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Advice | 8 more tips for Coeliacs on a budget

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Last June I wrote a post entitled “8 tips for Coeliacs on a budget” and it was so popular I’ve compiled some more tips for you!

I don’t think there has ever been a time in my life when I haven’t been on a budget, but since I’m now a gluten free student, it’s even more important to be frugal with food. Sometimes you have to really think outside the box to find new ways to cut back on your food bill.

 

Learn how best to utilise leftovers. You can quite easily stretch one meal into two or three without having to add much more onto the cost. For example, I often save leftover pasta sauces and use for the next night’s meal to make a tomato risotto. Leftover mashed potato can be added to water and leftover steamed vegetables to make quick and cheap soup. Just remember to put a sticky label with the date on the side of the container facing out so that when you open the fridge you can see when you need to use everything by. Most leftovers will last a couple of days but be careful with reheating rice.

Keep track of the best before dates on your Gluten Free cupboard foods. I’m guilty of being quite bad at this – I will buy Genius rolls or packets of noodles and put them in the cupboard, forget about them and fine they are well past their best befores when I want to use them. This is especially important with things that have a relatively short shelf life or things that will spoil. Genius bread is very good at staying good for a week or more after it’s best before, so even if you do forget about that half loaf, it might be okay – just check for mould and if it’s dry, turn it into bread crumbs for stuffed mushrooms or nut roast!

Work out how much each meal will cost for the week/month before buying your shopping. This is exactly what we do for the Thrifty Food recipe series – working out how much each ingredient will cost and how much we will need. By working out meal costs you can plan ahead and only buy the things you need.

Find cheaper substitutes for Gluten Free treats. One thing that can be really frustrating is looking at the 50p packets of biscuits in the “normal” aisles compared to ours which are £3. Train yourself to enjoy treats that are going to be more budget friendly. For example, I make my own chocolate covered nuts and raisins, for a fraction of the supermarket price.

Save more expensive gluten free items for special occasions only. It can be really tempting when you see a new product in the Free From aisle and think “I must have gluten free birthday cake even if it’s not my birthday”. If you know it’s a bit pricier, save it for a special occasion – that way it will be more likely to feel like a one off buy and you won’t be as tempted to buy it regularly. For example, we did this with ASDA’s new gateaux which is a staggering £6.50 – not something we can afford in our usual weekly shop. If you teach yourself to see these items as occasional you’ll be less likely to impulsive buy them next time.

Set a strict weekly budget for Free From aisle items. Instead of thinking “I need bread, crumpets, biscuits and pizza every week”, set an amount (the amount will depend on your budget and how many people you are shopping for) an allow yourself whichever items you like within that. For example, if you set yourself £6 a week you could buy:
1 X own brand rolls  – £1.95
1 X Warburton’s Gluten Free Crumpets – £1.85
Own brand Free From Pizza – £2.00
This will encourage you to save money by cooking most of your meals from scratch, and using your meal plans you will be able to plan ahead for this. I tend to find if I don’t set a budget for Free From items I will keep putting things in the basket because I want, rather than because I can afford them.

Try to cook gluten free dinners for the non-Free From people in your house too. This tip is specifically for those who cook for their household and those who live with people who are not gluten free. It is far more economical to cook one meal for everyone instead of cooking gluten food for the family and a separate meal for yourself. You may be thinking “that’s not true – gluten food is cheaper!” and that is certainly the case for bread, pizza, and any other foods that need a substitute, so I’m not suggesting that you make your entire house go gluten free (especially if you have younger children) but if you’re making a rice or potato based dish for yourself, make it for the whole family! These dishes are cheaper anyway and the entire family can eat it. There are obviously lots of variables for this, but if you stick to the meal planning that I mentioning earlier you will find it easier to forward think about creating naturally gluten free dishes for the entire family.

Work out how to utilise cheap foods in place of more expensive foods. For example, gluten free pasta and noodles (£1.09 for 500g) can be quite expensive, but own brand rice (£1.25 for 1kg) is a lot cheaper. Another example is using ribboned or sliced vegetables instead of lasagne sheets, like Lucy did recently for this recipe. This way you can still eat your favourite meals (bolognese with rice instead of pasta, lasagne with less or no lasagne sheets, crustless quiche etc.).

