBS, without those crazy symptoms. I manage my stress fairly well, I move my body in a way that supports my gut, and I eat in a way that builds up my healthy gut bacteria, while avoiding major symptoms. I’m not perfect, and I still have moments of bloat or mild constipation, but I’m much better off that I was 6 years ago.

So, why did I choose to specialize in IBS? Because I get it. I know what it’s like to live with something uncomfortable, and many times painful, and think that’s your “normal.” I know what it’s like to not get answers or solutions, but to be told to just deal with it. I also know what it’s like to find answers and manage symptoms, and actually enjoy life fully. This is why I am passionate about helping you do the same, and is the reason I created my signature IBS Management Program. If you are struggling with IBS, give yourself a chance by applying for a free consult call today. You never know, this may be your step into a more vibrant life.

Is Celery Juice Beneficial for IBS?

If you’re active on social media, you’ve probably seen celery juice come across your feed daily. What’s the hype all about? Proponents of celery juice claim that it has healing properties and may be the answer to many of our health problems, including digestive disorders. They claim that there are enzymes in celery which raise the hydrochloric acid (HCL) in your stomach, which helps digest foods and prevents them from fermenting in the gut (ie cause bloating and gas). They claim other health benefits could also be due to undiscovered “cluster salts” that can kill off pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. While these claims sound pretty good, they are exaggerated and not supported by science.

Followers of the celery juice trend claim that they notice clearer skin, improved digestion, increased energy levels, and help with weight loss. If research doesn’t back the claims, why are people noticing results?

The Science

Celery, in its whole form, is contains a variety of nutrients, including Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Beta-Carotene, B Vitamins, Phytonutrients, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Manganese, and Phosphorus. Celery is also rich in fiber and prebiotics, which can aid in digestion and support beneficial gut bacteria (see below for considerations with IBS).

There are studies that show celery intake may help lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, reduce oxidative stress, reduce water retention, and improve digestive health. However, many of these studies are small, are only done on animals and not humans, and do not specifically study celery juice. We are not sure of the direct effect celery juice may have, as well as the quantity of celery needed to cause these beneficial effects. Also, many other fruits and vegetables can lead to these effects, so there’s no reason to assume that celery juice alone is the answer.

Considerations for IBS

While celery is a great addition to a healthy diet, it is also high FODMAP. FODMAPs are gas-causing carbohydrates (makes you think twice about the stomach acid claim, huh?), which can lead to negative symptoms in those with IBS, including bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, and/or diarrhea.

Celery, when consumed in more than 1/4 stalk serving, is high in the FODMAP subgroup mannitol. There are no studies to show if juicing celery changes the mannitol content, but if we compare it to other high FODMAP foods that are juiced, like apples, we can confidently assume the juice is still high. If you have followed the low FODMAP and found that mannitol is a trigger for you, it’s best to avoid celery juice. (If you haven’t walked through the diet, it’s help to find your triggers. Learn more here). If you found that mannitol is not a trigger for you, you could give celery juice a try, but start with a smaller portion and increase, as tolerated. Is it your missing IBS cure? Nope, so if you don’t like it or it causes symptoms, let it go.

My Recommendations

A plant-rich diet is shown to offer the benefits listed above from celery: improved health markers. One vegetable alone is not the cure-all to all of our problems, so beware of messages that make those claims. There’s no harm in adding celery juice to your diet, unless it triggers your IBS symptoms or it replaces a nutritionally balanced meal. Juice is never recommended to replace meals, as that practice could lead to malnutrition and disordered eating.

So why do many people see a benefit from celery juice? My guess is that the benefits come from a mixture of increased vegetable intake and increased water intake. Both of these habits have been shown to lead to similar effects that followers are raving about with this green juice. It’s also important to think about other lifestyle changes that may accompany an addition of celery juice into the diet, like an increase in vegetable intake, more mindfulness around food and life, fewer processed foods, less sugary beverage intake, less caffeine, and/or more physical activity. Many health trends inspire followers to adapt additional healthy behaviors that can compound the positive effects they are noticing.

Effective IBS Management

If your goal is to manage your IBS symptoms, the best thing you can do is identify your personal triggers and build a lifestyle to support your gut. My 1-on-1 program will give you the direction, support, and accountability you need to do this successfully. Apply for a free consult call here! If you prefer a self-led approach, check out my Low FODMAP Diet E-Course and use code BLOG for $40 off!


Sources:

Wesam Kooti, Nahid Daraei. A Review of the Antioxidant Activity of Celery (Apium graveolens L). J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2017 Oct; 22(4): 1029–1034. Published online 2017 Jul 13. doi: 10.1177/2156587217717415

Tabassum N, Ahmad F. Role of natural herbs in the treatment of hypertensionPharmacognosy Reviews. 2011;5(9):30-40. doi:10.4103/0973-7847.79097.

Moghadam MH, Imenshahidi M, Mohajeri SA. Antihypertensive Effect of Celery Seed on Rat Blood Pressure in Chronic AdministrationJournal of Medicinal Food. 2013;16(6):558-563. doi:10.1089/jmf.2012.2664.

Al-Howiriny T, Alsheikh A, Alqasoumi S et al. Gastric antiulcer, antisecretory and cytoprotective properties of celery (Apium graveolens) in rats. Pharm Biol. 2010 Jul;48(7):786-93

J Cao, X Zhang, Q Wang. Influence of flavonoid extracts from celery on oxidative stress induced by dichlorvos in rats. Human and Experimental Toxicology. 2011 Nov; 11. https://doi.org/10.1177/0960327111426585

Plant a Low FODMAP Spring Garden!

IBS can take away a lot of joy and fun from life… if you choose to let it. What do I mean? You can’t control the fact that you have IBS. Yes, it stinks and it doesn’t seem fair, but it’s something you get to live with. and you CAN control what you do with that. You can fall into a depression, filled with frustration and fear of food, or you can take action to create joy in your life.

You may be rolling your eyes and thinking “but you don’t understand.” I do understand. I have had IBS since I was a kid. I know what it’s like to fear public restrooms and first dates. I know how it feels to be anxious about hanging out with friends because you never know what food or drink options you will have. I know how it feels to call in sick to work because the pain in your gut is unbearable. But guess what? I have an incredible life and I find ways to still enjoy my life and food!

One way I enjoy food is by gardening. I don’t have a big yard with space for a full garden, but I do have a decent planter box I made my husband build for me (google it, you can do it too!). Before that, I had a few pots I used for different plants. Whatever space you have available, this is something you can do!

