Are you looking for a book to help you with the low FODMAP diet? If you are, you should make sure it meets the following criteria:
- Aside from guiding you through a low FODMAP diet, it also gives guidelines to help you know if it’s right for you.
- It can help you to get started on the low FODMAP, but also makes sure that you don’t stay on the elimination phase for life.
- After helping you to work out your FODMAP tolerances, it guides you on how to modify your diet.
- The information it contains is up to date, reliable, and based on science.
- It’s written by a qualified nutrition professional, who knows the low FODMAP diet inside and out. And who preferably also has a good understanding of what it’s actually like to live with IBS.
Well I’ve found you a book that meets all these criteria: The IBS Elimination Diet and Cookbook, by Patsy Catsos. So if you’re looking to primarily follow the low FODMAP diet from a book, read on for my review.
About The IBS Elimination Diet and Cookbook
The IBS Elimination Diet and Cookbook is now in its second version, although you may not recognise it. That’s because the first version, published in 2009, was called IBS – Free at Last! But it’s been substantially revised and expanded, before being republished in 2017. So not only does this book have all the latest info, it’s also been tried and tested by people with IBS.
Patsy Catsos created this book after realising that many people weren’t able to afford the ongoing services of a FODMAP dietary specialist. But these people still needed to try the low FODMAP diet and they needed help to do it. Her solution was to create a how-to manual that could be used alongside advice from medical and nutrition professionals. This ensured that people with IBS got the help they needed, regardless of their finances.
The book includes the full process needed to move through the stages of the low FODMAP diet. This includes a detailed reintroduction protocol that you can personalise to your needs. And there’s regular encouragement to help you move from one phase to the next, so that you don’t restrict any more than is necessary.
Patsy’s process uses a simplified form of the low FODMAP diet. Foods are classed as low FODMAP or high FODMAP based on standard serving sizes, e.g. 1/2 cup of veggies. While this results in a slightly more restrictive elimination process, it makes it much easier to follow. Which is very helpful for people who aren’t in regular contact with a dietary specialist.
While this book does have everything you need to work through the low FODMAP diet, please take heed of Patsy’s recommendations. Particularly the ones about seeking medical and nutritional guidance while using the book. The low FODMAP diet shouldn’t be done in isolation from other medical and nutritional advice. It should form part of your overall plan for improving your gut issues.
About the Author: Patsy Catsos
Patsy Catsos, MS, RDN, LD, is one of the most qualified and knowledgeable dietary specialists in FODMAPs and IBS. She is a registered dietitian nutritionist and has two degrees in nutrition, from Cornell University and Boston University. Patsy works with clients as a medical nutrition therapist in Portland, Maine, focussing on digestive health. She also runs a website, IBS-Free at Last!, where she regularly publishes tips, recipes and new research about FODMAPs and IBS. Patsy is a true pioneer of the low FODMAP diet and remains at the forefront, sharing information with the people who need it most.
But Patsy’s understanding goes beyond her nutrition training. She was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in her early 20s and has worked through many bad episodes over the years. So Patsy understands what it’s like to live with disabling and painful gastrointestinal symptoms. She also understands the isolation of living with a condition where the symptoms and distress are invisible to the people around you. And she knows how hard it can be to have frank conversations about IBS symptoms, even with health care specialists.
When it comes to the low FODMAP diet, Patsy Catsos is one of the people that I trust the most. I’ve learned from Patsy at conferences and from her publications. She gets the day-to-day stuff so much better than many other specialists and has an incredibly practical approach. In fact, if I needed help with something FODMAP, Patsy is the first person I would reach out to.
Now for an honest critique of The IBS Elimination Diet and Cookbook
The things I really liked about it:
- It starts with a series of questions to help you work out if the FODMAP Elimination Diet is right for you. And to help you know when to seek additional testing or guidance from medical professionals.
- It’s got a good list of general guidelines for following the diet and getting started. Plus there’s comprehensive lists of low and high FODMAP foods, along with pantry and shopping lists.
- You’ll find a 7-day sample menu, with strategies for varying the menu for different needs. This includes ideas for really quick meals, vegan meals, weight gain and dining out.
- There’s tips for modifying recipes, preparation tactics and mindset adjustments. You’ll also find information that goes beyond FODMAPs, discussing other things that could help your IBS.
- When it comes to reintroductions, there’s 3 plans to choose from. And you can mix and match them for different FODMAP types and depending on how you react.
- You’ll also find a really unique plan called ‘FODMAP Lite’. This is designed for people who have less flexibility with their eating habits, but still want to try a low FODMAP diet.
- There’s loads of answers to commonly asked questions throughout the book. Patsy has a real knack for answering these questions exactly when you’d ask them. It’s like she’s right there beside you as you’re reading.
- And there’s also 56 recipes that look simply delicious. I’ve got my eyes on these ones: Shrimp Fried Rice, Chicken Korma, Veggie Burger of Your Dreams (how cool is that name!), and Raspberry-Lime Ice Pops.
The things I didn’t like quite so much:
- While Patsy’s approach makes a low FODMAP diet easier to follow, it’s more restrictive than other approaches. This is because Patsy defines low and high FODMAP foods based on standard portion sizes, e.g. 1/2 cup of fruit or veggies. However, if you stay in the elimination phase for the least amount of time possible, as recommended, this isn’t a huge deal. You’ll be able to expand your diet quickly enough once you get through reintroductions.
- Since Patsy is American, she uses American food terms and measures. For an Aussie, this requires extra thought to work some things out. But for US readers, this is a good thing. Especially since so much of the information on FODMAPs is written by Aussies.
- The recipes use imperial measurements rather than metric, which admittedly is ideal for US readers. But whenever possible, food measures are given in cups and spoons. This makes cooking even easier, regardless of whether you work in imperial or metric measurements.
The overall verdict:
If you can’t afford ongoing assistance from a FODMAP dietary specialist, or if you prefer to DIY and do things from books, then this is the book for you. It’s got everything you need to work through a low FODMAP diet, with recommendations on when to seek extra assistance, plus recipes to get you started.
So if you’ve been wanting to try a low FODMAP diet, using a book for guidance, then there’s no longer any excuses to keep putting it off. Grab yourself and copy of The IBS Elimination Diet and Cookbook and see if you can ease your IBS so that you’ll be eating well and feeling great.
How you can get a copy of The IBS Elimination Diet and Cookbook
The best way to get a copy of The IBS Elimination Diet and Cookbook, by Patsy Catsos, depends on where you live.
- Australia: the best option is to buy a copy through Amazon. You can even get a Kindle version for immediate download. Here’s a link to it.
- US: you can also buy it from Amazon. Here’s a link to it. But you should also be able to find it in other bookstores too.
- Elsewhere: again, Amazon is a great option. I’m not sure if you’ll be able to find it in bookstores in countries outside the US.
Disclaimer: I requested a hardcopy of this book from Patsy Catsos so that I could review it for you. I had to make sure it was genuinely useful for someone following a low FODMAP diet before recommending it. All opinions are my own.