Founder of Fodbods, low FODMAP snack bars, Vanessa Hutchinson, shares her experience with the IBS bloat and how she manages her symptoms.
If anyone knows just how much a pain the gut IBS is, it’s me. I’ve suffered from IBS as long as I can remember. At its worst, the pain is unbearable and at its best … well you just look like you’re carrying a spare tire around. Not cute.
I was once partying on a beach in Thailand feeling young and carefree when someone suddenly said to me, “Oh you’re having a baby! But do you really think you should be drinking whilst you’re pregnant?” It was embarrassing and infuriating – I just happened to be IBS bloated!
Before I started taking my IBS seriously, as a former lawyer, I used to slouch down in work meetings with my pants unzipped under the desk. I’ve also been known to leave parties early because my clothes were too tight!
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However, my absolute worst IBS experience was on an international flight where something in a meal’s sauce didn’t agree with me. I literally ballooned and was bloated for the entire 14 hour flight, which was only made worse by the air pressure. I felt like my stomach was going to explode. Since then I’ve always packed my own food with me to eat.
Around one in five Australians, many of them kids, suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome – a gastrointestinal disorder with no known cause. Certain foods trigger unpleasant symptoms such as bloating, cramps, flatulence, nausea and diarrhoea. Mostly it is brought on when sufferers consume foods containing fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols (FODMAPS).
Avoiding these foods is pretty much the main way to manage it. The problem is FODMAPS are in a huge array of everyday foods – everything from wheat, to beans to certain fruits and vegetables.
A few years ago, fed up with the lack of FODMAP-friendly fare, I tried making my own snack bars. I got such great feedback from people who tried them that I decided to produce them commercially. I slaved over the recipes in my kitchen coming up with about 200 versions before launching Fodbods in 2019.
We now produce five snack bars which are currently the only FODMAP-friendly certified snack bar in Australia.
So many typical snack bars contain ingredients that trigger IBS such as dates and honey. Considering how many people suffer from IBS, I’m surprised there’s not much out there for sufferers. A few months ago I had my first baby and have really relied on quick and easy snacks on the go.
Living with IBS can be really socially isolating. One customer said the bars have literally changed her life. Previously she was worried about not being able to eat anything whilst out. Sometimes she’d have no choice in grabbing something unsuitable and would then be rushing to find a toilet. There were times when it was easier and less stressful for her to just stay at home. Now she takes these bars with her and doesn’t get low on energy.
I hope to eventually expand my range to different FODMAP friendly products and also want to bring awareness to the condition. It was wonderful being pregnant for real, but it’s no fun to be congratulated on your ‘upcoming addition’ when you’re just bloated!
Fodbods, and other businesses featuring gut-friendly products, will be showcasing to retailers and industry at B2B event -the 2021 Naturally Good Health Expo from May 30-31 at Sydney’s ICC.
FODMAP Friendly foods:
- Plant milks
- Dark chocolate
Non FODMAP Friendly foods: