‘Contrary to popular belief … we are NOT what we eat … we are what we absorb’
Hello there! My name is Sharon – AKA the FODMAP Friendly Vegan. Firstly, I’d like to thank you for taking time out of your busy day to visit my site. Secondly, I’d like to tell you three things about myself:
1) I’m a perfectionist and a nerd. Big time. I frequently develop little projects for myself where I research all there is to know about a topic.
2) If I do not get my daily Yoga fix then I am NOT pleasant to be around and
3) I am passionate about showing those with digestive issues like myself that food is not the enemy, and that we can enjoy wholesome, plant-based dishes without suffering from the digestive storm aftermath.
There is nothing I enjoy more than concocting nutritious plant-based recipes and educating myself on all the wonderful healing properties of the ingredients I use. This passion began after my own battles with a number of physical and mental health problems – all of which the mainstream medical system was unable to resolve. Like most do, my parents placed their faith (and money) into sending me to the most expensive treatment facilities, where I was poked, prodded, given every drug under the sun … all without any success. In the end, it was listening to my own body, educating myself, and incorporating a low-FODMAP, plant-based diet which saw my symptoms dramatically improve. It is because of this that I became passionate about educating others in how they too can take active steps towards improving their overall health and wellbeing … the natural way.
It wasn’t until I was referred to a holistic nutritionist and dietician, who introduced me to a new concept – food as medicine – that things really began to change. I remember thinking to myself, what’s this hippie on about?! She’s going to cure all my illnesses with macadamias and some coconut oil? While I had always been open to new ideas, this seemed just TOO far-fetched. Nevertheless, I had to double check for myself that this lady I’d just paid over $100 to see was really a looney. I began researching. I became overwhelmed by the abundance of scientifically validated studies that were confirming everything this perhaps not-so “crazy” lady was saying! I read of Green tea being used in cancer treatment prevention, turmeric and peppermint as effective remedies to IBS, ginger to treat nausea and motion sickness. How was all of this not known?! Why wasn’t everyone sculling aloe vera juice and stuffing their faces with broccoli?? Then I remembered. Money. Time. Commitment. Three words that send shivers down most westerners’ spine!
I am no stranger to this lifestyle. Working, studying, fitting in my Yoga and Pilates, all while trying to have some sort of a social life really leaves no time for sitting in the kitchen grating carrots all day. That’s why I’ve dedicated my recipes to you, my fellow time-poor friends. This site and my eBook are opportunities to show both those with digestive issues and those who simply want to clean up their diets that healthy eating can really be just as convenient and manageable as filling up on processed products marketed as “foods”, which are nutritionally void and, if anything, doing your body more harm than good.
BE WARNED. As you begin your journey to health and wellness, you will most likely note that your pallet changes. You will no longer CRAVE unhealthy food. In fact, you’ll no longer think of it as “food” (I know I don’t!) I remember one trip to Argentina (where my family is originally from) where I witnessed the love affair my Latin family and friends had with food. It was then it really hit me just how distorted our relationship with food has become in the West. Food should be something to be enjoyed, something to be grateful for in that it provides us with the fuel for life. Instead, we fear it, we avoid it, we try to convince ourselves we don’t need it. Especially for those who feel bloated, uncomfortable and in pain after they eat, food really does start to become the enemy. However, by adopting a few simple guidelines such as eating low FODMAP foods from the earth, and viewing food as fuel and a gift given to us by mother nature, you too can eat and actually ENJOY an abundance. Forget portion control, recommended serving sizes, calories etc. Your body will tell you when you are full or when you need more. Your weight will sort itself out. Health is paramount. There’s no point looking the way society dictates if you feel miserable.
I would like to make clear that my recipes are NOT intended to be diet guides. This is not a fad. This is not a “quick fix” band-aid solution to temporarily mask your digestive issues, or to help you squeeze into that dress that is currently a few sizes too small. This is a LIFESTYLE REVOLUTION. I had always eaten healthy as my Dad suffered from genetically high cholesterol and so we followed a predominantly vegetarian diet comprised mostly of whole foods. What wasn’t healthy was my relationship with food, and my lack of understanding that everyone’s food profile is unique. Just because some celebrity thinks noni berries are the hottest things since Matt Damon, doesn’t mean your body (or your wallet for that matter) will too. Most of the ingredients I use are simple, affordable every-day items. However, sometimes I may throw in a “super food” you might never heard of but feel free to substitute if it isn’t right for you. Before you do dismiss a foreign ingredient though, have a read about it in the In my Kitchen section because chances are if I’ve thrown it in there, it’s for a good reason. All the foods I use can be found at your local health food market or grocery store, and are naturally delicious! Join me on my health journey, and I will show you how much fun being a FODMAP-friendly vegan really is.
I remember forcing myself to eat at least one apple every day, guided by the “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” slogan. However, each time I munched away on an apple my stomach would feel like it was about to spontaneously combust. Years later I discovered I am unable to digest fructose (in addition to gluten), thus most fruits high in fructose (such as apples) make me inflate to the size of a jumping castle and send my belly into a solo cha cha! I was devastated when my dietician recommended I adopt a low-FODMAP diet to manage my severe irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. If you scan the list of foods high in FODMAPS (in the resources tab) you’ll discover that many of them are incredibly healthy. I was heartbroken to find out I had to “cut out” some of my favourite fruit and veggies. What’s worse, as a VEGAN with fructose malabsorption my options were even more limited. While there were plenty of FODMAP resources out there, the majority were very reliant on animal-based products, as these tend to be low FODMAP. Was I really going to have to live off bananas and rice? Surely Not.
Everyone is different in how they react to different foods. While those of us with sensitive stomachs tend to avoid anything that we’re told may cause digestive distress out of sheer fear, what must remain at the forefront of your mind is that there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to digestion. There is no point somebody from Samoa comparing themselves to someone from Japan – they have two completely distinct genetic profiles. Similarly, there is no point you comparing yourself with your naturally slender friend who ploughs their way through mountains of chips dipped in ice cream, with a side of frozen coke and yet experiences no stomach pains and have a models’ body. If you are nourishing your body and your cells with wholefoods that sit comfortably in your stomach and you therefore absorb, then you are a winner (regardless of what society would have you believe). Contrary to what we’ve been told, we aren’t what we eat … we are what we absorb.
I have done my best to create easy to follow, plant-based recipes that everyone (vegan, vegetarian, those with intolerances, sceptics, raw foodies, proud carnivores … even the fussiest of all … kids!) can enjoy. My recipes are specifically designed for those with sensitive stomachs who feel that in order to keep their symptoms at bay they are relegated to eating the same bland foods day in and day out. In the long run, adopting such a cautious and regimented approach to food will start to negatively impact your mental, social and physical wellbeing. It takes a little effort, but by familiarising yourself with foods that you can tolerate and those that are best avoided (which involves trial and error) you will dramatically increase the options available to you and slowly begin to re-establish a healthy relationship with food.
Thank you again for making an investment in your health. While I have put off this project of mine for quite some time, as I wanted it to be “perfect” and was too scared of failure, I have decided that if, at the very least, my passion translates through my recipes and I can inspire even one person to adopt a healthier approach to food, then it is all worth it – despite a few dodgy kitchen pictures. I hope you will be motivated to incorporate a more plant-based diet, eat more foods in their natural state, and to reap the health benefits of doing so. Any feedback or requests you have, feel free to contact me, as I am always looking for another excuse to research.
Here’s to feeling fantastic!
Yours in health,
SHARON AKA “THE FODMAP FRIENDLY VEGAN”
(BPsyc, MNut Candt., Certified Yoga practitioner, Cert III & IV in Fitness)