Cocoa, Coconut, Chocolate… What do you think? Do you eat these 3 delicious foods? Have you been given any advice about them?
As you may have noticed from my recipe collection, I love cocoa, coconut and definitely chocolate (my weakness). It seems though, that there is some confusion out there about whether they fit into a low FODMAP diet.
I have heard your frustrations about the confusing information about what is or isn’t low FODMAP, that the information keeps changing, and how can you know what is accurate and up-to-date? For what it’s worth, my advice is to check the source of any information carefully. Is it based on sound research (there’s the nurse coming out in me)? Anecdotal information can be helpful too, but it doesn’t always fit for everyone.
When I was writing The low FODMAP cookbook, I wanted to make sure my recipes were suitable and decided I needed to go to trusted source, the place where the FODMAP research is being done. Can you imagine my surprise and excitement when I discovered that 10 minutes away from my home was the Eastern Health Clinical School, part of Monash University. It was here where foods were being tested for FODMAP content, and it was here that the Low FODMAP Diet booklet had been published. I was able to meet with the head of research, Dr Jane Muir, and I was given permission to use information printed in the Low FOMDAP Diet booklet and the offer to have my recipes reviewed.
Fast forward 1 year, The low FODMAP Cookbook is published, I’m still writing recipes to share here, but it seems that the confusion over some foods goes on. So back to cocoa, coconut and chocolate: the official position based on Monash University research is they are all low FODMAP.
Now, I want to be clear that I am talking about FODMAPs specifically. You may have been advised that certain foods could trigger irritable bowel syndrome, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they have a high FODMAP content. Examples of this are caffeine, fatty foods and alcohol. Early FODMAP food lists had coconut cream and milk in a high FODMAP category, although desiccated or shredded coconut was not mentioned (to my knowledge). Later testing of coconut cream/milk found that the FODMAP content, or more specifically sorbitol, was so low that it was unlikely to be problematic for most people, and so it was removed from the high FODMAP list. Cocoa and chocolate have never been listed as high in FODMAPs. To make sure that it was ok to be offering up recipes containing cocoa, desiccated coconut and chocolate, last week I contacted Dr Jaci Barrett of Diet Solutions in Melbourne and a Monash University researcher. Dr Barrett confirmed that they are fine to use.
A quick word on lactose…yes, I still cook and eat lactose-containing foods, even though I malabsorb lactose. Not all people on a low FODMAP diet have lactose intolerance, and of those that do, many can still tolerate small amounts the, equivalent of 1/3 cup milk. I have found this to be true for me. If there is a lactose-free product available, eg milk and cream, I will suggest it in a recipe. It is probably worth mentioning that not all dairy is high in lactose. For the occasional times I wish to consume lactose I keep lactase supplements handy. I am not suggesting we should all use a lactase supplement all the time; simply they are my back-up when I need it.