Data suggests that a gluten free diet can add to the cost of the average food bill. With the Low Fodmap diet requiring someone with IBS to be following a virtually wheat free diet plus the additional costs of lactose free milk, how can someone follow this diet within a tight budget, without being limited in food variety?
A loaf of gluten free bread can be up to three to four times the cost of a traditional wheat based loaf, according to coeliac UK and UK prescription gluten free items are unfortunately inaccessible for those people suffering from food intolerances and IBS. The combined demand of more than one intolerance exclusion and additional increased costs of free from food contributes to make following an advised diet for IBS treatment a real challenge.
However, making some changes to food choices and shopping around can make a real difference to the additional costs of a ‘free from’ diet. Here are some tips on how to follow a low fodmap diet on a budget.
1. Buy staple foods in bulk – join with friends and family to cover the initial outlay of costs for basic bulk foods such as potatoes, rice and meat.
2. Choose value items and ‘wonky’ fruit and vegetables to ensure you get your five a day – you are also saving food waste by choosing imperfect items! Frozen and canned fruit and vegetables can be used and are still very nutritious, if you choose canned in water or natural juice for example. If fruit is canned in juice do check what fruit is based on – you don’t want to inadvertently add a fodmap into your diet, such as apple juice.
3. Plan your meals and snacks well in advance – this will ensure you have a good range of foods available and if you plan you won’t need to purchase those last minute expensive ‘free from’ snacks. Also make a shopping list, stick to it and eat before you shop so you are not hungry, hunger makes for inappropriate expensive purchases.
4. Learn about your diet and look around the supermarket – the more expensive items will be on the free from shelves – cheaper cost alternatives may be available in other sections of the store. You can also change store some of the more ‘budget’ stores have some really great offers.
5. If ordering on-line check out the delivery costs, purchase savvy or join with others to save on delivery costs.
6. Make your own stock, when buying meat or chicken, cook the waste scraps and bones in water with a carrot and herbs, allow to cool, skim off the fat and freeze in small amounts. Water from cooking vegetables can also be used in the same way if a vegetable stock is required.
7. Choose alternatives such as oat cakes and corn crackers – these can be much cheaper than gluten free cracker varieties. Remember that very small amounts of wheat contamination don’t need to be avoided, unless you have IBS and coeliac disease or a diagnosed wheat allergy.
8. Avoid ‘free from’ cook in sauces – these are generally not a great deal different from normal sauces, they may also contain onion and garlic. Make your own thickened with cornflour. Cornflour is simple to use to thicken sauces and it mixes into the sauce really easily. Make extra and freeze for next time.
9. Buy fruit and vegetables in season, it is usually the most cost effective way of purchasing them.
10. Waste nothing – use all left overs and plan your meals so that all the food you use is consumed. Left overs make a tasty lunch.
11. Buy whole chickens – this means you will have plenty of meat available plus a very useful carcass to make and freeze some home-made stock that is both onion and garlic free.
12. Price compare pre-packaged fruit and vegetables with loose items. Sometimes buying pre-packaged fruit and vegetables can be more expensive and might mean you purchase more than you actually need.
More importantly, remember the Low Fodmap diet is not for life and completing the re-introduction protocol with your dietitian can increase the variety of the diet and reduce some of the additional ‘free from’ costs. Happy shopping!