About Heather

I am a very happy and social person. I love to travel and to take on new adventures. I have a passion for food and wine. I enjoy eating out and trying new foods. I love spending time with my friends and family. Margaritas are a big weakness of mine. I adore the excitement of living in urban Chicago.

My IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) has impacted all the things I love and has challenged me to continue to be the happy person I am. When food and alcohol can cause so much pain, it’s very tough to enjoy them. Because of the restricted diet, travel and eating out is more difficult than ever. The symptoms and restrictions have negatively impacted my adventurous spirit and many of my relationships. Health and happiness are a daily struggle. However, I am determined to live a very full and happy life.

Living Happy with IBS

After my diagnosis, I found relief in the low FODMAP diet. While the restrictions are tough to handle at first, I am feeling better and beginning to return to my happy self. My adventurous spirit has been restored and I am able to enjoy traveling, food and spending time with the people that I love.

I have an amazing husband who has been very supportive, but I realized that I found that I turned to the online community for information and encouragement. It’s very comforting to know that other people are struggling with the same issues and have found ways to live happy with IBS. That’s why I am sharing my personal journey and providing helpful information to those who need it.

About my IBS Journey

Thank you for sharing in my journey and if you’re struggling with managing your IBS symptoms, you’re not alone.

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78 thoughts on “About Heather

  1. I’m happy to have found your blog. I’ve been diagnosed with Fructose Malabsorption and SIBO and have been working with the Low-FODMAP diet for a while now. Like you I use the internet to find FODMAP friendly products and recipes. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Thank you for the feedback and thanks for reading! If you have any suggestions, please feel free to pass them along. Good luck with your diet!

  2. You think you have it bad, my girlfriend just completed her Dietetic degree and masters in nurtitional sciece… I’m a walking, talking guinea pig….

  3. I am so happy i found your blog! when the doctor told me I have IBS he wanted me to start a diet based on only chicken, cooked ham and water and then after my bowelsystem was “reset” i was allowed to try and reintroduce new foods into my diet (guess how well that worked out…?)
    Anyhow, this sounds so much better, eventhough i love onion too, i am going to try this! I live in Norway though, so a lot of the products you recommend could be difficult to find :-/
    But thank you for recipes and everything! and keep up the good work!

  4. Hi Heather! I live in the Chicago area like you and was wondering where to buy asafoetida powder? Or do I buy it online somewhere? What about the Progresso Tuscany Chicken Broth.? And you were so right…garlic and onion is in everything! Thanks…Lorrie

    • Hi Lorrie! I bought both online. The Progresso Tuscany Chicken Broth can be found on Amazon. Click here for Amazon link. I bought 12 to avoid shipping charges since it lasts about a year on the shelf.

      With the Asafoetida Powder, I bought it at a company that recently changed their ingredients to include wheat flour (annoying). I haven’t had to reorder it yet, but I found 2 companies that offer it http://www.herbstoponline.com/products/asafoetida-powder and http://www.spicesinc.com/p-90-asafoetida-powder.aspx which are FODMAP safe. I can’t vouch for either company, but I do know I had a lot of trouble finding it locally.

      Let me know if you have any other questions and good luck!

      • Hi Heather. I am thrilled that I found your blog! I was feeling very alone in a FODMAP filled world! I am just amazed that IBS is such a prevalent issue with so many people. I found another supplier of Asafoetida Powder made with rice flour. http://www.Kalustyans.com . They sell Asafoetida mixed with either wheat flour or rice so you will have to specify which one you want. Their prices are reasonable and the quality of their products is excellent. I’ve ordered many of their other spices in the past but never this one. Thank you again! Lisa

          • I have been a fan of your site for awhile and this is the first I have heard of FODMAP. I have had IBS for many years and figured out my own diet, but your site was very helpful. I love your teas and now will try out the FODMAP recipes.
            I don’t know if you have recommended turmeric in the IBS diet. I have been taking it as a supplement and it has done wonders as an anti inflammatory for my belly. Thanks for all you do.
            Paula