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Recipes every Monday, blog posts every Friday! See the previous Monday’s recipe here.

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Advice | Why I can’t stand #newyearnewme diets

In general the #newyearnewme phenomenon makes me want to scream in frustration (no, the passing of another year will not suddenly make you the best version of yourself!) but especially when it comes to the way people suddenly treat food.

It can be tempting around Christmastime to gorge on food, especially for those of us with dietary requirements who are limited and perhaps missing out on some of our old favourites. We take this time of year to indulge and then come January, some start to regret being a bit freer with their eating habits (like having Quality Street for breakfast, or eating your Christmas day leftovers at midnight, or even just that extra helping of mince pies on Boxing Day).

This leads to a collective “what have I done” moment on 1st of January when everyone decides they will only eat kale from now on. The Facebook statuses roll in: “#newyearnewme No more burgers for breakfast, I’ve just purchased running shoes and I will be running three miles every morning at dawn whilst drinking my chia seed, spinach and dragonfruit protein smoothie” or “OMG ate so much at Christmas so going on a juice cleanse”. Inevitably these people will only last three days.

The simple fact is, a drastic lifestyle change like this is not sustainable. Channeling your guilt about overeating during the festive period into ill-advised crash diets. This becomes a yo-yo – Professor Traci Mann’s 2007 long term study (UCLA) of participants on 2-5 year long diets showed that “the majority of people regained all the weight, plus more. Sustained weight loss was found only in a small minority of participants, while complete weight regain was found in the majority.”

Whilst this is certainly not specific to the Free From community, I feel it can sometimes be worse for us – we feel so denied already that when new, festive foods are brought out we go a bit crazy!

Resist the temptation to become one of the #newyearnewme crowd – however much you may be swept up in the momentum, you don’t want to endure that late January slump when everyone starts giving up. Just go back to your normal way of eating, increase your exercise and carry on as normal!

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Recipes every Monday, blog posts every Friday! See the previous Monday’s recipe here.

Social Media:

Youtube: The Gluten Free Veggie – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-b7T1VFTZqYq15aPvdlNwA

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Advice | First Vegetarian Christmas

By Lucy and Tegan.

One of our readers asked us if we could write a post about how to cope with your first Christmas as a vegetarian! We’ve pooled our vegetarian knowledge and co-authored this post to offer some help to those worried about tackling the new lifestyle during the festive season!

 

Be prepared to be tempted. If you gave up meat for ethical reasons rather than a dislike of the taste/texture you might find yourself craving that Christmas turkey and pigs in blankets! Having recipes ready with meat free alternatives is a good start, so you don’t feel like you’re missing out on anything. Instead of thinking, ‘I’m sad I can’t have turkey,’ you’re excited about the brilliant nut roast you’re going to get to have instead. If you have veggie gravy and sausage rolls to hand, you’re less likely to feel tempted by meat or to feel sad for the food you might feel you’re missing – especially if there are certain foods you associate with the tradition of Christmas.

Have plenty of ready made vegetarian treats to hand. Christmas isn’t just about the dinner – in my family Christmastime and New Year come hand in hand with buffets, chocolate selection boxes, biscuit tins and snacks. Make sure you have vegetarian alternatives for all of these items ready before the festivities start so you don’t go hungry!

Combat the stigma! Depending on your family’s view of vegetarianism, you may experience some stigma from others around the dinner table. If you’re eating with family or friends, maybe bring along something vegetarian you’ve made that they can share and realise that your food isn’t tasteless! (and sharing’s quite nice and festive isn’t it?). My Mum’s nut roast is always popular with the meat eaters at Christmas and they often try to pinch a bit for their own dinners!

If you’re hosting a Christmas dinner be aware that some people may expect meat. In an ideal world we wouldn’t have to deal with meat, but that may not be the case and when hosting you should take your guests preferences into consideration. Forcing your family to have an entirely vegetarian Christmas may just create more hostility towards your vegetarianism. Instead, see if a meat eating family member would be happy to cook the meat at their house and bring it with them. This is how we’ve always done it at my house.