I do recognize that I am blessed to live in Tennessee, where we actually have four seasons and have plenty of sunlight each day to make gardening a bit easier. If you’re unsure what your climate is like, check out the Farmer’s Almanac or a local garden center. Your local farmer’s market or library may also offer classes you could take on starting seeds and gardening tips. For seeds, check out your local garden center, a farm, or even your local library for seed sharing programs! If you’re newer to gardening, it may be easier to buy plants that have already sprouted. You can find these at garden centers and farms (that sell produce and plants directly).

I am no gardening expert, so if you want to learn more about this, check out books from the library and connect with locals in your area who are already doing a great job. You may even find a community garden to be a part of!


If you’re ready to get dirty and dive in, here are some low FODMAP veggies and herbs to grow this spring!

1. Spring Onions

How often do you buy spring onions for their low FODMAP stems (not the bulbs!), but they quickly go bad in your refrigerator? Grow them, instead, so you can pick exactly what you need for each meal. The freshness will be so satisfying!

2. Lettuce

You don’t have to wait for summer to enjoy crisp lettuce. This would be a great option for salads, as well as grain free wraps!

3. Spinach

Spinach is packed with nutrients and can easily be added to any meal, from smoothies to pasta! Grow it yourself and avoid throwing out wilted leaves.

4. Kale

This green is more hearty and is a great base for salads or macro-bowls. The fiber is these leaves is great for the gut!

5. Collard Greens

Another green to add to your plate. Collard greens have a unique flavor that can create the perfect side dish to a meal.

6. Cilantro

Who else loves Taco Tuesday? Cilantro is a must-have herb for your spanish-inspired dishes, as well as any salad, dressing, or sauce!

7. Basil

On the flipside, basil is your must-have for Italian-inspired dishes. If you haven’t enjoyed fresh basil on your pizza or pasta, grab some seeds and prepare yourself for a treat.

8. Parsley

Parsley is one of the most versatile herbs. You can throw it in a homemade pasta sauce, a soup, or use it top your favorite mediterranean dish! It’s easy to grow and will literally last all year (mine seems to never weaken!)

9. Carrots

If you have the space, grow a variety of carrots. These low FODMAP root veggies are packed with nutrients and add a sweet flavor to dishes like pasta, soup, tacos, and more! You can also pick them for a fresh snack!

10. Broccoli

Broccoli can be a bit controversial in the low FODMAP world, but most with IBS can tolerate the broccoli florets. Grow it yourself to enjoy maximum flavor in this fiber-rich, leafy green veggie. To improve digestion, cook it!

11. Turnips

Turnips are one of my favorite veggies to roast or mix in mashed potatoes to add a unique pop of flavor.

12. Radish

These bitter red beauties are so much fun to incorporate in your dishes. They can turn a dish like scrambled eggs into an interesting new creation. They can also add that perfect pop of color for Instagram (you know you think about it).


While these all may not be feasible for you due to your local climate or available space, take a minute to think about what you CAN try and go for it! If you have a green thumb and would like to share some of your knowledge, comment below. If you try this out and want to share your journey with me, post on Instagram and tag me @ibs.nutrition.

What Exercise Should I Do With IBS?

We all know exercise is good for health, right? It lowers our risk for diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. It can lower our stress levels and help us manage anxiety and depression. It helps us build muscle that will protect our bodies as we move, and helps us build stronger bones that will age well.

The benefits don’t stop there. Exercise is also a vital piece of managing IBS, and is one of the core components of my IBS Management Program. The important thing to note, though, is that all exercise is not created equal for IBS management.

What works?

Studies have shown that an increase in moderate exercise (30-60 minutes/day) can improve IBS symptoms, as well as other quality of life aspects of the disorder, including fatigue, depression, and anxiety. There’s a short-time benefit, especially in anxiety and depression, but a long term benefit was also detected, as long as the activity is consistent. The benefit from exercise and IBS symptoms is most likely due to its ability to lower stress, which is a major trigger of symptoms. However, exercise can also directly affect the gut. Increased blood flow can help with gut motility, which can prevent constipation. Also, body movement may help you naturally release gas to alleviate bloating.

One type of exercise that has been thoroughly studied is yoga. Yoga is shown to reduce the activation of the autonomic nervous system (ANS), which can function abnormally in those with IBS and lead to gut motility dysfunction, causing constipation and/or diarrhea. The breath component in yoga practice is shown to alleviate anxiety, depression, and stress-related ailments.

Women with IBS may also be at risk for pelvic floor prolapse, which could be related to constipation. This can also be related to urinary incontinence and sexual dysfunction, which can all lead to decreased quality of life. Physical therapy could be helpful if you struggle with any of the above functions. You can also find exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor, including barre and pilates.

What doesn’t work?

If exercise improves symptoms, more exercise should be even better, right? Not necessarily. Excessive or high intensity exercise may actually trigger IBS symptoms, due to increased stress on the body. This would include exercises like Cross Fit, intense cycling or running, and HIIT. If you have already been doing workouts like these, you may not have to exclude them completely. Check in with how your body reacts after a workout, then try switching it up every other day or so to see how you respond to less intense movement. If you are new to working out, don’t start with these types of exercise. As you slowly increase activity, you may find that a day or two of this type of movement can be enjoyed. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, so be mindful about what works best for you.

Workout Tips

Taking everything we know about exercise and IBS, here are my simple tips:

  1. Start small and increase slowly. If you’re new to working out, start with a simple yoga class or walking. Slowly increase the duration and intensity of your exercise. This will help you find movement you enjoy, as well as notice what amount of movement works best for your symptoms.

  2. Focus on breath. We know deep and intentional breathing is key to reducing anxiety and depression, so find exercises that incorporate this into their practice. Usually practices like yoga, pilates, and barre will focus on this, but you may also find other studios or workouts that incorporate this into their workouts. You can also add a meditation practice to the end of your favorite workout or your daily walk to get this benefit.

  3. Don’t do things you hate. If you hate the workout you are currently doing, find something else that you do enjoy. This one is simple. If you hate it, you’re not likely to keep it going long term. Sustainable habits are key for lifelong IBS management, so say goodbye to the things that aren’t enjoyable, and give yourself time to find what is. It may mean switching studios or online platforms, or switching forms of exercise. I also like to note here that it’s important to find instructors and trainers that are positive and maintain positive self-talk. Body image can be a struggle with IBS already, so nobody needs to hear that they need to “work for” or “earn” their food, or be told to seek weight loss through exercise. Instead, find language that is focused on caring for the body.

