Sweet Potato Nachos (low-FODMAP)

Sweet Potato Nachos (low-FODMAP)

A woman outside in workout clothes holding a drawing of a happy gut; find bloating relief and reduce IBS

Sweet Potato Nachos (low-FODMAP)

Often Saturday night is nacho night in our house. This version can easily be made into a low-FODMAP recipe that can work in your specific IBS diet. 

​And while sometimes we just go for the real thing with corn chips and all the toppings, this sweet potato version is a great alternative!

​With a sweet potato base and lots of veggies mixed into the minced meat topping, you can enjoy a comfort food with a good extra serving of veggies.

​The best part is, that the toppings are extremely customizable. Can’t do onion? Leave it out and up the green onion as garnish. Or swap it for the green part of a leek.

Have a bunch of leftovers in the fridge? Throw them on!

​Or maybe sweet potato is tricky? Do ⅓ sweet potato and ⅔ regular potato.

​Ready to make this tonight?

Sweet Potato Nachos

Light version of the classic nachos, made with sweet potato instead of corn chips.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 2 people

Equipment

  • Mandolin

Ingredients
  

  • 500 g sweet potato*
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 200 g mince meat
  • 1 bell pepper diced
  • 1 red onion** diced
  • ¼ zucchini diced
  • 1 medium tomato diced
  • 1 tbsp garlic-infused olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

Optional Garnishes

  • green onion green top only for low-FODMAP
  • avocado ⅛ is low-FODMAP
  • sour cream lactose-free for low-FODMAP
  • fresh cilantro

Instructions
 

  • Pre-heat oven to 200C / 390F.
  • Wash and peel sweet potatoes, and slice into 0.5cm (0.2”) thick rounds using a knife or mandolin.
  • Lay sweet potato slices out on a lined baking sheet and bake in oven for 15 minutes until beginning to brown and crisp.
  • In a fry pan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onion, bell pepper, and zucchini and cook until just soft (5-8 minutes).
  • Add the minced meat into the frying pan and cook until fully browned, (about 10 minutes). Season with salt and pepper.
  • Remove the sweet potato from the oven. Using the baking sheet from the sweet potatoes, overlap the cooked chips to form your nacho base.
  • Scatter meat and vegetable mixture across the sweet potato base. Top with diced tomatoes and shredded cheese.
  • Return to the oven and bake until cheese ismelted and beginning to turn golden;around 10 minutes.
  • Top with any of the optional garnishes, and enjoy!

Notes

* 75g of sweet potato is considered low-FODMAP, above this can be high in the FODMAP mannitol. If this is a problem for you, you could swap ⅔ of the sweet potato for regular white potato instead.
** If red onion is a problem for you, as it is high in FODMAPs (fructans) then replace this with diced green tops of leeks.
Keyword Gluten Free, Vegetables

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Is Alcohol a Trigger for IBS?

Is Alcohol a Trigger for IBS?

Group of people cheersing with cocktails, Is alcohol a trigger for IBS

Is Alcohol a Trigger for IBS?

With the holiday season upon us, the influence of alcohol in our lives only continues to grow. But does alcohol sit well with your IBS, or is that glass going to send you running to the toilet?

There’s not a whole lot of research done yet on the effect or link between alcohol and irritable bowel syndrome, but anecdotally around 1/3 of IBS-sufferers self-report that they are triggered by it (myself included).

And when I polled my Instagram community, this number was far higher!

However, since alcohol is often served along with food (and often more indulgent dishes) it can be tricky to differentiate any symptoms from your drinks versus your food.

 

The effect of alcohol on your digestion

Alcohol can be an irritant to the gut and can cause inflammation. It can reduce your absorption of vitamins and minerals from your food.

By potentially reducing the frequency and strength of certain muscle contraction in the gut, alcohol can also disrupt the digestion of carbohydrates in the small intestine, resulting in more poorly absorbed carbs coming into the large intestine.

Cue bloating, gas, and change in bowel movements. This is the same effect that FODMAPs can have on your digestion.

It also can mean an increased transit time (a.k.a. the time it takes for your food to move from one end to the other), which can result in diarrhea.

Alcohol can also interfere with the working of some digestive enzymes – one of which is lactase. Lactase is the digestive enzyme that breaks down lactose, the milk sugar.

This means when drinking you could find yourself sensitive to lactose-containing dairy products even if you would normally do OK with some of them.