      • Tessa, I find that process and frozen foods have too many items that can’t be eaten for someone with IBS. I make my chicken broth, cook food from the local farmers market. If you have not started keep a food dairy and look at the look at the low fodmap list and link up to a nutritionist who works with people with IBS

  5. I am glad I found your blog. I have been suffering from stomach issues for a while now. I recently found out I have gluten intolerance too. I sent you an email asking for some advice. I am having alot of trouble finding good snack ideas. Any sort of feedback is appreciated 🙂

    • Hi Madison! Sorry for the delayed response. I sent you an email that will hopefully help give you some ideas for snacks. Don’t give up, the struggle is worth the healthy feeling in the end!

  6. Hi Heather! I am so very glad I found your blog! I have been struggling with IBS for a year now, went Paleo and still had issues. Come to find out I have SIBO and am beginning to follow the FODMAP! It’s nice to know there are people out there with the same struggles. PS, I am in Chicago too

    • Hi Johanna, Did your doctor prescribe antibiotic treatment for your SIBO? If so, I’m wondering how you made out with treatment and what he said to expect in the way of future bacterial overgrowth in your small intestine. I’m glad you found the low-FODMAP diet and that it’s helpful. Check out Pinterest for info as well. Best wishes. Karen

      • Hello Johanna and Karen! I was DX with SIBO, but switched to a Dr that is more up on treatment (according to Dr. Pimentel’s book). I was on LOWFODMAP while waiting to get into the Dr. She is wanting me to add back in sugar/fiber/carbs for a few weeks to bring the bacteria out of “hiding”. I will retest for SIBO soon. If positive will do antibiotic treatment. I don’t know if LOWFODMAP will work to prevent SIBO from returning. Let me know what your Dr’s advised about diet AFTER treatment. Thank you Heather for your site and love your recipes! I hope will still be able to use many after antibiotic treatment. I just saw the Brownie post! I wondered if ok with SIBO though… SUGAR and CARBS… Bacteria love SUGAR. It is so hard to find SIBO safe foods. I sometimes wish just had IBS. Heather, did you have SIBO and what does Dr. say about diet so it won’t reoccur? Thanks all! Marcy

  7. Thank you so much for sharing your story, experiences and recipes! After suffering with IBS for more than 20 years a GI doctor recently told me about the FODMAPs diet. I have been gluten and dairy free before, but the onions and garlic in everything are killer! I am really grateful for the on-line community support as I take this new food journey. I am an average cook (my husband is very gracious;) and to be honest do not always enjoy it-having your recipes is a HUGE help! Looking forward to feeling better and learning more from “The Community” Thanks!

  8. I am so happy that i found your blog. I’ve been struggling with ibs for years and it seems to only be getting worse. I’ve tried everything possible to try and lessen my symptoms but nothing has helped. I recently read about the low fodmap diet and read your experience and definitely want to give it a shot! Can’t wait to read more of your blog as i start this new diet

  9. Hello!
    I’ve been struggling with my digestive system for a few months now, it started with an occasional flare up after alcohol or fried food. However, Thanksgiving came, and went and I couldn’t stop not feeling well the doctors have ran several tests and are not finding anything. They’ve mentioned IBS as my diagnosis. I didn’t know it could be so painful, I was positive I was struggling with my gallbladder, but no dice yet. I am going to try the FODMaps diet, but am so lost, it is hard going from having whatever I like to being so limited and I love to cook, and now don’t know what to cook, just stare at the open fridge hungry. Thanks for all your advice, this will help me feel not so alone and frustrated!

  10. HI Heather. I am 61 years old and seem to be having IBS related symptoms though I am not diagnosed yet. I have been healthy all my life tilll now, except for low thyroid, which i controlled with meds. This IS tough– to feel so lousy and not know exactly what you’ve done to bring it on–but I have been trying to follow Fodmap for the past week. Your blog is very helpful. I wonder why you do not mention lactaid milk…you mention ice cream and yogurt but not milk. I made myself a smoothie with it for lunch with half a banana and a handful of blueberries. First milk I’ve had in a long time…it seemed okay but I”m not sure. It’s so strange when one week, you could anything and then suddenly, you can’t! Also, downloaded the Australiain APP MONASH for my droid and there is a lot of good info there . I think that is where I read that although you cannot have garlic, you can have garlic infused oil…just put the clove in the oil (not sure how long) and then remove it and you will have
    the smell and taste but not the reaction.