  4. Stay hydrated and feed your body. The more you move and sweat, the more water your body will need to prevent dehydration. Keep this in mind, and if you can’t handle large amounts of water at once, slowly increase your intake before and after the workout. It’s also important to give your body the nutrients needed to support and recover from the workout. Eat balanced meals and add in snacks, if needed. Focus on protein and carbohydrate sources afterwards.

Resources and Recommended Workouts

If you have no idea where to start, or if you’re ready to try out new forms of movement, try out these different workouts. These can be done at home, which is a huge bonus if you’re busy or on a tighter budget.

  • Barre3. You can find a local studio, or try out Barre3 Online. I’m slightly biased about this one because I am an instructor, but it has been a game changer for my IBS management. This workout combines full-body movement to strengthen muscles, with pilates-style movement to improve strength in your core and pelvic floor. Breath is always a focus, and the movement is low-impact, which means it’s more gentle for your gut. You can modify any workout or take it up a notch to get that heart-pumping sweat you crave. Oh, and the instructors are all super body positive, so you’ll never leave a workout feeling bad about your body. Win-win-win. Click here to try it out and get $10 off your first month!

  • TMAC Fitness. This online workout platform contains 20 minute workouts that range from beginner to advanced, and they recently started adding yoga classes. Each workout ends with a brief meditation to calm the mind and connect you to your breath. No equipment needed, so this can be done anywhere, anytime. Click here to get a free 15 day trial!

  • A local yoga class! If you’re new to yoga, I recommend trying a local class before moving on to online class options. Working with an instructor in person will help you learn the postures and ensure alignment is correct to prevent any injuries. My favorite yoga studios in Nashville include Hot Yoga of East Nashville, Sumit’s Yoga, and Shakti Yoga.

  • For meditation, try the Headspace app. They have guided meditation sessions, ranging from 3-10 minutes. You can choose a basic meditation session, or a themed session with a specific focus. If you are new to meditation and breath practice, this app is extremely helpful. Click here to try out their meditation basics course for free!

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2807921/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4051916/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4294172/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4202343/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4438173/

https://blog.katescarlata.com/2017/09/18/got-ibs-10-things-know/

Why Do Onion & Garlic Trigger My IBS Symptoms?

Garlic and onion are both incredible, antioxidant-rich vegetables that are used as the foundation of most dishes. Their flavor profile reaches across cultures, and is found in some form in most kitchens around the world. But why do they cause issues for those with IBS?

Fructan

Garlic and onion are both rich in an oligosaccharide (carbohydrate molecule) called fructan. The body is unable to fully break down these molecules in the small intestine, and only absorbs about 5-15% of fructan molecules we eat. This means that our beneficial bacteria in the gut can feed on the remaining molecules. As a result, they produce gas that can be painful in those with IBS. This could be due to fewer beneficial bacteria in the gut or fewer enzymes present that can break these molecules down. Undigested fructan molecules can also pull water into the gut as they move through the intestines, which leads to bloating and diarrhea.

This is true of all FODMAP molecules, so why does garlic and onion seem like more intense triggers? Garlic and onion are both highly concentrated in fructans, so they may be more potent as triggers if you are sensitive to fructans.

Does that mean you can never enjoy the flavor of garlic or onion again? Absolutely not!

There’s a chance that you may be able to tolerate small portions of garlic and onion. If you’ve never challenged them, do it! You may be able to enjoy them without the stress of symptoms. If you are challenging them, try them cooked versus raw, as they may be better tolerated this way. If you find that they are major trigger foods for you, you still don’t have to miss out on their flavor. Garlic and onion are both water soluble, so it may not be possible to just eat around them. But, it is possible to infuse their flavors into oils. You can do it yourself or buy it from a company that did it for you!

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3934501/

10 Must-Have Low FODMAP Pantry Staples

The low FODMAP diet can be tricky and can take a lot of your time in planning and meal preparation. Make things easier for yourself by stocking your pantry with these 10 staples. They’ll make the low FODMAP diet a little more manageable, and will be your lifesaver during busy weeks.

1. Brown Rice

This non-perishable grain should always be in your pantry if you’re following a low FODMAP diet. It is wheat-free, but still loaded with essential nutrients like fiber, B-vitamins, and protein. My favorite is the sprouted brown rice from Thrive Market.

2. Oats

Oats are an incredible fructan-free, fiber-rich breakfast base. If you struggle with your morning poop, this is a great option to get things moving along. But don’t worry, things won’t move TOO quickly. I love the Thrive Market brand, as well as Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats. I usually cook mine in almond milk, cinnamon, and pure maple syrup, then top it with some blueberries or strawberries!

3. Wheat Free Pasta

If there’s a world where pasta isn’t allowed, I don’t want to be there. Pasta is great to have on hand because it can be made quickly during those busy weeks. Wheat free pastas, including those made from brown rice, corn, and quinoa, are amazing because they usually contain more protein than wheat pastas! You could add in more protein, like chicken, ground beef, or hemp seeds, but you can also keep it simple and still get the protein you need. Win-win.

4. NOGO (no garlic/onion) Marinara Sauce

You can’t have pasta in the pantry without the perfect sauce to top it with. In the past, it was a struggle to find sauces that didn’t contain garlic and onion. Now, there are brands that are stepping up and giving us delicious options! My faves are Rao’s Homemade Sensitive Marinara, Fody Foods Marinara, and Prego Sensitive Recipe. (click here for a full comparison of them all).

5. NOGO Salsa

Salsa is a must-have in the pantry and fridge because it can add a flavor punch to so many different meals! From tacos to huevos rancheros to shredded chicken to a simple snack, you gotta have a low FODMAP salsa on hand. My favorite is Fody Foods Mild Salsa.

6. Garlic Infused Olive Oil

What smells better than fresh garlic cooking in a pan? Giving this staple ingredient can be devastating, but have no fear. Garlic infused olive oil is your answer to getting that same flavor punch and pleasant aroma, without the gas. My favorite is from a local Nashville company, Galena Garlic. Fody Foods also has a great one!

7. Pure Maple Syrup

Did you add honey to everything before going on the low FODMAP diet? Same! Instead of missing out on that perfect touch of sweetness for oats, teas, baked goods, dressings, and marinades, swap it out for pure maple syrup. I’m not as picky about which brand I choose, but Thrive Market usually has good deals. Thankfully, you can find this at any grocery store you choose!