The pattern of alcohol consumption has been studied in terms of its impact on IBS.

While the study didn’t find an association between light or moderate alcohol consumption and next-day IBS symptoms, it did find an association between binge drinking (4+ drinks on one occasion) and next-day IBS symptoms.

Green cocktail in a martini glass, is alcohol a trigger for IBS

Alcohol and FODMAPs

While alcohol can function similarly to FODMAPs in the digestive system, they aren’t one and the same.

However, some alcohol can also contain FODMAPs (so possibly a double whammy on your gut) and warrant some additional focus. 

According to Monash University, the following are high-FODMAP containing alcohols / alcoholic drinks:

  • Cider
  • Rum
  • Sherry
  • Port
  • Sweet dessert wine

Conversely, the following are considered low-FODMAP:

  • Beer (but watch out for gluten if you’re gluten intolerant)
  • Red, sparkling, sweet, white and dry white wine
  • Gin
  • Vodka
  • Whisky

If you’re consuming a cocktail, don’t forget to take the additional elements into account as well for FODMAP content. (Check out the recipe at the bottom of the post for my favourite, festive cocktail!)

 

Drinking responsibly

In general, any potential benefits from alcohol don’t really outweigh the possible negative consequences. That being said, drinking alcohol is a personal choice, and it’s so interwoven into our social life that it’s understandable if you don’t want to abstain completely!

Just remember to enjoy it responsibly. While your country’s guidelines of alcohol consumption may vary, here in Belgium we recommend (for adults over the age of 18) a maximum of 10 units of alcohol per week, and several days with no alcohol.

One unit of alcohol is equal to:

  • 10g / 12.7mL pure alcohol
  • 250mL standard beer
  • 100mL wine
  • 50mL aperitif alcohol (sherry, port, etc.)
  • 35mL strong liquor (gin, vodka, etc.)

And, of course, remember the general recommendations: avoid alcohol when driving or operating machinery, if you’re pregnant, if you’re under 18 (and/or under the legal age in your country), when doing heavy physical activity, and talk to your doctor if you’re on any medications.

 

Practical tips for alcohol consumption 

  • Watch out for what you are mixing it with (pop, fruit juice, etc. could all contain FODMAPs or other triggers for you)
  • Abstaining might be the best option for you If you notice an increase in symptoms when drinking alcohol
  • Drink plenty of water: alternate each alcoholic drink with at least one glass of water
  • Consume food along with alcohol (but be sure to consider your food triggers)
  • Space out your drinks over a longer time frame
  • Swap in some non-alcoholic mocktails; no one has to know!
  • Avoid binge-drinking
IBS friendly cocktail mocktail, red cocktail in a glass surrounded by fresh cranberries and rosemary

IBS-friendly festive holiday gin & tonic:

Serves one

  • Ice
  • 35mL non-alcoholic gin
  • 35mL cranberry juice (check the ingredients list for any high-FODMAP additives)
  • Tonic water
  • Fresh rosemary and/or cranberries for garnish

Fill your glass with ice. Add in the cocktail ingredients in the order listed. Top off with your garnishes and enjoy!

 

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12 Tips to Achieve IBS Bloating Relief

12 Tips to Achieve IBS Bloating Relief

A woman outside in workout clothes holding a drawing of a happy gut; find bloating relief and reduce IBS

12 Tips to Achieve IBS Bloating Relief

Sick of feeling bloated?

After surveying more than a hundred women, in my private Facebook community, IBSuccess, I found that bloating was one of the IBS symptoms you struggle with the most.

Not knowing when it might happen causes stress and anxiety around the unpredictability of your situation.

You feel uncomfortable in your body and the risk of bloating and distension reduces your confidence and influences your clothing choices.

You want to be able to live your life without IBS holding you back anymore. Stop missing out on special moments and social events or having to duck out early.

 

I’ve been there too. Bloated, frustrated, looking for IBS relief.

Years ago, bloating was a pretty regular occurrence for me.

Multiple times a week (at least) I would feel heavy, bloated, have a distended gut (that 6-months pregnant look – I’m sure you know it!), and have painful cramps and spasms in my colon.

I didn’t know what was going on and had yet to be diagnosed.

I remember one weekend my boyfriend came to town and we went to grab some takeaway for dinner on Friday night.

