Lifestyle | Interviews

The Mollie Tunitsky Interview: Helping Beginner FODMAPers One at a Time

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Meet Blogger Mollie Tunitsky of FIT FAB FODMAP!

Mollie Tunitsky first came on our radar screen as we exchanged “likes” on Instagram. Sometimes social media friends stay within the realm of “virtual”, but we felt compelled to reach out to her and talk about her newly released book, The Low FODMAP Diet for Beginners.

Mollie

Her story was just so close to mine that I knew we would bond over the painful and frustrating days of dealing with IBS symptoms – that thankfully are behind us both, pretty much completely due to the low FODMAP diet.

Mollie wrote the book with her own RDN, Gabriela Gardner, which makes for such a great presentation. To have the dietitian that helped guide you through the Elimination and Challenge phases be the one to co-write the book brings this very personal story to life. With no further ado, let’s jump into the Mollie Tunitsky Interview – and for an exclusive recipe Mollie has created for us using FODY Foods products, check out her Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches with Cilantro Slaw. For a recipe from her book, check out her Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa, Zucchini and Feta Cheese for an easy meatless main meal.

Dédé Wilson: Mollie! After chatting with you and reading the introduction to your book I immediately felt a kinship. Like you, it took me a while to find the low FODMAP diet and finally experience relief! Tell us a bit about those dark days, pre-FODMAP, when you were still scrambling around dealing with your GI issues.

Thank you Dédé! I felt the same way! Being in my early twenties and having bloating and gas issues was the worst. It made it tough socially as I would have to cancel last minute plans because my GI issues were so bad. I hated being “that” friend who wasn’t seen as reliable. I also was eating super “healthy” I thought to calm down my GI issues but it did just the opposite. The healthy food choices I was making were actually high FODMAP foods that were causing me bloating and gas.

Tell us about those foods that you thought were healthy. For me I had been using quite a bit of whole soybean soymilk every single day. In my tea, in my cereal, in baking and the like. I was eating lots of black beans and kidney beans, too. It was fascinating to find out that these foods weren’t “healthy” for me at all!

Yes, exactly! For example, I would eat apples for snacks because you are told “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” BUT for me, I always felt bloated immediately after eating. Like you, I was having soymilk in my cereal and smoothies and would almost instantly have to run to the restroom. It was so reassuring to find out there was a reason why these foods bothered me.

I was so impressed that the doctor you ended up seeing, Sushovan Guha MD, PhD, had a FODMAP savvy RDN right in the same clinic. For so many people this isn’t the case, which is why we are working on developing a telehealth platform relationship for our users (stay tuned everybody!). We firmly support working with a RD. Tell us about your early days and weeks becoming familiar with the diet.

I had so many disappointing meetings with doctors who diagnosed me with IBS but failed to give me adequate advice to remedy my issues. At one point I even had a doctor tell me to completely stop eating fruit and vegetables as a solution. Can you believe that? Eventually, I really was SO lucky to have found a doctor who was educated on the FODMAP diet but even more so had a RDN that was well trained on the subject. I distinctly remember Dr. Guha mentioning the FODMAP diet and the first thing I did was go home and Google anything and everything I could find. I immediately made an appointment with my RDN, Gabriela Gardner, and she sat down with me for what felt like hours going through the ins and outs of all things FODMAP. I heavily leaned on her especially the first few weeks as I felt like I had questions every day. It’s even more special to me to have had my Doctor write the foreword for my book and my dietitian Gabriela co-author the book with me!

Mollie in kitchen

What was the hardest part for you when you started? And what was a great trick you learned or an “aha” moment that you had that really helped you?

The hardest part for me in the very beginning was feeling frustrated that I was more hungry than normal and felt limited on what I could eat. My normal “safe” foods I couldn’t eat, which was extremely frustrating. I had a major “aha” moment once I went an entire day without having severe gas and bloating. I realized all the frustration of the diet was SO worth it!

What is your #1 pointer for those starting the diet? Or if you have a few, pass them along!

It might sound silly but my #1 pointer is to just start. I always say to others, what do you have to lose? The worst case, you don’t see any gut changes but the best case will be that you notice a significant reduction in painful digestive symptoms! Once you start feeling better and notice a significant change, you don’t want to go back to those old eating habits. My second tip would be to not view it as missing out but instead finding safe foods you can rely on.

Do you have any tips to share about eating out? Many of us – including me – still find this to be difficult.

Eating out can be so tough! The biggest tip that has helped me I actually learned from my husband: not to be wishy-washy about my food sensitivities to waiters. I used to tell waiters that I can’t have something as it bothers me and about half the time I found some of those things in my dishes. I now tell restaurants that I’m allergic to certain high FODMAP foods (like onions and garlic) that are triggers for me and they always take THAT really seriously. I also call restaurants ahead of time when I can, to find out in advance what is available.

I am so glad you said this. I am a pretty strong person and yet I have to boost myself up for wait staff conversations. Which is ridiculous! Robin and I went out to dinner the other day and in retrospect, she said she should have videotaped me talking to the waiter! Maybe we will do this in the future to help others.

Now that is a GREAT idea! It is intimidating being “that” person at a restaurant with special needs especially if you’re with a group of people. The more confident you are, the better and if you aren’t then ultimately the only person that suffers is you! .

What are some of your favorite techniques or strategies that you adopted in the kitchen to get low FODMAP food on the table?

Being prepared! Over the weekend, I make a game plan for meals for the week that way I’m not scrambling last minute to make something work.

Is there something that you just really miss eating? What do you do to quell the desire?

This sounds really silly but I miss being able to order Asian dumplings. I have found a great recipe but there is nothing as easy as being able to order these for take-out.

Okay, we need to know this recipe! Can you share? I love dumplings!

Yes, of course! I love making these over the weekend with friends and family. Here is the link to my recipe for Asian Gluten-Free Dumplings!

Are there any foods you discovered or re-discovered once on the diet that you now absolutely love?

Yes! I have always loved chocolate but as a FODMAP safe treat, dark chocolate has been re-discovered over and over again. 🙂 It’s easy to keep on hand when I need something sweet.

We are thrilled to be sharing your recipe for Stuffed Peppers. Tell us a little about how this one came about.

I am always trying to find ways to get my husband to eat more vegetables but it can be super challenging. I had to present it in a way where he can’t say no to ground turkey and cheese.

In closing, what would you say to those out there who are still suffering from IBS and just haven’t tried the diet?

You don’t have to suffer in silence like so many others. There is no reason not to try something that has brought so many people relief. Be true to the process, go all in 100% and be ready for positive results.

Mollie, thank you so much for this chat and for your incredibly easy to use book. The name says it all and it will be a real boon to anyone on the diet, but especially those who are just starting and need a compassionate friend with them in the kitchen!

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