8. Low FODMAP Bars

If you are always on the go for work or family events, bars are a great way to avoid being either hangry or having to grab something quickly that may cause symptoms. My absolute favorite is the Go Macro Sunflower Butter and Chocolate bar. Fody Foods also has a couple of great options.

9. Gluten Free All Purpose Flour

If you like to bake, be sure to keep a 1-to-1 GF all purpose flour on hand. These aren’t perfect, but they’re better than nothing. My favorite, so far, is from King Arthur. You can find these from Thrive Market, or from your nearest grocery store!

10. Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is one of your best low FODMAP nut butters because you can get 2 Tbsp in a low FODMAP portion. Brand doesn’t matter too much, but I usually go for organic, all-natural PB. Ingredients should only be peanuts, and maybe a little salt. Some grocery stores have the option to grind fresh peanut butter on the spot, so that would be a great option too!

How to Deal with IBS during Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a beautiful part of the life cycle, but it can be challenging for women dealing with IBS. For all women, pregnancy causes changes in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract that can increase the risk of constipation. Changes include an increase in progesterone levels and decrease in motilin hormone levels that leads to an increase in bowel transit time (ie feces moves slower through the GI tract); an increase in water absorption from the intestines that causes stool to dry out, which will make it harder to pass; and an enlarging uterus throughout pregnancy that may further slow the movement of feces. With both IBS-C and IBS-D, these changes can be extra uncomfortable. Other factors that may contribute to worsening GI symptoms during pregnancy include decreased maternal activity and increased vitamin/mineral supplementation, including calcium and iron.

Does this mean women with IBS should avoid pregnancy?

Absolutely not! IBS should never keep you from having a family. Instead of avoiding it altogether, take these steps to ensure that your IBS is somewhat manageable during pregnancy.

1. Find your food triggers and create an IBS management plan before pregnancy. This may not always be possible due to unexpected pregnancies, but if you know you’d like to have children in the future, then the time is now to get your plan together! If you’re able to find ways to successfully manage your symptoms before pregnancy, you’ll be more likely to manage them well during pregnancy. This is where my IBS Management Program can help!

2. Avoid major trigger foods and focus on dietary fiber in your diet. This is not the time to be overly restrictive (see considerations below), but you can avoid your biggest triggers, while keeping the diet balanced. You should also focus on consuming adequate dietary fiber to help prevent constipation. Sources include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

3. Stay hydrated. Hydration is so important for a healthy pregnancy, as well as for preventing constipation. As you increase dietary fiber, increase water intake. Avoid dehydrating liquids like coffee, soda, and teas. Stick to water and keep your water bottle with you at all times to get the ounces in.

4. Move! Pregnancy is not the time to join CrossFIt or run a marathon (unless that’s what you’re already doing), but it is important prioritize activity each day. Not only will the movement help you relieve any stress of preparing for a baby, but it will also help increase blood flow to the gut to move feces through the body. Check with your doctor before adding in exercise to make sure it’s safe for you during pregnancy.

Special Considerations

There are a few things to note when making a plan to manage IBS during pregnancy.

  • The Low FODMAP diet may not be appropriate. A very restrictive diet is not recommended during pregnancy to ensure you are well-nourished as you create a human. Work with a dietitian to modify this approach to help you identify triggers during pregnancy.

  • Herbal supplements may not be safe during pregnancy. If you are using herbal remedies to help with your IBS symptoms, tell your doctor about them to make sure they are safe for the baby.

  • Digestive enzymes and probiotics are safe to use during pregnancy. Work with your dietitian to find the right ones that could help your symptoms.

  • Gentle laxatives can be used during pregnancy to help with severe symptoms, but should not be used excessively. Talk to your doctor about this if you use laxatives as a remedy for constipation.

As always, there’s never a one-size-fits-all approach for managing IBS. This is even more true for pregnant women with IBS. Working with a dietitian and talking openly to your doctor will help you find joy in this season, instead of being discouraged and in pain. If you’d like to work with me, apply and schedule a consult call today here!

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3418980/

Why Marie Kondo is the Best Thing to Happen for the IBS Community

Marie Kondo has taken our generation by storm with the Netflix hit Tidying Up With Marie Kondo. If you haven’t watched it yet, I encourage you to carve out a full day to watch the season and start your tidying journey.

What does this have to do with IBS?

One of the major triggers for IBS symptoms is stress. Whether it comes in the form of anxiety, fear, or busy days, stress can wreak havoc on the digestive system. The message of Marie Kondo’s Konmari Method is to create space in your home for joy, clarity, and peace. She teaches people to do this by touching items to determine what “sparks joy” and what does not. She also teaches how to fold and store items so that every item has a home, and is organized in a way that is pleasant to look at. If you open a drawer full of random items, all mixed together, that can easily cause a moment of stress. If you have an organized drawer with everything placed where you can see it, that creates a very different moment in your day.

I’ve done this myself, and I highly recommend it as part of your IBS management plan. Here are my tips.

Clear Out Space

When you clear out space from items that don’t spark joy, you are opening space to either sit and breathe, or to fill with what does spark joy. What spaces in your home make you feel anxious? Imagine if those spaces began to spark creativity or created a sense of calm. Take your time here to embrace this stage in the process fully.

Organize Items in a Way That Saves Time

Many of my fellow IBS-ers have a busy schedule, whether from work or taking care of kiddos. Organize your home in a way that makes your morning, meal, and evening routines a little more efficient. In your pantry, you can organize items on lazy susans to make them easier to grab immediately. In your bathroom, you can organize your beauty products to save time you would have spent digging around for that one item hidden at the bottom.

Apply These Principles to Other Areas in Life

You can Marie Kondo anything, not just your home. Go through your Instagram feed - are there people you follow that make you feel anxious, angry, or insecure? Let them go. Instead, follow people that bring joy to your life, whether they are professionals you can learn from, super cute dogs that make you smile, or your friends with life updates you want to see. In your job, are there tasks that suck the life out of you? Can you pass them along to someone else? Is there something you would love to do that you can ask for an opportunity on?

I know a show about cleaning your home may not seem useful to live life better with IBS, but if you can alleviate any unnecessary stress in your life, your gut will thank you.

If you would like to up your IBS management game, my IBS Management Program can transform you from insecure to confident in managing symptoms through the low FODMAP diet and lifestyle modifications (like what you’ve read above)! Click the button below to learn more and apply for a free consult call!

5 Mistakes you may be Making on the Low FODMAP Diet

The low FODMAP diet is a nutritional approach to help those with IBS manage their symptoms. It is designed to help you identify your specific food triggers, and is best done under the supervision of a dietitian to ensure it is done properly and you are still getting all of the nutrients your body needs.