I felt so gross and uncomfortable in my clothes; definitely not how I wanted to feel when I only got to see him on weekends!

I remember telling him…

“Let’s go get fries… it can’t get any worse than this anyway, I just can’t be bothered.”

Sound familiar? 

Cutting board with green vegetables and a drawing of the small and large intestines; a happy gut without bloating from IBS

It doesn’t have to be this way.

There are many different actions you can take to work on reducing the frequency of bloating and other pesky IBS symptoms from popping up.

But sometimes no matter how careful we are, the avoidable happens and that bloated, distended belly appears.

It can be easy to let your frustration ruin your day.

To just give up and let IBS take over control of your life.

Instead of going down that rabbit hole, I want to help you figure out how you can deal with that bloating, get rid of your bloated belly fast, and be able to move on with everything you want to do!

 

What you need to do to achieve bloating relief:

Everybody is different, so it might take a bit of trial and error to find the best method for you. But luckily, I have plenty of tips and tricks for you to use to make beating the bloat as easy and simple as possible!

So if bloating hits, instead of letting your day crash and burn, consider this your toolbox for finding relief and being able to move on!

Grab the free guide, Bye-Bye IBS Bloat for my top 12 tips on how you can find bloating relief.

 

READY TO FINALLY ACHIEVE IBS BLOATING RELIEF?

Find out what to do when bloating rears its ugly head. Grab the free guide for 12 tips to help you find bloating relief and IBS success!

8 Tips for Happy, Healthy Holidays with IBS

8 Tips for Happy, Healthy Holidays with IBS

View of a Christmas tree from above surrounded by presents, how to have a healthy holiday season with IBS

8 Tips for Happy, Healthy Holidays with IBS

The holiday season can be a challenging and stressful time of year – even without taking your irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) into account.

And while this year may look a bit different for you depending on the situation where you live, by keeping some tips in mind you’ll be more prepared than ever to navigate this time of year in a more healthy and less stressful way.

Check out the video below for all my healthy holiday tips!

This is an edited version of the monthly Facebook live of November in my free private community, IBSuccess. (Want to join? Click here!). It was a casual chat, so apologies for the overuse of “um”!

8 Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season:

✨Meal plan & prep ahead on the weekend.

While I go on about meal planning a lot, I don’t necessarily do it every week. But it is KEY for surviving these busy periods!⁠ Not only will you save money on your grocery bill by being as efficient as possible and minimizing take-away and convenience foods, but you’ll also be getting more more nutritious meals that will keep you full and fuelled for longer. Not to mention the precious weeknight time you’ll save on preparing dinner.


✨ Bring a homemade packed lunch.

Not only will you probably save money and cut down on food waste, but you’ll be making sure to get a nutrient-dense lunch in before any evening activities.⁠


✨ Front-load your nutrition. 

Focus on getting lots of veggies & protein in early in the day, since these will likely be lacking if you’re out for dinner.⁠ That way you can roll with whatever comes in the evening, knowing that you got some solid nutrition in already!


✨ Don’t deny yourself some indulgences! 

If you’re out at a party, start off with the “healthier” fare, but definitely still go for those cravings as well. The healthier options will fill you up first, helping to ensure you can still have those indulgences mindfully. This way you’re less likely to go overboard.

Decorative snowmen sitting in a row, how to have a healthy holiday season with IBS

✨ Swap out a couple alcoholic drinks for some non-alcoholic cocktails. 

Keep your alcohol consumption in moderation by, at the least, alternating with a non-alcoholic alternative. There are loads of fancy mocktail possibilities, and I bet most people won’t notice! You’ll definitely thank yourself in the morning when you sleep better and minimize the chance of a hangover.


✨ Prioritize sleep.

Sleep is key for recovering and building resiliency to stress. Not to mention this time of year kicks off cold and flu season, so your immune system could do with the boost. Even if sleep comes at the expense of something like exercise, this is a period of the year where this swap is worth it.⁠


✨ Know your non-negotiables for managing stress.

This will ensure you keep up with some form of self-care.⁠ While you might need to cut down on your self-care time to properly balance your schedule, make sure you’re not cutting it out completely! That time to yourself will help you recharge and have more energy to give to everything else that is going on.


✨ Practise saying no when needed. 

