Oh, for the simplicity of whole foods! One glance at an orange or an onion tells you everything you need to know about what's inside. Not so for the many convenience foods that are part of our lives. When was the last time you made your own ketchup or yogurt? Many people have never served a salad dressing or spaghetti sauce that didn't come out of a bottle.
Where to begin? Well, you've got to have a look at the ingredients on the food label, and consider them one at a time. If any of them are high in FODMAPs, then that food is off limits for the elimination phase of the IBSFree diet unless or until the complete product is analyzed for FODMAPS and turns out to be low.
What are your resources for this task?
- Online, try the manufacturer's web site, your favorite large grocery store website, or my new favorite: Shopwell.com to review ingredients ahead of your shopping trip.
- The food label itself. Always double check the actual product; web sites can become out of date, and manufacturers can choose different ingredients in different regions.
- Your book, IBS--Free at Last! The book has pages and pages of label reading tips (the word "label" appears 43 times in the book, and I can't re-write the whole thing here!).
Let's use Enjoy Life Crunchy Sugar Cookies as an example. The manufacturer's web site lists the following ingredients, which you will consider one by one:
- Flour Mix (White Rice Flour, Millet Flour, Buckwheat Flour); these three flours are low in FODMAPs
- Evaporated Cane Juice; another name for sucrose--allowed as long as total sugar per serving does not get too high; two of these cookies have only 7 grams of sugar, far less than the limit of 40 grams of sugar suggested in the book
- Palm Oil; all oils are low in FODMAPs
- Brown Pure Cane Sugar; brown sugar is fine
- Natural Flavor; this one would be tricky if is was in a soup, but its a pretty safe guess there aren't any onions or garlic in a sugar cookie.
- Salt; fine
- Vanilla; fine
- Baking Soda; fine
- Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate; had to look this one up--together with the baking soda, this helps the cookies rise. Not a carbohydrate, therefore not a FODMAP. All FODMAPs are carbohydrates by definition
- Xanthan Gum; does not meet the definition of FODMAP
- Rosemary Extract; herbs and their extracts are fine
Conclusion: These cookies are allowed on the Elimination Phase of the IBSFree diet! To see products that I've reviewed and ideas for your grocery list, check out my Pinterest boards. Enjoy your cookies!Click here to read a post about using the Nutrition Facts Panel to evaluate a trickier example, soy sauce.