A Balanced Belly Book Club: Calm Belly Cookbook Review

This month’s book club read is the Calm Belly Cookbook: Delicious Foods for Sensitive Stomachs and it’s reviewed by Natalie-who blogs 
 over at www.thespooniemummy.com about parenting with chronic illnesses; which include rheumatoid arthritis and Crohns Disease.  Natalie is a mum of two boys (9 and 6) and step-mum to a two-year-old girl.  She’s currently studying part-time for a degree and hopes to work with children and young people who are diagnosed with chronic illnesses, supporting their mental health, in the future. Read on for Natalie’s Calm Belly Cook Book Review.

About Calm Belly Cook Book

The Calm Belly Cookbook was written by Cecilia Hauge Agiotnes.  It is full of low FODMAP recipes for those with sensitive stomachs, including people suffering from diagnosed conditions such as IBD, IBS as well as people who struggle with bloating, indigestion and irregular digestion.  Cecilia herself was diagnosed with severe IBS and that is when she discovered the low FODMAP diet.  However, she was left uninspired by the recipes she found so decided to create her own.
 Cecilia’s recipes show that following a low FODMAP diet does not have to be boring and you don’t have to rule out puddings – you just have to adapt them!  Many of the recipes are also gluten and lactose-free.
For those who don’t know, The Low FODMAP Diet was developed at Monash University, Melbourne, supported by Kings College London.  A diet based on low FODMAP principles aims to eliminate the common carbohydrates that trigger a gut reaction.
The term FODMAP is an acronym for – wait for it -Fermentable Oligo – Di – Monosaccharides And Polyols
These are short-chain carbohydrates which are poorly digested in the small intestine, hence why eliminating them should help those suffering from things like IBD and IBS.  
To follow the diet, at first, you should only eat low FODMAP foods (during my research I discovered Kangaroo meat is low FODMAP, but you can also eat chicken and beef).  Following this elimination phase, you then start to reintroduce the high FODMAP foods one at a time and see if they cause issues.  

My Review of Calm Belly CookBook

I have struggled with bowel problems since the age of 8/9, which was finally diagnosed as Crohn’s Disease when I was 26.  In April 2016, two days after my 30th birthday, I was told I needed emergency surgery and an ileostomy.  I must admit – it wasn’t the type of bag I was expecting for my 30th!
During this hospital stay, I saw a dietician for the first time and was put on a low residue diet, which helped a lot and is something I still go back to when having issues.  Low FODMAP is something I had heard of but seemed harder to commit to if I am honest.  I am a bit of a foodie and love to cook.  After struggling with my health for my whole life, having foods which I love eliminated from my diet just feels a step too far when we already have to put up with so much
I am, however, up for trying things out and so was pleased to receive this book to be able to learn more and give low FODMAP a try.
I flicked through the book as soon as I received it and was super pleased to find some really fantastic looking, family friendly recipes.  My post-it notes pile took a battering as I marked pages of recipes I wanted to try!
There is a great introduction to the Low FODMAP diet at the beginning of the book which is really easy to understand and follow.  Cecilia has answered questions such as how to cope with social events and eating out which is really handy.  There are also tables which show ‘staples’ foods and also one which gives low and high FODMAP foods in different categories – fruits, dairy etc.
The recipes are split into chapters – Breakfast, Soups, Salad & Light Lunches, Snacks & Sides, Main Meals, Sweets and Sauces & Seasonings.  
I loved this last section – a great addition which you can then use moving forward in your own recipes.  The photos were beautiful and made everything look so appealing and the recipes were easy to follow.
I really enjoyed all the recipes I have tried so far and have had no issues.  I can’t comment fully on my experience with low FODMAP as I haven’t started elimination fully but this is defintely very interesting to me. I heard that it was extremely limiting but after reading this I have actually found there are a lot of safe foods too.  As you can reintroduce high FODMAP foods and see what suits you, you can almost personalise it too. Here’s some crepes I made from the book…


What I didn’t like about the Calm Belly Cookbook

A few of the recipes I had to rule out because of my stoma – such as the Raw Sprouted Salad on page 58 – it sounds delicious but unfortunately, I would end up with a stoma blockage from a couple of the ingredients.  A couple of the recipes also contained some things I hadn’t heard of.  For instance, the Rainbow Quinoa Salad, which I have made, asks for 3 tablespoons of raspberry extract.  However, I left this out and the dish was still delicious!

Where to buy the Calm Belly Cookbook?

You can buy the Calm Belly cookbook on Amazon.


Overall Verdict

I would definitely recommend this to those interested in or starting the Low FODMAP Diet.  It is a great introduction to the world of eating low FODMAP and the fact it has been written by someone following the diet, means it has that personal touch.

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