From working through the diet myself and helping others do the same, I have noticed 5 key mistakes that most people are making. These mistakes can lead to frustration, because you may not see relief from symptoms.

  1. Not following a strict elimination of high FODMAP foods. Many people try the elimination phase of the diet with a focus on only a few foods, usually wheat and dairy. Many times, other top triggers like onion and garlic have not been eliminated, which can lead to symptoms and cause frustration.

  2. Skipping the challenge phase of the diet. The low FODMAP diet must include a challenge, or reintroduction, phase if you want to find your unique food triggers. If you skip this phase, you will most likely burn yourself out from being strict and give up on the diet altogether. The point is never to be super strict with your diet, but it is to help you find which foods cause symptoms and in what portions.

  3. Not reading food labels. Many times people grab gluten free products, or products marketed for gut health, but never read the labels. High FODMAP ingredients are readily found in these types of products, so you could be triggering symptoms without knowing it.

  4. Not measuring moderate and high FODMAP foods. Portion sizes are key when it comes to FODMAP content. Take time to learn which portion sizes of foods may become high, and be intentional about measuring these out to avoid symptoms. Same is true when you are challenging foods back in.

  5. Forgetting about the rest of your lifestyle. Food is not the only part of your life that can be triggering your symptoms. Sleep, stress, water intake, and movement are all key factors that should be addressed to prevent symptoms. If your plan doesn’t include a focus on these, you won’t find long term success.

Stop making these mistakes today by getting help! In my IBS Management Program, I help you avoid these mistakes by guiding you through the entire low FODMAP diet with support and resources. I also teach you how to manage symptoms by modifying the necessary lifestyle behaviors. You’ll leave the program CONFIDENT in your plan to manage IBS long term.

Comparison of 3 Low FODMAP Pasta Sauce Brands

Italian food is my favorite, hands down. We eat some variation of pasta or pizza at least once a week in our home, which can be tricky with a no onion and garlic policy. Thankfully, there are companies out there that have heard our struggles and have developed pasta sauces that are low FODMAP and delicious!

Since I’m committed to being real with you guys, I decided to compare a few different low FODMAP pasta sauces as unbiased as possible. I know cost is usually a concern of many of my followers, so I will start with your cheapest option and progress towards a more expensive option.

Prego Traditional Sensitive Recipe

What I like: affordability, accessibility, and flavor! This sauce is cheaper than other options, currently priced at $2.19 for 23.75 ounces at my local store. It is also found at more stores, versus the options below. I shop at Kroger when my grocery budget is a little tighter and I can always find this! The flavor is also great! I can hardly tell it is an onion- and garlic-free alternative, which is a big bonus.

What I don’t like: the ingredients. The reason for the lower cost is found in the quality of ingredients. Not that they should never be consumed, but they wouldn’t be my first choice. This sauce contains sugar and canola oil (see full ingredient list below).

Ingredients: Tomato Puree (tomato paste and water), diced tomatoes in tomato juice, sugar, canola oil, contains less than 1% of salt, citric acid, and spices.

My recommendation: If your budget is tight or if you can’t find other low FODMAP options in your local store, this is a great sauce to have on hand for simple meals. This would also be a great option if you have kiddos that are picky and would notice a drastic change in sauces for your pastas and lasagna!

Fody Foods Tomato Basil and Marinara Pasta Sauces

*Fody Foods just released a new pasta sauce option, Arrabiata. I have not personally tried this sauce yet, so I will not include it in my comparison.

What I like: the ingredients. Both of these sauces are made of simple ingredients for both options, and void of any high FODMAP ingredients in the Tomato Basil Option. While they are a little more expensive usually, Fody Foods offers discounted bulk options and you can get 15% off your total order with my code ibs.nutrition15 (I do get commission for every order placed with my code). If you take advantage of those options, the cost definitely becomes a pro! For the Marinara option, flavor is also a pro. It takes like your basic, everyday marinara that can be used for pizza and pasta!

What I don’t like: accessibility. These sauces may be available in stores near you, but they can be harder to find than other options. It’s best to order them online, but that means you may have to pay for shipping or order larger orders at a time to get free shipping. For the Tomato Basil option, flavor is also a con, in my opinion. The added basil gives the sauce an odd flavor that I’m not a big fan of. I also don’t love that the Marinara option contains celery, in case it is a major trigger for some individuals. However, the portion of celery should be tolerated for most individuals in a single serving.

Ingredients for Tomato Basil: chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, extra virgin olive oil, salt, basil.

Ingredients for Marinara: chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, extra virgin olive oil, carrots in puree, celery in puree, salt, basil.

My recommendation: I recommend that you try these sauces out. They can make cooking much easier and can help you prevent symptoms. If you do, I recommend you use my discount code for 15% off, and buy in bulk to save money on shipping. This can also help you stock your pantry with other low FODMAP sauces.

Rao’s Homemade Sensitive Marinara Sauce

What I like: the flavor and ingredients! This sauce is definitely the best in flavor, which is really what you are paying for. It also has a very fresh, homemade taste, which is attributed to the simple and whole foods ingredients (see full list below).

What I don’t like: the cost, the inclusion of celery, and poor accessibility. This sauce is a little more expensive, currently priced at $8.99 on their website, and even more at my local Whole Foods. It’s harder to find in stores, which can be an issue for those who don’t live near a Whole Foods or don’t want to order from their website. Even though I love the ingredients for myself, another con is the inclusion of celery in the sauce. This is fine for most with IBS, but isn’t the best option if someone is highly triggered by celery or working through the elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet.

Ingredients: Italian whole peeled tomatoes, olive oil, carrots, salt, celery, basil.

My recommendation: try this sauce at least once, if you can find it. The flavor is so good that you may find yourself putting a few extra dollars aside for the value it will add to your meals. This also makes a great sauce to make when hosting family or friends for dinner. Wow them with the flavor, but save yourself from the bloating.

What Your Poop Can Tell You About Your Health

Co-written by Erin Judge, RDN and Aubrey Baker

Talking about poop may not be the most appealing conversation, but poop can be one our best indicators of what’s going on in our digestive system. Poop can come in many different forms and colors, as I am sure you’ve learned by now. Knowing the meaning behind these characteristics can not only help you understand what’s going on in your digestive system, but can also help you make changes for a healthier life.

We all poop, but do we really know what it is?

