As if it’s not daunting enough figuring out what you can eat when you have dietary restrictions (especially digestion issues like IBS and GERD/severe Acid Reflux), there is also the challenge of figuring out where to buy groceries that work with your restrictions.
The following key points will all be covered more fully here on this page:
It blows my mind sometimes how lucky I am when it comes to grocery shopping options. There are 3 different Wegmans stores within the same distance from my house (~10 minutes), plus a Trader Joe’s, several Walmart superstores, a Whole Foods being built sometime next year (also ~10 minutes from my house), a spectacular public market as well as numerous smaller farmer’s markets during summer.
Wegmans in itself would be enough for us Rochestarians to consider ourselves set in terms of groceries. Not only do they have a great selection of brands and a sizable collection of specialty ingredients such as gluten free, lactose free, organic, etc., but they also have a spectacular website where you can look up all of their products for pricing, to make sure the store you shop at will have it and you can even submit questions regarding products and receive an answer within a day or two. For example: their ingredients list for their brand of garlic-infused oil was vague, making it difficult to determine if it was made from garlic powder or real garlic. I simply sent a question through on the website and a day later had my answer (real garlic. SCORE!). BTW, if you don’t know why this real garlic vs. garlic powder matters, see my post here.
So for me, finding the ingredients needed to cook low FODMAP and GERD-friendly style has been relatively painless, but I realize this is not the case for everyone. Fortunately, since digestion problems and dietary restrictions affect more people than ever these days, there are numerous online resources available for finding and purchasing foods and ingredients that you may not be able to obtain locally. In particular, walmart.com and amazon.com; Amazon is my personal favorite with their free Prime 2-day shipping because even with all of the grocery stores at my disposal, there are still occasions where I can’t find something. 9 times out of 10, though, Amazon has it and it’s at my door within 2 days of purchase (to be clear, the free 2-day shipping on amazon.com is only with a prime membership; but they have other shipping options for those without memberships).
Due to the potential difficulties in obtaining ingredients locally, preparing your meal list ahead is key. It will allow you to do all of your research and insure you can find the ingredients you need (and have them in time!) prior to you even setting foot inside the grocery store. Once at the store, be sure to read ingredient the labels! There are often hidden problem ingredients (garlic and citric acid, for example), so it’s important to always read through the ingredients before buying. This is especially important when looking at new products but also important overall when you’re new to shopping for digestion-friendly foods.
Last but not least, make sure to be armed at the grocery store with Monash University’s FODMAP app for your smartphone (iphone and android) and/or physical booklet. It’s $9-$10 for the app and no more than $15 (including shipping) for the physical booklet and these are the best purchase you’ll ever make if you have IBS. Having either of these on hand with you at the store gives you a tool right at your fingertips for checking to see if certain foods you come across at the store are approved for low FODMAP eating (for more on this app, see my Low FODMAP Food Plan page).
That pretty much does it for shopping with dietary restrictions, other than to remember it’s a learning curve and while it will feel a bit frustrating and challenging at first, it will get easier over time (I promise!).
Be sure to check out the other digestive health pages: The IBS Lowdown, The Word on GERD (& Acid Reflux/Heartburn), The IBS & GERD Connection, Low FODMAP Food Plan and What a Symptom-Free Day Looks Like.