    • Hi Maggie – Lactaid is a perfectly safe milk on the low FODMAP diet, and I should include it more often. I have come to love rice milk, so I tend to be biased. Good luck with your journey!

  11. This site is a great resource! Glad I found it – looking forward to trying the recipes! I love the cartoons too – it took me a long time to be able to smile (not quite yet at laughing) about my new IBS life. I have to admit that some of the things we put up with are ridiculous (but maybe not hilarious!).

  12. Hi, Heather! I’ve been researching this FODMAP diet after being recently diagnosed with IBS. I’ve had it for at least 11 years but it was difficult to diagnose since complicated by another digestive issue I have, ulcerative colitis. The UC is now in it’s quiet stage but my recent colonoscopy showed it still has a presence in my gut. grrr! However, I don’t think that is the cause of my symptoms lately. I am on meds to help keep the ulcers at bay and the inflammation down but for 8 years I haven’t been able to figure out why I still had a lot of my symptoms. My symptoms are mostly constipation with lots of bloating and pain. It has been disturbing my sleep for the last 8 years or so. Lucky me, I have IBS and ulcerative colitis.

    I’ve been through 3 docs to get to this diagnosis. When my new doc suggested IBS, I went into denial. “No, no. I can’t have IBS. I don’t want IBS. I don’t want two things at the same time.” But the more I researched it the more I was saying, “That sounds like me.” After the denial came grief. I was depressed for a couple weeks. I found a few books by Heather Van Vorous, “Eating for IBS” and also “The First Year: A Patient-Expert Walks You Through Everything You Need to Learn and Do”. I’ve been trying her recommendations after reaching a point of desperation (once again, I should say…there’s been many of those moments) and it seems to be helping me. I think a combination of what she says and the FODMAP diet might help me more. Thank you for your information!

  13. Hi Heather! It’s Natalie from The Herb Stop. I just wanted to thank you for referring all these wonderful people to us for the Asafoetida. If there is anything I can do for you to show my thanks, let me know. Free bottle?
    Thank you again!!
    Natalie (877-345-4372)

    • Thanks Natalie! It’s my pleasure to send readers to your site. Thank you for offering a product that helps those with strict dietary restrictions, like myself. I would love to try your product, so I will be in touch!

  14. Great blog, thank you for all the helpful hints! I am just starting a low FODMAP diet and I am wondering what drugs are FODMAP safe to take in terms of a multivitamin or an ibuprofen? Any suggestions? Thank you and hope to hear from you soon!
    -Rosie

    • My doctor strongly suggested Acetaminophen (Tylenol) over Ibuprofen, since the latter is known to cause stomach distress. Multi-vitamins are tricky since they come with a long list of inactive ingredients. I take NatureMade Fish Oil and Calcium, but have excluded the multi-vitamin from my routine because of the additional ingredients, which seemed to impact me. If you need a multi, try to find one with the least amount of additional ingredients.

  15. Hi Heather! Thank you so much for all the info, I’m starting my ibs diet and it’s so overwhelming. I was wondering if you follow the guidelines to food combinations? For example, all the foods listed as low fodmap can be eaten together or should they go separate or within their food groups? I don’t know if for example I can eat cheese and a salad together….
    Thank you so much!!!

  16. Hi– you have a wonderful website! I have my Masters in Nutrition/ PT/ wellness Coach and instructor. I do need yo let you know as to an error in your allowed food list. Bananas ALWAYS should be eaten very ripe. Green or just solid yellow have far to much starch and contains a much higher percentage Fructans. Bananas must be only eaten for digestibility when they are yellow with many spots in a very ripe state! These sugars as not high in fructans as many other items containing sugar. Please change your list as this will cause some serious issues for those who are with complications. Just thought I would let you know 🙂 ps- I am Celiac and eat 3 very ripe bananas a day…as I also coach my clients.

