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Get Your Garlic Fix?

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Garlic. Onions. Those damn fructans! Is it possible to get your garlic fix while following the low FODMAP diet?

In case you don’t know by now, here are a couple of handy facts:

  1. Garlic and onions contain fructans, which are a FODMAP.
  2. Fructans are often sited as the FODMAP that triggers the most irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms.
rubbing garlic on wooden salad bowl

SIGH. When you think about it, you might be like me…all my life I have known friends and family who would say things like, “garlic doesn’t agree with me”, and, “I like onions, but they don’t like me.”

And for so many of us, when we are told that we have to eliminate garlic and onions, it is devastating news and we simply cannot fathom how we can eat deliciously without them.

Let’s Focus on Garlic

This article is specifically about garlic. Hopefully by now you know that fructans are water-soluble, but not oil-soluble. This is how it is possible for you to enjoy Garlic-Infused Oilbut that you cannot have a bunch of garlic floating around in a soup or stew and simply fish it out and expect the dish to be low FODMAP. Since the garlic has come in contact with water-containing ingredients – like canned tomatoes, vegetables, stocks, broths, wine, etc. – the fructans have leached into the dish.

So we eliminate garlic during the Elimination Phase and then we trial garlic during the Challenge Phase, a little bit at a time, BUT…

Are You Scared?

When I was doing the Elimination Phase, it was the first time I had felt good in over 25 years. I mean, I was flourishing! And I was scared out of my mind to start Challenging myself with food. I didn’t want to trigger symptoms! I was doing so well. Why rock the boat?

You HAVE to Move Out of the Elimination Phase!

The low FODMAP diet is a three-phase diet. The Elimination Phase is meant to be brief!

The reason for this is that the healthiest thing for your microbiome is to eat as broadly as possible without triggering symptoms. This will create a varied and healthy gut environment. And you have to Challenge foods in order to know what you can and cannot eat, and in what amounts.

If you want some help with the Challenge Phase we suggest you work with a Low FODMAP experienced RDN.

During your Challenge Phase you might find out that Polyols and Fructose do not trigger you at all, and then you can have all sorts of fruit like mangoes and peaches and cherries. Imagine that?

But we know it can be scary to venture into the Challenge phase…

rubbing garlic in wooden bowl

Wooden Salad Bowls, Garlic and FLAVOR!

So one day I got to thinking about a culinary technique that involves rubbing a raw garlic clove around the inside of a wooden salad bowl. The garlic clove itself is discarded, but the flavor of garlic is left behind. The bowl becomes permeated with garlicky flavor.

Now, the flavor is left behind because garlic juices have seeped into the bowl. And when you then make salad in the bowl, the garlic flavor is transferred to the salad – so some sort of garlic matter is being carried over.

I discussed this with several of our Success Team RDs as well as with Joanna Baker of Everyday Nutrition and we all agreed that while we could not say that a salad made this way would be Elimination worthy low FODMAP, that perhaps it could be a mid-point between Elimination and Challenging yourself with an actual piece of garlic.

Scaredy Cats Unite!

So, if you have been missing garlic and have also been scared to actually try out a piece of garlic, maybe this technique could be your gateway towards broadening your culinary and FODMAP horizons.

Have Bowl, Buy Garlic – GO!

All you need is a wooden salad bowl and a piece of fresh garlic. Peel the garlic, rub the whole, raw clove all over the inside of the bowl, then discard the clove. Make sure to discard every little piece! This is best accomplished if you can keep the clove intact to begin with.

Then, add your salad greens and low FODMAP vegetables to the bowl and make a salad!

Check In With Yourself

How do you feel? Check in with yourself after having your salad, later in that day/evening, and then again the next day and even the following. It takes time for FODMAP reactions to occur and of course, like a formal Challenge, you would need to do this in isolation of ingesting other FODMAPs to assess a true reaction.

wooden salad bowl with salad and wooden spoon and fork, held in hands

Good To Go?

If all is well with your GI tract, maybe this experiment will have emboldened you to try a more conventional garlic fructan Challenge!

Of course, we highly recommend that you discuss this approach with your medical professionals, who are guiding you with the diet.

If you need to find a FODMAP trained RD near you – no matter where you are in the world, check out our RD Resource List. Many will even do phone and Zoom consultations.


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