The medical dictionary defines poop as “The matter discharged from the bowel during defecation, consisting of the undigested residue of food, epithelium, intestinal mucus, bacteria, and waste material from the food.” In short, poop is the waste from digesting your food, mixed with parts of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

How the process works

After consumption of foods, your body starts to break down the nutritional components, including carbs, fat, protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. After passing through the stomach, the nutrients turn into a substance called chyme.  Chyme goes through the rest of the digestive process. Fats, however, are emulsified during this process by a product, produced by the liver, called bile. After chyme has been absorbed through the intestines and colon, it turns into a semi-solid product called feces, aka poop.Feces is stored in the rectum until the body is ready to release. Once the bowel movement is released from the rectum, it passes through your anus and out of your body. Hopefully into the toilet…

What is “normal” poop?

Poop can come in all shapes, colors and smells. Your poop may be unique and different from someone else’s. However, there are a few standard norms to look for when analyzing your poop each day.

Shape: The typical shape of poop is one long cylinder. Occasionally you will find a few smaller excess pieces trailing behind. (No pun intended)

The coloring of your poop should be a brown to dark brown hue, depending on what you have eaten during the day. A healthy bowel movement should be stress free with minimal to zero strain. Normal poop should be passed every 1 to 3 days, or for some people, poop is passed 1-3 times daily. The consistency of your poop will depend on your diet and lifestyle.

Poop the rainbow… sort of

Brown - medium to dark brown is the typical color of poop. The coloring is caused by a pigment called bilirubin.

Black - If you have ingested bismuth medications (Peptmo-Bismol) or iron tablets, they can be the culprits to the dark coloring of your stool. If you have not had any of these medications or black licorice, then this may be an indication that you have upper GI bleeding and you should seek medical attention asap.

White - This coloring, also seen as grey or clay colored, can be caused by a lack of bile due to medications or digestive complications. If this coloring is not written as a side effect on the container of your medications, then you should seek medical attention asap.

Green - This is typically due to a high consumption of leafy green vegetables, or green food coloring. This could be an indication that food is moving too quickly through your system, so you may benefit from adding a little more soluble fiber to your diet, like those found in oats and lentils.

Red - Red coloring could be the result of GI bleeding, or if it is in a small amount, this could be a sign of hemorrhoids. Either way, seek medical attention asap. If you eat a lot of beets or drink beet juice, you may notice a slight red tint to your poop, as well. No need to seek out help for that.

Orange - This could be caused by a high consumption of foods containing beta-carotene such as oranges and carrots.

Yellow -If your poop is leaning to yellow tint, then this is typically a sign of excess amount of poorly digested fat. Seek medical attention to make sure you are not malabsorbing fats, then consult a dietitian to decrease your overall fat consumption.

Shapes of poop

The color of your poop is not the only indicator of what’s going on with your GI system. The shape is also important. These are the different shapes, according to the Bristol Stool Chart, and what they may be trying to tell you.

Type 1 - Separate, hard lumps, resembling marbles or nuts. This shape is hard to pass and usually causes strain due to how dry and solid the poop is.   Indicates that you are constipated, and should not be seen frequently. If it is frequent, see a GI doctor about possible causes and a dietitian for nutrition recommendations.

Type 2 - A lumpy, sausage or caterpillar shape. This type is long and cylinder-like, but also lumpy and not smooth. This is another sign of constipation and once again, should not be frequently seen. A more fibrous, plant-rich diet plus water and movement could be helpful to prevent this.

Type 3 -Sausage shaped, but with cracks on the surface. This is more normal-ish. The cracks could be an indicator of poor water intake.

Type 4 - Smooth and soft, like a snake. This shape is usually smooth like a snake and easily passed. This is your gold standard and is what you want to see most days. It can be a sign of a balanced diet, adequate water, and good movement!

Type 5 - Small blobs with clear edges. This type is soft and easy to pass, unlike Type 1. Although this shape is easy to pass, it is not a strong solid form, like Type 4. This can be a sign of inadequate fiber intake. Increase whole grains, fruits, and veggies.

Type 6- Soft, fluffy pieces with ragged edges. This type is mushy, and not very solid at all. The consistency is too smooth for normal poop and may be a sign of mild diarrhea. To prevent this, eat plenty of fiber-rich foods and manage that stress or anxiety in your life. When it happens, prioritize electrolytes and bland foods, like white potatoes, chicken, and rice.

Type 7 - Watery with no sign of solid pieces or definition - the runs, aka diarrhea. This is a sign that your stool has moved very quickly through your bowels and was not able to form a healthy poop. Again, deal with those stressors, assess whether or not you obtained food poisoning, get in your electrolytes, and balance your diet once the gut has settled down.

Poop is a great indicator of your GI health, so you should get into the habit of checking it out regularly. The more you learn about your poop, the better you can know what changes to make in your diet and lifestyle. Remember to find time to take care of yourself because stress can cause digestional issues and can alter the characteristics of your bowel movement. If you are experiencing complicated bowel movements and think it could be from your diet, you should make an appointment with a dietitian so they can appropriately guide you back to a normal bowel movement. If you suspect that this could be a serious medical health issue, then contact medical attention immediately.

Happy pooping!


Review of Fody Foods Green Enchilada Sauce

I LOVE enchiladas! They’re delicious, easy to make, and can easily cover many meals throughout the week. I used to make enchiladas with the expectation that I would be bloated afterwards because my favorite sauce was loaded with garlic and onion. No bueno. Thankfully, I have discovered a sauce that is equally delicious, but doesn’t lead to symptoms! (cue all the praise hands)

Fody Foods is a food company that has created low FODMAP products to make life with IBS easier, and tastier. You may be thinking “that’s great, but do their products actually compare to high FODMAP ones?” Don’t worry, I will do the research for you so you can purchase with a well-rounded expectation. First product to get a deeper look: Green Enchilada Sauce.

Let’s start with the cons. I love my enchiladas fully smothered in sauce. One bottle of Fody Foods Green Enchilada Sauce wasn’t quite enough to cover my entire pan (9x13). It still did the job, but I’d want a bottle and a half to get my ideal level of smother-ness. On that same note, one bottle is a little pricey at $5.99. I’ll pay it, because that cost will cover the time I would spend trying to make my own from scratch, or the pain I’d feel from a garlic-loaded sauce from the store.

