alt=a woman in the kitchen chops fresh herbs, with ginger and turmeric surrounding the cutting board

How to Flavor Food Without Fear of Triggers

Trigger-free meals don’t have to be bland. But condiments and sauces are often the culprits of unwanted symptoms of IBS. Many contain high-fructose corn syrup—a high FODMAP-containing ingredient that can lead to gastrointestinal distress. While some meal flavorings may be a no-no, there are tons of options that won’t negatively affect your ability to go-go. Check out these IBS-friendly ways to keep your tastebuds and your gut fully satisfied.

The benefit of herbs and spices

Create a peaceful habitat for your gut by embracing herbs and spices. They are rich in phytochemicals—plant compounds that decrease inflammation and help ward off disease. These functional foods improve health from head to toe, including managing symptoms associated with IBS. Here are some top picks for a gut-friendly meal.

Fennel seeds or leaves

A flavor-filled way to improve digestion. This unique spice has been shown to improve abdominal pain and improve bowel function in people with IBS. Use it in a home-brewed tea, sprinkled in salads, baked in bread, or incorporated into lean ground meats.1

Turmeric

Go golden with this colorful and aromatic spice. Its high antioxidant content helps combat inflammation and reduce IBS symptoms. This mighty herb also can improve the gut microbiome for better health and disease management. Include it into your favorite coffee or smoothie bowl for an Insta-worthy food sensation. Or, add an international flair to mealtime by including it in rice, stews, curries, and more.2

Peppermint

Reap the benefits of fresh breath and improved digestion with the magic of menthol. This mighty compound found in fresh mint and peppermint helps relax the digestive tract to improve symptoms associated with IBS. Add a hint of freshness to your favorite drinks, such as teas, smoothies, sparkling water, and more.3

Ginger

Get going with ginger! This soothing spice can reduce abdominal pain and improve bowel function in people with IBS.4 Its unique flavor profile adds an earthy heat to dishes that is irresistible. Incorporate it into soups, teas, stir-fries, or simmered with your favorite lean proteins. My favorite ways to eat ginger include minced or grated into green smoothies, marinated firm tofu, and cooked eggplant with tomatoes.

Which herbs, spices, and condiments are IBS-friendly?

Keeping meals flavorful while following a low-FODMAP lifestyle is no big dill. In fact, there are seemingly endless options to include. Use the chart below to navigate which herbs or spices to have in your next culinary creation.

Foods to Include (Low-FODMAP)Tolerable in Small Amounts (Medium-FODMAP)Foods to Avoid (High-FODMAP)
CondimentsFish sauce, BBQ sauce (unless it contains onions and garlic), miso paste, oyster sauce, shrimp paste, soy sauce, sweet and sour sauce, tamarind paste, tomato sauce, rice wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, chutney, wasabi, capers in vinegarPesto sauce (1tbsp), quince paste (1 tbsp), balsamic vinegar (2 tbsp)Ketchup (>1 ½ packets), pasta sauces, relish
Herbs and SpicesAlmost all herbs and most spices are allowedCaraway seeds (1 tbsp)Garlic

Source: Melissa Halas, RD

How to Transform Forbidden Favorites into Low-FODMAP Creations

Parting ways with your must-have condiments is no small feat. While store-bought ketchup and pasta sauces may add a burst of flavor, it, unfortunately, wreaks havoc on one’s digestive system. So, skip the short-term satisfaction and instead focus on long-term well-being by recreating these high FODMAP favorites.

Ketchup: Mix tomato paste, white wine vinegar, spices, coconut sugar
Tomato sauce: fresh tomatoes, olive oil, bell peppers, carrots, chili flakes
Pesto: basil, olive oil, pine nuts, lemon juice, salt, pepper

Say goodbye to flavorless meals with these IBS-friendly mealtime additions. With a quick pinch or a sprinkle of herbalicious goodness, you can alleviate food boredom and improve your IBS symptom management.

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