Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Bad Bellies and Different Cuisines

This past weekend, my partner and I met some friends for lunch at a Chinese Yumcha restaurant, and it made me think about my experiences with FM and other cuisines. In some ways, different cuisines can be better for my belly, and others can cause problems. 

This week, I would therefore like to share my experience with FM and different types of foods.


I have found so far that the main advantage of different cuisines, particularly Asian-based cuisines, is that there is very little reliance on wheat products. For example, rice flour is used in noodles, such as in vermicelli, which is particularly common with Chinese and Vietnamese food. Additionally, rice flour is used in batter with Japanese tempura. In Middle Eastern or South American cuisines, it is also more common to find other types of grains with meals, such as quinoa.

I have also found that although they still tend to contain wheat flour, French and Turkish breads seem to be made differently to other “regular” bread, and are often slightly better for my belly.


On the other hand, one of the main challenges with other cuisines is that in comparison to in “Western” cultures, there is less acceptance, or perhaps awareness, of different dietary needs. In fact, I have been told that in some Asian cultures, having a bowel condition is seen as “embarrassing” and “troublesome.” This means that it is often harder in these types of restaurants to find gluten free or fructose friendly meal options. Additionally, I have found that menus in these restaurants seem to have less complete ingredient lists for their dishes, which can make it hard to determine whether they are fructose friendly.

Along with this, I have found that across most cuisines, onion and garlic tend to be very popular, and this of course makes things difficult with FM. In particular, lots of different sauces use both of these ingredients. Onion is also very common in dishes such as Chinese stir fry, and Koren bulgogi, or in fillings for different types of dumplings.

One of my weaknesses when it comes to Asian food is Thai green curry, and as I’m sure you can imagine, this can be problematic – curry can be a problem for people with “regular” bellies, and the effect can be much worse with a belly like mine!


While it can be challenging for people with FM to eat foods, I have found some methods that can help to manage this when eating out:

Ask questions – If you are unsure about the dish, ask for clarification on the ingredients. I find in this situation that rather than trying to explain my FM, I just ask whether the dish contains onion, for example.
Request for problem ingredients to be removed – Sometimes, if you make a special request, the restaurant may be able to accommodate you. I have previously had some success with asking for onion to be removed, and simply explaining that I am not able to eat it.

Before going to a new restaurant, particularly if you are not very familiar with the food, do some research – I often look up the menu online if it is available, or ask around about the food served there. This can sometimes just help me to prepare for what I can expect in terms of the food, and what to look for that will be more suitable for my belly.

Do you have any tips for FM and foods from different cuisines?

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