Recognize your limits or propose alternatives when certain requests are just too much.⁠ Everyone is busy at this time of year, so most people will understand if you turn down an invitation. Or think of alternative activities that won’t take all of your energy. Did a friend invite you to a holiday party that you know will be exhausting? Propose meeting for a lunch instead so you still get that time to connect. Or, maybe you want to throw a party of your own to see all your friends in one go, rather than attend a million different functions.

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Curious about one-on-one coaching?

Ready to understand what is triggering your IBS symptoms, start feeling comfortable in your body again, and say goodbye to bloating, anxiety, pain, and cramps?

Let's create a concrete plan for reducing your IBS symptoms that works with your lifestyle and your goals in mind.

Get started by booking your Breakthrough Session.

5 Tips to use Food Journaling for IBS Success

5 Tips to use Food Journaling for IBS Success

Woman writing in notebook, how to keep a food journal for IBS symptoms

5 Tips to use Food Journaling for IBS Success

 

Figuring out what is triggering your IBS symptoms is a bit like playing detective.

Since everyone’s Irritable Bowel Syndrome tends to be different, what might be triggering you is likely very different than what is triggering someone else.

It can be a frustrating task to try and sort it all out, but luckily if you know how to keep an effective food journal, you’re much more likely to be able to make sense of it all!

 

Tip #1: Every bite counts when it comes to IBS

Now remember, the purpose of this journal isn’t about tracking how much food you’re eating or your macro split or whatever blah blah is on trend for the moment.

It’s a no judgement zone.

You’re only collecting information to help you get to the bottom of this mystery called IBS.

But in order to do that, it’s helpful to be sure you’re really writing down everything you eat.

Even those two bites of mac n’ cheese you ate from the kids’ pot before you served them their dinner.

For many people, such a small amount might not be so relevant and might not cause IBS symptoms to be triggered. But for some it may be. And perhaps it’s just a couple bites of something that on top of the other foods you eat just manages to push you over the edge in terms of “trigger foods” consumed.

 

Tip #2: Don’t forget the liquids

Making sure our body is properly hydrated is so important, and if we aren’t doing well on this it’s just extra stress on the system. And extra stress = higher chance of symptoms being triggered. (Want to learn more about how much water you should be drinking? Head over to this blog post.)

And it’s not only the amount of water that you’re drinking that you should be noting. Any and all coffee, tea, sodas, juices, alcohol, etc. should also be making it into your food journal. This is all important data that could help you spot patterns in your symptoms.

Woman on bed writing in a journal, How to keep a food journal for IBS symptoms

Tip #3: What’s your mood like?

This step is too often skipped! How we’re feeling and what emotions are going on can play a big role in determining how we are going to digest our food. Worried, anxious, stressed? These emotions are probably increasing the likelihood of symptoms being triggered (sometime regardless of what you’re eating).

Studies have shown that when people are stressed their guts behave differently (IBS or not). Since the gut-brain connection is thought to be dysfunctional in many people with IBS, this could mean when your brain communicates with your gut about emotions and thoughts, it’s actually being over-interpreted.

 

Tip #4: Keep track of those BMs!

Noting down what’s going on for you digestively is a great extra piece of information to add into your food journal. When did you have a bowel movement? What was it on the Bristol Stool Chart? Did you experience pain, cramps, etc.

This is the kind of information you’ll likely forget or incorrectly recall if you look back on your food journal days or weeks later. You might remember having some symptoms pop up, but depending on how you felt at the time, you’re likely going to downplay or intensify what it was like. Make sure to always give some sort of rating (like a scale of 1-5 for discomfort / intensity) in order to have something concrete to refer back to.

 

Tip #5: Be realistic in what you can keep up with

Can you recall what you had for lunch a week ago today?

Most people can’t, or it takes them awhile to get there. Imagine you’re trying to recall an entire day or week of food at one time – probably you’re going to forget some details. Whether it’s a snack, a side dish, etc. the accuracy of your journaling will decrease if you don’t do it regularly.

While the more detail the better, you need to balance this with what you can realistically keep up with on a daily basis. Know you won’t have time to properly journal? Take photos of what you’re eating on your phone to refer back to and use the Notes app to jot down how you’re feeling and what’s going on with your digestion.

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Curious about one-on-one coaching?

Ready to understand what is triggering your IBS symptoms, start feeling comfortable in your body again, and say goodbye to bloating, anxiety, pain, and cramps?

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Probiotics and IBS

Probiotics and IBS

Red and pink pills lined up to create a medical cross, should you be taking probiotics to help with your IBS symptoms?