Remind yourself to be proud and happy about your lifestyle. If you’re still struggling with temptation or wondering what you can eat, just remember you’re doing an awesome thing, it’s great for animals, for the planet, for your health. That more than makes up for missing out on some foods that aren’t even that great (turkey can be dry and horrible really!). I don’t miss eating meat at all any more!

Rejoice in the Christmas foods that are already vegetarian! Stuffing, Christmas pud and mince pies are all vegetarian anyway! (Of course these things are not naturally gluten free but you can get GF alternatives!)

Also rejoice in the non-food related parts of Christmas. It can be easy to bog yourself down in thinking about Christmas parties, family occasions and the big day itself as food-orientated but it doesn’t have to be! If you’re worried that you’ll feel like you’re missing out, try to focus on the other aspects of this time of year – good company, games, films, crackers etc.

I hope all of you new vegetarians have a very Merry Christmas!

11.12.16 (39)

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Advice | Tips for when you are lacking food inspiration

It can be a real struggle when you have multiple dietary restrictions (or even just one!) to keep yourself motivated to eat. There are days when you feel like you don’t want to eat anything, the thought of gluten free bread is making you cringe and all you want is to order a takeaway and screw the consequences. Here are some tips for those days when you are feeling blue about your limited diet.

Browse Tumblr or Pinterest. It may sound ridiculously middle class but looking through these websites can be a big help. I get inspired to make a lot of my recipes by looking through these pages. The bloggers shared on there make a lot of effort with the photos, layout and recipes so that you can relax and browse. Here are some of my favourite pages, who share recipes daily:

Guardians of the Food

Easy Gluten Free Recipes

Pretty Pasta

Vegan Food Inspiration

Learn to adapt “normal” recipes that you find in books, online or from friends so that you can still eat them. For example if you find a lasagne recipe you like, learn how to adjust the cooking time for gluten free. If you are dairy free, work out which type of dairy free milk best suits which type of cooking. If you are vegan, learn how to make a flax egg and substitute it into normal recipes.

Don’t limit yourself to only looking at recipes that are free from everything you can’t eat. If I googled “gluten free vegetarian onion free garlic free bean free avocado free etc.” recipes every time I was seeking inspiration I wouldn’t find a lot! You can draw inspiration from anything and if you don’t limit your searches you might find an idea you would never have thought of.

Be prepared to try new flavours. Whilst you may not be able to eat some of your favourite foods any more, new flavours are a way to develop a taste for some new favourites! For example, I can’t have garlic bread anymore and have instead made pesto ciabattas as a replacement.

Challenge yourself to make something from scratch with what you have. Instead of deciding “tonight I will have XYZ” look in your fridge and make something up. This is an idea very much pioneered by vegan foody Lauren Toyota in her “Recipe?!” video series on Youtube. She starts with no plan, gets out the ingredients she has and runs with it. It can be a really good way to kickstart new ideas and use up leftovers.

Try to recreate your favourite restaurant meals at home. If you have a favourite restaurant or cafe that you can no longer eat at, remind yourself of their menu and attempt to recreate it at home, including your dietary restrictions of course. You may be surprised how easily you can make your own pizza, curry or even sushi.

 

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Recipes every Monday, blog posts every Friday! See the previous Monday’s recipe here.

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Youtube: The Gluten Free Veggie – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-b7T1VFTZqYq15aPvdlNwA

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Advice | Tips for Coeliacs in Fresher’s Week

Your first Fresher’s Week can be very daunting, even if you’re not a Coeliac! Here are some tips to help you navigate the first week, stay healthy and still have fun!

I was lucky in some ways to not be diagnosed until my second year of my undergraduate degree. I knew what to expect of Fresher’s Week and could avoid any tempting or potentially risky situations.

 

Don’t cave to peer pressure with gluten alcohol – a large part of Fresher’s Week for some people is drinking and clubbing. If you know you’re likely to be tempted by gluten containing alcohol such as beer, make sure you have safe pre-drinks available. Be aware that some cheap mixers such as coke may contain barley as a sweetener. Cider is nearly always a safe bet, but if in doubt, don’t drink in the clubs or SU. There’s nothing worse than a hangover AND a glutening at the same time.

Look after yourself to avoid Fresher’s Flu – the biggest mistake a lot of Freshers make is to party too hard and eat rubbish. With all the new people mixing, Fresher’s Flu quickly spreads around halls and so taking care of your health during the first few weeks is crucial to aiding your immune system. This even more pertinent for Coeliacs – as with any chronic condition, your immune system may be weak. Consider taking some multivitamins, or if you have a history of poor immunity, talk to the on campus doctor. Some Coeliacs are automatically offered the flu jab, although there are pros and cons to this. Be sure to talk to your doctor, but firstly make sure you are eating well and getting enough sleep.

Make the most of the freebies whilst avoiding gluten – during my first Fresher’s Week I had free pizza, cakes, sweets and sandwiches hoisted on. Whilst this was a great novelty the first time, once I was diagnosed Coeliac it become an annoyance. Remember that there are lots of other freebies to take advantage of during the fayres and don’t be tempted to take the gluten! For example, in my second year I got several packets of post-its which I still use now (3 years later!), a memory stick, free stickers, some second hand books from the English department (Treasure Island and a grammar book), plus some kitchen bits from Wilko (a wooden spoon and a spatula). You don’t need to feel like you’re missing out on free items just because you can’t eat the free food!

Talk to your new flatmates about cross contamination. You may find them understanding. Make sure you have everything set up to minimise the risks of being glutened in your new flat.

Prepare for any first society meetings by getting snacks. Lots of university societies provide snacks for the first meetings that might not be safe. Be prepared for this and buy your own safe snacks to take with you.

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Recipes every Monday, blog posts every Friday! See the previous Monday’s recipe here.

Social Media:

Youtube: The Gluten Free Veggie – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-b7T1VFTZqYq15aPvdlNwA

Twitter: @theGFveggie

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E-mail your questions or suggestions to: glutenfreeveggieblog@gmail.com

 

 

Advice | Conquering Time Management When You Have IBS

It can be really difficult to get everything you need to do done when you have IBS or another chronic illness, mostly because you cannot foresee and therefore plan for flare ups or issues. This advice will be mostly tailored towards those who are students or who work from home, purely because of my own situation.

For some background context about the person writing this, I am a 22 year old postgraduate student with a job and a few responsibilities that also take up my time. I have Coeliac and IBS. Currently, I work 3-4 days a week and am studying for my Master’s degree. I also run this blog and have a horse who needs daily attention. Hopefully some of this advice will be useful to you and your situation!

For other Advice posts with IBS related topics see here.

  1. Be as productive as possible on good days. If you wake up and feel well then make sure you get as much done as possible on that day. It can be really distracting trying to work if you aren’t feeling great, and often impossible if you are having a full blown flare up, so make the most of the times when you feel well enough to work.
  2. Remove your procrastinator’s mindset! Nothing will effect your time management more than procrastination – we are all guilty of putting things off until later. As soon as motivation strikes you, do the work then and there, otherwise you may end up putting it off and having to work during a flare up.
  3. Schedule time for relaxation. This is important for every single person who works but it’s particularly important for those of us with IBS as our symptoms are often exacerbated by stress. Ensure you place a bath, walk in the local park or TV session into your schedule and stick to it, even if you feel you haven’t been that productive. This will stop you drowning in stress and being unable to work later, or even worse, causing yourself to have a flare up.
  4. Keep working during a flare up if you can. I know how difficult it is, but telling yourself you can’t do your work because of a flare up won’t help you in the long run. Depending on your condition you could have a flare up every other day and never get any work done. Try to set yourself jobs on flare up days that aren’t too tasking – i.e things that need doing but might only take half an hour. That way you will still feel you are making ground on your bad days even if you’re unable to do the big tasks that you will be able to complete on a good day.
  5. Find a support network of people in a similar situation to help you get motivated. I have friends and course mates with similar struggles and so we support each other on bad days.
  6. Ensure your boss/teachers are aware of your conditions. Whilst we all have to work and study during flare ups, it’s useful to let them know just in case it’s going to affect your ability. Most are sympathetic and it will be easier to request extra time at university if your teachers are already aware of the situation.
  7. Try to schedule your work around triggers. For example, if you know that your IBS will become worse after eating/on an empty stomach schedule big tasks around your meal times.
  8. Prioritise sleep! If you’re having a flare up and you’re tired you’re even less likely to work well! Making sure you prioritise 8 hours + of sleep will also keep you calm and prevent IBS flare ups.

