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Book Review: Food for Sensitive Tummies

Gabi Steenkamp & Cath Day

Tafelberg

Review: Brian Joss

Many people have sensitive tummies: they burp a lot; get cramps; have heartburn; feel bloated or suffer from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and most of their problems are caused by the food they eat. The number of IBS cases could be underestimated in South Africa as not everyone runs to the doctor about a sensitive tummy. So some sufferers resort to alternative remedies and practitioners, the authors write.

Steenkamp and Day, registered dieticians, say while they have no cure for what ails you, they can make it easier for you to cope with the symptoms by eating the right foods. And that doesn’t just mean food packed with fibre.

They write that there are many foods that can trigger your symptoms. The first step would be a lifestyle change which is always a big challenge. The chapters dealing with sensitive (and super sensitive tummies) are comprehensive and though your psychological state has its roots in how your digestive tract reacts, it is not the cause. You should try to reduce stress,  address anxiety and depression along with your new diet. They show in plain English how to read food labels using oats and granola bars as examples and there are recipes for these.

The authors explain in detail how to deal with, among others, bloating, constipation and heartburn and provide a shopping list for general tummy health, sensitive tummies and super sensitive tummies. They also discuss the FODMAP, developed by an Australian gastroenterologist: a specific dietary plan for super sensitive tummies, based on the fact that some carbohydrates ferment more than others, aggravating the debilitating symptoms.

But, this book is about recipes and how you can adapt them. For example, mashed butter beans can replace half the refined cake flour in a cake recipe; add sweet potatoes, either cooked or raw, to batter, to add soluble fibre; instead of onion, use the green tops of spring onions or herbs, and as an alternative to avocado you can use peanut butter.

There are chapters for sensitive tummies and super sensitive tummies covering Breakfast, Light Meals, Main Meals, Snacks and Drinks and Tummy Fixers. For sensitive tummies try a Berry Breakfast Smoothie; Breakfast in a Glass or French Toast with a twist. Under Light Meals you could try Bean and Avocado Salad; Roast Vegetable and Mozzarella Wraps or Spicy Coconut Chicken and Green Bean Broth. In Main Meals you can choose from Chicken Kebabs with Satay Sauce; a Chicken Cottage Pie (which we tried and it turned out to be much tastier than the old staple using mince); Sesame Grilled Pork or Fish Cakes. If you have a sweet tooth then there are Banana and Peanut Butter Muffins; Chocolate Orange Balls or a Pecan and Cranberry Cake. Try the recipe for Rooibos and Berry Ice Tea, if you want a refreshing drink.

Dishes for super sensitive tummies include, among others, Aubergine Lasagne; Vegetable and Cheese Squares; Pad Thai Chicken and Spinach; Polenta Pizza or a Baby Marrow Bolognaise. Included are recipes for dips and snacks for when you’re feeling peckish and all with sensitive and super sensitive tummies in mind.

Each recipe is accompanied by Dieticians’ note and Super Sensitive Tummy Notes including what to do if you are on the FODMAP option. There is also a table of nutrients along with the recipes

Food for Sensitive Tummies is not a diet book, it is a guide to healthy eating and even if you don’t burp a lot, suffer from heartburn, IBS or bloating, you’ll find it useful. The recipes are also easy to follow. Photographs by Henk Hattingh.

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