Angi The Intolerant Wanderer Shows Us What’s Low FODMAP in London
London is likely to be one of the top cities for people with food intolerances. That’s what I had heard and that’s what I wanted to check out.
First of all, you have to know that I absolutely love London! I lived there for a couple years when I was younger and the city still has a very special place in my heart. I particularly like the diversity, the cool shops and markets and of course all the delicious food. This was my first visit on a low FODMAP diet, though.
Also, this time I flew to London for another cause, rather than just soaking in the city vibe.
Allergy & Free From Show
I went to the Allergy & Free From Show, July 6th through 8th, 2018 to find new products for my food intolerance platform intolerant.me. It was only my second food expo and my first time visiting this huge one in London. Truly, it was massive! There were so many people and you almost had to fight your way through. For me this was a bit shocking to be honest, because of a couple reasons: I’ve recently been to a much smaller and quieter show in Stockholm, so I didn’t expect it to be this busy. Besides that, it kept me thinking: are there really so many “intolerant” people nowadays?
Well, I guess there are. And I have to admit, it surprised me. But at the same time, it made me proud to see that this whole food intolerances topic seems to be getting more and more awareness. Same with the low FODMAP diet. I read on the IBS Network that around 10 to 20% of people living in the UK are affected by IBS. So about 8 million people at least – that’s as if the whole population of Switzerland (where I’m from) would have IBS. Crazy if you think about it, isn’t it?
And you could really notice that at the Allergy & Free From Show too. I always get super excited when I see low FODMAP written somewhere and I got excited quite a few times while walking through the show.
Some of the things I found, I already knew from my research but some others were new to me too.
Here’s a list of my favorite finds:
- Fodmapped is the worlds first FODMAP friendly food brand.
- Fodilicious is UK’s first business that delivers low FODMAP precooked meals (they hopefully expand overseas soon).
- Hunter & Gather happen to have two low FODMAP avocado mayonnaises without them even realizing at first, but now they advertise it.
- Schär has a whole low FODMAP Monash University Certified range now. They can be bought online and in many local supermarkets.
- Green Sisters sell samosas at various London markets and they have two FODMAP friendly flavours.
Everything mentioned above, I personally tried and really liked. And even though I’m all for cooking fresh, I particularly loved the fact that I found some convenience foods that I could actually eat straight away, without needing a kitchen. That makes my life a whole lot easier when I’m on the road.
Which brings me to the eating-out-issue that I usually have when travelling. Normally I make sure I have a kitchen wherever I go. I also did in London at my Airbnb apartment. But I must admit that I never used it, rather than for making a quick toast for breakfast. So I guess this really speaks for the city and its low FODMAP (for me that mainly means onion- & garlic-free) options.
As a general rule of thumb, when deciding on a restaurant I usually look for places that offer gluten-free options which are freshly prepared, so that onion and garlic can be omitted. The actual meal I then choose depending on what works best for me ingredients wise. And I would obviously just eat the amount that works for me too (and pack the rest for the next day).
With this I’ve been going pretty well in London actually. Even though I haven’t done much restaurant-planning beforehand and didn’t call anywhere in advance. Almost all the places I’ve walked into had a specific allergen menu, some of them even with onion & garlic listed. And a few even had a specific low FODMAP menu – I thought I was in heaven!
I’m posting about all my food experiences on my Instagram profile @theintolerantwanderer but I’ll share some of my favourites right here, right now:
Breakfast / Brunch
- Beyond Bread is a 100% gluten-free bakery with a little cafe joined to it at some branches. It sells the most amazing pastries and the ingredients are listed for all of them. I particularly recommend their cinnamon bun and chocolate twist. So good.
- The Bach: a pretty cool restaurant with a chilled Aussie vibe, very friendly staff and lots of gluten-free options that can be adapted to make low FODMAP. I loved the atmosphere there and the food was delicious. And if you still have room, try some of their cakes.
- Tossed Salad I liked because you can create your own salad and choose all the ingredients, including lemon juice & olive oil for dressing. This can be done yourself on an iPad, which makes it super relaxing and great if you have one of those easily-stressed-IBS-tummies.
- Honest Burgers has onion- & garlic-free beef burger patties, so the beef and chicken burgers (which is made with a chicken breast filet) can easily be made low FODMAP with a gluten-free bun. And their rosemary salted chips are the best!
- Wahaca had a specific allergen menu with onion & garlic on it, which made it easy for me to choose. I only got two dishes though from which I couldn’t eat all due to the amount of FODMAPS. Hence it wasn’t ultra filling. It’s Mexican street food, so maybe get some corn chips without sauce on the side.
- Niche is a 100% gluten-free restaurant with a specific low FODMAP menu – that’s the reason why I feel like I have to mention it here. Because the food tasted good but it wasn’t anything special.
This is just a selection and there are heaps more places, I need to check out next time. But be aware that eating out in London all the time can get quite expensive. So if you’re trying to save some money, you can also go to one of the supermarkets for a quick take-away lunch and sit somewhere by the Thames on a nice day.
With that said, I think pretty much all shops stock some free-from products. And the bigger ones often have a huge selection. At the Tesco superstores I sometimes even found myself wandering along a whole aisle with gluten-, dairy- and sugar-free stuff. Most of the things I tried from there I could tolerate quite well with my IBS too. But since low carb works better for me, my go-to supermarket meal usually is a salad (without the sauce) or a protein bowl with egg and spinach, plus some veggie chips or nuts. All of those things I literally found at every single shop I walked into.
So, as you might be able to tell, I’ve been quite happy with my foodie finds in London. Nevertheless, I’ve still been feeling a bit rubbish after the trip. But I’ve probably just indulged once too often – or twice. I guess self-control is the hard part, when you’re in a place that offers you everything at your fingertips. And I’m definitely not known to be too good with saying “no”. So if I’d ever spend more time in London, I’d probably have to come up with a better strategy.
Anyway, I can 100% recommend London to anyone with IBS. The awareness about food intolerances makes it very accomodating for people like us. Most times, I didn’t feel uncomfortable saying that I can’t eat certain things and asking to adjust my meal. I think that’s a pretty important part of eating out, as it makes the whole experience much better if you feel welcomed. And London is definitely very welcoming.