How do you handle your busy schedule and IBS? Do you have other chronic illnesses that affect your work or study?

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Recipes every Monday, blog posts every Friday! See the previous Monday’s recipe here.

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Advice | 8 Cheap GF & V Foods I Base my Diet on

Let me be clear about the term “diet” in the title – I mean my usual eating habits, not a “weight loss” or “fad” diet. These foods make up what I eat on a day to day basis and might help you with some inspiration for your own diet.

  1. Water water water water water!!!! No matter how obvious it might sound water is wonderful, especially if you are on a budget! A mistake lots of people make when trying to budget is to still drink fruit juice, squash, tea or alcohol with their meals or as their regular drink. Swapping even a few of your daily drinks to water will not only decrease sugar intake and improve hydration but also save you a lot of money in your weekly shop!
  2. Potatoes. The gluten free person’s best friend. They’re versatile and can be put with any flavours but most importantly they are naturally gluten free and CHEAP! We buy a big bag of cheap potatoes at the supermarket and make them last a few weeks. To maximise the amount of meals you can get out of a bag, make sure you store them in a dry, cool and dark place and in a bag made of cloth rather than plastic to prevent them from sprouting.
  3. Rice. Just like potatoes, rice is cheap and filling. A good tip is to sub it for gluten free pasta – it works just as well with pesto or vegetables but works out cheaper than most gluten free pastas.
  4. Bananas. I put them in everything – with cereal, in fruit salads, on toast. I even make a cheap pudding with a banana and nutella drizzled on top.
  5. Cheese!! Cheese is cheap and high in protein and calcium.
  6. Mushrooms. Mushrooms are a cheap substitute for the”meaty” texture in dishes such as lasagnes or burgers. They are very versatile and their taste can be tweaked to suit any cuisine. A tip for buying them cheaply is to buy them loose instead of in the packet. The savings may seem small but they add up over time and you won’t be contributing more plastic tubs to landfill!
  7. Carrots. Carrots are my go to vegetable if we’re low on money and I need something to bulk out a dish. Try them as part of this Vegan Shepherd’s Pie!
  8. Tomatoes. Tomatoes are very versatile for those on a budget because almost every form of them is very cheap! To save yourself money, don’t buy pre-made tomato sauces for pasta – buy a carton of passata (34p in ASDA) and add your own dried herbs or grow some herbs in your garden to save enough more money! Tomatoes are also very easy to to grow in your own garden in the summer and will cut your weekly shopping bill even more! Just make sure they are in a sunny part of the garden!

 

Which foods do you rely on when money is tight? Do you grow your own to save more money?

 

Advice | 6 ways to survive being a Coeliac student

It can be one of the trickiest times for a Coeliac. I had to go gluten free in my second year of university and am now a postgraduate so I’ve had several years of practice! Here are some tips for those of you starting university next month.

  1. Get your SU on side. I worked hard to campaign for more gluten free food on my campus during my undergraduate degree and it really paid off (you can read more about that here). If you aren’t finding what you need in the SU shop or cafes on campus – talk to someone! I was lucky to find someone in the SU that also had a gluten intolerance and so my campaign was an easier battle but it was important to raise my voice and get better availability at the university.
  2. Talk to your roommates about it. If you’re in a shared house with a kitchen, politely explain to them the exact reasons why CC is so dangerous for you. If they mess with your food/contaminate your cooking equipment without apologising/double dip in the butter etc. you might need to get graphic with your explanations!
  3. Your freezer is your best friend! Gluten free food can be really expensive and so batch cooking and freezing is a really good way to save pennies! Make soup from scratch, stews, pasta dishes, shepherd’s pie – anything that you can batch cook and safely store in the freezer. I do this a lot with gluten free lasagne.
  4. If your health is effecting your uni work, talk to the lecturers. I had to file an extenuating circumstances form in my second year due to really bad IBS (this was pre-diagnosis with IBS) and it’s nothing to be ashamed of! If your teachers are aware of the situation they will be able to help you.
  5. Always have GF snacks in your bag/coat. You might find you get peckish whilst on campus and you’re a 20 minute walk from home with more classes later in the day. You cannot rely on the SU shop or cafes to always have safe food so it’s a good idea to have something like a GF cereal bar or packet of crisps in your bag or pockets just in case.
  6. Talk to your university friends about it. You will inevitably feel like you will never make friends when you’re a fresher – especially with everyone going out to eat or drink (mostly drink let’s be honest) and you can’t join in with take away pizza and beer. But you will find that you will make friends easily and it’s good to help them understand. My friends at uni were so accommodating – making me pizza I could eat for parties, changing the restaurant to somewhere safe etc.

Good luck to all Coeliac freshers starting September! You’re going to love it! Do you have any Coeliac student stories? Get in touch: glutenfreeveggieblog@gmail.com

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Recipes every Monday, blog posts every Friday! See the previous Monday’s recipe here.

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Youtube: The Gluten Free Veggie – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-b7T1VFTZqYq15aPvdlNwA

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Advice | Balanced Diet and IBS

Whilst everyone’s triggers for IBS are different, it often involves cutting out a few fruit and veggies. It can be really difficult to make sure you’re getting your 5 a day when you have IBS so here’s some ways to make sure you’re still getting the nutrients you need even during a flare up.

  1. Find fruits and vegetables that don’t trigger a flare up. I consider these my “safe” foods and for me it’s carrots, tomatoes, runner beans, strawberries and raspberries. This may vary from person to person but you need to test your own IBS to find safe foods.
  2. Learn about FODMAP diets and which foods are low FODMAP. Being on a low FODMAP diet doesn’t work for everyone but using it as a guide can help you to work out which fruits and vegetables could be safe for you.
  3. Try to cook dishes containing vegetables from scratch rather than ready meals. This way you have better control over which vegetables are in your meals and can avoid causing an accidental flare ups. For example, I can’t eat onions or garlic because of my IBS – even a tiny amount will trigger a flare up. Cooking pasta sauce, ratatouille or soup from scratch means that I can leave them out and still add other vegetables to the dish that are safe for me.
  4. Find a protein source that works for you. This especially applies if you are vegetarian like me. Since being diagnosed with IBS I’ve struggled with soya – small amounts seem to be fine (such as soya lecithin) but tofu or soya flour are a big no for me. That eliminated a big protein source for me. Luckily, unlike some people with IBS, I can tolerate nuts and use cashew butter and raw cashews a lot in my cooking to add protein to my meals. Others with IBS struggle with dairy. Again, luckily I am fine with these. Find a protein source that works for you.
  5. Remember that what others may consider “healthy” isn’t necessarily healthy for you. A good example of this is fibre. The general word on fibre is to eat as much of it as you can – it’s pushed into our collective minds throughout school and from relatives. For someone with IBS-D like me, fibre is a big issue. My stomach can tolerate a certain amount of fibre but eating any high fibre foods such as lentils, beans, psyllium husk etc. will guarantee a flare up. Just because those foods are healthy for those with normal gut health, it’s not healthy for someone with IBS to stick to a high fibre diet if it’s going to result in constant pain and flare ups.

There are many ways to be healthy and I hope some of this advice is useful to those of you still figuring out how to live with IBS. Don’t forget you can always e-mail me if you need specific dietary advise but remember that I am not a qualified dietitian or doctor and can only speak from my own experiences.

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Recipes every Monday, blog posts every Friday! See the previous Monday’s recipe here.

Social Media:

Youtube: The Gluten Free Veggie – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-b7T1VFTZqYq15aPvdlNwA

Twitter: @theGFveggie

Tumblr: glutenfreeveggie.tumblr.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theGFveggie

E-mail your questions or suggestions to: glutenfreeveggieblog@gmail.com

 

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