If you’ve been a Free From-er for more than a year you may have noticed something – availability, range and branding are getting a lot better.
Since I had go gluten free three years ago big brands have started to make Free From items – such as Ben and Jerry’s new non-dairy ice creams. Not only that, but supermarket own brands have grown a huge amount, we’ve seen ready meal ranges introduced, frozen party food, seasonal specials and restaurants are starting to have GF and DF menus. Some Free From brands are even working hard to make their products allergen free, catering for those with soya intolerances, nut allergies and a whole host of other conditions that require food free from allergens.
But something struck me when thinking about this. I was interviewed about 6 months ago for Too Good to be Gluten Free’s Coeliac Spotlight, and when asked “Are there any good GF alternatives you’re yet to find?” I found myself answering “The range of gluten free food is pretty good now, it’s definitely my IBS that restricts what’s available to me rather than being gluten free as companies just aren’t interested in making low FODMAP or allium free foods.”
The more I’ve thought about it the more I’ve realised that currently it is actually my IBS that restricts what I can eat, and not my Coeliac Disease, as I first thought. EVERYTHING seems to contain onion or garlic, and even if I think I’m safe with puddings, there is often something like dates or apples that are a risk to those with IBS in gluten free puddings.
As a result of this I buy hardly any pre-made foods, which might be good for my wallet and health, but it certainly makes life difficult. Currently, if I want a quick and easy pre-made meal I can buy Schar’s frozen pizzas (no onion or garlic like most pizzas, wahoo!) and Evexia Thrive’s Tortellonis (again, no onions or garlic!), but there aren’t many other choices!
Unfortunately, alliums are not the only issue for those of us with IBS! There are a whole host of high FODMAP ingredients. The problem with IBS is that not every IBS sufferer reacts to the same ingredients – for example, whilst I am fine with dairy, some find this is a trigger for them. I cannot tolerate beans or pulses, whereas others are find with lentils, chickpeas etc. It is very tricky (if not impossible) for Free From companies to make products that every single person with IBS will be able to eat, and so it seems they simply don’t try, developing products that can be marketed towards other groups.
As with most Free From products, low FODMAP foods can be very expensive compared to their “normal” counterparts. For example, here is a salsa I came across the other day, marketed as “low FODMAP certified”. It works at about £5 a jar for 473ml. It contains the usual salsa ingredients, minus onions and garlic. For the same amount of this “normal” salsa, you’d only pay £3.40. With some Free From products, we can understand a slight rise in price – the ingredients are more expensive. But for this, it’s far cheaper to make it yourself.
So is this the final Free From frontier? With the range and availability of most Free From foods becoming better than ever, should those of us with IBS be pushing for more products for us? Lots of pre-made gluten free foods would be safe for those of us with IBS if they took out the onion or garlic – is this something we’re likely to see happening, such as this ready meal gluten free macaroni cheese by M and S?
How about other dietary restrictions – do you have a dietary restriction that you think is even less catered for than low FODMAP? Let’s help Free From brands by showing them what’s still left to be done!
Featured Image credit to The Great Courses Daily.
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