Probiotics and IBS

If you are going to try any sort of supplement, always discuss with your doctor and nutrition professional first. This post is for general information purposes only, is not meant to diagnose or treat, and is in no way a replacement for consulting a medical professional.

 

What are probiotics?

Our gut is home to millions and millions of bacteria – in fact the number of bacteria in your gut is higher than the number of cells in the human body! The total weight of them can even come to 1.5kg / 4lbs. It’s generally agreed that there are about 500-1000 different types of bacteria in our gut, and for a healthy individual we have a harmonious relationship with these guys.

These bacteria are vital to our health; they help maintain the health of the cells in the gut lining, they support our immune function in the gastrointestinal tract (which is where the bulk of our immune system is located!), they aid in the digestion and absorption of key nutrients, and they even produce some nutrients that our body cannot produce itself – making these available for us.

Probiotics are essentially supplements of specific types of the “good guy” bacteria. The idea is that in taking them, you may be boosting the population of the good bacteria, which would help if your body’s balance of bacteria in the gut is off.

You can also find natural sources of probiotics in certain foods, namely fermented foods, like yogurt, kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and other pickled vegetables.

When it comes to supplementation specifically, most research has centered on two main families of bacteria: lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. However, the specific strains/sub-strains of bacteria are going to vary from product to product. Some supplements will just be one specific strain, some may be a mix, and the overall quantity of bacteria can also vary.

 

Should I be supplementing with probiotics for IBS?

One theory is that symptoms of IBS such as gas, may develop due to an imbalance of “good vs. bad” bacteria in the gut. However, actual clinical results have been mixed and largely inconclusive as to whether probiotics are effective in reducing IBS symptoms.

When it comes to our gut microbiome, in general the composition of it is fairly similar between healthy individuals. But when it comes to an unbalanced microbiome, every person’s tends to be unique. Therefore, it’s difficult to judge whether or not a probiotic will be effective.

Since the bacteria in the probiotic are meant to be alive, it’s also difficult to say how many – if any – actually make it through the digestive system and to the large intestine still alive. And a small study done on off-the-shelf probiotic supplements found that 50% of those tested were actually already dead even before use! Since there’s very little regulation in the industry, whether you’re getting what you paid for can be questionable.

The American Gastroenterological Association has recently come out with revised recommendations stating that there is insufficient evidence to recommend probiotics for IBS.

However, a low-FODMAP diet for as little as 4 weeks has been seen to already impact the balance of bacteria in the gut in a negative direction. But research done at King’s College in the UK has shown that taking a probiotic may help rebalance the gut microbiome after following a low-FODMAP diet.

Overall, if you’re going to try supplementing with a probiotic, keep your expectations realistic and only expect a mild improvement, if any.

 

Considerations for supplementing with probiotics for IBS

Start with the natural sources in fermented foods! Ease into it over time, as going for a too-large portion size right away could cause digestive distress. Keep in mind that some probiotic-rich foods could be high in FODMAPs.

If you try a supplement, you can also ease into in it by starting with lower amounts. Research suggests that it is more beneficial to focus on one specific strain of bacteria at first, rather than choosing one with many different types.

Give yourself at least a month (one full female hormone cycle) to judge whether or not they are making a difference. They should be taken just before or during a meal (of course always follow the label’s instructions).

If you don’t see an improvement – stop taking them! You don’t want to be wasting your money. You could also try switching to a different strain of bacteria.

 

Final thoughts

As always, consult your doctor before taking any sort of supplement! If you have a known immune deficiency, have cancer or are undergoing cancer treatment, or have short gut syndrome, you shouldn’t be taking probiotics. 

There is no research on long-term probiotic use, so taking them for a longer period isn’t recommended.

There is no magical pill that replaces doing the work – and this includes probiotics!

Any supplementation should generally be a second line of support after working with a professional on establishing a healthy, balanced diet and making positive lifestyle changes to address your specific IBS symptom triggers. Always discuss diet and lifestyle changes, as well as supplementation, with your doctor prior to starting.

 

Picture of Healthfully Heather IBS Nutrition
Curious about one-on-one coaching?

Ready to understand what is triggering your IBS symptoms, start feeling comfortable in your body again, and say goodbye to bloating, anxiety, pain, and cramps?

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Get started by booking your Breakthrough Session.

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