  17. Hello,

    Just wanted to thank you for your site, found it by just googling FODMAP diets since I have recently been told I have to follow it. This site and your words of comfort have helped me to go into this with an open mind when I was at first very depressed about it. I also am a big garlic freak, but to know there are alternatives makes me happier. Again thank you so much, and look forward to trying some recipes.

  18. What an amazing blog you have! I have had IBS for about two and a half years now and even tough my symptoms and physical condition have been slowly getting better my mental health is not!! I am so tired of this stupid IBS always being there and preventing me from living my life to the fullest and some days I just give up and stay in bed. More often than before. I hate this development (as I am actually mostly able to function as normal people these days). In desperation I have been thinking about trying out FODMAP diet for a while, but I have been so confused on where to start, what to eat, how to eat and how to do it properly. Until now, when I found your blog. I have read every page and I now feel ready to start and hopefully live a more symptom free life. Can’t wait! Thank you so much for this blog! 😀

  19. Unfortunately I am home sick today due to IBS issues. I have read your blog several times! I love it. It is so informative. Thank you for taking the time to keep up with it. I’m always searching for other people in the same boat. This blog and FB support groups have helped me tremendously.

  20. I’ve never heard of FODMAPS until this week. I’ve had problems with my digestion since childhood. So I’ve printed off the 2 lists and hope that they help. I have been drinking almond milk instead of dairy milk and eating 24 almonds a day so I guess those are out?

  21. I am a fodmap ibs newbie. So glad to have found your site! I hope following the low fodmap plan that my doctor has suggested will get me to start living happy with ibs. It has been a long, rough road. Hope this is my light at the end of the tunnel 🙂 Thanks for all this wonderful info!

  22. Heather,
    I have really been struggling in the travel and social dept of IBS. As a former avid travel, after my symptoms and diagnosis with IBS reared their heads I mainly stick around the house. What has been helpful for you in identifying restaurants that you can eat at? I find that I can eat at many places with a breakfast menu, but not so much on the lunch or dinner menus. Living in Texas, the mainly Mexican food and BBQ driven menus in my area have meant that I sit and watch people eat. (Which sucks, let me tell you)

  23. I’ve recently started trying the low FODMAP diet. I had never heard of it until about 3 weeks ago when I decided to try gluten free. It wasn’t helping on the time, and the celiac website mentioned FODMAPS. Since then, I’ve been doing the best I can about eliminating things. I’m having a hard time finding foods without onion and garlic. Most of my recipe searching has brought me to your blog, and I just want to say thank you. it is a difficult subject to talk about with others, as most people don’t want to hear about your digestive issues, but it is nice knowing I’m not alone in this quest.

  24. I’m wondering what people drink besides water? I drink a lot of herbal teas but then saw somewhere that chamomile tea is not ok. So I’m wondering what teas are okay and what are not? I know that drinking almond milk or rice milk is OK. But what about sparkling water or other options besides those? I can’t drink coffee because of IBS and try to limit caffeine for the same reason. I used to drink coconut water but am not sure if that’s ok? Any ideas of what people drink would be greatly appreciated!

    • Chammomile and fennel teas are the only teas you should avoid. All others should be fine. Peppermint tea is great for IBS. Coconut water should be fine. I also drink Vitamin Water Zero (Lemon) and Cranberry juice.

    • I do drink a lot of water with lime or lemon squeezed into it. I brew iced tea myself so I can control the sugar and I absolutely love teas infused with mint. Read the labels for teas to ensure there isn’t chamomile or chicory (inulin) included. I’m not a milk drinker, but lactaid, almond and rice are good substitutes for dairy milk. I do drink white and red wine without any discomfort. On occasion, I have a Margarita without agave.

