The Olive Wellness Institute is a science repository on the nutrition,
health and wellness benefits of olives and olive products, which is
all subject to extensive peer review.

Breaking up with Garlic

Breaking up with Garlic

Dear garlic,


I’m sorry, it’s not you, it’s me. I know we have been together since that first slice of garlic bread and we have had a great relationship. But my gut just can’t handle you anymore and I think we need to see other flavours.


I will never forget you, yours truly


IBS Sufferer  xxx


If you’ve just started a FODMAP diet or been on it for a while, it’s not surprising that you may be missing some garlic in your life. Garlic is that bulb that permeates almost all styles of cooking, whether it’s an Italian pasta sauce or an Indian curry, garlic is almost impossible to avoid… and why would you want to give up its distinctive taste? Unless of course you have IBS.


Garlic, along with onion, contains high amounts of Oligosaccharides the “O” of the FODMAP acronym. This means that some of the carbohydrates it contains are poorly digested and travel to the large bowel (or colon) where they become fast food for the healthy gut bacteria that live there. Unfortunately for those of us with a sensitive gut, during the fermenting process gas is created as a side effect leading to bloating, excessive wind and even alternations in the toilet department (i.e. constipation or diarrhoea).


We know that avoiding foods that contain FODMAPs will help 3 out of 4 people with IBS feel significantly better. But what are we meant to do for flavour without garlic or onion in our life?


Thankfully, there are other ways to get flavour and taste back into your food without ending up in the bathroom. Next time you’re cooking up a Spanish feast or a Thai banquet, think outside the box and try some of these ways to get that special something back in your cooking.


Onion or Garlic infused extra virgin olive oil: These are actually low FODMAP. Thankfully, being carbohydrate molecules FODMAPs are water soluble but not oil soluble. This means that we can infuse the flavour into extra virgin olive oil and leave the FODMAPs out. Find out more about infused oils here.


Chives, green leaves of spring onion or leek leaves: Yes, while the white bulb part of these are high FODMAP, the green leaves aren’t. Chives and spring onion leaves are great to replace garlic and the leaves of the leek are a great onion alternative. What’s even better is you don’t have to throw the white bulb part away, just pop it in a glass of water on the bench and the leaves will regrow for future use.


Herbs & spices: Yes, all herbs and spices are low FODMAP including ginger, sumac, cinnamon, paprika, cumin, paprika, rosemary, thyme, basil, parsley, coriander, mint and even curry powder. These are a great way to add low FODMAP flavour and capture authentic cultural flavours. Just be sure to check spice/curry blends for onion and garlic.


Asafoetida (Hing): this is an Indian spice that deserves a special mention. It can be purchased at most Indian grocers and is a great way to get the flavour of garlic and onion without the FODMAPs. Just be sure to keep in in an airtight container and use sparingly, a little goes a long way with this one.


Vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, sugar: These are great flavour enhancers. They can be used to intensify flavour and lift the dish to the next level.


Chilli, cayenne pepper, tabasco sauce: If you like it a little spicy you’ll be pleased to know these are low FODMAP.


Final thoughts
Of course the low FODMAP diet is not a forever diet, so you may not need to limit garlic and onion long term. During the Re-Challenge phase your dietitian will talk to you about how to test garlic and onion to find your personal tolerance level, and help you discover how much you can have and what amounts you need to be careful with.