Now to the pros. This sauce is packed with flavor! Many low FODMAP products have that “it’d be better with garlic” flavor, but this one is perfect! It is sweet and fresh, with a hint of spice. Also, the ingredients are all simple and whole foods. Listed, in order: tomatillos, water, anaheim peppers, distilled vinegar, avocado oil, arrowroot powder, organic cumin, himalayan pink salt, organic black pepper, and organic cilantro. No added sugar and nothing crazy hidden in this bottle. I felt no symptoms after the meal and my taste buds had no idea that I used an alternative. I will definitely be using this in my enchiladas moving forward, and may even use this as a sauce for tacos, huevos rancheros, and more! If you want to try it for yourself, click here. Get 15% off your order by using code ibs.nutrition15.

My Low FODMAP Favorites From Thrive Market

I have mentioned my love for Thrive Market many times on here, but it’s time to talk about it again. Thrive Market is an online grocery store that is determined to bring high quality, and lower cost, food to your front door. They sell non-perishable items below market value, but you do have to be a member to enjoy the lower prices. Membership costs $59.95 per year, but they will tell you how much money you have currently saved and are projected to save with every purchase.

What I love: Thrive Market saves me time and energy because I can quickly order my favorite items in only a few minutes, then have them delivered to my front door a few days later. This helps me keep my pantry stocked with low FODMAP goods, so I can focus on fresh produce at the grocery store. I also love that they have deals every single day, so I can try a new product for free with every purchase. They carry many of my favorite brands that I usually can’t find in a single store. As a business owner, efficiency matters to me, so this is where I find the most value in my membership fee.

What I don’t love: This wouldn’t be an honest review without a look into the cons. I don’t have many, but one thing I don’t love about Thrive Market is shipping time. I am sadly accustomed to Amazon prime 2 day delivery and Instacart same-delivery, so waiting a 3-4 days for Thrive can test my patience. However, I have learned to plan ahead and be smarter about when I order my goods. Another con is the membership fee. It does seem like a barrier, but it has been worth it so far for our household.

My Low FODMAP Favorites

Okay, this is what you actually clicked on the blog for. This is a list of products I love and order often to manage my low FODMAP lifestyle. This isn’t a complete list of everything low FODMAP you can get on Thrive. They actually have an option for filtering low FODMAP options. Under the “Food” tab, click “See All Values & Diet” then scroll down to the bottom!

  • Thrive Market Organic Sprouted Quinoa

  • Thrive Market Organic Sprouted Brown Rice

  • Thrive Market Organic Sprouted Brown Rice Flour

  • Thrive Market Organic Diced Tomatoes

  • Thrive Market Organic Crushed Tomatoes

  • Thrive Market Organic Tomato Sauce

  • Thrive Market Salt-Free Organic Brown Rice Cakes

  • Thrive Market Organic Rolled Oats

  • Thrive Market Organic Maple Syrup

  • Thrive Market Organic Pecan Halves

  • Thrive Market Organic Walnut Halves & Pieces

  • Thrive Market Organic Raw Brazil Nuts

  • Thrive Market Organic Coconut Aminos

  • Thrive Market Organic Sunflower Seeds

  • Thrive Market Non-GMO Chunk Light Tuna

  • Thrive Market Non-GMO Wild Pink Salmon

  • Angie’s BOOMCHICKAPOP Sweet & Salty Kettle Corn

  • Divina Organic Green Olives Pitted

  • Justin’s Mini Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

  • Sea Tangle Noodle Co. Kelp Noodles

  • Tinkyada Organic Brown Rice Pasta - Spaghetti

  • Tinkyada Organic Brown Rice Pasta - Spirals

  • go Macro Organic Peanut Butter Protein Replenishment Bars

  • go Macro Organic Sunflower Butter & Chocolate Protein Purity Bars

  • Westbrae Natural Vegetarian Organic Black Lentils

  • Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Protein - Chocolate

  • Hu Simple Chocolate Bar

  • Birch Blenders Paleo Pancake Mix

  • Lundberg Farms Organic Red Rice & Quinoa Thin Stackers

  • EO Juniper & Cedarwood Epsom Salt Soak

Start your free Thrive Market Trial and get 25% off your first order here! If you have other low FODMAP products you love to order from Thrive, comment below!

Travel Tips for IBS

There’s no need to shy away from the truth here. For those of us living with IBS, traveling means trouble in the poop department. If even the thought of traveling makes your bowels lock up, take a breath and relax. I’ve got you covered.

Stress from traveling can be a major trigger for IBS symptoms. While you may not be able to control all of the factors that cause stress, there are some things you can do to help lower your chances of symptoms, or even just help them not be as severe. Take a look at these tips and give some a try on your next trip!

  • Choose low FODMAP options as much as you can. Yes, you may not eat your favorite meal every meal, but reducing symptoms to enjoy your trip is 100% worth it! 

  • Keep trigger food portions, and meal sizes, small. Sometimes all you need to do is eat a smaller portion to avoid symptoms! If you eat large portions all day, your gut will be overloaded and you may not feel your best. 

  • Pack snacks! Find low-FODMAP snacks that you enjoy and load your bag with them. This comes in handy when you're stuck at the airport, or when you eat a small meal due to triggers and need more calories until your next meal. My favorites? Carrot sticks, GoMacro bars, Fody Foods dark chocolate bars, pecans and macadamia nuts, and firm bananas with peanut butter. Check out this post for more low FODMAP snack ideas!

  • Drink plenty of water & watch out for those hidden triggers in drinks. Try choosing a wine to avoid mixers, or mix your favorite low-FODMAP liquor with something simple like ginger and lime! For coffee, try to limit your intake to 1 cup/day and if you choose a latte, add a non-dairy milk. 

  • Avoid super tight clothing. It won't help your digestion & won't help with confidence if you're bloated. 

  • Be bold and ask restaurants if they can omit trigger foods like onion and garlic from your meals. They may say no, but it never hurts to ask. And if they say yes, you'll feel so much better the rest of the day!

  • Move your body! Incorporate plenty of movement throughout the day by walking between locations, trying a local workout class, or doing an online yoga/pilates video in your hotel room. If you can wake up, drink water, and do gentle movement like walking, pilates, yoga, or barre before you start your day, that could help support digestion and relieve constipation! 

  • If you use medications for severe symptoms, don't forget to bring them. The anxiety of travel may heighten symptoms, so if you know you may need something to relieve severe constipation or diarrhea, pack it first and use it. 

  • Be mindful! If you are someone who loves to indulge in local eats when you're away (hello, me too!), be mindful as you eat and drink. If you take time to be present with food, you can enjoy it to the point of being satisfied and avoid overeating it, or drinking so much that you black out. This practice helps with digestion because you're not overloading your gut with foods you don't typically eat, but it also helps you fully enjoy foods without feeling too stuffed after. 

  • Plan ahead to reduce anxiety. If traveling stresses you out, give yourself plenty of time to plan ahead, pack well, and communicate your needs to your travel companions! You'll be surprised how much this helps. 

  • Have groceries at home for your arrival to avoid grabbing more food on the go days after you get home. It's hard settling back into routine, so it's nice to either stock your fridge before you go, or order groceries on your way home to be delivered when you get there. I like to use Instacart or Thrive Market for this!

Do you have more travel tips to share with your fellow IBSers? Comment below!

Probiotics & IBS

Probiotics are all the rage in our culture right now and have made their way to the top of the supplement industry. That’s no surprise, because as we gain knowledge about the connection of our gut microbiome to our overall health, probiotic use is becoming a common recommendation from medical professionals, as well as other health gurus. If you have IBS, you have probably heard that you should be taking a probiotic, but do you know why? And do you know what kind?

Probiotics are defined as “live microorganisms that confer positive effects on the host after oral administration.” More simply put, these are live bacteria that can improve our health when we eat them. Probiotics can be found in the diet, but I want to focus on supplements for today and we will talk food later on. While we do know probiotics are great, there are so many different types and each individual bacteria has a unique effect on the body, so different bacteria may be useful for different needs.

So, what DO we know? Currently, we know that probiotics may help protect the gut from pathogenic microbes via their antimicrobial properties; they may boost the intestinal tight junctions to stabilize permeability (ie more protection from the “bad guys” entering the body); and they may stimulate intestinal cells to produce mucus that improves intestinal barrier function (ie security guards), normalizes bowel movements, and reduces pain. It’s hard to extrapolate concrete evidence for each of these possible effects due to the diversity of bacteria available in probiotics and to the unique makeup of each individual’s microbiome. As we learn more, our recommendations can become more specific and targeted.

Although there’s a lot we don’t know yet, there’s also a lot we do know and have enough confidence in to apply! There are many strains of bacteria and specific probiotics that have at least one solid study to support a positive effect for those suffering with IBS. Note that the specific strain of bacteria, as well as dose matters when it comes to a probiotic. Also, note that there are some studies that show a decrease in effectiveness with long-term use. This means that, currently, probiotics are not a single solution to manage your IBS. They can be included, alongside individualized diet and lifestyle interventions given by a registered dietitian, to create a well-rounded plan. (I help my clients develop a plan like this in my signature IBS Management Program).

Here is a chart of specific brands and the strains they contain that have been shown (in at least one valid study) to have a positive effect on IBS, constipation, and/or diarrhea. Do not take this an individualized medical advice, but always consult with your doctor or dietitian to determine which may be best for you! Also, remember that the supplement industry is not regulated, so be intentional with choosing trusted brands like those below. Others may claim to contain the same strains of bacteria, but unless they conduct studies to prove their probiotic is what they say it is, it’s hard to know for sure what you’re getting.

PROBIOTICS FOR IBS.png

2019: The Year of the Gut

I love the new year and I love setting goals! If you have known me long enough, you know I am a serial list maker, and I am usually thinking months down the road. I like to plan and I feel the need to be prepared for everything. Anyone else relate? There’s nothing wrong with goals and plans, but this kind of mentality can easily add stress and anxiety to our lives. How do you feel when you don’t meet your goal or you don’t check off every item on your list? What happens when our plan doesn’t happen the way we expected? What happens when life throws a curveball in the present moment, but our minds are already months ahead?

For me, personally, this has been a major struggle in my life, and has had a huge effect on my IBS symptoms. Especially around this time of year. When I look back at a previous year, I usually see all the things I didn’t do or the things I didn’t do as well as I should have. I feel the pressure to set a page of “to-dos” that should make this year better than the last. But, I have learned that this never really works. Goals are great and reflection is necessary, but a checklist doesn’t lead to growth. Instead, looking at the foundation of each success or “failure,” then making small adjustments at the core of who I am will lead to the growth I desperately need to be my best, personally and professionally.

I declare this year to be the Year of the Gut, but instead of challenging you with a list of things to do like work out everyday or eat more kale, I challenge you to take time to reflect on who you became this year, what changed in your life, and what needs to be adjusted for a more vibrant life, and consequently a happier gut. Here are a few questions to help guide you through this reflection, and I will give you a few examples of mindset shifts, as well as applicable steps, you can make as we enter 2019.

Does my fear of food or anxiety about my success in life control my days?

Are my relationships feeding my soul or are they taking the life out of my body?

Am I truly grateful for and connected to my body, or am I disconnected from and frustrated with it?

Do I eat food that nourishes my body and am I confident with the food choices I make each day?

Do I move my body with the purpose of caring for it, or do I punish my body with either lack of exercise or over-exercise?

Am I satisfied with the work I accomplish each day, or do I work with no purpose?

Do I have hope in my life or does my cynical outlook on life keep me in depression?

Do I take time to care for myself or do I ignore my body’s needs in order to “hustle”?

These are only a few examples of questions you could ask. Don’t be afraid to sit in silence and explore the tangents these questions can take you on. After you answer them honestly, either with someone you trust or by yourself, these are a few examples of what you can do to move forward.

I am going to establish care with a therapist to talk about my anxiety.

I am going to seek counsel from leaders in my faith to find freedom from my fear and anxiety.

I am going to let go of the people and things in my life that cause more fear, stress, anxiety, or hopelessness. I will seek out positive relationships, fulfilling work, and life-giving community.

I am going to work with a dietitian to learn about how to manage my IBS, so I can be confident in my choices and feel connected to my body again.

I am going to create space each day to check in with my body and give it what it needs. (Ideas: movement, nourishing food, stillness, breath, self-care, etc.)

I am going to join a fitness community that is body-positive and challenges me to connect with my body, instead of one that pushes my body too far and makes me insecure in the way my body looks.

I am going to be brave and be more vulnerable with the people in my life so I don’t feel so isolated and alone.

Growth isn’t always easy, and it doesn’t always feel like sunshine and rainbows. However, when we take the time to dig deep and make changes in our foundation, including stress management, movement, food choices, outlook on life, and vulnerability in relationships, we will step into a life that is free from fear of food and control from IBS. Who is ready to feel confident, secure, and free in their body? Who is ready to have a vibrant life with meaningful relationships and lasting impact? Challenge yourself to step away from your giant goal list and take the time to create resolutions that will take you further than any goal ever could.