  25. I have been diagnosed with IBS and I have just recently met with a Dietician to go over the Low FODMAP Diet, so I am new to what I can/can’t have.
    Bread has been a bit hard for me as I am a HUGE fan of White Bread. I bought a loaf of Rudi’s Gluten-Free Original Bread and I am not fan. I was hoping to get pointed in a good direction to help my cravings for White Bread

    Please&ThankYou

  26. I stumbled onto your blog. I’m so glade I did. My son is on the FODMAPS diet. I’m so discouraged in trying to find food he can eat. He has some food allergies that make buying most things premade impossible. He cant have beef, soy ,chicken, tomatoes ,milk, lamb. Do you have a cookbook?

  27. Hi Heather,
    thanks for the great lists and info. I have been on a low FODMAP diet for IBS, got a little frustrated with the restriction and remembered my ayurveda training, then tried kicharee.
    It goes down fabulously well, as the spices counterbalance the potential gassiness resulting from the mung beans or yellow lentil.
    And, the basic recipe can be varied using more or less ghee, and adding some vegetables into the mix, creating more variety.
    Best
    Sigrid

  28. Heather, I’m very happy to have found your blog. I’m from Brazil, and I was struggling for years to find a reason for all my pain and two years ago I was diagnosed with IBS, but the doctors here never showed me a way to live better neither gave me any orientations on how to live with it, the only support I got was medication that didn’t help enough. In all my searches in Portuguese I’ve never found anything to help me, but after a huge IBS episode I decided to look for informations in other languages and I was surprised with the discovery of this diet, I already feel better since I’ve started to cut down the HIGH FODMAP food. I didn’t find here in Brazil any dietitian/nutritionist to help me with this diet, but I intend to see a dietitian soon in Toronto. Thank you so much for sharing all this information.

  29. Hello, I noticed you have broccoli listed as a high FODMAP food. However on the Monash institute app, it’s a green light for broccoli, meaning low FODMAP. Can you explain the discrepancy?

    • No explanation, but broccoli does not seem to bother me either. All foods seem to be easier on the system if eaten in a curry, as in Thai or Vietnamese food.

    • Look at the quantity in the app…e.g 1/2 cup=LOW, more =HIGH…and some people after the elimination phase can tolerate 1 serve of HIGH FODMAPS per meal- spaced 4 hrs apart…etc/e.g

  30. Hi Heather!

    Quick question. chocolate chips are okay? but not coca powder? Please help, I need chocolate! : ) So glad I found your website!

    Thanks,
    Daniela

  31. I have IBS-C and I’m so glad I found this site! I’m starting to eliminate onion and garlic from my diet because they are my biggest triggers and I think the tips you post will be really helpful for me. Thank you so much for your words and thoughts!

  32. Hi Heather, hi all of you with IBS-C,
    just stumbled upon this information about the proven positive effect of melatonin on IBS-C. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24627586 There are quite of few studies, as you can see on the right, if you go to the link.
    Makes me wonder why my doctor prescribed xifaxan (antibiotic) which is indicated for IBS-D (diarrhea), which is very expensive (> 1500$), which I don’t have, and which is only moderately effective, and does not seem to work long-term, and did not alert me to the option of using the inexpensive melatonin. 3 mg/day, usually before bed, seems to be the most common dose.
    I just started to use it so I can’t tell if it works for me yet, but with this many studies, I think it is worth a try. Apparently, according to the research I read, it makes sense to take this long term (several months). Looking forward to hearing your experiences.

  33. Interesting. I have used Melatonin nightly previously in an effort to achieve better sleep. I did not notice any change with my stomach issues….I’d try it again though.

  34. Hi there after three years of being really sick with stomach spasms, vomiting and missing lots of I recently found I had IBS .I found a great Gastero doc that did a throat scope, internal bile ultrasound and two biopsies he check for stomach and liver cancer. Good news everything inside is healthy. But in three years I lost 65 pounds. I can no longer eat gluten, garlic, onions,beans,raw veggies,apples,dairy,chocolate,tomatoes. My stomach is happy. Your site has good information and like you I research and connect online wth others. My apologize for a long post

  35. Hi Heather just wanted to share with you that the sweeter Splenda is not low fodmap. It’s made with sugars ending in ol. I have had lots of problems before I realized it was the Splenda causing it.

  36. Heather,
    What herbs and spices are on the low/high (good/bad) FODMAP diet lists? I have not been able to find the answer. Of all the websites I’ve found since I started researching how to live with IBS and reflux, I like your’s the best. 🙂
    Thank you for your assistance and dedication to helping others!!

  37. Hi Heather. Glad I found your blog. Thank you. I Hope it is still in operation since I don’t see any recent posts.

    My main question I’d like to ask is have you (or anyone else) found any canned Spaghetti sauce that is Low Fodmap? I usually use Prego Chunky Garden which I never had problems with even though they have onion and garlic. I am ready to test tomato paste, and need to find a ready-made sauce that doesn’t have onion or garlic.

    I finished the elimination phase and am working on the stage of trying foods in the different categories of the Low Fodmap diet. I just tested onion, and oolong tea. I have drunk the tea for years with no symptoms but this week my gut has been a wreck. I don’t usually cook much with onions and the Prego never bothered me, but using the TBSP cooked onion for my test last week did not go well. I am stressed out and since I know emotions are also a trigger for my IBS-D symptoms, I’m not sure if the food I am adding in is a problem, or if I am just stressing so much about what I can and can’t eat (and other stress in my life) is the problem. How to separate the two?

    I was also gluten free for 30 years from 1975-2005, before the biopsy testing was the gold standard – diagnosed by an internist who knew something about it. Did quite well over the years but still had some upsets. Then in 2005 I was told I could not have had celiac disease after being tested and not having either of the 2 genes. Started eating some gluten, but still only use gluten free pastas. So maybe I am really just gluten sensitive and don’t really need the Fodmap regime. I am overwhelmed.

    • HI Debbie, In answer to your pasta sauce question I have only found one prepared pasta sauce in a jar that I’m able to use. It is called Cento All Purpose Pasta Sauce. It does not contain onions or garlic and it is quite good. Cento Fine Foods, Inc is located in West Deptford, NJ http://www.cento.com to find a supplier in your area. I hope this helps you.

  38. hello, I am 61 years old and have been diagnoised with IBS. I have had plenty accidents with this last year that I have been wearing depends and I still fear that I have embrassed myself. I cant be close to my husband for fear having an accident. it happens whenever it comes on so I don’t know what my triggers are. I don’t drink milk, eat limited cheese and ice cream etc. I can’t enjoy going out on family vacation for fear of having an accident or every five minutes stopping to rush to a rest room. my doctor has scheduled a colonscopy and now an EGD. I just don’t know what else to do. I can’t live like this. stumped.

  39. Keep a good dairy, I did this for three years, finally found a wonderful GI doctor, in 3 years I lost 65 pounds, stomach spasms, vomiting, diahrrehe/constipation, missed a lot work. What I learn I cannot have gluten, dairy, chocolate,tomtoes,corn,beans,soy, raw veggies, wine, sugar stuff, onions, garlic and seeds like sesame. What my doctor did was he took the time to read my food journal. He did conoscopy, internal bile duct ultrasound, several biopsies for cancer and upper throat scope. All negative wth minor inflammation of stomach. The doc told me that he has two types of patient one who is proactive the other looking for quick fix. I saw him 2 yrs ago so far wth the lifestyle changes which a regular and consistent bedtime, I have found I need 9-10 hours of sleep, mini meals, putting the fork down between bites, eating mindfully, exercise for me yoga, wals,hikes and meditation, I believe that has made a huge difference. I cannot eat any of the beyond, so I eat clean, local food, steam veggies from lowfad list, protein and fruit,lots of water

  40. Thank you so much for providing these great resources!!! I was diagnosed with IBS two years ago and have been able to go from all low-FODMAP to being able to slowly add back in some foods containing FODMAPs. Because of the recipies and resources shared here, I’ve been able to incorporate new low FODMAP foods I had never tried before into my diet frequently. Now, I barely even notice that most of the foods I eat are low FODMAP by choice!

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